By Nasim Fekrat (in Pennsylvania, U.S.)
The western media has always framed the presence of US and other international forces in Afghanistan negatively. We constantly read and hear from the media the word “invasion” to articulate the presence of US forces in Afghanistan.
It is true that US forces are using the territory of Afghanistan in the war against terrorism, but does that mean that the US invaded Afghanistan? Simply put, the answer is no. This is because the United States was invited by the Northern Alliance, and the two united to stand against the Taliban, who at the time had seized almost 95% of the country.
Nine years of US presence in Afghanistan have passed. There are about 36,000 US troops who are not part of ISAF serving in the east of Afghanistan. As of October 2009, the ISAF had 67,700 personnel from 42 different countries including the US, European countries, Australia, Jordan and New Zealand. Now, does that mean that 42 countries invaded Afghanistan?
Unfortunately, the sensitive word “invasion” has always been used by US and other Western media. Whatever the incentive behind using the word “invasion,” it is provocative and destructive, and spreads a negative message to the people of Afghanistan who still believe that US troops and other international forces are there to bring peace and security. Afghan people are still talking about throwing flowers in front of US troops for the first time when they entered northern Afghanistan. The US troops were warmly welcomed by villagers who longed to live in peace and security. Even now, when US troops walk in most of the central and northern parts of Afghanistan, people wave at them -- and they are most likely accompanied by children because the soldiers used to treat them with pencils and notebooks.
But when a CNN or New York Times reporter goes to a village in Marjah, interviewing villagers and asking them what they think of the US invasion in their territory, it does make sense for the villagers to start thinking about the word “invasion.” They may be hearing the word “invasion” for the first time from a foreign journalist, not from other villagers. The word invasion is rarely used by Afghan media and Afghan journalists have always been unwilling to use the word “invasion.”
However, since most Afghan newspapers observe the western media and translate them into local languages, the word might affect public opinion and spread hatreds towards US forces. The word “invasion” has always been used by Taliban and Iranian media. It is surprising that the western media neglects this, seemingly unaware that when Afghans hear the word “invasion” they might react to it. In the process of time they will start to believe that indeed the US invaded Afghanistan. The western media, alongside their troops, have a responsibility to support the peace process and not to be used as a tool to support the enemies that can change the public opinion against the US forces.
Today, no one would say or believe that the US invaded Afghanistan. We often hear the word invasion from Iranian media and Taliban propaganda. Thus, Afghan people have always treated foreign troops as guests and always welcomed them as peace keepers and security builders.