The last war in Afghanistan has ended. I was once a girl in the country that conducted the previous war there, the Soviet Union. When I heard about Jalalabad, I remembered that the city name was in the refrain of a song I heard in Ukrainian play yards, surrounded by tall trees and buildings. In front of my house in Zaporizhzhia, teenage boys and guys barely in their twenties were playing guitars in grapevine gazebos after dark. I was much younger than them, but older boys were considered the most attractive among us girls and had an aura of glory and wonder. So, I listened.
In that or another song, horrific torture scenes were embedded into the rhyme, some of which scared me for years to come as unimaginably evil. What was done to them? What did they do in revenge? Growing up, I heard many stories about the inability of those young soldiers to love and be loved again, even if they returned home physically whole. I did not guess yet that it might be that a small group of older males systematically eliminated large groups of younger men to make their remaining young female counterparts compete for the remaining men, both their age and older. In this game, many were dammed to stay without a partner or to opt out to be a courtesan, possibly with a child.
The decade following the song-singing confirmed that too many boys we were supposed to fall in love with came back mad and spread the pain. That idiotic war crippled the whole generation, together with the following crash of society and the massive drag trafficking wave from Afghanistan to Europe through Ukraine. The lack of mates and sudden devastating poverty made it easier for the mafia to trick and force young females with lies, money, and drugs into prostitution abroad. Women become more like merchandise, along with any other raw materials for sale. Human trafficking exploded.
The soldiers of war converted into soldiers of local violent powers. Many of those conscripts ended up in violent sports and then racketeering and other forms of organized crime. I saw them from the streets of Donetsk sometimes, packed in regular passing cars, armed. Their brutality and suicides became almost normal. Among my cousin's school classmates in Donetsk, less than half of the boys were alive several years later.
That war was somewhat like the Vietnam war for US youth. All young guys had to serve in it, and anyone who could resist did it, with all dishonesty against the state and risk required. Those who could paid for a fake disqualifying diagnosis. For my ten-year-older conscript cousin, an agreement was reached somehow, assuring that he served inland. However, for two years his mom was in fear they would send him to Afghanistan anyway.
All this added to my abhorrence of war I inherited from my grandmother who saved her first baby from famine in WWII. In evacuation from Ukraine to Siberia, she went to the harvested fields at night to gather the remaining seeds from the background. It was illegal. She later married a wounded war veteran. My disgust for war was also straightened by the loss of my 19-year-old conscript uncle in the Soviet army and finally heightened by the loss of Donetsk when Russian Federation invaded it in 2014.
I live near a military zone now, and sometimes see 17-year-old kids from there in the local cafes. They run for honor and a good education from poverty and existential desperation. Some of them, as many men before them, might return home with injured souls. I wish they avoid it, or would get help, and that it would be a meaningful sacrifice, in defense of their people.
Humans need to prohibit profiteering from the war in any form and to prosecute war offenses.