Violence in Afghanistan not inevitable

PPF Statement on Afghanistan after US troop withdrawal in August 2021

It is not inevitable. The reality we have seen in the last two weeks–of Afghans holding onto planes taking off from Kabul, of interpreters and their families hiding in their homes in fear, of bombings by ISIS-K, of US drone strikes–is not inevitable. These realities are a direct result of imperialist occupation by the United States.

The crisis in Afghanistan right now as the United States pulls out after two decades of war is only inevitable (as President Biden has said it is) if we think war is inevitable. The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship condemns military action by any party to a conflict, holding it to be usually counter-productive and always contrary to the Christian gospel.

Rev Ben Daniel puts it this way: “If the tragic images of folks trying desperately to rush the Kabul airport in hope of being airlifted beyond the totalitarian reach of the Taliban communicate anything to Christians dwelling in the relative comfort of American suburbia it must surely be this: military violence does not work.” The United States used the lie of white saviorism–that we were going to “save Afghan women”–to justify the violence of war, but the truth is that Afghan women didn’t need saving by the United States, and furthermore, “human rights cannot be vouchsafed with bombs.” (Read Rev. Ben Daniel’s full statement). 

So what’s our response as Christians who believe that the realism of Jesus is more compelling than the so-called realism that attempts to justify war? Our response is two-fold: 

  1. Respond to the humanitarian crisis happening right now: 
    1. Sign the petition by Afghans for a Better Tomorrow calling upon the Biden administration to lift refugee caps so more Afghans can find safety; it is the US’s moral duty to evacuate and admit all Afghans seeking asylum, not only those who aided the US military..
    2. Give to Afghans for a Better Tomorrow as they work to aid and help evacuate as many refugees and asylum seekers as possible
    3. Lift up the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan in your church using these prayers by singing this hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.

  1. Work now to prevent the next war:
    1. Learn more about becoming a Peace Church and joining a network of congregations who dream and work toward a world without war, step by step
    2. Use this tool –the Inventory of Conscience — to accompany young people who are discerning how to live out peace in their lives as they come of age to register for service to the military; this is a great tool for confirmation classes 

Finally, if you’re a pastor who has veterans in your congregation who are struggling right now, they may be experiencing moral injury, which is something many service people experience but few have resources to deal with. Here is an easy-to-use guide for you to provide pastoral care to people who serve(d) in the military and are experiencing moral injury because of the violence they witnessed and/or were required to participate in.

Compiled by: Rev. Emily Brewer, Rev. Ben Daniel, Rev. Lucy Waechter Webb, with support from the Peace Church Working Group