Could nonviolence stop night raids in Afghanistan?

    A couple weeks ago, Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy and a friend of this site, wrote a thought-provoking piece, in which he asks:

    What if Afghans adopted a strategy of nonviolent resistance against the night raids? Could they be stopped?

    Unlike US air strikes, US night raids require human contact.

    Let’s suppose, for the purposes of our thought experiment, that there were a well organized popular movement in Afghanistan against the night raids. Let’s suppose that this movement went around to respected Islamic scholars and got legal judgments that the night raids are an offense against Islam. Let’s suppose that this movement prepared to defend villages where US night raids are being carried out, and organized committees of unarmed women to implement this defense. And let’s suppose that when a US night raid began, a call would go out from the mosque, and a group of unarmed women would surround the house and say to the US soldiers: you’re not coming in, and if you try, we will not move. And let’s suppose that some Western NGO issued these women video cameras, as the Israeli human rights group B’tselem has issued Palestinians video cameras. And let’s suppose that a group of people in the United States and Western Europe agreed that they would try to support this movement, by vigorously raising their voices in protest whenever US Special Forces tried to break the line of protesters.

    Could the night raids be stopped?

    I would argue that they could be thwarted by nonviolent resistance, because, despite their training to kill, US soldiers are still human beings whose hearts can be touched by the power of love and nonviolence. In the literature on nonviolence, there are countless examples of soldiers from all over the world being persuaded to disobey orders or even change sides when faced with nonviolent opposition, and members of the US military aren’t an exception. But it would require a level of organization that seems to not exist at the moment. However, that doesn’t mean that Afghans could not or should not start organizing around this goal.

    What do you think? Would this type of resistance be possible or effective against the US occupation? And do you have any other ideas about how Afghans might bring an end to not only the night raids, but the entire occupation, through nonviolent action?



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