This Day in History

Oct. 7, 2001: United States and U.K. Began War in Afghanistan

Time Periods: 2001-
Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
War in Afghanistan | Zinn Education Project

Image from an American Friends Service Committee traveling art exhibit called Windows and Mirrors: Reflections on the War in Afghanistan.

On Oct. 7, 2001, the United States and the United Kingdom began the war in Afghanistan.

As Democracy Now! notes, Rep. Barbara Lee was the only member of the U.S. Congress to oppose the invasion,

On September 14, 2001, three days after the devastating 9/11 attacks, members of Congress held a five-hour debate on whether to grant the president expansive powers to use military force in retaliation for the attacks, which the Senate had already passed by a vote of 98 to 0.

Rep. Barbara Lee was the only member of U.S. Congress to vote against war in the immediate aftermath of the devastating 9/11 attacks that killed about 3,000 people. “Let us not become the evil that we deplore,” she urged her colleagues in a dramatic address on the House floor. The final vote in the House was 420-1.

We recommend introducing students to the longer history of Afghanistan before teaching about the war. An episode of a Throughline podcast is a good resource. As they explain:

Afghanistan has, for centuries, been at the center of the world. Long before the U.S. invasion — before the U.S. was even a nation — countless civilizations intersected there, weaving together a colorful tapestry of foods, languages, ethnicities and visions of what Afghanistan was and could be.

The story of Afghanistan is too often told from the perspective of outsiders who tried to invade it (and always failed) earning it the nickname “Graveyard of Empires.”

In this episode, we’re shifting the perspective. We’ll journey through the centuries alongside Afghan mystical poets. We’ll turn the radio dial to hear songs of love and liberation. We’ll meet the queen who built the first primary school for girls in the country. And we’ll take a closer look at Afghanistan’s centuries-long experiment to create a unified nation.

Learn more about the history of the war from a series of Democracy Now! interviews, including the story below, Taliban’s Sweeping Offensive in Afghanistan Was “Inevitable” and Stems from Brutal U.S. War.

Check out the lesson “Whose Terrorism?” from the Rethinking Schools book Teaching About the Wars.