Here is a face of the war in Afghanistan. Najibullah, an air raid victim from the Malwand district of Kandahar, points to where three bombs shattered his home during a recent US airstrike. His message to President Obama: Withdraw US forces from Afghanistan at once. "They're going to leave anyway," Najibullah says. "It's better for them to leave Afghanistan on their own terms now rather than later. To leave our country voluntarily. We're all deformed, people are missing fingers. Look at my finger." He points to a missing index finger on his right hand. "Some people are missing eyes, some people are missing legs. Some are missing their arms. They destroyed the whole nation."
This exclusive footage, which Brave New Foundation released today as part of the soon-to-be-released fourth segment of Rethink Afghanistan, stands as an unflinching testament to the rampant devastation wrought by recent US airstrikes in Afghanistan. It should be seen by everyone who attempts to write off the civilian casualties of this war with the dehumanizing phrase "collateral damage." It should be seen by everyone in Congress considering whether to escalate this quagmire with $96.7 billion in supplemental wartime spending. And it should be seen by Gen. Stanley McChrystal as he submits his review of US strategy in Afghanistan--the fifth review this year--and tries to pretend the war in Afghanistan is not a quagmire that's destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians like Najibullah.
Here's how Chris Hedges assessed this dire situation:
We are not delivering democracy or liberation or development. We are delivering massive, sophisticated forms of industrial slaughter. And because we have employed the blunt and horrible instrument of war in a land we know little about and are incapable of reading, we embody the barbarism we claim to be seeking to defeat.
We are morally no different from the psychopaths within the Taliban, who Afghans remember we empowered, funded and armed during the 10-year war with the Soviet Union. Acid thrown into a girl's face or beheadings? Death delivered from the air or fields of shiny cluster bombs? This is the language of war. It is what we speak. It is what those we fight speak.
Raw images like those seen in this video, though disturbing, are necessary to drive home exactly what's at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The civilian death toll has skyrocketed due to Predator drone attacks and airstrikes such as the Farah province bombing that killed 143 Afghans last month (including 96 women and children). And we must also consider how the survivors of such attacks like Najibullah can go on living. Forced to flee their war-ravaged homes to seek shelter in IDP camps, they are left with no food, water, or medicine for their families. They have only the clothes on their backs, hatred for the United States, and desperation that leads them to support Taliban extremists who use these bombings as a recruiting tool.
We must stop speaking the language of war. Rather than perpetuating a cycle of catastrophic violence with 21,000 more troops and $96.7 billion more in wartime spending, we must acknowledge this war's victims, negotiate a peace, and set an exit strategy to leave.