An Occupation by Any Other Name

Afghan activist and politician Malalai Joya has been in the U.S. to discuss her book A Woman Among Warlords. As noted by Eric Garris at, Joya’s was treated very differently byCNN than by CNN International. Specifically, Joya’s mention of the military occupation of her country seemed to offend CNN host Heidi Collins (10/28/09):

Again, “occupation” would certainly be your word. A lot of people would take great issue with you calling the U.S. presence in Afghanistan in your country an” occupation.”

It’s not clear to whom Collins is referring when she speaks of people who would take “great issue” with Joya’s characterization. As Juan Cole put it, “that the U.S. and NATO are militarily occupying Afghanistan is recognized by the U.N. Security Council and is a simple fact of international law.”

Or ask the International Committee of the Red Cross:

Once a situation exists which factually amounts to an occupation the law of occupation applies–whether or not the occupation is considered lawful.

Therefore, for the applicability of the law of occupation, it makes no difference whether an occupation has received Security Council approval, what its aim is, or indeed whether it is called an “invasion”, “liberation”, “administration” or “occupation.” As the law of occupation is primarily motivated by humanitarian considerations, it is solely the facts on the ground that determine its application.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.