It’s becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. interventionist crowd is finding itself in a pickle with respect to the U.S. government’s 12-year occupation of Afghanistan and 12-year “war on terrorism. “
On the one hand, we have President Obama’s announcement that he’s going to end the Afghan occupation by 2014. On the other hand, we all know that there are still plenty of people to kill in Afghanistan who are denominated “terrorists.”
How does President Obama justify pulling U.S. troops and CIA operatives out of Afghanistan while there are still “terrorists” to kill there? Hasn’t the war on terrorism been the chief justification for the 12-year occupation of Afghanistan?
Recall that the initial invasion began with the accusation that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida had orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. The matter had to be handled militarily, President Bush and the interventionists said, even though they never explained how it was that the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was handled successfully as a criminal- justice problem, one that sent the perpetrators to jail without killing tens of thousands of innocent people in the process.
President Bush began by demanding that the Afghan government deliver bin Laden to the United States, even though there was no extradition agreement between the two countries. The Afghan government indicated its willingness to extradite bin Laden to a neutral country for trial but only on presentation of evidence of his complicity to the Afghan government.
Given that that’s the way that extradition proceedings work, it wasn’t an abnormal request. Nonetheless, President Bush refused to provide any evidence of Taliban complicity in the 9/11 attacks and demanded an unconditional delivery of bin Laden to the United States.
It was only after the Afghan government refused to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand that Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan. Bush’s extradition demand is almost conclusive proof that the Afghan government never conspired with bin Laden to commit the 9/11 attacks. After all, it was clear that if the Afghan government had complied with Bush’s extradition demand, there never would have been a military invasion of Afghanistan. Moreover, if the Taliban really had conspired to commit the attacks, would Bush really have gone to the United Nations to seek authorization to invade Afghanistan rather than simply taking the position that the United States didn’t need UN authorization to defend itself?
Once the invasion took place, it became an opportunity to effect a regime-change operation, one by which the Taliban were ousted from power and replaced by the pro-U.S. submissive Karzai regime, one of the most crooked and corrupt regimes in recent history . Throughout the occupation, there have been massive numbers of Afghan people killed, most of whom had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
The continuity of such killings, year after year, has always been justified under the “war on terrorism.” But it became increasingly clear, year after year, that the U.S. government, through its continued killing of Afghans, including women, children, bridal parties, and funeral parties, was generating a continuous supply of new terrorists. The more people they killed, the more the ranks of the terrorists swelled. Moreover, the definition of “terrorists” expanded from people who were accused of having committed the 9/11 attacks to people who are resisting the occupation of their country.
Despite the best “rebuilding” efforts of the Pentagon, most everyone agrees that Afghanistan is as far from being a paradise as possible. In fact, on Sunday the New York Times carried an article explaining that Americans are scrupulously avoiding Afghanistan as a place to visit or tour. The reason? They are almost certain to be killed or kidnapped. Indeed, one searches in vain for any evidence that even one U.S. interventionist has taken his family to Afghanistan for vacation ever since the U.S. invasion.
So, given the U.S. government has been in Afghanistan for 12 years under the guise of the “war on terrorism,” how does it justify exiting the country before killing all the terrorists? It seems to me that they have only one option — to say that they’ve “won” the war on terrorism, at least to such a degree that the continued occupation of the country is no longer necessary.
But if they say that, then what happens when people start to question the entire war-on-terrorism framework that has come into existence since 9/11? The Patriot Act, the enemy-combatant doctrine, military supremacy over civilians, indefinite detention, denial of due process, denial of trial by jury, and, of course, out-of-control federal spending owing in large part to the warfare state? Isn’t it likely that people are going to ask why such extraordinary, “temporary,” “emergency” powers are still necessary?
The warfare state apparatus has brought nothing but grief to the American people. It is the root cause of the anger and hatred that has manifested itself in the threat of terrorist retaliation. It has brought a darkness over American life with its endless “war on terrorism” and its ever-increasing, horrendous infringement on the civil liberties of the people. Dismantling this un-American apparatus is the key to restoring a normally functioning society to our land, one that is based on freedom, harmony, and prosperity.
The impending end of the Afghanistan occupation provides the American people with an excellent opportunity to question and discuss the entire warfare-state apparatus, along with the massive federal spending and borrowing that come with it. It’s what should have been done at the end of the Cold War. It should be done now.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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