News Release

Realities of Afghanistan: Behind the Rhetoric

SONALI KOLHATKAR
JAMES INGALLS
Kolhatkar and Ingalls are co-authors of the book Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence, which is being released next week. They are co-directors of the Afghan Women’s Mission. Kolhatkar said today: “All too often, discussion of U.S. policy in Afghanistan focuses exclusively on the crimes of others. The official story goes like this: ‘Prior to 9/11 things were going badly in Afghanistan, but the United States was only a helpless and casual observer of the horrors visited on Afghans by the Soviet Union and the Taliban. After the attacks of 9/11, the U.S. had had enough, and finally decided to do something about a festering problem caused by others. Today Afghanistan is a democratic and free country.’

“This view completely ignores the historical U.S. role in creating fundamentalist power in Afghanistan. It also ignores the near complete failure of the ‘war on terror,’ which today has resulted in regular suicide bombings (a first for Afghanistan), continued women’s oppression, unprecedented opium production, and a dramatic Taliban comeback.”
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ANNE E. BRODSKY
Author of the book With All Our Strength, which chronicles the experiences of Afghan women, Brodsky said today: “Nearly five years after the Bush administration’s self-proclaimed ‘liberation’ of Afghanistan, one would expect a world of improvement in a country touted as the model for Iraq. Unfortunately, last month, during my fifth trip to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, one sees instead a country in which luxury hotels, armor-plated Landrovers of international organizations, and Pakistan-inspired private palaces built to launder drug money substitute for the necessary peace, security, rule of law, and economic development that would benefit the populace. Where girls and women continue to be forced and sold into marriage, and where a recent UNIFEM report finds that violence against women is widespread and continues with impunity.

“The window of opportunity for freedom and democracy, opened nearly five years ago, has instead been filled with continued violence, graft, and the largest opium crop in Afghanistan’s history, equal to 50 percent of the country’s legal GDP. This drug trade feeds, among others, the coffers of the warlords who grabbed 60 percent of the seats in parliament and the ever-strengthening Taliban resurgence. The result is a country where the people, who have never stopped struggling to build a better life after the Taliban, are losing hope as they find themselves more and more mired in poverty, suicide bombings, rising fear, school burnings that keep children, particularly girls, from education, fundamentalist backlash, and a growing resentment and lack of faith in Western intervention and in the very values that the West claimed to espouse during the routing of the Taliban.” Brodsky is director of gender and women’s studies at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167