September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is working to bring the issue of Afghan civilian casualties and the dire situation of Afghan civil society back into discussion within the US peace movement, the media, and the wider US society.
In the past few years, we have seen Afghanistan held up as a model of the successful pursuit of the so-called War on Terror. Indeed, the myth of success in Afghanistan has been a selling point for claims that it is possible to bomb a country into peace; that military action can bring about democracy and human rights.
In November, 2008, Peaceful Tomorrows published the report, “Afghanistan: Ending A Failed Military Strategy,” created in collaboration with Afghan NGO’s and our friends in the international peace movement. (The report is available for download in PDF format). In the months following 9/11, many people were afraid to challenge US military action in Afghanistan for fear of being labeled unpatriotic or uncaring about the victims of 9/11. Since the war in Iraq began, it has eclipsed US attention to the war in Afghanistan.
Peaceful Tomorrows began when family members of 9/11 victims spoke out to oppose the bombing of Afghanistan as a response to our loved ones’ deaths. Our voices provided a critical counterbalance to the message of revenge that was promoted in response to 9/11. Peaceful Tomorrows’ members were able to travel to Afghanistan and witness first-hand the situation of Afghan families devastated by 23 years of war and then by months of US bombing that all too often claimed civilian lives as “collateral damage.” As our voices became more credible, we advocated for an Afghan victims fund, co-authored a report “Afghan Portraits of Grief,” and raised funds to be distributed to Afghan families affected by US military action. A film documenting our first trip to Afghanistan, “Civilian Casualties,” was made and distributed for educational purposes.
The administration sold the war in Iraq partially on the basis of a story of success in Afghanistan. But that “success” has been more myth that fact; and the true nature of the situation in Afghanistan has been largely ignored, not only by the US government and media, but by the US peace movement as well.
This campaign is part of our continued commitment to find ways to stand in solidarity with others who have experienced war, political violence, and terrorism; to raise awareness of the dramatic increase in civilian casualties as a result of the wars of the 20th and early 21st centuries; and to join with survivors everywhere who have chosen to work for peace and non-violence.