It has been weeks since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, but the crisis and suffering we see now is a result of decades of US intervention, occupation and imperialism. The DSA International Committee’s statement, which condemns decades-long imperialist intervention in Afghanistan and calls for immediate unconditional support of Afghan refugees, lays out a clear commitment to anti-imperialism. As socialists, we should join this and provide full and unconditional support to Afghan refugees and remove all barriers to those fleeing violence.
Currently, US policy has focused on Afghans who have helped the US, but we must go much, much further. We must support all refugees, irrespective of whether they supported the US occupation, and irrespective of their supposed economic contribution. We must support Afghans who suffered under the occupation, victims of US bombing campaigns, LGBTQIA+ Afghans, others targeted by the Taliban and everyone fleeing violence. Everyone is a human being deserving of dignity and safety, regardless of their proximity to or support of the US military.
It is critical that our support be unconditional, because we must reject narratives that further the war-on-terror rhetoric that caused such suffering in the first place. Two decades of the “war on terror” have killed hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan and Iraq and fractured societies, while the military-industrial complex and the same few defense contractors profit. Even now we see the same propaganda play out: sharing images of US soldiers carrying Afghan babies, describing Afghanistan using racist tropes of “tribalism,” painting the US as the savior of Afghan women while ignoring the tireless work actually being done by Afghan women, or running headlines that name the 13 US soldiers killed in the attack on the Kabul airport yet failing to even acknowledge the 169 Afghans killed in the same attack. All of these actions share a common theme of promoting the vanity of the United States at the cost of Afghan lives. They are meant to retroactively justify the war and set the stage for another. To fight this on a local level, to really be anti-imperialist, to really affirm that our humanity is inherent and not based on exploitative definitions of “productivity,” we must unconditionally support refugees fleeing violence.
This support will take many forms. We should call for policy changes including but not limited to removing the refugee cap, expanding temporary protected status and removing the $575-per-person application fee for humanitarian parole. We should support aid groups that work on resettling and bringing more Afghan refugees into the US or other countries — namely, groups that center Afghans’ needs and not the needs of the military-industrial complex. And we should follow organizations that center and are led by Afghans.
For just one example, in the week following the US withdrawal, Lapis, an Afghan restaurant in DC, helped coordinate literal truckloads of donations to refugees resettling in the area. Several organizations and individuals (including several Metro DC DSA members) helped with sorting and shipping these donations. This was just one way to get involved, and in the coming weeks there will still be a need for ongoing support in all forms. Below is a brief list of resources that we hope will help guide you.
Organizations to follow:
Actions to take:
Organizations to support in the DMV:
Smaller organizations and mutual aid: