The criminal debacle of US imperialism in Afghanistan
US troops withdrew from the sprawling Bagram Air Base at 3 a.m. last Friday, without notifying Afghan government forces supposed to replace them, and cutting off the electricity at the exit, an act that sparked an invasion of the base by a small army of looters.
This despicable retreat is a fitting symbol of the debacle caused by 20 years of US war and occupation in Afghanistan. Bagram, built by the Soviet Army in the 1950s and greatly expanded by the Americans, was at the heart of US imperialism’s two-decade war of criminal aggression.
Hundreds of thousands of US personnel passed through the base during the longest war in US history. From Bagram, US warplanes have carried out bombing campaigns that claimed the lives of countless thousands of Afghan civilians, and special forces assassination teams have launched raids in which entire families were wiped out. . The base also housed the Parwan Detention Center where thousands of suspected insurgents were imprisoned and the methods of “enhanced interrogation”, ie torture, were employed. Prisoners were beaten, attacked by dogs, chained to the ceiling, subjected to sexual humiliation and sleep deprivation and, in some cases, tortured to death.
Bagram was abandoned amid a total rout of Afghan security forces at the hands of the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban invaded around a quarter of the country’s districts in a matter of weeks, in addition to the territories they already controlled. Government soldiers handed over bases and stockpiles of US-supplied weapons and, in some cases, joined Islamist fighters. On Monday, more than 1,000 government troops fled the northeastern border of Afghanistan to the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan to escape the fighting.
This rout, which appears to confirm the worst-case scenario prepared by US intelligence agencies that Kabul could fall within six months of a US withdrawal, sparked an increasingly bitter dispute “which lost Afghanistan” to Washington. Right-wing Republican politicians have indicted the Biden administration, while proclaiming their deep concern for the rights of Afghan women. Biden supporters in turn pointed out that it was the Trump administration that signed the deal with the Taliban in Qatar in February 2020 demanding the withdrawal of the United States.
The reality is that the United States lost Afghanistan in its two decades of colonial-style occupation, which caused intense opposition and anger among the Afghan people.
It is conservatively estimated that 175,000 civilians were killed in the war. If one added the deaths due to the conditions of mass displacement and the general destruction of social conditions, the total would undoubtedly climb to well over a million.
The US intervention began with a horrific war crime: the mass execution of more than 2,000 Taliban prisoners who were suffocated or shot in shipping containers after surrendering to US special forces and their proxies. the Northern Alliance in November 2001. The American war, obscenely dubbed “Operation Enduring Freedom”, produced an endless series of such crimes against the Afghan people. According to conservative estimates, in the past five years alone, some 4,000 Afghan civilians have been killed in US and Allied airstrikes, including nearly 800 children.
The empty promises that the American occupation would bring democracy and prosperity to the Afghan people have been denounced as a fraud. Kabul’s puppet regime, which produces rigged elections and deals with criminal warlords, lacks legitimacy. After 20 years of US aid, Afghanistan still ranks 169th (out of 189 countries) on the UN Human Development Index, behind most countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The United States spent $ 143 billion on “rebuilding” Afghanistan, more, adjusted for inflation, than Washington spent on the entire Marshal plan for rebuilding Europe. West after World War II. This money has produced no significant improvement in the lives of the vast majority of Afghans, nor any development of basic infrastructure. He went massively to line the pockets of one of the most corrupt kleptocracies on the planet, including the military command, which stole soldiers’ pay and supplies, contributing powerfully to the ongoing collapse of the security forces.
The costs of the war for the United States, in addition to the trillions of dollars spent fighting it, are measured by the deaths of 2,452 American servicemen, as well as those of 455 British soldiers and 689 of Canada and France. , Germany, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Australia, Spain and other countries. Thousands of military contractors have also lost their lives. Among the three quarters of a million American soldiers deployed at least once in Afghanistan, many have returned mutilated or mentally scarred by the dirty colonial war.
With the American withdrawal, the question arises: what justified this sacrifice? The claim that the war was waged to protect the American people from Al Qaeda terrorism is a blatant lie. It lasted more than nine years after a sick, isolated and under house arrest Osama bin Laden by Pakistani military intelligence agency ISI was executed by a Navy Seal squad. During this period, Washington funded and armed elements of Al Qaeda for its regime change wars in Libya and Syria.
Moreover, the tragic encounter between the Afghan people and US imperialism did not begin in 2001, but more than two decades earlier, when the CIA, together with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, mobilized fighters. Islamists across the Muslim world for a proxy war against the forces supporting a secular government in Kabul. Among the CIA’s closest collaborators was Bin Laden, who founded Al Qaeda with support from the US intelligence agency.
The motives for the war, which had nothing to do with the well-being of the American people and everything to do with the interests of the financial and corporate oligarchy, are indicated in some of the critiques of the American withdrawal.
the Washington post editorialized: “American rivals such as Iran, China and Russia might draw the conclusion that Mr. Biden does not have the stomach to defend besieged United States allies such as Iraq, Taiwan and the United States. ‘Ukraine.
the the Wall Street newspaper underlined the “strategic costs” of the withdrawal, saying that “a US presence in Afghanistan, including at the large Bagram air base, made Iran think in the west and China in the east. significant American influence in this strategic location has provided at least some control over Iranian aggression and Chinese expansionism. “
An article by Lt. Col. David Clukey, a retired US Army special forces officer, on the Naval War College website, warned that the withdrawal would give “Communist China … an opportunity to undermine.” years of American efforts. while simultaneously allowing advisers to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and military forces strategic access and influence in South Asia – a move that would strengthen deterrence against US military intervention in the region.
What these statements show very clearly is that the disputes over the withdrawal from Afghanistan are not rooted in fears of terrorism, let alone concerns for women’s rights, but rather in the geostrategic interests of the country. US imperialism, especially in relation to its intensified confrontation with China.
On October 9, 2001, two days after Washington launched its invasion of Afghanistan and amid a fierce propaganda campaign by the U.S. government and mainstream media to sell the war to the American people as a revenge for September 11 , the World Socialist website released a statement titled “Why We Oppose the War in Afghanistan”. He denounced the lie that it was a “war for the justice and security of the American people against terrorism” and insisted that “the current action of the United States is an imperialist war” in which Washington aimed to “establish a new political framework within which it will exercise hegemonic control” not only over Afghanistan, but over the wider region of Central Asia, “which is home to the second largest deposit of proven reserves of oil and natural gas in the world ”.
The WSWS said at the time:
The United States is at a crossroads. The government admits that it has embarked on a war of indefinite magnitude and duration. What is happening is the militarization of American society under conditions of worsening social crisis.
The war will profoundly affect the conditions of the American and international working class. Imperialism threatens humanity at the start of the twenty-first century with a repetition on a more horrific scale of the tragedies of the twentieth. More than ever, imperialism and its depredations raise the need for the international unity of the working class and the struggle for socialism.
These warnings have been fully confirmed over the past 20 years, as US imperialism has waged new wars and equally criminal military attacks from Iraq to Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, while erecting the scaffolding of a police state within the United States. States themselves.
While there is deep hostility to these wars among the American population, these anti-war sentiments have been repeatedly suppressed and hijacked behind the Democratic Party. He regained control of both houses of Congress in 2006 and won the presidency from Barack Obama in 2008 on the back of those sentiments, only to continue and expand American wars, including through Obama’s “rise” in Afghanistan.
It remains to be seen whether Biden’s troop withdrawal marks the end of four decades of US imperialism’s death and destruction in Afghanistan. The US military and intelligence apparatus is developing an “beyond the horizon” capability to continue bombing, drone strikes and special forces interventions, while the State Department searches for new bases in old ones. Central Asian Soviet republics.
Biden and Trump’s attempt to end the US military occupation of Afghanistan is tied to preparations for a much more dangerous outbreak of US militarism, as Washington shifts its global “war on terror” strategy preparations for war against its “great power” rivals, in the first place, China and Russia, which have nuclear weapons.
Ensuring the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan and stopping the eruption of new, even more catastrophic wars requires the independent political mobilization of the working class in the United States and uniting its growing struggles with those of workers in Asia, the Middle East. East, Europe and internationally in an anti-war socialist movement. Without the revolutionary intervention of the working class, the threat of a third nuclear world war will only increase.