Monday, May 29, 2006


The Unreported War: Insurrection in Kabul

It's an article of faith among the right that the "war on terror" is going wonderfully, that it's all smiling brown faces among the people whose lands we occupy, marred only by a few psychotic "dead enders." Our media doesn't do much to contradict that perception, reporting the bombings and assassinations much like the evening news reports liquor store robberies. Occasionally, the reality peeks through, as today, when a CBS correspondent whose face viewers are familiar with is gravely wounded. But for most Americans, it's all very far away. A few very brave correspondents go in without the protection of the US military and report what things look like from outside the Green Zone of Iraq, and they tell a different story. It's not a story of the bad Americans vs. the good resistance. It's just... a more complicated story than most Americans want to hear. And so they don't. CNN did cover the riot that occurred in Kabul: The unrest started after three U.S. Humvees coming into the city from the outskirts rammed into a rush-hour traffic jam, hitting several civilian cars, witnesses said. The coalition said at least one person was killed and six injured in the crash, but police said at least three people were killed and 16 injured. A Kabul police chief, Sher Shah Usafi, said another person was killed when U.S. troops fired into a crowd of stone-throwing protesters soon after the crash. More ominous: Hundreds of Afghan army troops and NATO peacekeepers in tanks deployed around the city, as protesters chanting "Death to America" marched on the presidential palace and rioters smashed police guard boxes and set fire to police cars. Rioters ransacked several buildings, including a compound belonging to the aid group CARE International. This is in the heart of "liberated" Afghanistan. And here is what CNN won't tell you, from freelancer Stewart Nusbaumer on why this isn't a riot, but the early stages of an insurrection: Increasingly, there is the perception in Afghanistan that the US military is out of control. That it shoots first and cares little about the Afghani people. A teenager who works in a copy store told me, "We want your help, we need your money and knowledge to remake Afghanistan, but we don't want your military." An Afghani who just came back from the streets tells me that hundreds of protesters marched on the palace of US-backed President Hamid Karzai, shouting "Death to Karzai! Death to America!" That reminds me that several weeks ago, one Afghani told me: "Karzai is not our president, he is your puppet." More sparked this violent riot, however, than just the growing negative perception of US troops. Afghanis are losing faith that the West will make their lives better. Many of them complain that Kabul is a "toilet." The city has foul open severs, poverty remains gross and shocking, unemployment is sky-high with at least half of working-age adults unable to find a real job, and supposedly 40 percent of the people don't even have enough food. So after four and a half years, many feel their lives are not improving, and they are losing hope that they will improve. That can become a dangerous spark. Please tell me why, almost five years after the invasion, in the one part of Afghanistan that Americans really control, life is not getting better.
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