The stereotypical Western media images of Afghanistan have men riding camels and women wearing veils. Beyond this, most westerners seem to understand little about what Afghanistan is really like, and nothing about Afghan culture. There are many ugly racial slurs prevalent amongst the ranks of U.S. soldiers (and Westerners more generally) the least offensive of these derogatory references being leveled at Afghan men are to call them 'towel-heads' and 'camel jockeys'. This kind of racial slur is the leading edge of dehumanizing and 'other-ing' by one group of people targeting another with hatred and/or more overt violence, and this is both precursor and elemental to genocide.

  • Image 1 of 39

His Name was Dilawar

keith harmon snow | Afghanistan

"Great Harm Has Been Done to US," declared George Bush in a speech thunderously applauded by the U.S. Congress on 20 September 2001. With this disingenuous slogan the United States directed its unaccountable permanent warfare machine at the people of Afghanistan, a place that few U.S. citizens know much about. Our 'allies' jumped aboard, unleashing high-tech weaponry and shock-and-awe destruction on a simple people that have been subject to the nasty prerogatives of Empire since ~ 1838. 

Civilians bear the brunt of this ugly war: over the past 4 years far more than 33,000 Afghan civilians were injured or killed. The cowardice of our war includes drone strikes, targeted assassinations, 'dirty tricks' black operations, snatch-and-snuff kidnappings, torture�"all as policy.  The War of Terror has caused millions of direct / indirect deaths since 2001, and millions more displaced persons, and the U.S. has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Dilawar of Yakubi was a young taxi driver tortured/killed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

In the spring of 2001 I launched an organic gardening project, planted about 1/2 to 1 acre of vegetables. I sold my produce at a farm stand I created by the side of the highway on our family land.  Following the New York City carnage that occured on 11 September 2001 it immediately became clear that the Pentagon (the Bush administration was in power but planning preceeded the Bush presidency) had long since planned to attack Afghanistan.

So when I learned of the imminent invasion of Afghanistan I felt outrage, horror and sadness, and I painted a simple three foot square sign that I then posted in the feild next to the farm stand.  I quoted the bible: LOVE THY ENEMY (but I did not provide chapter and verse).

The sign was defaced overnight, the 'LOVE' blacked out and KILL KILL KILL KILL written on the borders.  Over the next four months a local war was waged over that sign, and there were over 40 attacks in a blizzard of violence targeting my farm.  I know who did this, and some of them are people who also have been involved in the wars in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Sudan and Iraq.  

The sign was torn down, defaced, rammed; the farm stand several times wrecked; the gardens driven through at night by 4-WD trucks; trash thrown on the property; and one night the tee-pee I was living in was torn down by two trucks at midnight.  

All of this only strengthened my resolve to go to Afghanistan and document the war, the suffering, the resilieance of this enigmatic people�"anything I could.

I landed in India in November 2001 on an assignment for a travel magazine, and I planned to jump up to Afghanistan.  I got a visa for Pakistan, but I didn't have the support to go to Afghanistan, and more than that I didn't have the courage.  I left India and returned home filled with shame and sadness. 

When I finally arrived in Afghanistan  (2006), I stayed only some four/five weeks, departing soon after suffering high fever and obscure respiratory ailment due to my exposure to an unsafe water source (that the people live and die with). These images are part of the record of what I saw.

The Afghan people and the place touched my heart, and my awareness of the injustice of the 16-year War of Terror being waged by the United States and NATO, with hoardes of private mercenaries (most of the same ones also operating in Iraq and Africa), continues to weigh heavy on my heart and soul.  

This is an unjust war that I and my fellow (North) Americans and Canadians and Europeans should have stopped by now.  No war is the right war, it is all horribly wrong.  The innocent people of Afghanistan have suffered great harm, and they are still suffering.  The United States and its allies have committed countless war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.  It is a misguided quest, and criminal.

I wrote and published only one short story about my trip to Afghanistan, Little Soman's Little War, and this appeared in Kyoto Journal.  Most of these images have never been published.  

While in Kabul I ran into Dr. Mohammed Daud Miraki, author of the shocking testmony to war crimes titled: Afghanistan After "Democracy": The Untold Story Through Photographic Images.  Through Dr. Miraki my eyes have been further opened to the nature of this illegal and immoral enterprise.  From Bush to Obama to Trump this unjust war continues.

I can only hope that most of the people seen in these photographs have survived.  It is unlikely that they have thrived.




On or around 22 November 2017 the U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan allegedly massacred some 22 students under the age of 15 and two teachers at a seminary some 30 kilometers southwest of Kabul. The students were allegedly lined up against a wall and shot by U.S. troops.  Two students under the age of 10 survived.

Like so many true stories of the occupation forces torturing, assassinating or massacring either combatants, prisoners or noncombatant civilians, this latest atrocity story has nowhere appeared in the western press. The Afghan government announced that these children and their teachers were all armed 'Taliban'.

"U.S. troops attacked a house not too far from the seminary and they used this attack to mask their crimes," says Dr. Mohammed Miraki.  "In reality the U.S. bombed this area and then the troops came specifically to the seminary where they murdered these kids."

The numbers of civilian casualties in Afghanistan are highly under-reported, both by the western press and certainly by the Pentagon.

Precision air strikes generally hit the targets that they are meant to, but the question is not one of accuracy but intelligence.  

First, the U.S. military has little regard for human life, whether it is U.S. soldiers, enemy forces, or civilians.

Second, under the Trump administration the bombings have been stepped up in lockstep with the imperialist and racist anti-Islam rhetoric of Commander in Chief Donald Trump.  

Third, the Pentagon considers every Afghan a 'Taliban' until or unless proven otherwise, and even the proving is a difficult process.  

Fourth, the numbers of civilians killed, according to the Pentagon's calculations, are based on their erroneous threshold of what qualifies as evidence for being a civilian: the Pentagon's threshold is extremely high.

The videos publicly released and posted by the Pentagon showing that precision airstrikes have hit their intended targets�"such as the recent October and November 2017 barrage of air strikes against supposed heroine processing laboratories�"could as likely be ordinary civilian compounds, as was found in a recent investigation about airstrikes in Iraq.  

The U.S. president who came to power on a platform declaring the corruption and mismanagement and wrong-headed thinking about prior administrations involving the United States in all these foreign wars turns out to have ordered more air strikes and dropped nearly three times more bombs on Afghanistan in 2017 than the 1,337 bombs dropped in 2016 and nearly four times as many the 947 bombs fired in 2015.

In November 2017 the U.S. military began carpet-bombing Afghan landscapes literally blasting the tops off mountains with large dumb-bomb munitions.

The Pentagon and U.S. State Department routinely engage in almost hysterical denials about the massacres and tortures committed by U.S. troops or coalition forces.  

From January 1 to September 30, 2017, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan documented 8019 civilian casualties: 2640 deaths and 5379 injured.  The numbers of civilian casualties are again on the rise and will continue to rise under the current campaign of indiscriminate and stepped up 'precision' bombing. 

"The U.S. thinks they can pacify the insurgents with force," says Dr. Mohammed Miraki. "No one can do that. It's impossible. If they really want to end the insurgency and bring stability and all that to Afghanistan the U.S. has to talk to the insurgents and they have to withdraw."

During the Obama era the United States occupation had over 150,000 troops in country, and these were reduced to some 12,000 to 15,000 troops by circa 2013 but now there are also close to 140,000 mercenaries (private military company forces).

As of November 2017, the insurgents in Afghanistan control approximately 60% of the country at night and 40% during the day.

Black operations, false flags, snatch-and-snuff operations and other dirty tricks are routine and common and the dirty tactics have been perfected since the days of the Phoenix program in Vietnam.  

Many of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan but blamed on the Taliban have allegedly been committed by U.S. coalition / occupation forces.

"They call them 'Taliban' but 'Taliban' didn't descend down from the moon," says Dr. Mohammed Miraki. "They are Afghan people, regular people who have survived attacks and massacres and seen their children killed and their houses bombed, and after surviving these attacks they pick up a gun and walk up to the mountain."

What is the cost of the Afghan war to U.S. taxpayers?  As an example of the scale of the expenditures we can look at the production cost of a single Pentagon report entitled: Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan (December 2015).  Produced for the U.S. Congress, this 90 page document alone cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $235,000 in Fiscal Year 2015 ($4,500 in expenses and $230,000 in labor).

U.S. establishment media propaganda presents a wholly biased picture of war in Afghanistan, with only limited variations that fall within the spectrum of allowed debate for a propaganda model as defined by Edward S. Herman (1925-2017) and Noam Chomsky in the manufacturing of our consent.  

One example is the ultra-conservative neofascist Weekly Standard�"where the 'Taliban' is blamed for virtually every crime and the involvement of the United States is whited out or the U.S. is exonerated.

Another example, this one focused on Iraq, is the recent New York Times expose' entitled THE UNCOUNTED which purports to reveal the truth that almost five times as many civilians are killed by U.S. precision airstrikes than the Pentagon has been willing to confirm.  The truth is that the numbers of civilian casualties in all these 'theaters of war' are substantially higher than the New York Times expose' has revealed, and the New York Times investigation merely sets a new baseline for the propaganda system to operate from, without in any way exposing the gross extent of U.S. involvement and commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.

Both examples above involve/d nationalist U.S. think tanks whose purpose it is to sway and manipulate public opinion by any means necessary.  The first example above involves the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), self-described as: "a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute working to defend free nations against their enemies. FDD was founded shortly after 9/11 by a group of visionary philanthropists and policymakers who understood the threat facing America, Israel and the West." 

The second example involves the New America think tank, a nationalist flak organization comprised of establishment hacks from other think tanks and organizations that are newly reconstituted under this New America brand.  The New America funders include many big establishment sources, multinational corporations and agencies.

Both think tanks have direct ties to corporate, military, intelligence and U.S. State Department interests.  These include the massive defense contractors BAE Systems, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrup Grumman, but also include USAID, Central Intelligence Agency, and U.S. State Department.

The western media supports predation against the Afghan people by failing to investigate, failing to expose, and also by their choice of sources, their choice of experts and their failure to challenge powerful interests.  One example of this would be the way the New York Times provides brand advertising for so-called humanitarian non-government organizations like CARE, Save the Children, or Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.  

To grasp the gross inequity between the level of suffering for children in Afghanistan (the target population that the AID industry preys upon), consider that combined salaries of the top seven Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières executives total $1,169,715 (* 2016 IRS form 990) and they receive $256,479 in 'other' compensation. DWB/MSF is "recognized as the top brand in International AID".  Meanwhile, let's compare the top seven DWB/MSF executives' compensation ($1,426,194) with their total Afghanistan "AID" program in 2016: $4,615,780; and 2015: $7,629,552. 

In his recent article "Into the Afghan Abyss" veteran reporter and historian Dr. Alfred McCoy argues that the bombing campaigns are futile given the current realities of war and opium in Afghanistan.  

"On torture, the Afghan national intelligence directorate has a pretty bad record for torture when I last looked, circa 2012," says Dr. McCoy, "that I described in my latest book on the topic: Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation."

One of the U.S. war crimes committed in Afghanistan involves the use of radioactive weaponry, mis-titled 'depleted uranuim' weaponry.  This has led to an epidemic of sickness, disease and death, including still births, miscarriages, birth defects, deformities and other horrible realities for the people of Afghanistan.

The Afghan government is entirely beholden to the U.S.-led occupation and its (our) interests.  The current president is a former World Bank executive.  Rather than seeing this man as the capitalist establishment seeks to portray him�"a reputable, knowledgeable and experienced businessman with the Afghan peoples' interests at heart�"it is important to see him for who he is: a ruthless corporate opportunist serving the prerogatives of Empire and its illegal occupation and destruction of Afghanistan.  

The spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, General Dawlat Waziri, routinely legitimizes the killings and injuries of Afghan civilians by U.S. and occupation forces by (falsely) describing the wounded and the dead civilians as 'insurgents'.

On 3 November 2017 Fatou Bensuda, the head of the International Criminal Court (ICC), released a statement announcing her intention to open an investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan.  

According to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) the war in Afghanistan has killed over 4 million people, and more than 12,500 villages have been destroyed.  

RAWA: "Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University) and Professor Linda Bilmes (Harvard University) estimated the accrual cost of the Iraq War alone at over $3 trillion with huge impacts on oil prices, the Afghan war, US federal debt, liabilities for injured veterans, the global financial crisis and US recession."

"If you hit the Afghan people hard they are twice as determined to fight," says Dr. Mohammed Miraki.  There are many civilian casualties due to helicopters and drones."  

Is the U.S. committing genocide in Afghanistan?  

"It is 100% certain," says Dr. Mohammed Miraki.  "They are killing Afghans indiscriminately; there is zero respect for human life; the majority of the victims are Pashtun people, which comprise some 65-67% of all Afghans.  The U.S. is using the minorities�"the Tajik people are about 12% of Afghan people�"to kill the Pashtuns and other minorities, just like they used minorities in Vietnam to fight their war there."  ~

Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments