Afghanistan and the struggle against imperialism

For 10 long years, the people of
Afghanistan have been living under a brutal U.S./NATO occupation. Is
the brutality and destruction of the last decade really in response
to the September 2001 attack, or about killing “terrorists,” or
about “democracy,” or some other humanitarian reason? No. How
could any of those spins by Washington and the corporate news outlets
be the real reasons for bombing, invading, occupying and terrorizing
the people of a country for over 10 years—a people who clearly want
foreign troops out of their country?

After all, no Afghans took part in the
attacks and a recent survey conducted among males of fighting age in southern Afghanistan showed that 92 percent of them had never even heard of the
September 11 attack.

Do the people of Afghanistan, a poor
landlocked country 7,000 miles away from the U.S., where the average
life expectancy is 43 years, pose any military danger to the people
of the U.S.?

To this day, no one in Washington or
the Pentagon has ever been honest about the continuation of the war.
Leon Panetta, the recent director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified before Congress that there were less than 100 Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan today. So why does the United States maintain 100,000 occupation troops there? One reason is that the U.S. government intends to incorporate Afghanistan into a U.S. sphere of influence in Central Asia, including several former Soviet republics. Secondly, the U.S. military is continuing to fight to avoid the perception of having been defeated by an armed insurgency in a poor Third World country.

One thing is clear. The war has not made the lives of regular people
in Afghanistan or the United States any better. Maybe it has helped make the
Wall Street rich richer, but that’s it.

Here, unemployment, homelessness, gas
and food prices and the cost of education have all skyrocketed, while
social services and labor rights are under attack by the capitalist
billionaires. Racism and the war on immigrants have spiked.

In fact, it is no coincidence that the
wars on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and the war on workers at home
are happening at the same time. They are part of the same class
conflict of the tiny number of super-rich against the workers and
poor of the world.

In 2001, the armies of the most
powerful countries on the planet, led by the United States, invaded
Afghanistan on a fraudulent pretext, overthrew the central
government, installed a puppet leader and began building permanent
military bases all over the country. In the ongoing effort to
maintain this geographic advance into the heart of Eurasia, the
Pentagon and CIA have mercilessly bombed and razed whole villages and
have killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Afghanistan is the scene of the most
gruesome brutalities committed against women, children and all
civilians by foreign militaries, private mercenaries, and CIA and
U.S. military death squads. Torture is routinely used by all hostile
foreign forces and the U.S.-run Afghan security services. The
Pentagon’s terror campaign has also been extended to neighboring
Pakistan.

Yet despite its vastly superior killing
machines, U.S. imperialism has not won the war. On the tenth
anniversary, forces opposed to the re-colonization of their country
control most of Afghanistan. Though they are seldom reported, attacks
by the over 40 resistance organizations in Afghanistan often involve
hundreds of fighters and have been successful in driving U.S. and
NATO forces from their positions in several areas of the country.

In 2011, Afghan civilian deaths are the
highest they have ever been. The same goes for U.S. military
fatalities and catastrophic injuries. Many U.S. and NATO troops run
out of ammunition every day in what continues to be fierce fighting.
Up to 80 percent of soldiers suffer from some kind of psychological
disorder or emotional trauma. Suicide and suicide attempts in the
military are at an all-time high.

Washington scrambles to avoid defeat

Make no mistake—Washington and the
Pentagon would do almost anything to stop the fighting and “pacify”
Afghanistan under their control. For two years, the Pentagon has
attempted to adapt to the reality that they cannot militarily defeat
the resistance.

With their NATO allies, they have
embarked on a two-pronged campaign very similar to the “surge”
strategy that was implemented in Iraq in 2007. The “surge”
employed a “carrot” and “fist.”

The fist consists of escalating
military terror on both resistance forces and the civilian population
with increased airstrikes and the liberal use of unmanned drones and
Joint Special Forces assassination squads. The carrot consists of
billions of dollars authorized by Congress to make large payments and
give jobs to Taliban fighters willing to lay down their arms.

At the same time, the Pentagon and the
State Department are feverishly working behind the scenes to
negotiate a deal with the Taliban, a group that was on friendly terms
with Washington in the years before the war. So far, this strategy
has failed. The military position of the Afghan resistance is strong
and appears to be insurmountable.

The Taliban and other resistance forces
have largely fought off and outmaneuvered the “fist” part of the
campaign and have refused to accept anything less than a full
withdrawal of all foreign troops. For the Pentagon, the just demand
for self-determination is entirely unacceptable, even though it is
the only real solution to ending the war.

How long will the Pentagon keep
occupation troops in Afghanistan? The following quote from February
2005 is revealing: Speaking at a joint press conference with Hamid
Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, Senator John McCain said that the
United States needs permanent military bases in Afghanistan to
protect its “vital national security interests.”

Reuters reports that the United States
and the puppet Afghanistan government plan to sign a “status of
forces” agreement for U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan until
2024. The fact that the Pentagon is even considering staying in the
country for 23 years speaks volumes about their intentions. When the
U.S. occupies a country for geopolitical reasons, it intends to stay.
How could it be otherwise?

Complete withdrawal from Afghanistan
would be an important victory for an armed resistance movement in a
strategically important area of the world. Washington will go to
great lengths to prevent that from happening.

On the other hand, workers in the
United States would lose nothing from a defeat of U.S. imperialism in
Afghanistan. The futures of the people of Afghanistan and the people
of the world are tied together. The string of wars on Panama,
Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya; the proxy wars on
Somalia, Yemen and Palestine; and the threats against Iran, Syria,
Venezuela, Cuba and others are part of a “grand strategy” of
overthrowing every independent government on the globe.

Afghanistan: a geostrategic
imperative for imperialism

Washington’s bloody invasion and
occupation of Afghanistan, overseen by the leaders of the twin
capitalist parties—the Democrats and the Republicans—is driven by
capitalism’s intrinsic drive for profits and expansion and the
following geostrategic facts:

  1. Afghanistan and Central Asia are
    literally at the crossroads of the world. Geographically, Central
    Asia is at the center of both Eurasia and Afro-Eurasia, which is
    really one big land mass. Eighty-five percent of the world’s
    population lives in Africa, Asia and Europe.
  2. Afghanistan itself is positioned
    on or very close to vital trade routes between the Middle East and
    Asia; between Central Asia and China, Pakistan and India; between
    Iran and Asia; and between Russia and parts of Asia.

  3. The vast majority of oil and
    natural gas in the world is in a large region comprised of the
    Middle East, Central Asia and the entire Caspian Region. Around 70
    percent of the world’s proven oil reserves are located in this
    wider region.

U.S. imperialism’s fantasy would be
to install puppet regimes and permanent bases in Iraq, Iran and
Afghanistan. In the minds of Pentagon generals, this would give the
United States a virtually unassailable geostrategic position in
Eurasia. It would place it on the doorsteps of China and Russia, and
between the energy region on one hand and Europe, China, Russia and
India on the other.

Zbigniew
Brzezinski is a rabid anti-communist, son of a Polish aristocrat,
former U.S. national security advisor, energy company consultant, one
of the architects of the CIA’s counter-revolutionary operations in
Afghanistan from 1978 to 1992, and a high-level advisor to Wall
Street and Washington since the Kennedy administration. He summed up
the U.S. orientation to the wider region in his 1997 book, “>The
Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives”:
“For America the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia. . . . Most
of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its
enterprises and underneath its soil,” and “America
is now Eurasia’s arbitrator, with no major Eurasian issue soluble
without America’s participation or contrary to America’s
interests.”

Besides being at a central crossroads
of world trade, Afghanistan and Central Asia have considerable
newfound oil and mineral wealth. In addition to the area’s oil and
natural gas fields, Afghanistan itself has large copper deposits, and
massive quantities of lithium have been recently discovered.

The great imperialist prize: the
energy-producing region

Preceding
the war on Afghanistan, Unocal executive John J. Maresca told
a congressional panel in February 1998: “The Central Asia and
Caspian region is blessed with abundant oil and gas that can enhance
the lives of the region’s residents, and provide energy for growth in
both Europe and Asia. The impact of these resources on U.S.
commercial interests and U.S. foreign policy is also significant. …
Unocal and other American companies like it are fully prepared to
undertake the job and to make Central Asia once again into the
crossroads it has been in the past.”

Richard Boucher, when he was U.S.
assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, put
it more bluntly in September 2007: “One of our goals is to
stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between
South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south . . . and
so that the countries of Central Asia are no longer bottled up
between two enormous powers of China and Russia, but rather they have
outlets to the south as well as to the north and the east and the
west.”

Central Asia, located between Russia,
China and Afghanistan is made up of the following countries:
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
According to the International Energy Statistics Administration,
Kazakhstan has 30 billion barrels in oil reserves, the 12th highest
in the world. Chevron owns the rights to Kazakhstan’s oil until
2033. Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have immense natural
gas reserves. Turkmenistan ranks fourth in the world with 265
trillion cubic feet in natural gas reserves.

In order for the oil and natural gas to
be exported from the landlocked regions of Central Asia and the
entire Caspian Region, pipelines are needed. Currently, the main
pipelines from Central Asia run through Russia. In 2009, China
completed its first two Central Asian pipelines that import oil and
gas from the region directly to China.

Pipelines from Azerbaijan to
Turkey, partially owned by Chevron and British Petroleum and
engineered by Bechtel, transport oil and gas out of Azerbaijan, which
has seven billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

Proposed
Turkmenistan-Iran-Pakistan-India and Iran-Pakistan-India pipelines
are aggressively opposed by Washington, as is the construction of
more Central Asia pipelines to Russia.

For decades, Washington’s goal has
been the construction of the “TAPI” pipeline from Turkmenistan
through Afghanistan to Pakistan with a branch to India.

The invasion of Afghanistan has not led
to the construction of the TAPI pipeline. Afghan resistance forces
control nearly all of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan—areas that
the pipeline would have to traverse. In 2008 and 2010, the leaders of
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India convened to ratify
cooperation on the construction of the pipeline. The project is
financed by the Development Bank of Asia, a U.S.-supported financial
institution. 

An effort to modernize and end feudalism in Afghanistan: 1978–1992

From
1929 until 1973, Afghanistan was ruled by a monarchy under the family
of King Zahir Khan. In 1973, Mohammed Daoud—a member of the royal
family—took power, declared himself president and established a
republic. Although the monarchy was formally abolished, his reign was
increasingly repressive against both Islamic militants and the small
but growing communist movement.

A communist party, the People’s
Democratic Party of Afghanistan, was formed in 1965.

In 1978, as Daoud moved closer to the
U.S. orbit, a revolutionary coup, led by the PDPA with the help of
portions of the Afghan military, overthrew the government,
established the People’s Republic of Afghanistan and began a
transition to socialism.

Upon seizing power, the PDPA announced
a democratic program that included land reform, growth in public
services, price controls, separation of church and state, full
equality for women, legalization of trade unions and a sweeping
literacy campaign.

The new government canceled the
enormous debts of peasants and started training teachers and building
schools and hospitals all over the country. Women could no longer be
sold into marriage or executed for so-called “infidelities.”
Literacy campaigns were undertaken in the many different languages of
the country.

Despite violent resistance from
rich landowners, 200,000 peasants in a country of 20 million people
received land from the PRA government. From 1978 to 1981, public
school enrollment went from 5,000 to 600,000. Nineteen thousand
teachers were trained.

Immediately, the United States
launched a counter-revolutionary offensive that lasted 14 years and
became the largest CIA operation in history, costing an estimated $6
billion.

The PRA government was beset by several internal factional struggles, exacerbated by the massive covert CIA operation that armed and financed pro-feudalist elements in the countryside. Under these pressures, it appeared that the PRA might be overwhelmed. 

After repeated requests for assistance
by the PRA government, Soviet troops entered Afghanistan in December
1979 to help beat back the U.S.-trained anti-communist fighters.

The “mujahideen,” the Afghan and
foreign forces backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the
14-year civil war, were feudal landlords, warlords and drug traders.
They destroyed health clinics and thousands of schools and routinely
tortured and killed peasants who had been given land by the
revolutionary government, as well as schoolteachers, medical workers,
women and children—all in the name of holding onto the old feudal
system and defeating the progressive program of the PRA government.

Osama Bin Laden was in charge of the
operation to recruit and train foreign elements of the mujahideen. Al
Qaeda is descended from those same fighters who fought against the
progressive government and Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

The Soviet intervention was not based
on the kinds of predatory interests that were the root of
U.S. wars in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan.

After the complete withdrawal of Soviet
forces in 1989, the PRA held out for another three years, primarily
because the so-called “freedom fighters” lacked widespread
popular support, and the only thing that kept them together was
billions of dollars in U.S. aid. It is very unlikely that the
mujahideen would have been successful without this aid.

The
PRA fell in 1992, shortly after the overthrow and dissolution of the Soviet Union. For the next four years, the “freedom fighters” fought
each other for control. In 1996, the Taliban, an Islamist group
supported by Pakistan and given support from the United States, took power in Kabul. They unleashed a murderous attack on socialists who had worked with the PRA, and made it illegal for girls and women to attend school.

After a few years of maintaining economic relations with the Taliban, Washington began to employ sanctions as a consequence of the Taliban providing sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. The U.S. government also intensified its arms sales to the Northern Alliance, an entity that opposed the Taliban but was also rooted in the anti-communist mujahideen movement. Less than a
month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States and
Britain launched all-out war on Oct. 7, 2001. 

What will end the war on
Afghanistan?

Because of its geographic importance,
the U.S. capitalist establishment would like to stay in Afghanistan
permanently and will go to great lengths to keep Afghanistan from
once again achieving its independence. Their problem is that, even
against great odds, the people of Afghanistan will never stop
fighting for their independence. This is the irreconcilable conflict
at the heart of the war.

The United States and the Karzai client
government in Kabul are trying to find a way to negotiate an end to
the war on terms that would protect imperialist interests in the
country. They are attempting “Afghanization” of the fighting,
along the lines of the U.S. “Vietnamization” plan in the early
1970s. This means that Afghan soldiers should bear the burden of
counterinsurgency so that more U.S. troops can be withdrawn. There is
an increased use of U.S. airpower, particularly drone attacks. These
are the same essential elements of the failed U.S. strategy in
Vietnam during the Nixon-Kissinger era.

Just as in Vietnam, only the complete
withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces can end the war in
Afghanistan.

Ending the wars and occupations in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Haiti and elsewhere is a key demand of
the rising people’s movements from the Middle East to the United
States. On Oct. 6-8, the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and
End Racism) and many other organizations will be in the streets under
the banner “End the war NOW—money for people’s needs, not the
Pentagon.”

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