FOCUS FOR 2018 – AFGHANISTAN. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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In the weeks of the winter holidays - spending time with my family, cooking, sending cards, buying presents - I had gnawing at me that knowledge that I would be writing this new year’s bulletin.  I say “gnawing” because throughout the holidays I was thinking about the people who are suffering in the U.S.- generated wars, and I was also wondering if there is any way that we all can coordinate to focus on one of these wars to maximize our impact.

It is hard to pick a war, as indicated by the just-released report from the Cost of War project, with map, that shows the U.S. involved in various levels of warfare in 39% of the world’s countries.

http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/Current%20US%20Counterterror%20War%20Locations_Costs%20of%20War%20Project%20Map.pdf

But, what I have come down to is recommending that in our protests, forums, vigils and other outreach we focus on calling for a complete halt to the U.S. aerial bombardment of 35 million citizens of Afghanistan and an end to the U.S. occupation there.

Here is my reasoning:

The latest comprehensive report on the ongoing atrocity that is the U.S. war on the Afghanistan people came in December, 2017 with the stunning news from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that U.S. air attacks doubled in Afghanistan in 2017. https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-12-19/counterrorism-strikes-double-trump-first-year 

The Trump Pentagon now gives no information on drone attacks, but drones are part of the air onslaught as are B-52s – the mass terror airplane from the Viet Nam War –  now dropping “precision” guided bombs on the Afghanistan people. http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/14304/b-52s-are-back-in-the-skies-of-afghanistan-dropping-bombs-once-again

The Bard College analysis of the 2018 Pentagon proposal http://dronecenter.bard.edu/files/2017/10/Drones-Defense-Budget-2018-Web.pdf  shows an increase for drones of all kinds to $6.97 billion, primarily aircraft, indicating, of course, that the military is planning on increasing the tempo of drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries [See page 7 of the Bard report).

And it was just announced that attack drone training operations at Hancock Air National Guard base outside Syracuse, NY, will be expanded to double the number of drone pilots being trained there. http://www.syracuse.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/06/congress_set_to_expand_drone_operations_at_syracuses_hancock_field_air_base.html 

Hancock controls drones attacking in Afghanistan, and we can assume that a number of other of the more than 20 drone control bases around the U.S. are also flying Afghanistan missions.  In addition, the U.S. Army is attacking in Afghanistan with Gray Eagle drones.  Gray Eagle drone units operate overseas but are officially assigned to stateside Army bases such as: Fort Drum in upstate NY; Fort Riley, KS; Fort Stewart, GA; and Fort Hood, TX.

In spite of the evidence of increasing U.S. generated devastation in Afghanistan and the reintroduction of thousands of U.S. combat troops there, the mainstream U.S. press has given virtually no coverage to this war in the last year, at least.

In December, while I was visiting a school in my town on the Hudson River, a jet fighter flew overhead, a rare occasion here, heading north over the river.  The plane left behind it an extraordinarily loud, shattering sound, a thundering blast that was terrifying.  “Look,” a school official said to a small child, pointing to the sky, “a jet.”

The Afghan people have been experiencing the terror of “jets”, the threatening thumping of helicopter blades and, of course, the horror of bomb explosions, since the Soviet invasion in 1979.  Since the day after the U.S. invasion in 2001, the buzzing terrifying buzzing of drones has been added to dread from the sky. With this comes, naturally, the random deadliness of the ground war and the infinite range of sufferings, degradations and exploitations that are all too imaginable.

Anand Gopal offers this insight in his book on the Afghanistan war entitled No Good Men Among the Living:

“Winning a war such as this was not about planting flags or defending territory or building fancy villas. It was not about titles or promotions or offices. It was not about democracy or jihad, freedom or honor. It was about resisting the categories chosen for you; about stubbornness in the face of grand designs and schemas. About doing what you had to do, whether they called you a terrorist or an infidel. To win a war like this was to master the ephemeral, to plan a future while knowing that it could all be over in an instant. To comfort your children when the air outside throbs in the middle of the night, to squeeze your spouse’s hand tight when your taxi hits a pothole on an open highway, to go to school or the fields or a wedding and return to tell about it. To survive.”

Now Trump comes to Afghanistan along with the news that he has cronies who want to cash in on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth.  Notable among them is Steve Feinberg, a Trump financial supporter who runs the mercenary firm DynCorp, which has contracts in Afghanistan. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/world/asia/afghanistan-trump-mineral-deposits.html

Corporate ambitions for exploiting minerals are supported by Trump’s Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/29/despite-risks-trump-administration-moves-forward-with-afghanistan-mining-plan/

What do you think about focusing on Afghanistan this year?  Please write: nickmottern@gmail.