As students living in the United States, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent escalation in US military aggression across the Middle East and the rest of the world. Specifically, we condemn the grotesque and horrific use of a MOAB bomb (Massive Ordnance Air Blast), the largest non-nuclear bomb currently in existence, against the people of Afghanistan. The US dropped the 30-foot long, 21,600 pound bomb on the Nangahar province of Afghanistan on the pretext of targeting ISIS caves and tunnels. Nangahar has a strong agricultural economy and is of strategic importance on the trade route connecting Afghanistan with Pakistan. While the exact number of casualties remains unknown, the MOAB sent intense shock waves across a 2 mile radius, and all Afghans living within 30 miles of the blast would have seen the 10,000 foot mushroom cloud.
We understand the use of this munition as a form of psychological warfare meant to threaten and intimidate the peoples of the Middle East, in the context of ongoing and ever-intensifying aggression against colonized and formerly colonized peoples. We declare our commitment to building an anti-war, anti-racist, and anti-imperialist movement that can hold the US government accountable for these atrocities.
This most recent bombing follows sixteen years of US occupation and devastation in Afghanistan. This government has already murdered more than 100,000 Afghans directly through military operations, not including the number of people who have died due to the destruction of Afghan public health, education, and social services. This public infrastructure has been targeted through air strikes such as the October 2015 US attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, and through crippling sanctions first put into effect in 1999. As noted by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), “no poor country has ever been sanctioned the way Afghanistan has.”
This bombing also comes at a time of increased US military aggression across the Middle East. Just over the past month, the United States has launched deadly attacks in Syria and Iraq, including strikes that killed over 200 civilians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and at least 70 civilians in a school building and a mosque near Raqqa, Syria. In addition to these direct attacks, the US army has also admitted to using depleted uranium in Syria and Iraq, even after promising not to use it. In Fallujah and Basra, the US’ extensive use of depleted uranium has caused a 1,700% increase in the rate of birth defects among children born since the 2003 invasion.
In this sense, the effects of US bombings and occupation are felt most intensely by those communities already marginalized within these societies, including women, children, and ethnic minorities. It is well-documented that wherever the US establishes military bases, a massive increase in sex-trafficking and prostitution follows. We also know that the US bombing of the Syrian airbase near Homs enabled ISIS to make advances in the area, regaining control of important oil fields in Palmyra and continuing their campaign of terror against minorities such as Alawis, Yazidis, Kurds, Shia Muslims, and Christians. While the atrocities committed by Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government are reprehensible, the US-led destruction of Syrian infrastructure only serves to further destabilize the country and cause extreme harm to the Syrian people.
The US continues to defend its aggressions on the pretext of humanitarian intervention against offenses by Russia, the Syrian government, and ISIS. The US and its NATO allies have previously invoked the same pretext to invade Syria, Iraq and Libya, in order to win progressive approval for these invasions. In 2016, the Chilcot Commission, a UK government inquiry, unequivocally found that the NATO invasion of Iraq—ostensibly in search of weapons of mass destruction—was based on flimsy evidence. The refusal of the US to accept Syrian, Iraqi, and Libyan refugees escaping the devastation of their lands, combined with Trump’s immigration ban, further reveals the hollowness of Trump’s humanitarian claims. In fact, the US ‘War on Terror’ has always been a war on the nations and peoples who oppose Western domination of their countries’ land and resources.
Trump is now set to propose a further increase in military funding to sustain these illegal invasions in the Middle East. The US already maintains the highest levels of military expenditures in the world; tax-payer dollars line the pockets of arms corporations and send bombs to kill and maim Black and brown people across the world. The 2016 pledge of $38 billion in support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine is further evidence that the US is motivated by greed and white supremacy, rather than humanitarian concerns. This diversion of crucial government funding has a debilitating impact on marginalized communities within the US by reducing funding for fair housing and basic public services such as water in Flint and education in Chicago. The same day that Trump announced an expansion of the US military budget, he slashed winter heating assistance for the poor and exploited in the US. The only people who benefit from US wars of aggression are the financial elite, such as Trump, with investments in these arms corporations. Trump himself likely reaped financial benefits from the attack in Homs since he owns stock in Raytheon, the company that built the Tomahawk missiles that were used, and whose stock value immediately increased by more than 2%.
As Harvard Law School students, we unequivocally condemn the corporate military agenda of the United States in the Middle East. We also condemn and resist Harvard Law School’s strong ties to this imperialist agenda, which is directly reflected in its recent hiring of Samantha Powers—the architect and primary cheerleader of the US destruction of Libya and full-scale invasion of Syria.
In a period of an ascendant fascist, imperialist and racist agenda, we strongly underscore the need for progressive and radical groups to connect domestic struggles here in the US with opposition to this country’s bloodthirsty foreign policy. It is incumbent upon all people of conscience to organize our communities, and to build a broad movement against our government’s invasion of the Middle East, Africa, South America, and Asia. We must continue to demand a full withdrawal of US armed forces from oppressed nations, and demand that the resources wasted on bombing and occupying communities of color abroad are instead invested in affordable housing, education, health care, and infrastructure for marginalized communities of color in the United States.
Until land and liberation! Aluta continua!
Reclaim Harvard Law, Harvard Law School Justice for Palestine, Harvard National Lawyer’s Guild