Rashid Khalidi chides presidential candidates and moderators for never mentioning the Afghanistan war

Historians in the News
tags: Hillary Clinton, Rashid Khalidi, Afghanistan War, Trump

Columbia University’s Rashid Khalidi speaks to Democracy Now! during our "Expanding the Debate" special after the second Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate. Khalidi discusses the war in Syria as well as why the candidates failed to address the Israel-Palestine conflict or the U.S. war in Afghanistan….

RASHID KHALIDI: Afghanistan is our longest-running war, and neither of them saw fit to mention it. And the country’s in, probably, perhaps, a worse state than it was when the United States invaded back in 2001. No mention of that in the debate. What we had was a performance, something that had nothing to do with policy for most of its duration. It seemed like a playground mud fight for much of it. So a lot of things were just not talked about. And when they did talk about things, a serious fact checker would have had to be interrupting every—every seven seconds. The number of things that were said that are completely false are almost—it’s impossible to count them, particularly Trump, but also Secretary Clinton.

What they said about Syria specifically, starting with refugees—the United States is a party to this war, which has produced millions of refugees. And we’ve taken a few tens of thousands. Trump is using Syrian refugees as a flag to scare people into voting for him, the idea that terrorists are entering the country. More people are killed by falling out of bed than have been killed by jihadi terrorists. Yes. I have a little poster on my door. More people have been killed by toddlers with guns than jihadi terrorists in the United States annually. The actual death toll from terrorist incidents of any sort in the United States is a tiny fraction of the number of people who are accidentally killed by guns. So, he is using this as a—as a red flag to terrify certain voters. And it’s working. He has a hard base of support, people who have all kinds of motivations for feeling the way they do.

I think that the—I think that the whole issue of Syria is a scandal we have helped to contribute—we’ve contributed—the United States has contributed to creating this mess. And it’s an obligation of a lot of countries to do more than they’re doing, among them the United States. There are a million refugees in Lebanon. There are more than a million in Jordan. There are several million in Turkey. These are the countries that are bearing the brunt. And we’re talking about 5,000 or 6,000 or 10,000 refugees coming to this country. It’s actually quite disgraceful. A country of 300 million people can’t take 10,000 refugees, from a war that six of our clients and allies are deeply engaged in and have been for five years.

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