“The raids occur ‘every night. We are very much miserable,’ said Roshanak Wardak, a doctor and a former member of the national Parliament.” I am reading a McClatchy news report, dated August 8th of this year. “Residents of the Tangi Valley area, in eastern Wardak Province, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, issued similar complaints about the night raids in their vicinity, charging that they have killed civilians, disrupted their lives and fueled popular support for the Taliban.”
Imagine it. People in an Afghan village pass sleepless nights, anxious that their home might be targeted by a U.S.-led night raid. Villagers are enraged when they hear stories of elders and imams being roughed up and detained, of wives and children being killed, of belongings stolen and property destroyed. Increasingly, the U.S. military battles against the so-called insurgency are creating a stronger resistance as more Afghans grow determined to fight back.
In Helmand province, in Nad Ali, the district governor told a New York Times reporter one incident in the spiral of violence: a NATO foot patrol came under fire from a family home on August 5, 2011, killing one soldier and wounding an Afghan interpreter. The NATO troops called in an airstrike. NATO is now investigating a report that the airstrike killed eight civilians, seven of them children. “The home belonged to Mullah Abdul Hadi, 50, a local imam who Afghan officials say was helping the Taliban,” said Mr. Shamlani. “He was killed along with one of his two wives and his seven children, all younger than 7 years old.”
People in Nad Ali are expected to embrace closer relations with the United States and its troops after the deaths at our hands of seven children, children they knew aged one to seven, who had committed no crime.
Now comes the U.S. determination to seal a “Strategic Partnership Declaration” with its client Afghan government. Many in that country (and this one) expect such an agreement to allow the U.S. to establish permanent military bases, a permanent occupation presence that will provoke resistance groups there to declare perpetual war.
The Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, a group of young people dedicated to ending wars and inequalities in their country, write in their August 9th statement:
The US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Declaration will perpetuate ‘terrorism’ and bring it to everyone’s doorsteps.
The ‘partnership’ will allow permanent joint US-Afghanistan military bases to launch and project hard power. The ‘extreme’ Taliban will conveniently ‘use’ these bases as a stand-alone reason for their ‘holy jihad.’ We cannot forget that one of Osama Bin Laden’s reasons for attacking the US on September 11th was the presence of US military bases in Saudi Arabia.
This Strategic Partnership Declaration will kill any chance for our madness to slow down and our violence to calm down.
It will doom ordinary Americans and Afghans to permanent terrorism.
Why can’t we quiet our nerves, look deep inside humanity, and begin healing?
Everyone wants to be safe, but I think of the Lahore family taking us into their sleeping courtyard and their home that night, knowing nothing of these crazy Americans who had been dropped on their doorstep. We had woken them up but they chose to stay awake and take care of us. Americans seem to respond to our endless wake-up calls from Afghanistan by just going, every time, back to sleep, rather than working to make the situation better. I think of the night raids, families being woken up to sudden horror somewhere every night in the region, children killed sleeping in our efforts to make ourselves more safe (among other motives), and an ever escalating conflict arising from the violence.