As a veteran who turned into an antiwar activist after deploying twice to Afghanistan, I’ve been railing against the Veterans Day is toxicAnd calling for an end of the war in Afghanistan every single year for the past ten years.
This year, following the official end to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, there is a new kind of pressure because I fear most people in the U.S. will soon stop talking about Afghanistan — the country I think about nearly every day — entirely.
I know it’s tempting. Technically, the war is over. We saw it “end” nearly three months ago. However, in reality, war continues in secret ways that are harder for people to see and harder for them to resist: drone strikes, surveillance, official and unofficial special force operations, as well as the training and maintenance proxies.
It makes sense that, with the United States’ official withdrawal from Afghanistan, many people in the U.S. don’t want to think about it anymore. I get it — I also hate thinking about it. Most good people are disgusted by what the U.S. has done there for the last 20 years — to say nothing of the U.S. meddling in Afghan affairs throughout the ‘80s and beyond that helped give rise to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
I hate the feeling of waking up in the middle night with thoughts of the U.S.’s violence in Afghanistan swirling around my mind like rotors. But, I’m able to accept the fact that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan is part me. It’s part of all of us. It is morally wrong to forget what our politicians and military leaders, big corporations soldiers, and all of our tax dollars did for 20 years in that faraway land. It will only happen again if we forget. We can’t just move on.
My regular thoughts on Afghanistan are interrupted by the Twin Towers attack in 2001. images of young Afghans civilians clinging toThe landing gear of one the last military transport aircrafts to flee Bagram Air Base, Kabul, was damaged and then fell off on August 16, 2021.
Between those 20 shameful decades, 775,000The country would see U.S. military personnel. Over 2,400All of them would be killed. More than 20,000They would be brought home hurt. A trillion dollarsSpend it. Around 66,000Afghan soldiers would be killed and untold number of civilians would also die.
An estimated 3.6 millionU has forced Afghans to flee their homes..S. occupationWe can’t just move on. That’s the rough equivalent of the entire populations of Montana and Arkansas being forced to flee their homes (often after a loved one was killed) to try and find new ones in a space the size of Texas — only with far fewer resources than Americans would have access to, which is a low bar. We can’t just move on.
Since August’s shameful exit, most mainstream outlets have stopped covering Afghanistan. This is not surprising considering that these outlets rarely covered the war in its official form. They certainly won’t be steadily covering future air and drone strikes, or unofficial secret military operations carried out by U.S. special forces, if the past is prologue.
They don’t cover the acts of warfare that are being committed all around the worldCurrently, the U.S. military is in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is still a U.S.-led country. forever wars. U.S. taxpayer-funded destruction and death will be perpetuated by AmericanFor years to come, we will have Afghan drone operators and soldiers. We can’t just move on.
How can we remind ourselves and the warmakers that the U.S. military spent countless lives and huge amounts of money in Afghanistan? How can we continue to be disgusted by war’s violence?
The best way to ensure that young people are familiar with the history of Afghanistan/Iraq is to educate them. They must be aware that the U.S. does not want to spread democracy and freedom around the world. This is the line that is fed to studentsAcross the country, anyone is being targeted by any of the 10,000 recruitersThey are currently seen in high schools across the U.S.
One could also consider the 23 million Afghans threatened with starvation after a 20-year U.S. occupation — and now the suffocating U.S.-backed sanctions — to learn more about the “freedom” and “greatness” the U.S. brings.
There are also the 2.2 million refugees fleeingAfghanistan. I’m sure they can tell long stories about the condition the U.S. left Afghanistan in. There is nothing noble about fighting the U.S.’s wars. It is a sinful act. The evidence is in. It’s been in.
Make sure your kids, your neighbors’ kids, and beyond develop critical thinking to counteract the propaganda spewed by recruiters. Make sure they don’t glamourize war in video gamesMovies. Antiwar veterans are welcome to speak at schools. There are several organizations such Veterans for PeaceAnd About Face: Veterans Against the War We would love to assist you in this endeavor. Volunteer to speak in high school about the horrors caused by U.S. imperialism. Protest when U.S. War History is Heroized in School or At sporting events. Fight for free education and health care so there’s less incentive to sign up for the military, particularly in marginalized communities, where Black and Brown youth They are particularly targeted for recruitment. Make sure your kids are actively anti-racist, because a country can’t fight a war without racism.
The U.S. government was aware that we were letting our guard down after 9/11. Hell followed. We can’t ever let our guard down again. No amount of moralizing, or drumming will make us forget.–beating can ever inspire people like me to fight a war for U.S. war-makers again.
The trillion dollars spent in Afghanistan could have put us well on our way toward building sustainable, green infrastructure in the U.S.
A trillion dollars could have provided a home for every homeless person in America.
A trillion dollars spent on war could have saved millions over the past 20 years.
There are so many things we can do with our resources and our lives when war isn’t an option. It is impossible to move forward when you look at what has happened in Afghanistan in the past 20 years.