December 6, 2021

A Nation of Graveyards: Afghanistan Under The Taliban

"Studies on sanctions show that they affect the civilian population the most while there is practically no effect on the living conditions of the political elites. The US and the EU, along with the UN Security Council, should immediately review sanctions and take action to facilitate liquidity and availability of cash to alleviate human suffering." - Andreas Stefansson, "Aid cut-off may kill more Afghans than war," Al Jazeera, December 4, 2021.

"Of the many prohibitions set forth under international law, the one most frequently ignored, yet, clearly defined, is the ban on collective punishment. The prohibition of collective punishment in international humanitarian law is based on one of the oldest, and most basic, tenets of criminal law… the principle of individual responsibility. Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Section 1 Art. 33 provides that: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”" - Stanley L. Cohen, "A Short History of Collective Punishment: From the British Empire to Gaza" CounterPunch, August 24, 2018.

Afghanistan risks becoming a nation of graveyards in the new Taliban era. 

As soon as they stepped into power on the red carpet laid out by Washington the Taliban and their Pakistani masters began executing their enemies in the former Afghan military and police.

Retribution killings are common in the conclusion of civil wars. Rarely do battle hardened men rise above their violent natures, especially undisciplined guerrillas. 

The Taliban's backers want to present them as statesmen but at their core they are a band of killers and nothing more. Maybe in their infancy they had some ethical beliefs but twenty years of war changes the character of men, even highly religious students of the holy book.

So their behaviour was totally predictable and matches the brutality shown by other hardline Islamist militias that have seized power across the region.

Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s leading negotiator in talks with the Taliban, blamed the Taliban's Blitzkrieg takeover in the summer on the hapless Afghans who were entirely dependent on his government.

In every face-saving interview since August he has avoided acknowledging his own mistakes and errors, including the period when he served as President Bush's Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan from December 2001 to November 2003.

The government Khalilzad and Washington put in place collapsed like a house of cards and its replacement is headed for the same fate.

The Taliban are not competent enough to run a country. In the 90s they were tasked with being "pipeline police" but now they can't even manage to do that.

Pakistan is equally clueless. As the Taliban’s big brother they were expected to act more maturely. But Islamabad has proven to be an ignominious winner and incapable of securing their military victory with benevolent statesmanship. 

It was shamed into allowing Indian food shipments for Afghanistan after international criticism.

Afghanistan's desperate need for food and money has not received the attention it deserves. The country is on the brink of a massive humanitarian crisis. 

Washington is acting like a sore loser by withholding Afghanistan's own cash and preventing common Afghans from accessing banks in order to feed themselves. Starving people to hurt their rulers achieves nothing but mass death. 

A starving nation can't rebel. North Korea's sick rulers know that. 

Enforcing sanctions on Afghanistan only increases the Taliban’s grip on power. 

And maybe that is the outcome that Washington desires for Afghanistan.