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Territory in southwest central Asia, nominally ruled since 2004 by the Da Afġānistān Islāmī Jumhoryat

Afghanistan (Pashto/Dari: افغانستان‬, Pashto: Afġānistān, Dari: Afġānestān), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located within South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which experience very cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, whilst the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get very hot in summers. Kabul serves as the capital and is its largest city.

Geographical type: Territory

Latitude: 33° N — Longitude: 65° E

Area: 652,230 km²

ISO 3166-2 code: AF

Measures of Freedom

Afghanistan | Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2022
2016: Status: Not Free, Aggregate Score 24, Civil Liberties: 6, Political Rights: 6
Afghanistan experienced high levels of violence and political gridlock in 2015, and the country was second only to Syria as a source of refugees contributing to a migration crisis in Europe during the year. The National Unity Government (NUG), formed after a disputed presidential election in 2014, survived its first year in office, though its leaders had difficulty filling key positions due to internal disagreements and resistance from the parliament.


Americans Have Lost Their Country, by Paul Craig Roberts, 1 Mar 2007
Discusses (and lists) the neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration and the rationale for their actions furthering wars in the Middle East
Neoconservative conquests began in the Middle East because oil and Israel, with which neocons are closely allied, are both in the Middle East. The American oil giant, UNOCAL, had plans for an oil and gas pipeline through Afghanistan, but the Taliban were not sufficiently cooperative. The US invasion of Afghanistan was used to install Hamid Karzai, who had been on UNOCAL's payroll, as puppet prime minister. US neoconservative Zalmay Khalilzad, who also had been on UNOCAL's payroll, was installed as US ambassador to Afghanistan.
The Antimilitarist Libertarian Heritage, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 19 Sep 2014
Reviews writings by Herbert Spencer, "Government Colonization" (in Social Statics (1851)) and "Patriotism" (in Facts and Comments (1902)), on the subjects of war, militarism, colonization and patriotism
[A] story [Spencer] relates ...
Some years ago I gave my expression to my own feeling— anti-patriotic feeling, it will doubtless be called ... It was at the time of the second Afghan war, when, in pursuance of what were thought to be "our interests," we were invading Afghanistan. News had come that some of our troops were in danger ... [A] well-known military man ... drew my attention ... that I should share his anxiety. I astounded him by replying—"When men hire themselves out to shoot other men to order, asking nothing about the justice of their cause, I don't care if they are shot themselves." [Emphasis added.]
Bush's Opium Boom, by James Bovard, Freedom Daily, Apr 2003
Describes attempts by the Taliban (from July 2000 to October 2001—the U.S. invasion), the U.S., the United Nations and the Karzai government to control opium poppy production in Afghanistan
In July 2000, Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar announced that he was banning any poppy growing in Afghanistan because it was henceforth considered to be un-Islamic. The Taliban regime had previously profited from a 10 percent tax on the opium ... On May 17, 2001, Powell announced a package of $43 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan ... The Taliban's opium ban was hailed as one of the greatest successes ... By the end of 2001, ... the United States installed Hamid Karzai ... In April 2002, the Karzai government offered farmers up to $600 an acre not to plant opium.
The Disaster That Is U.S. Foreign Policy, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Jun 2014
Considers the effect of U.S. involvement in the Middle East in the past two decades, in view of the Bergdahl-Taliban prisoner exchange, and reflects on the practical effect of killing Osama bin Laden
An awful lot of people ... are angry at Barack Obama for trading five Taliban officials, who have been held for years without charge in the Guantánamo prison, for an American soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who apparently walked away from his outpost after having a change of heart about the Afghan war ... Before his disappearance, then-PFC Bergdahl emailed disparaging remarks about the U.S. military and America itself after he saw a U.S. military truck run over an Afghan child ... the war in Afghanistan is winding down ... Winding down? There will be 9,800 troops through next year, and the last troops won't leave before 2016.
Freedom, Security, and the Roots of Terrorism against the United States, by Richard Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Oct 2001
Reflections on the 11 September attacks a few weeks after, discusses the reasons for the terrorist attacks and proposes certain measures to deal with the situation
First, bombing campaigns and use of ground troops in a place like Afghanistan are not likely to produce justice or achieve victory. As a number of commentators have pointed out, Afghanistan has been destroyed already during the last 20 years comprising 10 years of Soviet occupation and another decade of a civil war that brought the Taliban to power in Kabul. Bombings would only reduce the already wretched lives of millions of innocent Afghans ... And American ground forces could easily be drawn into a protracted campaign with success as remote as it was for the British in the 19th century and the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
The George W. Bush 'What Me Worry?' Quiz, by Jim Cox, 2 Apr 2007
Twenty questions on what was George W. Bush's response to various situations; the answers provide links to supporting information
After the oil company UNOCAL failed to get concessions from the Taliban government in Afghanistan prior to 2001, the response from George W. Bush in 2002 was to: a. oversee free elections in Afghanistan and not interfere in the sovereign nation of Afghanistan’s dealings with UNOCAL. b. do a 'What Me Worry?' and oversee the installation of former UNOCAL employees Hamid Karzai as prime minister and Zalmay Khalizad as ambassador to Afghanistan.
Improve the CIA? Better to abolish it, by Chalmers Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 Feb 2004
Lists countries where the CIA conducted subversive operations and recommends abolishing the agency.
Since the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1953, the CIA has engaged in similar disguised assaults on the governments of Guatemala (1954); the Congo (1960); Cuba (1961); Brazil (1964); Indonesia (1965); Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (1961-73); Greece (1967); Chile (1973); Afghanistan (1979 to the present); El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua (1980s); and Iraq (1991 to the present) -- to name only the most obvious cases.
In Afghanistan, They Died for No Good Cause, by Sheldon Richman, 5 Dec 2013
Critiques an exchange by NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell on the rationale for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan
What good is there to show for that loss and shattering of life? Nothing. Afghanistan remains a violent place, nominally ruled by a corrupt and repressive propped-up government that will remain precarious no matter how long the U.S. military stays. President Karzai regularly gets bags of CIA cash, the illegal drug trade thrives with official connivance, and stoning is about to be introduced as the penalty for adultery. The Taliban, which reigned before the U.S. invasion and still is conducting an unrelenting insurgency, was never a threat to the American people.
Related Topics: Middle East, Militarism
John Fund vs. the Truth, by Justin Raimondo, 26 Apr 2006
Discusses John Fund's writings against Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, an Afghani student at Yale University, and University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, who had been nominated to teach at Yale; plus a personal tale from Fund's past
The absurdity of the Fund-amentalist hate campaign against Hashemi ought to be apparent to anyone who keeps up with events on the ground in Afghanistan, where President Karzai recently “Urged Taliban leader Mullah Omar to 'get in touch' if he wants to talk peace ... Karzai spokesman Khaleeq Ahmed said Friday that the Afghan government has a reconciliation commission that has encouraged more than 1,000 ex-Taliban members to embrace the new constitution and government and reject violence. But not every Taliban is welcome, he said. 'There are those who have burned schools and killed doctors, nurses, and many other innocent Afghans.'"
Related Topics: Israel, Libertarian Party
The Lie Factory, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 7 Jun 2013
Contrasts Obama's 23 May 2013 statements regarding the continuing conflict in Afghanistan vs. an analysis by indepedent journalist Conn M. Hallinan and other reports
When George W. Bush left the White House, there were 38,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Shortly after taking office, Obama sent about 30,000 more ... Then in November 2009 he announced that he would send around 30,000 more ... To give you an idea of how well things are going, a May 16 suicide bomb in the capital killed six Americans and 16 Afghans ... the political wing of the group that claimed responsibility for the bombing, Hezb-i-Islami, "is a major player in the Karzai government, with its members holding down the posts of education minister and advisor to the president."
The Longest-Running War, by Doug Bandow, 20 Dec 2004
Reviews the books Bad Trip: How the War on Drugs Is Destroying America (2004) by Joel Miller and Drug War Crimes: The Consequences of Prohibition (2004) by Jeffrey A. Miron
[N]otes Miller, "Thanks to inflated prices caused by global narcotics prohibition, whoring after state sponsors is no longer needed." Quite simply, absent the excessive profitability of the opiate trade due to America's ban on drug use, the Taliban would not be raising millions from opium production throughout the Afghan countryside. So long as people will produce and use drugs—and they have proved willing to do so despite the threat of death on the street and prison at the hands of the state—drug prohibition ensures that foreign producers, including jihadists, will prosper.
News Coverage Misinforms Americans on the Bergdahl Swap, by Sheldon Richman, 10 Jun 2014
Discusses the distorted news about the five Taliban officials released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, quoting sources —including the former chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo prison— that discredit the "official" story
The media simply take the government's word that the five Taliban figures are international terrorists. But the Taliban are not al-Qaeda. They were the theocratic government overthrown by U.S. forces ... How did these men end up in U.S. custody? The U.S. government offered attractive bounties to Afghans who turned alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda members over to American authorities. This created a strong incentive to rat out personal enemies, rival warlords, and others, many of whom had nothing to do with the Afghan insurgency or international terrorism.
Related Topic: Barack Obama
The New U.S. War on Liberty, by David J. Theroux, Karen De Coster, 22 Jan 2002
De Coster introduces a critical analysis, by Theroux, of the War in Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism
To believe that the Air Force knows how to protect you by bombing a village in Afghanistan is preposterous ... In addition, it is important for Americans to understand that the cave complex in Tora Bora that is being bombed by the U.S. is the same complex that was largely designed, funded, and constructed by the CIA in the 1980s ... The U.S. has now completed well over 2,000 bombing raids ... in Afghanistan. So, there must be some additional purpose to U.S. policies there, just as there was when the U.S. was supporting the Reagan/Bush "Freedom Fighters" in the 1980s that became the blowback-created Al Qaeda.
Related Topics: Government, Ron Paul
Sgt. Bergdahl and the Fog of War, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Jun 2014
Reviews the history of U.S.-Afghanistan relationship since Reagan to the release of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army sergeant held captive by a Taliban group from 2009 to 2014
On the surface, the war in Afghanistan seems easy to understand. The Taliban government gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden ... After ... years of civil war, the Taliban became the brutal theocratic government of Afghanistan, but not an anti-American terrorist organization ... [A]s late as May 2001, President George W. Bush was helping the Taliban suppress opium production ... When Haqqani, a celebrated freedom fighter during the Soviet war, turned down a deal from the Americans ..., the U.S. military attacked his home province and other areas, killing his brother-in-law and innocent children.
Related Topics: George Orwell, Leonard Read, War
The State: Judge in its Own Cause, by Kevin Carson, 22 Aug 2013
Explores, with several historical examples, the United States government's role in judging itself or disregarding its laws
In the late '70s, under Zbigniew Brzezinski's foreign policy leadership, the U.S. began backing Islamic fundamentalist rebels against the Soviet-friendly government of Afghanistan, resulting in a Soviet-backed coup and subsequent invasion ... The explicit goal of Brzezinski's move in the "Great Game" was to get the USSR bogged down in its own sucking chest wound of a counter-insurgency war, with the possible side-benefit of destabilizing control in the largely Muslim southern republics of the Soviet Union. Other unintended consequences of this brilliant chess move included the rise of al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.
The U.S. Empire Provokes Terrorism, by Sheldon Richman, 8 Aug 2013
Examines the claims and behavior of the Obama administration in response to "terrorist chatter" supposedly intercepted by them and counsels changing the interventionist foreign policy
The United States has been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for a dozen years, but not because the former rulers are a direct threat to the American people. Rather, the Bush and Obama administrations insisted, if the Taliban was not defeated, Afghanistan would again become a sanctuary for al-Qaeda. Now we see (if we hadn't already) that this was a mere rationalization for the projection of American power. Al-Qaeda doesn't need Afghanistan. Bin Laden wasn't found there. Al-Zawahiri presumably isn't there. And the latest alleged unspecified threat comes from Yemen, 2,000 miles from Kabul.
U.S. Foreign Policy Is a Shambles, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Jan 2014
Examines the 2014 status of United States foreign policy in various Middle East countries
Iraq and Afghanistan are engulfed in violence, and their corrupt, authoritarian governments are objects of suspicion and hatred. The suggestion that U.S. forces could make things better only shows how out of touch people in Washington can be. Anyone who was thinking clearly in 2001–2003 knew it would come to this. Afghanistan has a history of driving out invaders. Only someone blinded by the allure of empire could fool himself into thinking the U.S. government could arrange affairs such that they wouldn't unravel the moment U.S. personnel prepared to leave the country.
The U.S. Isn't Leaving Afghanistan, by Sheldon Richman, 20 Nov 2013
Reviews the terms of a 2013 draft agreement, due to go into effect in Jan 2015, between the U.S. and Afghan governments to maintain U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan "until the end of 2024 and beyond" [update: the troops finally withdrew in Aug 2021]
Under the proposed agreement, the U.S. government would continue to train, arm, and assist the Afghan military ... "Continued U.S. military operations" reportedly includes raids on the homes of Afghans, which have created so much anti-American sentiment ... According to NBC's Nov. 19 report, "The bilateral security agreement will be debated this week in Kabul by around 2,500 village elders, academics and officials in a traditional Loya Jirga. While the Loya Jirga is strictly consultative, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he won't sign it without the Jirga's approval."
Related Topic: War

Cartoons and Comic Strips

Declaration of Thingamajig, by Mark Fiore, 22 Jun 2011
On the wars ... hostilities ... thingamajigs of the U.S. empire
Related Topics: Iraq, Libya, Barack Obama, Pakistan, Yemen
Re-invade Afghanistan!, by Ted Rall, 7 Feb 2009

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Afghanistan" as of 5 Sep 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.