By Jillian Brown
On Wednesday, October 7, 2009, two UCSB students staged an anti-war rally in the Arbor to protest United States involvement in the war currently taking place in Afghanistan. Noor Aljawad, a first-year political science major, and Alessandro Morosin, a first-year global studies graduate student, felt an urgent need to build a student resistance to the war in Afghanistan.
Although the pair is not affiliated with any campus clubs or organizations, they are still trying to raise student awareness regarding U.S. military activity in Afghanistan. They are concerned that students are basing their opinions regarding the war solely on what is reported by the popular media. Morosin expressed his concern about this, stating that “there is very little talk about the U.S.’s strategic interests and goals in that region [of Afghanistan].”
Aljawad and Morosin contest the idea often portrayed by the press that U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan has been mandated in order to liberate Afghanis and promote humanitarian goals.
“This is an imperialist war of occupation,” Morosin said.
Morosin and Aljawad both expressed their shared view that it is impossible for Afghanistan to build its own liberating government as long as the U.S. remains militarily involved in warfare. They jointly stated that they oppose U.S. imperialism in Afghanistan as well as Taliban rule.
“As U.S. citizens there’s not a lot that we can do at this point in time that’s going to benefit the Afghani people as long as the occupation and its goals are tainting everything there [in Afghanistan],” Morosin said. He further claimed that the humanitarian alternative to non-humanitarian imperialism is simply to “GET OUT” of Afghanistan.
Aljawad feels the same way about the need for the U.S. to pull its troops out of Afghanistan, stating that the U.S. is not liberating women nor protecting their civil rights.
“Militarization has never helped women, never benefitted women,” she said. “Those who think that we’re [the U.S. government] liberating women are completely delusional.”
“She further claimed that U.S. servicemen commit sexual assault against Afghani women, supporting her point that warfare is not a valid method of protecting or liberating Afghani women.
Aljawad also expressed her concern that U.S. military participation in warfare is â€œactually helping the Taliban strengthen.
Although Morosin and Aljawad set up the rally independent of any campus organization, they were not the only vocal students present. Morosin invited student spectators to step up to the microphone to express their opinions about military action in Afghanistan.
One female student reiterated Morosin’s commitment to raising student awareness about war in Afghanistan.”We think this is just some war far away, but these are our tax dollars,â€ she said.
The same student speaker continued to discuss the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip, claiming that food was not delivered to Palestinian people, nor was appropriate medical care. A male student who had been in line to purchase Woodstock’s Pizza in the Arbor nearby could not contain himself, interrupting her and shouting, “Hold on, hold on, hold on.” He proceeded to engage in using profanity, stating that what the female student speaker had asserted was a complete lie. When she reprimanded him for interrupting, the student stormed off in a rage. His outburst is a testament to the reality that “facts” about the war in Afghanistan can depend on the perspective of the source.
The conflicting viewpoints of the student speaker and the student who stormed off illuminate the need for circulation of information regarding the war in Afghanistan.
Aljawad and Morosin want to host other campus events in order to build a significant student resistance to U.S. militarization in Afghanistan, but concrete plans have yet to be set in stone.