I hope the Democrats are successful in stopping the Iraq atrocity. Out of Iraq. Now. But I must once again disagree — strongly disagree — with the notion that Iraq has distracted us from the “real” war against terrorism, the one in Afghanistan. This is a talking point of virtually all the Democratic presidential hopefuls and a distressingly large proportion of the progressive blogosphere. I must say again: Afghanistan was wrong, too.
That was the title of a post I put up in December 2005 at a time when Iraq looked less like the colossal screw up many of us knew it was. It was also a time when Afghanistan was relatively quiet, a success story. Unless you were an Afghan. We were going to post here an updated version and went back to look at the old one. Unfortunately we don’t need to change it:
It is commonly said we were justified to go into Afghanistan because “they” were the ones who attacked us, contrasting it with the misdirected attack on Iraq who had no role in the 9/11 attack. I beg to differ. Not on the Iraq part. On the justification for attacking Afghanistan.
First let me get the (tiresome) disclaimers out of the way. I am not in favor of a Taliban style regime (hence I am not a big fan of Saudi Arabia or the current regime in Iran). Nor was I a supporter of Saddam Hussein. Nor, for that matter, am I a supporter of Robert Mugabe or Kim Jong Il or Pervez Musharraf or Putin or the Chinese oligarchs. They are bad (sometimes evil, if I may be so bold as to purloin that word from Fearless Leader) and have done incalculable harm (at least I don’t want to try calculating it). The question is, does that justify bombing the living shit out of their countries and then occupying them?
Afghanistan is different, you might say, because they attacked us on 9/11. Not as far as I know. Taking the Administration’s word for it, the most the Afghan government did was provide a safe haven and moral support for those who did attack us. If that kind of support for terrorists were a warrant for attacking a country, then we would have also (or instead) have attacked Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (instead of giving them special favors).
Yet our sole justification for attacking Afghanistan was that they physically harbored terrorists who attacked us. As President Bush said after the 9/11 attack, we will go after any country that provides safe haven for terrorists, any terrorists. This is a global war on terrorism. There are to be no exceptions.
Except, of course, there are numerous exceptions. We don’t attack Florida for giving safe haven to anti-Cuban terrorists. We didn’t let the British attack South Boston because it was a hotbed of IRA sympathizers, supporters and financiers. We don’t bomb Montana because it harbors anti-government militias of the type that killed 168 Americans in the Oklahoma City bombing. No, instead we attacked Afghanistan because it was essentially defenseless, was geopolitically important (at least the Russians thought so), it was politically expedient for our military-record challenged President to show how tough he was, and it was a neocon warm-up for the main show, the planned establishment of American military power in Iraq. There is no global war on terrorism, of course. Just more neocon imperial policy.
Attacking Afghanistan was wrong (too).