I marched against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and against the US-led invasion in 2001.
In both cases they were examples of imperialist adventures which delivered death and destruction – mostly to Afghani civilians, women and children included.
In particular the 2001 US invasion was a blood-lust revenge attack with the aim of “bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age” in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Even after the Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden if evidence was provided of his involvement in the twin towers attack the US was not interested. It wanted blood. But not Saudi Arabian blood from where most of the terrorists originated, but the blood of a weak country unable to fight back. The US was the classic schoolyard bully. An unknown person gives the bully a bloody nose and the bully lashes out against the weakest person around.
To its shame the Helen Clark government joined the attack on Afghanistan and led New Zealand into its longest overseas war.
When Global Peace and Justice Auckland were organising the huge international mobilisation against the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and we included opposition to New Zealand involvement in Afghanistan as part of the kaupapa. Labour Party activists were angry saying we should not talk about Afghanistan because the invasion was justified and “you can’t have a peace movement without the Labour Party”. But of course we could and did. It was the largest international anti-war mobilisation ever up to that time.
Not surprisingly Helen Clark this week described the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as “utterly surreal and devastating for the country”. She says “It’s just sad now to see the situation and think of so much blood and treasure that was spent, and we’re back where we were.”
What she didn’t say was that the blood lost was predominantly that of Afghani civilians, New Zealand money was in the pot to help do this and New Zealand soldiers were at the very heart of the death and destruction rained on the country.
Over 240,000 deaths and two trillion (two thousand billion!) dollars wasted. (Or more properly it should be described as a war which provided 20 unbroken years of massive profits for US/UK war industries)
The sheer scale of the failure in Afghanistan is now seeing extraordinary attempts to rewrite history. Reading media reports now one could be easily convinced the reason for the invasion was to liberate women and girls from religious tyranny. Rubbish.
Imperialists always have a grab bag of justifications for anything they want to do at the time they want to do it. In Afghanistan protecting women and children was never one of them.