What Good is This War?
A speech by the Gay Liberation Network's Buddy Bell at the protest on the 11th anniversary of the Afghanistan War
GLN permalink 10-12-2012
When I was with Kathy Kelly in June of this year, I was visiting a foreign country under foreign occupation for nearly 11 years.
We met a woman who, during the 90s, had seen her young daughter legally abducted, married and, within one year, killed by a Taliban official.
Now if you're saturated day in and day out with Western media, such as the Chicago Tribune, you might assume that this woman was happy the U.S. troops have come to rescue people like her from suffering the same experience.
So I decided to ask her a rhetorical question: does she think that with the U.S. soldiers in the country, their presence is bring some measure of security for Afghans, especially women?
Her prompt response: "What good are they [bringing]? They're the ones killing the people!"
And indeed, she could have also said:
What good are they bringing - when 400 refugees per day crowd into Kabul, because violence in the provinces makes life there unlivable?
What good is this war - when unemployment in Afghanistan is more than 3 percent, and when economic sanctions on Iran have increased food prices for Afghans by 50 percent?
What good is this war - when 68% of students - and 82% of female students - in Afghanistan drop out of school 7th grade to work in the streets to support their families?
What good is this war - when still today, 11 years after George W. Bush announced a "new Marshall Plan" for Afghanistan, every road in Kabul, except one, is dirt or gravel, and the air over Kabul has the highest fecal content in the world?
What good is this war - when Afghan government money gets pilfered away by puppet politicians the Afghans didn't elect, because their current constitution was written in Washington and Bonn, Germany, and the U.S.-selected president gets to appoint all the governors of Afghanistan's 34 provinces?
What good is this war - when rather than disarming the old civil war era warlord factions in 2001, the U.S. chose to let the leaders be appointed to government positions, and are now re-arming them to fight in the Afghan National Police?
What good is this war - when a stacked Parliament recently passed a law to essentially allow rape within marriage, where officially a husband can withhold food from his wife if she doesn't comply with his wishes?
What good is this war - when even if you count only the incidents reported on by papers like the Tribune, U.S. drone strikes have killed close to 500 innocent Afghan civilians in the past years?
For all of these reasons, we're out in the street, demanding that the war ends today, beginning to call up the power of people working together, and working together we will force the hand of the politicians to stop feeding the war machine that doesn't help the vast majority of us in the world. These politicians could stop the war right now if they wanted, but we have to force them because right now they're the puppets of the people profiting from war.
We put on more pressure to force Gates' and Petraeus' hand, when we cooperate and interact with our peers instead of a TV screen, when we stand to support our friends like the people who were raided by the FBI two years ago and the NATO 5 and others imprisoned for protesting drones and nuclear weapons, and soldiers who are refusing unjust orders.
We put more pressure to force Clinton's hand, when we support Bradley Manning and all of the whistle blowers who have given us information that we deserve to know, and when we educate ourselves accordingly.
And we put on more pressure to force Obama's hand when we use our knowledge and organizing network to build a bottom-up movement that can say...
Not one more trigger will I pull.
Not one more button will I push.
Not one more weapon will I transport.
Not one more shipment will I load.
Not one more wire will I design.
And not one more student will I teach to study war.
Because 11 years in Afghanistan is 11 years too many!
This war is no good! Bring the troops home now!