Stealing from Afghanistan's people

Debra Sweet, February 17, 2022

sanctionsI have such a vivid memory of a long-planned anti-globilization movement protest in Washington DC in late September 2001. Lots of people didn't come; those that did acted in the face of bellicose USA! USA! jingoism emanating from The White House a week before the US invaded Afghanistan.

Bread & Puppet Theater organized a procession of 20 foot tall puppets of women carrying children's bodies, moving slowly, dramatically collapsing to a drumbeat every block or so to convey the message that innocent people will die. It was breathtaking in its reality, and residents of DC stared, captured by the spectacle, as I was.

That nightmare has come true, and worse. After the U.S. spent $300 million per day to dominate Afghanistan, the Biden administration has "withheld" -- called by normal people "stolen" -- $7 billion in Afghan funds held in the U.S.

A horrific threat of starvation faces the Afghan people, and especially children, due to the U.S. freezing of Afghanistan's Central Bank assets. This moving article by Kathy Kelly, Americans Must Recognize the Pain They Are Causing the Afghan People, concretely gives a picture of the resulting situation:

"...this winter, for desperate millions of Afghans, the bread isn’t there. The decades-long U.S. assault on Afghanistan’s people has now taken the vengeful form of freezing their shattered, starving country’s assets.

The U.S. confiscation of $9.4 billion in Afghanistan’s currency reserves has already plunged the country into an economic and humanitarian crisis. On January 10, the Biden Administration announced an Executive Order which will allow 3.5 billion in frozen assets from Afghanistan's central bank to be distributed for humanitarian assistance in the country. But measures aiming to provide humanitarian assistance will not address the reality of an economy on the verge of collapse. If the Afghan Bank can't pay teachers, health care workers and civil servants, those people won't have money to buy food and if the farmers can't sell their crops, they can't afford to cultivate the land.

With some 23 million people in extreme hunger and a million children under age five in immediate danger of starvation, the U.S. should unfreeze all of Afghanistan’s Central Bank assets..." Read more here.

To make matters even worse, if possible, not only are these assets being frozen, but Biden is planning to take half these funds and use them for the families of U.S. 9/11 victims - that is, taking funds that belong to the Afghan people who bore no responsibility for the 9/11 attacks while Afghanistan faces a humanitarian catastrophe. "'This is adding insult to injury,' says Phyllis Rodriguez, a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, whose son Greg was killed in the World Trade Center attack and who says 9/11 families want 'information, not remuneration.'” Watch or read the transcript of this interview on Democracy Now.

Get more of the full picture in The Monsters in the White House and the Starving Children in Afghanistan: Biden Administration Acts Decisively… to Intensify Crisis and Suffering.

Debra Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait



As the wars go on, so do our We Are Not Your Soldiers visits. Last week, remotely from the West Coast, Joy Damiani spent the day in a NYC high school. Starting out by saying, "There isn't much that’ll get me out of bed before dawn these days," Joy tells why she speaks to students across the country.joy"...I wear this shirt when I speak to students because this nation would have them believe all Arabs are terrorists, when the truth is that it’s us who invade, occupy, and terrorize independent nations all over the world. Loosely, the text means 'veterans against war.' Literally, it translates to 'ancient warriors against war.' I tell the kids both translations, because despite what their government would have them think, Arabic is not the language of terrorists. The language of terrorists is war – and it’s one that no child should ever have to learn." Read more here.