Afghanistan: Whose Hands Are Bloody?

Last week, 75,000 secret military documents exposing the brutal reality of the US war in Afghanistan were leaked to the public. These classified documents were released through Wikileaks, a website that publishes anonymous documents exposing corporate and government corruption. The documents give us a glimpse of what the US occupation of Afghanistan looks like. The documents show us how the US is killing Afghan civilians and consciously trying to cover it up, assassinating people, and lying to the world about it.

The documents released on Wikileaks are battlefield reports from US soldiers. They show in detail how  innocent civilians have been killed in airstrikes and  murdered at military checkpoints. The reports also document the activities of Task Force 373, a secret illegal assassination squad with a hit list of 2,000 individuals.

Since the Wikileaks documents became public, officials in the US government have been working hard to try and divert our attention. Instead of asking questions about what these documents really show us about their war, they want us to focus on how the leak happened. The government says it thinks that one of the sources of the leak is 22-year-old Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst for the US Army. Manning was arrested back in June for allegedly downloading 150,000 classified documents and leaking a classified military video of a US Army helicopter attack on innocent civilians in Baghdad.

 The government wants us to believe that Bradley Manning, Wikileaks, and whoever else might be behind this leak are criminals whose actions are endangering the lives of soldiers and innocent people in Afghanistan. The Obama administration has said that those who released these documents are “putting people’s lives at risk” in Afghanistan. And Pentagon officials have said that Wikileaks might already have “blood on its hands.”

But who made the decision to wage this war on the people of Afghanistan? Who is escalating the war? Since the US invaded the country in 2001, tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed, including 2,400 in 2009 alone. It is estimated that an average of three Afghan children are killed per day as a result of this war. In addition to those Afghans killed, approximately one million have been forced to leave their homes. 

Since 2001, more than 1,100 US soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan. Of the total number of US soldiers killed, over 500 have been killed since Obama took office in January of last year. And during this past July, more US soldiers were killed than in any other month since the war began. The soldiers who aren’t being killed are bringing the war home with them. The Veterans Affairs office says that an average of 18 US veterans commit suicide every month. Many of these are soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last Tuesday, the day after the Wikileaks documents became public, the House of Representatives approved $33 billion more for the US’ occupation of Afghanistan. This $33 billion will pay for the additional 30,000 troops that the Obama administration announced it would send last December. A request by the Obama administration for another $157.8 billion will go before the House this Fall. These are literally the same people who are telling us that we should be angry at Wikileaks for “putting people’s lives at risk” in Afghanistan! 

Bradley Manning is currently sitting in solitary confinement at a military base in Virginia, but he’s no criminal. He is a hero for exposing the truth. The blood and destruction we see in Afghanistan isn’t on his hands or on the hands of any other person who might have been involved with this leak. It is not on the hands of the people who run Wikileaks. And it won’t be on the hands of any person who might be involved in future leaks. The blood of the tens of thousands people killed in this war, the pain of the millions of lives this war has disrupted – this is on the hands of the politicians who are waging this war and the corporations who are profiting from it. They are the real criminals. If there were any justice they would be the ones sitting in jail cells for the murder of the Afghan people.