News Release

Afghanistan: “Fiction” of Sovereign Government, U.S. Funding “War of Attrition”


The New York Times reports: “President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan is expected to urge President Obama in a White House meeting on Tuesday not to pull American military forces out of his country as quickly as planned, requesting an extension of assistance in combating a tenacious Taliban insurgency.”

ANAND GOPAL, anandgopal80 at, @Anand_Gopal_
Available for a limited number of interviews, Gopal has spent extensive time in Afghanistan and is author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes, which just won the 2015 Ridenhour Book Prize.

He said today: “The agreement funding the army implies that there’s a foreseeable time when Afghanistan has a functioning government and that’s just not the case. The U.S. is funding a war of attrition.

“A main result of this war is that Afghan civilians are dying in greater numbers. Last year saw more civilian deaths than any year since 2001. Most of the violence is coming from U.S. proxies and the Taliban insurgents.

“The U.S. is allied with power brokers, warlords who are fighting the ‘war on terror’ on the U.S.’s behalf. When people talk about ‘counterterrorism operations,’ what they mean is night raids, targeted killings and allying with these warlords. When I say warlords, I mean private contractors because the U.S. is paying for them essentially, they are mercenaries, they’re paramilitary forces, there’s hundreds of thousands of them around the country.

“It’s a fiction that Ashraf Ghani has a sovereign government. On the one hand, he’s beholden to foreign aid and on the other he is constrained by warlords and strongmen in the countryside that exert a tremendous amount of power.”

SONALI KOLHATKAR, sonali at, @sonalikolhatkar
Kolhatkar is co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence and is co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission.