Some question intentionsof U.S. war in Afghanistan

Mohamad Elmasry

Reflecting on the U.S. war in Afghanistan that ended approximately three years ago, former University student Ahmad Ali said the 2001 operation was not about freedom, democracy or human rights. The United States invaded Afghanistan for military and economic reasons, he said.

“I think that it was an illegitimate war,” said Ali, who is of Afghan descent. “It was a step that needed to be taken in order to go to step two,” which was attacking Iraq.

Ali and University student Hasina Kohistani, also of Afghan descent, said the war was fought for the wrong reasons. Although they and others feel negatively about the war, some benefits have been derived in the aftermath, they said.

Kohistani said the United States didn’t care about the Afghan people and invaded only to serve its interests.

Ali said there were economic and political benefits to invading Afghanistan, such as the amount of natural resources in the area.

He said he doesn’t think the United States is interested in spreading democracy.

“That’s the furthest thing from the truth,” Ali said.

He said the United States’ lack of interest in helping Palestinians, Rwandans and Bosnians in recent years is evidence against its democratic agenda.

Conditions in the country

Since major fighting ended in Afghanistan, several of Ali’s relatives have gone back to visit their homeland.

“It was devastating (for them) to go back and to see the … poverty, the destruction of property,” he said.

Ali said thousands of innocent civilians were killed in the war, including many killed by the U.S. military.

Kohistani said many children have been orphaned and some have missing arms and legs because of the war.

University political science professor Ronald Krebs said “there is very little security on the ground in Afghanistan.”

He said that while the United States has demonstrated a commitment to rebuilding Iraq, it has not been so committed to Afghanistan.

“When the Bush administration talks about promoting freedom Ö building security and ensuring stability, they clearly do not have Afghanistan in mind,” Krebs said.

He said Afghanistan is a country that is democratizing, though whether it will actually achieve democracy is still unknown.

Benefits

But Ali said the U.S. invasion brought about some unintended benefits, including the removal of the Taliban from power. The Taliban represented an extreme fringe minority, and under its leadership, Afghan people lived in fear, he said.

Kohistani also said removal of the Taliban has been positive. It can help the country improve, she said.

One of Kohistani’s female relatives was beaten by the Taliban, because a strand of her hair was showing in public, she said.

The U.S. military operation also made Afghan people living abroad more able to travel back to their home country, Ali said. Some hadn’t been back to Afghanistan for more than 20 years, he said.

Many have gone back to check on property and look into business opportunities, Ali said.

Kohistani said many Afghan professionals who live abroad, including lawyers and pharmacists, have gone back to help their people.