Humanitarian warmongers mock US sanctions killing Afghans
With the Taliban in power, Afghanistan and its people are in the midst of a historic global humanitarian catastrophe that may not even have reached its peak.
No, it’s not August 2021, as Washington pulls out of its useless twenty-year occupation of the country and the Taliban regains control. It’s 2022, and the reason you might not have heard much about it is that the solution, this time around, doesn’t involve military force.
Since the Taliban regained power in August and September 2021, Afghanistan has been in the throes of a deadly crisis unprecedented in its already tumultuous modern history. While the Taliban are, to say the least, far from the ideal stewards of the country, this crisis has little to do with their politics. Rather, the causes are the worst drought in Afghanistan’s history and the US sanctions that have devastated the country’s economy and infrastructure since the US military stopped bombing and killing.
No one can do anything about the drought. Sanctions are another story. $ 10 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank have been frozen in the foreign coffers in which they are kept, including in the United States. The country’s $ 440 million reserves held with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are also frozen. For months, the IMF, World Bank, aid agencies and others halted the flow of foreign aid to the country – which, before the Taliban takeover, accounted for three-quarters of public spending and 43% of Afghanistan GDP.
To say that the results were devastating doesn’t quite capture it. Doctors and civil servants have not been paid for months, as have the hundreds of thousands of members of the security forces who lost their jobs during the political transition. The US freeze has resulted in a devaluation of the Afghan currency and exacerbated a sharp rise in the cost of basic necessities, while interrupting the flow of overseas remittances, which normally represent 4% of the country’s GDP.
As early as September, United Nations officials had warned that a million children were at risk of starving to death, more than five times the number killed in America’s 20-year war in the country. In December, the UN raised that estimate to nearly 23 million people facing life-threatening food insecurity in winter, and nearly nine million as famine approaches.
Afghanistan’s healthcare system reliant on a $ 600 million World Bank program funded by the US and other foreign governments, its healthcare system, like its economy, is also on the brink of collapse . Only four hundred of the health facilities it funds are still functioning, with widespread drug shortages and healthcare professionals trying to deliver and perform other procedures without sufficient electricity or equipment. All of this came as the country was ravaged by no less than six epidemics, including measles, polio and, of course, COVID-19. Like the rest of the Global South, Afghanistan is unable to provide COVID vaccination due to Western governments’ jealousy over the profits of large pharmaceutical companies.
Ordinary Afghans have been reduced to selling all the household items they have on the roadside or, horribly, their own children, in an effort to save their entire families from hunger. While Washington, after months of watching the horror it unleashed, has finally decided to allow some humanitarian exceptions to its sanctions, a small amount of foreign aid will not be enough to replace a functioning banking system. or stop a collapsing economy.
This is an almost entirely man-made crisis, and the reason it is designed and stubbornly held in place is that Washington and the European powers, they say, do not want to “reward” the Taliban for their medieval treatment of women. This is clearly not working, however, because even as the Afghan economy continues its death spiral, the Taliban still chops off the heads of female models and prohibits women from traveling alone and using public baths.
Take a moment to reflect on the loathsome logic of Western governments here. Most affected are ordinary Afghans, whom Washington and its allies are using as ransom to force the Taliban to stop repressing. . . these same people, that these governments are busy dying of human hunger. This makes no sense, and it suggests that none of this has anything to do with concerns for the well-being of the Afghan people, but rather punishing a faction of political enemies that has embarrassed the Western military.
For casual observers, this can all be a bit confusing. After all, it was only a few months ago that the press and the broader political establishment took part in one of the most brazen pro-war campaigns in recent memory to undermine and reverse an American withdrawal. of the horrible war there. This surge, we were told at the time, was due to the intense and overwhelming love and concern of political and media figures for the Afghan people, especially the “women and girls” cited relentlessly. by people whose hearts only began to suspiciously bleed once there was a prospect that Western bombs and bullets would no longer kill them.
Miraculously, these war-hawk humanitarian aid workers have found a way to silence their conscience. As Adam Johnson has documented, figures like CNN presenter Jake Tapper, Atlantic columnist Caitlin Flanagan and NBC journalist Richard Engel – who have widely reported on the chaos of the US withdrawal and even, at times, explicitly opposed it – have simply lost interest in the suffering of the Afghan people, almost completely ignoring the humanitarian catastrophe that has since unfolded, and eliminating the role of Western governments in the one or two cases they have reported.
It is an integral part of the wider media coverage of the war. For years, when Washington and its allies killed children, bombed hospitals, and sparked the widespread rage that led Afghans to decide they were better off under the deeply reactionary Taliban, television coverage of the war was negligible, reaching a low. combined total of just five minutes in 2020 on CBS, NBC and ABC. When it looked like the war might finally be over, coverage then rose to 345 minutes in August 2021 alone. And now that the war is over and Western governments are inflicting even more carnage through economic means, the The press has lost interest again, devoting only twenty-one minutes to the country in ten segments since September.
The same is true of members of Congress who are always quick to bring up the plight of Afghan civilians if that is what it takes to sell a war. Intercept Journalist Lee Fang visited Capitol Hill in December and failed to convince a single congressman to clearly oppose the sanctions. Democrat Tammy Duckworth and Republican Richard Shelby justified them on the basis of Taliban behavior, with Shelby saying “they will do more harm to the people of [Afghanistan] than anyone else, before walking away immediately. This is, of course, not at all true: as anti-liberal as the Taliban may be, the suffering imposed by their policies does not come close to the magnitude of the suffering caused by famine and widespread societal collapse as American policy. is currently spawning.
In a familiar model of American foreign policy, policymakers have substituted military war for economic war. The conditions in Afghanistan and the economic strangulation program behind them are identical to what Washington is currently doing in at least three other countries whose governments it hates: Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.
The United States could use its enormous economic power for a variety of urgent and worthy causes, such as using targeted financial sanctions to stop the destruction of the world’s rainforests. Instead, he does it to condemn millions of innocent people to starvation and disease. As is so often the case, governments in the West don’t have to do much to make the world a better place – in fact, all they have to do is stop what they’re doing.