[pjw] INFO: To Counter Terror, Abolish War - Kathy Kelly, 9/11

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Mon Sep 13 20:17:37 EDT 2021


Kathy Kelly, of the now defunct Voices for Creative Nonviolence and now 
sending out information under the banner name of "To End All Wars," sent 
this piece on Saturday. I thought people on this list would appreciate it.

dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2021 06:11:39
From: To End All Wars
Subject: To Counter Terror, Abolish War - Kathy Kelly

Afghanistan's plight demands our sorrow, penitence, and valor.

To Counter Terror, Abolish War
by Kathy Kelly
September 11, 2021

(This article first appeared at Waging Nonviolence 

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was among a small group of U.S. 
citizens who sat on milk crates or stood holding signs, across from the 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan. We had been fasting from 
solid foods for a month, calling for an end to brutal economic warfare 
waged against Iraq through imposition of U.N. sanctions. Each Friday of 
our fast, we approached the entrance to the U.S. Mission to the United 
Nations carrying lentils and rice, asking the U.S. officials to break our 
fast with us, asking them to hear our reports, gathered after visiting 
destitute Iraqi hospitals and homes. On four successive Friday afternoons, 
New York police handcuffed us and took us to jail.

Two days after the passenger planes attacked the World Trade Center, U.S. 
Mission to the UN officials called us and asked that we visit with them.

I had naively hoped this overture could signify empathy on the part of 
U.S. officials. Perhaps the 9/11 attack would engender sorrow over the 
suffering and pain endured by people of Iraq and other lands when the U.S. 
attacks them. The officials at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
wanted to know why we went to Iraq but we sensed they were mainly 
interested in filling out forms to comply with an order to gather more 
information about U.S. people going to Iraq.

The U.S. government and military exploited the grief and shock following 
9/11 attacks to raise fears, promote Islamophobia and launch forever wars 
which continue to this day. Under the guise of “counter-terrorism,” the 
U.S. now pledges to combine drone attacks, surveillance, airstrikes, and 
covert operations to continue waging war in Afghanistan. Terror among 
Afghans persists.

I visited Kabul, Afghanistan in September 2019. While there, a young 
friend whom I've known for five years greeted me and then spoke in a 
hushed voice. "Kathy," he asked, "do you know about Qazi Qadir, Bahadir, 
Jehanzeb and Saboor?" I nodded. I had read a news account 
, shortly before I arrived, about Afghan Special Operations commandos, 
trained by the CIA, having waged a night raid in the city of Jalalabad at 
the home of four brothers. They awakened the young men, then shot and 
killed them. Neighbors said the young men had gathered to welcome their 
father back from the Hajj; numerous colleagues insisted the young men were 

My young friend has been deeply troubled by many other incidents in which 
the United States directly attacked innocent people or trained Afghan 
units to do so. Two decades of U.S. combat in Afghanistan have made 
civilians vulnerable to drone attacks, night raids, airstrikes and 
arrests. Over 4 million people have become internally displaced as they 
fled from battles or could no longer survive on scarred, drought stricken 

In an earlier visit to Kabul, at the height of the U.S. troop surge, 
another young friend earnestly asked me to tell parents in the United 
States not to send their sons and daughters to Afghanistan. "Here it is 
very dangerous for them,” he said. “And they do not really help us."

For many years, the United States claimed its mission in Afghanistan 
improved the lives of Afghan women and children. But essentially, the U.S. 
war improved the livelihoods of those who designed, manufactured, sold and 
used weaponry to kill Afghans.

When the U.S. was winding down its troop surge in 2014, but not its 
occupation, military officials undertook what they called 
"the largest retrograde 
mission in U.S. military history," incurring enormous expenses. One 
estimate suggested the war in Afghanistan, that year, was costing $2 
million per U.S. soldier. That same year, UNICEF officials calculated that 
the cost of adding iodized salt into the diet of an Afghan infant, a step 
which could prevent chronic brain damage in children suffering from acute 
malnourishment, would be 5 cents per child per year.

Which endeavor would the majority of U.S. people have opted to support, in 
their personal budgets, had they ever been given a choice? Profligate U.S. 
military spending in Afghanistan or vital assistance for a starving Afghan 

One of my young Afghan friends says he is now an anarchist. He doesn't 
place much trust in governments and militaries. He feels strong allegiance 
toward the grassroots network he has helped build, a group I would 
normally name and celebrate, but must now refer to as "our young friends 
in Afghanistan," in hopes of protecting them from hostile groups.

The brave and passionate dedication they showed as they worked tirelessly 
to share resources, care for the environment, and practice nonviolence has 
made them quite vulnerable to potential accusers who may believe they were 
too connected with westerners.

In recent weeks, I've been part of an ad hoc team assisting 60 young 
people and their family members who feel alarmed about remaining in Kabul 
and are sorting out their options to flee the country.

It's difficult to forecast how Taliban rule will affect them.

Already, some extraordinarily brave people have held protests in in the 
provinces of Herat, Nimroz, Balkh and Farah, and in the city of Kabul 
where dozens of women took to the streets to demand 
representation in the new government and to insist that their rights must 
be protected.

In many provinces in Afghanistan, the Taliban may find themselves ruling 
over increasingly resentful people. Half the population already lives in 
poverty and economic catastrophe looms. In damage caused by war, people 
have lost harvests, homes and livestock. A third wave of COVID afflicts 
the country and three million Afghans face consequences of severe drought 
. Will the Taliban government have the resources and skills to cope with 
these overwhelming problems?

On the other hand, in some provinces, Taliban rule has seemed preferable 
to the previous government's incompetence and corruption, particularly in 
regard to property or land disputes.

We should be honest. The Taliban are in power today because of a colossal 
mess the U.S. helped create.

Now, we U.S. citizens must insist on paying reparations for destruction 
caused by 20 years of war. To be meaningful, reparations must also include 
dismantling the warfare systems that caused so much havoc and misery. Our 
wars of choice were waged against people who meant us no harm. We must 
choose, now, to lay aside the cruel futility of our forever wars.

My young friend who whispered to me about human rights abuses in 2019 
recently fled Afghanistan. He said he doesn't want to be driven by fear, 
but he deeply wants to use his life to do good, to build a better world.

Ultimately, Afghanistan will need people like him and his friends if the 
country is ever to experience a future where basic human rights to food, 
shelter, health care and education are met. It will need people who have 
already made dedicated sacrifices for peace, believing in an Afghan adage 
which says "blood doesn't wash away blood."

Essentially, people in Afghanistan will need U.S. people to embrace this 
same teaching. We must express true sorrow, seek forgiveness, and show 
valor similar to that of the brave people insisting on human rights in 
Afghanistan today. Collectively, recognizing the terrible legacy of 9/11, 
we must agree:  To counter terror, abolish war.

Kathy Kelly is a peace activist whose efforts have at times led to war 
zones and prisons. She co-coordinates the Ban Killer Drones 
(https://bankillerdrones.org/) campaign and was a co-founder of Voices in 
the Wilderness and Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

More information about the pjw-list mailing list