By Ryan Cooper The Week
Afghanistan is starving. The country’s economy has collapsed, a bitter winter has taken hold, and half the population doesn’t have enough to eat. Already many have died — and it could get much, much worse. UNICEF estimates 1 million children could perish over the next few months without sufficient humanitarian aid, roughly four times the number of deaths caused by the entire 20-year American occupation.
The approaching famine is not only a fluke of bad weather or poor agriculture. It is being caused by the United States’ economic sanctions against the Taliban, which now rules Afghanistan. Despite the recent announcement of another round of humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, the bulk of U.S. sanctions will remain. They’re the latest example of America’s brainless addiction to punitive sanctions regimes that virtually never achieve the desired effect and too often inflict pointless suffering on innocents.
As Murtaza Hussein explains at The Intercept, when American forces withdrew from Afghanistan in August and the puppet regime they had supported instantly collapsed, that left the country without three quarters of its government budget and 40 percent of its GDP. The U.S. government also seized Afghanistan’s central bank reserves this past fall and now is using our control of global financial pipelines to prevent most economic interaction with Afghanistan’s new government. Result: a shattering economic crisis only made worse by drought and the ongoing pandemic.
And Washington’s position is so irrational there’s no sign the Taliban could do anything to relieve U.S. pressure. The group could crown President Biden king and that probably wouldn’t do it. Even more aid won’t negate U.S. policy here. It’s just one more failure to add to our list of sanctions disasters.