Afghanistan Has Always Been a Failed and Failing War

Janine Jackson: On August 21, Donald Trump gave what one Washington Post writer called a “muscular speech” on his plans for the US’s long war in Afghanistan. Corporate media were critical of the lack of detail: How many new troops would be sent? How long exactly until the US annihilates all the terrorists? And media were critical of the messenger: Didn’t what was often benignly described as “continued US presence” in Afghanistan contradict Trump’s earlier views?

Less compelling for big media than what it means that this is “Trump’s war now” was what the US-led war has meant every day for Afghan citizens, and what escalation is assured to mean.

Writer and activist Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Author most recently of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror, she’s also co-author of Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer. She joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Phyllis Bennis.

Phyllis Bennis: Great to be with you, Janine.

It isn’t to say that there isn’t critical commentary of various stripes; it’s just that some big things seem to be off the page. You could read multiple news reports, for example, that refer to the costs of the war in Afghanistan and occupation, and that reckoned those costs in US troop casualties or fatalities, and in taxpayer dollars.  What’s missing from this sort of accounting, and then what do you make, in general, of media reaction to Trump’s speech?

Well, you know, Janine, one of the points in Trump’s speech, when he said at the very beginning that the American people are “weary of war” — he said they’re “weary of war without victory.” What nobody is asking is, are the Afghans weary of war? There have been 67 percent more civilian casualties this year under Trump than the equivalent time of last year. Every year since the UN began keeping records back in 2009, every year the number of civilian casualties has gone up. Every year, it’s been…

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