‘14 years of occupation by world’s richest nation, Afghanistan remains desperate’

A U.S. truck filled with donated goods heads towards a military plane in Bagram airbase north of Kabul © Musadeq Sadeq
Outside forces cannot dictate what a country’s governing system is going to look like, but that’s what’s happening in Afghanistan, says Medea Benjamin, cofounder of left-wing NGO Code Pink told RT.

Two attacks took place in Afghanistan on Monday. Three rockets hit the diplomatic area in Kabul some way from the center of the city. That happened after a motorbike suicide bomber carried out an attack on the Bagram air base killing six US troops.

Meanwhile, the Taliban is aggressively pushing back into Helmand province. The militants are said to be close to overrunning the key city of Sangin.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has described developments in Afghanistan as positive. However, American political activist Medea Benjamin doesn’t agree calling it a ridiculous statement.

“The US has spent probably a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and it remains one of the poorest countries in the world; one of the worst places for women to have children; one of the worst rates of illiteracy among women,” she told RT.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks carried out on US soil, and according to Benjamin, “it is certainly not a country that after 14 years of being occupied by the richest country in the world has much to speak for it in terms of development.”

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is now fighting the Taliban which could make things even worse for the Afghan people.

Activist argues that it is terrible that after all of these years and the billions of dollars the US has put into training local Afghan forces they are still not able to control their own country.

“I think it is a reflection of the fact that outside forces coming in cannot dictate what a country’s governing system is going to look like,” said Benjamin.

She suggests there has always been a need for a political solution to the problems in Afghanistan and the US should put its money into developing the country instead of the military.

Speculating on possible solutions, the activist said there have been constant attempts at talk with the Taliban. However, she believes that they need to get serious about that.

“John Kerry should put some of his diplomatic energies into finding a political solution that is going to unfortunately have to include the Taliban as part of a transition. The Taliban are local people and they can’t be wished away,” Benjamin told RT.

“But I think the remaining 10,000 US troops are not going to be enough to dictate to the Afghan government what its policy should be,” she continued.

Benjamin said that it has to be a political solution and all energy and resources should be put into that goal.

Lynndie England holding a leash attached to a prisoner, known to the guards as "Gus" © Wikipedia

‘Obama administration wants to push SEAL abuses in Afghanistan under the rug’

Meanwhile, a New York Times report has accused the US Navy of covering up the abuse of Afghan detainees which took place in May 2012.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service launched an investigation into a case where torture resulted in the death of a man detained by US Navy SEALS. Despite eyewitness accounts against the US servicemen, the navy probe dismissed the charges, claiming the evidence didn't support the alleged misconduct.

Criminal defense attorney and former CIA officer Jack Rice speaking about detainee abuse said that in a case like this there should not have been a minimal investigation.

“This should have been a full-blown criminal investigation, which is far more serious on the military side,” he told RT.

He added that if they wanted to take this to the extreme, they could have been charged in Federal Court, which is a civilian court in the US.

“Based upon the fact that there was a death in this case it should have not been investigated as it was," Rice said.

Rice argues that the investigation could be reopened “based upon the seriousness of the case and the fact that essentially it was dismissed.”

“It is disturbing that they seem to make a decision to treat this as inconsequentially as they have really based upon the death of one of the detainees,” he continued.

The SEAL’s commander said the evidence provided in the report was inconsistent.

Rice said it was possible there are inconsistencies in the report. “But that in itself it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go forward with an investigation,” he added.

According to Rice, he regularly encounters reports that have inconsistencies within them.

“That doesn’t stop the investigation, that doesn’t stop the prosecution; just because some things don’t completely add up does not mean you should not continue to dig; it doesn’t mean that you should not potentially even charge somebody with serious criminal offenses,” he added.

The former CIA officer considers the US government is trying to bury the investigation itself.

“The fact that what they did was divert this to a minimal investigation and to the kind of investigation and process for inconsequential events, rather than something far more serious really tells me that they are sort of trying to push it away, to try to put it under the rug.”

In 2009 President Obama said he didn’t think 2000 pictures of torture should be released because this would endanger US troops abroad. Rice argues that President Obama decided he was not going to release the Abu Ghraib photos.

“When he was running for office he promised he wanted transparency and he wanted the American people and the world to see the photos themselves,” he told RT.

In conclusion he said that “the likelihood of success in reopening this is not very certain at this point.”

“My expectation is it will not be reopened,” Rice predicted.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.