With NATO officials busily plotting another several years of occupation in the Lisbon Summit, the people of Afghanistan are by and large being left out. Not just of the planning, but even the reason behind the war.
After almost a decade of military occupation, a new survey by the International Council on Security and Development revealed that 92 percent of the Afghan men surveyed had never even heard of 9/11, the ostensibly casus belli for the entire conflict.
“The lack of awareness of why we are there contributes to the high level of negativity toward the NATO military operations,” insisted ICOS President Norine MacDonald. It was unclear however whether the few Afghans who had heard of 9/11 were any more upbeat about the seemingly endless war.
The poll also showed majority support in Southern Afghanistan for secession and the creation of an independent Pashtunistan (potentially including some of Pakistan’s tribal regions), and that 40 percent of the population believed NATO was occupying Afghanistan as part of a goal to destroy Islam.
Though the report from ICOS stressed the importance of communication with the Afghans it seems that such efforts will inevitably be dwarfed by the deleterious effect military occupation has on public opinion. MacDonald urged NATO to make it clear why Afghans’ future is “better with us than with the Taliban,” but recent NATO comments suggest not many officials even buy this anymore, leaving open the question of why the Afghans would.
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