Afghanistan: U.S. Principles vs. Poverty and Starvation


The grimmest predictions came true: Afghanistan is in an incredibly acute crisis.

More than 20 million people are experiencing food shortages and over 8 million are facing starvation.

Poverty is rampant and growing.

But that doesn’t have to be the story of Afghanistan – and there is one major move the U.S. can take here.

In my own piece that I’ve published here back in August 2021, I – just like the rest of the world – asked: What’s next?

Months later, we know what that “next” is. Reports on food shortages, poverty, and its healthcare situation all illustrate how horrific this crisis has been.

Both fortunately and unfortunately, it is a crisis the worst-case scenario of which can still be prevented — but only if the U.S. releases funds that Afghanistan needs so much.


Who’s holding the funds exactly, how could they be released, and what would that mean to the people of Afghanistan?


I have an excellent video for you that answers these questions and explains in detail what Afghanistan needs at the moment.

You will hear what Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, and Dr. Paul Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health Services at Johns Hopkins University, have to say.

But before I proceed, a couple of quick remarks for this video to have more context.

One, the funds have been frozen since the Taliban took over; it is part of the U.S.’ efforts to sanction Afghanistan for having political leadership that, to put it mildly, it doesn’t like.

Two, no matter what your view of the Taliban is (my guess – and my hope – is: not favourable!), we have to remember at least three important things about sanctions:

  • they can be considered a form of collective punishment, which is illegal under the International Law,
  • historically, when applied to the whole country (that is, instead of targetting certain individuals), sanctions have the power to devastate economies and take a toll as high as human lives, for example, when access to food items and medicines gets restricted,
  • in short, it is civilians, the ordinary people of a sanctioned country, that pay the price.


We know now that the U.S. has never been too worried about the people affected by its sanctions in the past. The struggles of ordinary people of Cuba, Iran, Iraq, or Venezuela never really meant much for any of the U.S. administrations.

Why? Because (1) the adverse impact of sanctions is something well researched and known to those administrations and (2) because those are always the same administrations that have the power to lift sanctions.

Thankfully, the pressure for the U.S. to release funds to Afghanistan is increasing and we can do our small part by contributing to it.

Please see if there are any petitions by organisations you follow in your own country and please sign a petition that my organisation, CODEPINK, has for this specific action.

There’s also my own episode on what’s happening with the Afghan funds that you can listen to here and below:

Latest from the Blog

Black Lives Still Matter, Systemic Racism Still Needs Dismantling

It’s been two years since George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin. The protests that followed launched the US – and, in a way, the world – into a new stage of racial reckoning that the US is still in. Some new laws have been passed, and some old statues finally toppled.

But the system holds. On the 2nd anniversary of George Floyd’s killing, I’d like to share a beautiful interview with Toluse Olorunnipa and Robert Samuels who have just released a book on George Floyd.

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Palestine? Part 8: Erasure

Attacks on Palestinians have intensified during the holy month of Ramadan again – they resemble what we saw last year. And the year before.
I’ve written a lot about Palestine but it’s time combine several things that I’ve partly mentioned in my previous episodes and focus this one on something rather obvious: the concept of erasure.

How Can We Actually Help Afghanistan?

We know that political turmoil – on top of devastation of a 20-year war – after the Taliban took power in August 2021 is a big factor in this crisis.
But we also know what one other factor that could immediately alleviate this suffering of the Afghan people is: these are the frozen funds that belong to the people of Afghanistan, and that are kept in mostly U.S. accounts. Hear about all this from the first civil society women’s delation that visited Afghanistan recently.

Noam Chomsky on Russia, Ukraine, China, US, and The State of The World

What would it take to negotiate a peace settlement in Ukraine?
What could Vladimir Putin see as a way out of this?
What role is the US currently playing here?
What’s happening with China?
And what’s the state of journalism and the mainstream media as the war in Ukraine is happening?

When an Empire Offers You a Moral Compass, You Can Pass

As the war in Ukraine has started, we have seen some absolutely hypocritical statements made by U.S. officials.

But they’re only hypocritical if we know a bit of the context here.

And when we do, we are much better equipped to construct our own moral compasses, without any help from the U.S. This is what I illustrate and explain much better in my episode.

What Would Peace in Ukraine Look Like?

If we believe that peace in Ukraine is possible, we have to ask what it would look like. What could a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia be?
Listen to what Anatol Lieven from The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft has to say.

The War in Ukraine and Its Multiple “Yes, And”s (Part 2)

Can we talk about the war in Ukraine and its complexities without being shut down or accused of minimising its horrors?

I think that is possible indeed – yet not that easy.

In my second episode, I talk about (1) racism in the media, (2) the overtness of racist and xenophobic immigration policies when it comes to accepting refugees, and (3) the difference between what-about-ism and saying, “this, too” when it comes to the war in Ukraine.

The War in Ukraine and Its Multiple “Yes, And”s (Part 1)

Can we talk about the war in Ukraine and its complexities without being shut down or accused of minimising its horrors?

I think that is possible indeed – yet not that easy.

In my first episode, I talk about (1) NATO expansion, (2) the extreme right in Ukraine, and (3) what we have to know about how sanctions work.

The War in Ukraine: What We Shouldn’t Forget?

No matter how you saw the situation in Eastern Ukraine before, it is clear now that a full-scale war in Ukraine has started. Putin did something that might have seemed incredible – just too massive – even for him.
If we are anti-war, we have to condemn this aggression, call for a ceasefire, and ask how people in Ukraine – in all of its regions – can be truly protected, under what arrangement.

What Do We Have To Know About The Frozen Afghan Funds?

What right does one country have to freeze the assets of another one?

What about when the country sanctioned is undergoing a major crisis?
These are the questions we have to ask about what the U.S. has been doing to Afghanistan.

Don’t miss an update! Follow The Exploding Head

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.





2 thoughts on “Afghanistan: U.S. Principles vs. Poverty and Starvation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: