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Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson

Episode 175: Selective Humanitarianism and the US Role in Afghanistan's Post-Occupation Famine

1 hour 31 minutes Posted Feb 1, 2023 at 5:49 pm.
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"History will cast a shadow over Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan," the Washington Post’s David Ignatius warned in April of 2021. "Biden's Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy," George Packer cautioned in The Atlantic magazine in August of that year. "The Cost of Betrayal in Afghanistan," wrote The Atlantic Council’s Ariel Cohen in Newsweek shortly thereafter. When news broke in April of 2021 that the Biden administration planned to withdraw all documented US troops from Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation, media outlets almost uniformly rushed to issue condemnations. How could the US, and the West more broadly, simply "abandon the Afghan people," especially women, we’d so bravely liberated? How could the US just up and leave, when it had invested and sacrificed so very much to counter the Taliban over the course of two decades?   This outrage stood, and still stands, in stark contrast to the media’s default state of indifference to the suffering people of Afghanistan, and the US’ extensive role in engineering that suffering. For many decades now, American, British, and other Western media have only really seemed to be concerned with the plight of Afghan people, namely women, when it serves to bolster the case for war, occupation, and the continuation of US regional hegemony. Meanwhile, during Afghanistan’s now second winter of famine after having more than $7 billion dollars stolen from its economy by the United States and its allies, these very same pundits and outlets are uniformly silent on this unfolding human rights disaster, caused, again, in large part, by the United States itself.   On this episode, we examine the media's pattern of selective, chauvinistic outrage when addressing the welfare of Afghan people. We also study how media diminishes the enormous role the US has played in destabilizing the country of Afghanistan and endangering its people, how media portray US military solutions as the only means of support for Afghan people, and how media treat Afghans as little more than pawns in a game of US soft- and hard-power expansion and domestic media-focused moral preening.   Our guests are Hadiya Afzal and Julie Hollar.