Donald Trump’s statement earlier this week that he could win the US war in Afghanistan but he doesn’t want to kill ten million Afghans was both revealing and appalling. Like so many other of Trump’s statements, his remark revealed the genocidal nature of US foreign policy. It is a policy that considers human lives as part of some greater equation that results in the supreme dominance of the US economic and military system. When Henry Kissinger was working for Richard Nixon, it was called realpolitik. In that instance, it meant the deaths of more than a million Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians and US citizens. Jimmy Carter and Zbignew Brzezinski shared Ronald Reagan’s view that the struggle against the Soviet Union rationalized the killing. George Bush the Elder and Bill Clinton saw it as a battle against a terrorist phenomenon. Baby George Bush and Barack Obama organized their mass murder as part of a global war on terror—the GWOT. The terror they were fighting was caused by the very foreign policy the GWOT is part of. Trump may not want to kill ten million Afghans, but he seems to be okay with killing them in smaller numbers like Obama was.
The statement by Trump is appalling only in that most US residents pretend that their lifestyles are not dependent on the murder of other people who live in other countries. It becomes even more appalling when one realizes that most of those same US residents will eventually accept (if hey haven’t already) this price in blood. Many even revel in it. That’s where we are at this moment in history.
Trump’s statement took me back to a different time. I was a ten-year-old boy living on a small military installation in Peshawar, Pakistan. Peshawar is a major city in the area of Pakistan and Afghanistan where the Pashtun people live. It is the Pashtun who form the largest part of the opposition to the current US occupation in Afghanistan. They are an ancient people who refuse to be subjugated. Anyway, my father had a job that involved gathering data from a radar system eavesdropping on China and the Soviet Union. He rarely talked about his work. It was all classified and I had yet to become curious about what his role in the imperial military was. So, I never asked him any questions about his work. We talked about baseball, household chores, school and life in general.
He had a coworker who lived off base. In fact, he lived in a hotel in downtown Peshawar that had been built during the recently ended British colonial period. Low fans hung from the ceiling, horse or mule-drawn tonga carts lined up like taxis in front of the hotel, servers brought us pine nuts and mango drinks while this man I’ll call Mr. S. and I waited for a driver who took us on different excursions. Many of those trips were to villages in the region. Upon arriving at a particular village, Mr. S. would introduce me to a couple of the boys who always greeted us. I would go off to play soccer, tag or some other game with the boys. I could speak a form of pidgin’ Pashtu. Still, we communicated mostly via gestures and some universal understanding. Mr. S. would head to one of the one-story adobe buildings with a group of men from the village. Sometimes, officers of the Pakistani military accompanied them. When I asked Mr. S. what they talked about, he said something about politics and agreements. I’m certain now that he was up to some kind of subterfuge I now oppose, but those were more innocent days. At the end of the day, we usually feasted on grilled chicken, grilled goat, fruits, tea and delicious cakes. There were no forks or spoons. However, we used hunting knives to cut the meat from the bone. After eating, we would wash our hands and faces with water drawn from the well. There were no women or girls present at these meals. I do recall talking to some girls in their own compound; we laughed and giggled through a hole in the wall. Then, the girls were called away and we scattered before we got into trouble. I wonder what happened to all those kids. I wonder how many of them were killed by bombing raids and drones as part of the ongoing US intervention. I wonder if Donald Trump, Barack Obama, the Bush presidents, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter even considered the humanity of those they let their henchmen kill. I wonder how many US residents do.