October 7th marks ten years of war on the people of Afghanistan. In 2001, the US government used the attacks of September 11th to wage war on Afghanistan, with practically unanimous support from Democratic and Republican politicians. The politicians told us that the people of the US were in danger from terrorists, and that war was the only way to make the US safe.
Now ten years later, the sheer brutality of this war and the devastation it has caused is in plain sight. All of the reasons ever given for the war on Afghanistan have been demonstrated to be either complete lies or just plain false. The majority of the US population as well as the people of Afghanistan have remained opposed to this war since the beginning – and yet it has continued, for ten years. The war has not only continued but has expanded into Pakistan, and the US military plans to remain in both countries until as late as 2020.
Devastation has been the only outcome of this so-called “war on terror”, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq. In Afghanistan, villages, households, families, wedding parties, farmlands – these are the targets of US bombs and gunfire. The US military doesn’t keep public records of the death toll but many organizations estimate that over 100,000 Afghans have been killed. Over two million Afghans have had to flee their villages and become refugees. More than 70 percent of Afghans are currently suffering from or on the brink of hunger. One out five children die every year in Afghanistan. This is a war of brutality against an entire population.
In Iraq, the balance sheet of war has been the same: devastation and brutality. Over 2.3 million Iraqis have been killed. About six million Iraqis have been driven from their homes due to this war. The infrastructure of entire cities – roads, bridges, water treatment facilities, farmlands, schools – have been completely destroyed. Now more than half the population is unemployed. Over 70 percent of the population has no access to clean water. The people of Iraq have had their lives ripped apart.
At the same time, these wars have brought nothing but devastation to the people in the US as well. Over 7,100 soldiers have died from these wars and more than 100,000 soldiers have returned maimed, disabled, or wounded. Thousands of families have been devastated by these tragedies.
For the soldiers who do return from war, over 15 percent of them are unemployed, and at least 10,000 are currently homeless. For many soldiers, returning home doesn’t mean being able to leave the war behind them. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers return with PTSD, having a difficult time carrying on. Life has become so valueless for so many vets that an estimated 18 veterans commit suicide every single day. Soldiers have been used up and tossed aside by these wars as if their lives don’t matter.
And finally, these wars have cost staggering amounts of money. A new study from Brown University estimates the current costs of these wars at more than $4 trillion. That’s an average of about $333 billion spent every single month.
The reality is that these are not just wars of death and destruction, but of domination – the domination of a small class of bankers and bosses of multinational corporations, weapons manufacturers and energy companies, supported by the politicians of both Democratic and Republican parties. Their interests are to dominate the entire region from Iraq to Afghanistan to as much of the globe as possible. They are the only beneficiaries from these wars.
And the same class that is carrying out these wars abroad is waging a war on working people here in the US. Through layoffs, foreclosures, budget cuts, bailouts tax breaks, and other attacks, a war is being waged against the working people in the US. The goal of this war is to take as much away from working people as possible and hand it over to the ruling rich. So far these wars have been a slaughter. Another year of these wars is too much – it’s time for working people to come together, and show that enough is enough.