Socialist Worker

Same lies to justify killings in Afghanistan two decades on

Issue No. 2770

Twenty years of Western bombs an war have been justified by 20 years of lies

Twenty years of Western bombs an war have been justified by 20 years of lies (Pic: Flickr/ DVIDS)


All the lies used to justify the terror the West inflicted on Afghanistan 20 years ago played out over its airstrike on children last week.

When the US and Britain began their first airstrikes on 7 October 2001, they claimed they were only aimed at the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Most of the mainstream politicians and press went along with this. Liberal newspapers such as the Guardian wrung their hands as they “cautioned” against “overreaction” and indiscriminate bombing. But they praised the then prime minister Tony Blair as he dressed the invasion up in the language of “freedom and justice”.

They said the left who opposed and marched against the war were wrong.

And they dutifully reported Blair’s promise to the Labour conference that year—days before the invasion began—that “we will do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties”.

It would be a “proportionate” and “precise” war. The reality was much different.

Twenty years later, there is no “precise” figure for the number of Afghan civilians killed by the West’s airstrikes and wider war—as their killers never counted them. It’s certainly in the hundreds of thousands.

US military continued killings of children in Afghanistan
US military continued killings of children in Afghanistan
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None of the media that backed the invasion have much to say about that. They want to move quickly on.

So, when the US launched one of its last airstrikes on 29 August 2021, they claimed it was just aimed at the Islamist group IS-K.

Most of the mainstream politicians and press went along with this. Newspapers wrung their hands at the chaos “caused” by the West’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But they praised US and British soldiers for working with the Taliban at Kabul airport to stop thousands of people from getting on a plane.

And they dutifully reported that an IS-K car bomb had been stopped with a “precise” airstrike. The reality was much different.

We do have a precise figure for the number of Afghan civilians the West’s airstrike killed—as their families had to count and clear up their remains.

Ten members of the Ahmadi and Nejrabi families—ranging from two to 40 years old—were slaughtered.

Neighbours spoke of a “horror scene”—flesh stuck to the walls, bones fallen into the bushes. Talking about one of the younger children, Farzad, a neighbour said, “We only found his legs.”

None of the media that cheered the US’s airstrike had much to say about that. They want to move quickly on. The Telegraph newspaper reported on Tuesday that the RAF is prepared to launch more airstrikes.

The left will be as correct to oppose and march against the lies used to justify the terror inflicted on Afghanistan now, as we were 20 years ago.


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