A Cycle of War Crimes: Today’s Crisis in Afghanistan Grew Out of 20 Years of US War

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      And these airstrikes are happening now inside of cities, because the Taliban are inside cities. They’re in the outskirts of many of these provincial capitals. So they’re striking buildings. They’re striking heavily populated areas, a lot of civilians, so there are undoubtedly going to be heavy civilian casualties as a result of this urban combat, also on the side of the Taliban, who are, after all, responsible for these offenses into cities. So, the blood of a lot of civilians are going to be on their hands, as well. The fact of the matter is, is if these provincial capitals fall, it might also be quite bloody. It’s a kind of a no-win situation, I think maybe similar to what the U.S. faced in Iraq, where airstrikes were necessary to hold back the advance of insurgents from capturing major cities.

      But at the end of the day, there’s very little leverage that the international community or the U.S. has on the Taliban. We’ve been bombing them, assassinating them, sanctioning them for 20 years. So, as long as they’re winning, capturing territory, they have no incentive to come to the bargaining table. So, probably we’re going to see brutal, bloody fighting until there’s a stalemate of some sort that persuades both sides to talk. And I’m afraid we’re quite far away from that. And we’re going to see increased civilian casualties and also a massive wave of displacement. There’s going to be Afghan refugees who are going to be leaving, who are leaving already in heightened numbers for neighboring countries. And ultimately, some of them are going to try to reach Europe.

      I think that the US role in this war is definitely going to become more secret and less accountable, because it’s going to be largely carried out by the CIA and special operation forces that are operating under secret, covert authorities. So we’re going to know less about it, certainly. And at the same time, though, I think that it’s going to become a much more of Afghan war. There’s not going to be the same presence that we had before. So, it’s very difficult to say what the U.S. will be doing, because we’re not going to have a lot of visibility on it. It’s going to be a much smaller role, but significant nonetheless. I mean, don’t forget that they’re bankrolling the Afghan government, paying their salaries. And without that, there would be an even faster collapse of the Afghan security forces.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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