On August 15, the Taliban took over the Presidential Palace in Kabul. The rapid rise of the Taliban and the destabilization of the country is a tragic and predictable outcome of decades of U.S.-led war. As the country reverts to Taliban rule, people are fleeing, fearing for their lives, rights, and freedoms under the new regime. There are reports of extreme regression of rights for women, who are extremely vulnerable under Taliban rule. After years of war, we now know – thanks to the Afghanistan Papers and other revelations – that U.S. leaders understood war would only lead to further devastation, yet they continued to spend trillions on military intervention.
A free and active civil society is essential for a just and lasting peace, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We oppose the Taliban’s forceful seizing of power, and we are fearful of the future the Afghan population faces under this regime. But we also believe that the U.S. and the international community should continue to engage with the Taliban to push for representative government, civil society rights, and a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan.
We support people’s efforts to leave the country to find safety or seek a better life, and also call for the rights of those who remain to be respected and protected. The U.S government has a responsibility – after decades of military occupation, war, and lies – to assist Afghans wishing to emigrate, and to provide them asylum in the United States.
The way forward in Afghanistan is engagement and diplomacy with all parties. Twenty years of resources were squandered on militarized occupation, many times the amount that went toward strengthening civil society, education, infrastructure, or community level support that would actually benefit the Afghan people. The result has been human suffering and tens of thousands of lost Afghan and American lives. We must now grapple with the real costs of war and stop using the same militarized approaches that have failed us time and again.
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The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions.