Here at America’s Future Now, I attended a panel this morning on Afghanistan featuring Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films and Rethink Afghanistan, Dr. Roshanak Wardak (whom I interviewed yesterday), Anand Gopal and Ann Jones.
Gopal, a journalist with the Christian Science Monitor, discussed three myths about troop increases that we will hear this summer.
1. Troops Bring Security
The reality, Gopal said, is that troop increases over the last few years have brought more violence and, in particular, more civilian casualties.
2. More Troops Can Prevent Civilian Casualties by Lessening Dependence on Airpower
The claim is often made that with more troops on the ground, the dependence on lethal airpower will lessen. The reality, Gopal said, is that American troops operate in small, mobile units. When they are ambushed, the units frequently call in air support, which in turns causes civilian casualties. Thus more troops actually means more air strikes and more civilian deaths.
3. Afghans Want More Foreign Troops
The reality, Gopal said, is that in some part of Afghanistan, where no major combat operations are taking place, Afghans may welcome the troops who assist in development operations. But in areas where real fighting is taking place, people are simply tired of fighting and being caught in the crossfire or in reprisals from insurgents.
Ann Jones, a development practitioner who spent four years in Afghanistan, also offered some thoughts about the conditions for Afghan women. According to Jones, life for rural women did not change after US invasion, and in some cases became worse: many women were displaced through violence or widowed. Nor have Afghan women attained equal rights in Afghan politics. Despite language promising equality in the Afghan constitution, Jones continued, Afghan patriarchy continues in full force, often propagated not just by the Taliban but by elected Afghan politicians and government officials.
Learn more about Afghanistan at Rethink Afghanistan.
(Also on The Seminal)