Afghanistan, with a per capita GDP of $800, suffers 40 percent unemployment. More than half the population is below the poverty line, and the average lifespan is 45 years. Much of the population suffers from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity and medical care. With its strong emphasis on its military power, the U.S. fails to effectively address these straits. In fact, for every civilian killed in recent fighting in Afghanistan, an estimated 20 have died of poverty and hunger. Human crises like those confronting Afghanistan cannot be resolved with weapons.
The mere presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, along with mounting civilian casualties, serves as an effective recruiting tool for our enemies. With few jobs available, unemployed young men have little choice than to join the Taliban and fight for $7 or $8 a day. Unfortunately, when U.S. or NATO forces pursue Taliban soldiers, they often push their quarry across the border into Pakistan, where they link up with like-minded militants who together threaten to destabilize the state.
The conflict in Afghanistan also seems to conflict with criteria of the Church’s traditional, if now discredited, just war theory. The fighting does not adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians. The wanton death and destruction often seem out of proportion to the gains that are sought. An outright military victory over insurgents – non-state actors – seems increasingly unlikely. Sadly, the Church’s modern teaching on war seems to go unheard, for example, “Nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war” (Pius XII, 1939) and “[War] is always a defeat for humanity” (John Paul II, 2003).
In 2001, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns helped write and distribute this message in the weeks after the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan: “A Catholic Community Responds to the War: Living with Faith and Hope” (PDF file)
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan(RAWA): RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, was established in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1977 as an independent political/social organization of Afghan women fighting for human rights and for social justice in Afghanistan.
Women for Afghan Women: WAW is a collective of Afghan and non-Afghan women from the New York area who are committed to ensuring the human rights of Afghan women.