Medea Banjamin: US Proven Unable to Bring Peace to Afghanistan
TEHRAN (FNA)- Medea Benjamin, American prominent political activist, says Afghans are starving and there is no stable government, despite two decades of military presence and a substantial fortune the US spent in the conflict-stricken country.
Speaking in an interview with FNA, Medea Benjamin said, “After spending $88 billion on training and equipping the Afghan security forces, these forces are unable to keep the country secure and certainly unable to defeat the Taliban. Now there are also ISIS forces committing atrocious crimes, leaving the people frightened and vulnerable.”
“US forces and the CIA are alleged to have carried out unlawful killings and torture, both in Afghanistan and through the secret “rendition” of terrorist suspects from Afghanistan to a number of other countries. Throughout the past 20 years, the US has carried out thousands of drone strikes and airstrikes that have killed many innocent people,” she added.
Medea Benjamin is an author, documentary maker and political activist who co-founded Code Pink, an international NGO that describes itself as a "grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end US-funded wars and occupations”. It has taken action on issues such as drones, Guantanamo Bay prison, Palestinian statehood, the Iran nuclear deal and Saudi Arabia. Medea Benjamin has won several peace awards in recognition of her creative leadership on the front lines of the anti-war movement, and to honor her for her unyielding advocacy for social justice of nearly 40 years.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: Twenty years on, and having spent over $1 trillion in fighting in Afghanistan, violence is increasingly rampant in the Asian country. So, what is the achievement of the US war on Afghanistan?
A: It is tragic that after 20 years of occupation by a rich country like the United States, the majority of Afghans still live in terrible poverty and insecurity. There have been gains for women, particularly in the cities, but because of poverty most girls leave school after a few years of elementary school and the gains in employment for women are precarious given the fact that the Taliban may take over once the US leaves.
The US has not been able to install a stable, popular government. There is rampant corruption, in large part because of all the money the US and its allies have poured into the country. And after spending $88 billion on training and equipping the Afghan security forces, these forces are unable to keep the country secure and certainly unable to defeat the Taliban. Now there are also ISIS forces committing atrocious crimes, leaving the people frightened and vulnerable.
Q: Why does Washington view itself above international law in the case of the ICC Afghanistan probe?
A: US forces and the CIA are alleged to have carried out unlawful killings and torture, both in Afghanistan and through the secret “rendition” of terrorist suspects from Afghanistan to a number of other countries. Throughout the past 20 years, the US has carried out thousands of drone strikes and airstrikes that have killed many innocent people.
But even though Biden has lifted the sanctions against ICC personnel, the US government is still against this probe and would not abide by an ICC ruling against it. While 123 countries are members of the ICC, the United States has refused to join and thinks it should not be subjected to the same international law that it wants the rest of the world to abide by. The US should also be obligated to pay reparations for all the damage caused during the war, and compensation to the innocent victims, but there is no institution that can force the US to do that. Any compensation that has been given thus far has been arbitrary and totally inadequate.
Q: Will the US really pull out all of its troops, as well as the over 16,000 private contractors? Do you think the US will really leave Afghanistan?
A: President Biden truly wants to pull out most of the troops and the private contractors. But there is a lot of pressure on him from more conservative members of Congress and officials in the Pentagon who warn that the Taliban will take over once US troops leave. This pressure will only escalate if the violence continues to increase. That is why Biden will make sure that there are still CIA operatives and special forces in Afghanistan, and that the US military will have the ability to base aircraft and counter terrorism forces in nearby nations.
The US is leaving with no ceasefire or power-sharing agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and with ISIS active. It is leaving Afghanistan in an extremely precarious situation, and it is hard to imagine the US sitting idly by if the Taliban was to overrun the entire country, including Kabul. While I think it is important for US and other foreign forces to leave, the future of this war-torn nation is very uncertain.