The US military has finally left Afghanistan after 20 years. Good. The Afghan invasion and occupation was the wrong reaction to the attack on the United States by al-Qaeda on September 11th, 2001.
The war cost the US over 2000 dead Americans, tens of thousands of disabled Americans and over $1 trillion dollars. We cannot forget that over 100,000 Afghans died from our occupation. Nor can we forget how our occupation fostered corruption in Afghanistan that made millionaires of a small number of well connected Afghan men and ultimately helped the Taliban regain control.
We could have devoted a fraction of what our military has spent occupying Afghanistan on promoting economic development, education and health as well as building a native Afghan nonviolent resistance movement. People who have enough to eat, a job with a decent income and the ability to read have much more ability to organize and use nonviolent tactics to undermine the support of their leaders. We forget when we judge the success of a nonviolent resistance that, after twenty years of violent resistance to the Taliban, the Taliban won in the end.
By taking a long-term nonviolent approach, one that focused on economic development, education and improving the health of all Afghans, we would have left Afghanistan a far better place than we have so far. The cost in lives and worthless government spending of the US’ failed 20 year policy was immensely higher than our approach.
Had we not invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and numerous other countries that bore the brunt of our weapons, we would have more than enough to switch our country away from technologies that promote global warming. Nearly 20 years after our invasion of Afghanistan, we could have demonstrated to the world the good that is possible when we tackle the looming climate catastrophe. We could have had a green economy that lifts everyone up rather than making the 1% immensely rich.
Our occupations demonstrate that as a country we have the ability to bear high costs over decades for a failed policy. Now is the time to build a Green Just Future for all Americans and lead the way forward for everyone on our beautiful planet.