Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Afghanistan and U.S. ‘Status of Forces Agreement’


The United States’ record of brutal invasion, overthrow and occupation is not new. Countless countries around the world have borne the brunt of the U.S.’s alleged attempts to ‘assist’ them obtain U.S.-style democracy, whether they wanted it or not. Once the leaders of the U.S. determine that they have accomplished whatever is they set out to do, whether it’s obtaining oil reserves, securing lucrative trade routes, or punishing a nation that had the temerity to freely elect a left-wing government, it sets the conditions on which it will leave.

After thirteen years of murderous destruction in Afghanistan, during which time the Taliban, which opposed the construction of a major pipeline through its country, was overthrown, the U.S. is now ready to turn that beleaguered nation over to its own people, sort of. A tentative ‘Status of Forces Agreement’ has been struck, which would, of course, allow for a significant U.S. military presence, between 5,000 and 10,000 soldiers, to remain indefinitely, but a monkey wrench now seems to have been thrown into the works. Afghanistan is seeking two additional provisions, one that prevents the U.S. from its arbitrary raids on Afghan homes, and the second which demands the release of all Afghan prisoners in the U.S.’s Cuban-based torture center, Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. needless to say, is not happy about either of these requirements.

For nations with less than 10,000 U.S. soldiers stationed there, the ‘host’ nation has primary jurisdiction over those soldiers, for most, but not all, crimes. Since the current proposal is that Afghanistan would have fewer than 10,000, the norm would seem to indicate that Afghanistan would have jurisdiction. The U.S., for reasons known only to the higher echelons within the government, wants Afghanistan to be the exception to this rule. Perhaps the reason is to set a precedent, so the U.S. can maintain control after it invades other countries.

Afghanistan’s leaders are certainly demonstrating an uncharacteristic boldness; perhaps they observed the negotiations made in 2008 with Iraq prior to the U.S.’s departure from that nation. Ultimately, no such agreement was signed. The U.S. had asked for the following:

*The use of fifty-eight, long-term military bases in Iraq;

*Ability to arrest and detain prisoners independent of the judicial system of Iraq;

*Immunity from crimes committed by both U.S. soldiers and contractors, and

*Freedom to conduct military operations without any approval from the government of Iraq.

Conditions in Iraq certainly enabled its Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to hold fast against U.S. demands. American presence in Iraq was extremely unpopular, and provisional elections were scheduled for the following year. Additionally, it was clear to Mr. al-Maliki, and most of Iraq, that Mr. Bush’s successor in the 2008 U.S. presidential election would not be the hawkish Republican Senator John McCain, but the more ostensibly dove-like Democratic Senator Barack Obama. With Mr. al-Maliki holding firm, the U.S. made major concessions, and agreed to remove all military personnel from Iraq by December 31, 2011.

The conditions requested by the U.S., and granted throughout most of the world, have enabled the U.S. to order much of the world to its liking. With over one thousand bases, there are few areas of the planet that the U.S. doesn’t control. And with soldiers and contractors granted immunity from crimes, it isn’t unusual for major crimes to be committed, with no consequences for the perpetrator. Two fairly recent examples are illustrative.

In 2009, a U.S. soldier and a military contractor were accused of raping a 12-year-old girl at a military base in Columbia. This alleged crime cannot be investigated by the Columbian authorities, because the accused have immunity. The girl’s mother was prevented from speaking during a debate on the future of military bases in Columbia. Such debate was important, due to U.S. desires for additional bases, which were subsequently satisfied.

On October 30, 2009, the U.S. and Columbia signed an agreement that authorizes the U.S. to occupy seven military bases in Columbia, but also gives the U.S. the right to occupy any installation in that country. This agreement, with its provisions of immunity, basically turns Columbia into a U.S. military base. The alleged rape of an innocent young girl must not stand in the way of U.S. geopolitical interests.

In November of 2012, word began to leak out of the Afghanistan village of Nerkh that several locals had disappeared. The U.S. forces stationed there were informed, but it was months later, after about a dozen more disappearances, that the Afghanistan government forced the U.S. unit there to leave. At this point, with the U.S. media covering the disappearances, an investigation of sorts was held. The evidence discovered includes the following:

*The discovery of ten bodies buried in several locations near the base;

*Many of the men who disappeared had been arrested by Americans, in front of multiple witnesses;

*None of these witnesses, or family members, were interviewed by the U.S. military personnel responsible for the investigation, and

*A discovery of a video of a bound, blindfolded Afghanistan man being beaten during an interrogation by other Afghans, with U.S. soldiers present.

Despite this evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. forces, no one was held accountable.

“The US military seldom publicizes the results of investigations into specific abuses, including torture, deaths in detention and indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force during ground operations. In the majority of cases, there is little indication that anyone has been held accountable for these abuses.”i

These are just two of countless examples of U.S. soldiers running rampant over the rights of the citizens whose nations they occupy. Culturally, the ‘host’ nation also suffers, as more and more soldiers and U.S. contractors populate the country. The U.S. military is ever-present, with bases where farms, homes or business would far better serve the local citizens.

It does not appear that Afghanistan will hold firm, as Iraq did in 2008, against U.S demands. It is difficult to do so against the puppet-master who is pulling the strings. This will be a tragedy for the Afghanistan people, and the world, as the U.S. adds yet another colony to its global collection.

ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776 – 2006.



Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”