Self-determination is a central principle of international law.

In the case of Afghan self-determination it’s probably also useful to point out that there is a sizeable Afghan peace movement, very courageous and principled, which the antiwar movement in the US should support. Malalai Joya, one of the leaders of this movement, has to be one of the bravest women in the world, confronting warlords, living under constant death threats, but continually speaking out against war and occupation. If Afghan self-determination is to mean anything, it must include voices like hers.

If the US government is to have any policy inside Afghanistan, it should include measures to (legally!) strengthen the position of those like Joya, rather than undermine them by propping up the Afghan “government” and escalating violence. The US decision to escalate seems to have come after much deliberation as to which type of bombing, which type of killing, which military tactics will serve US interests. the deliberations seems to have included all possible voices except those who advocate withdrawal and de-escalation, including the Afghan peace movement, the majority of the US population, and (I understand) most of the Afghan population. Obama’s escalation has come precisely without considering the position of the Afghan peace movement, which is for an escalation in hospitals, schools, economic assistance, and aid.

That is, the decision to escalate is only possible because the US debate entirely excludes the voices of those on the receiving end of the policy; vastly increased levels of violence and military operations,  now similar to the height of the Soviet occupation, are only possible on the condition that self-determination be excluded as an axiom of US foreign policy, just as it is included as an axiom of international law.

Self-determination and Afghanistan
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