It seems that from being a direct colony of the world’s top superpower, Afghanistan will now be subject to competition for influence by other global powers.
By MENCHANI TILENDO
The war is not over, and the Afghani people’s path to full victory is now met with new challenges and opportunities. After 20 years of unshackled and brutal U.S. government intervention in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul last August 15 was a historical defeat for U.S. imperialism. Their claim of presidential power from Asraf Ghani in the country’s capital was a demonstration of the resolve to topple down a global superpower, which, for the longest time, has sponsored puppet fascist regimes and waged violent proxy wars in the guise of being “advocates of democracy” and “liberators of the people”.
The promises that the U.S. occupation will bring Afghani people democracy and liberation have now more than ever been exposed as fraud. Afghanistan has always been a hotbed and breeding ground for fundamentalist terrorists created by none other than the U.S. imperialist government. Out of 189 countries, Afghanistan still ranks 169th on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. The motive for the decades-long war and occupation of Afghanistan was never for the welfare of the people. It was always about geopolitical interests and financial corporate takeover. The harshest consequence of these wars is the ordinary citizens, minorities, and the masses turning into refugees and being left behind by the wrath of these clashing powers.
The Taliban’s swift assertion of power then poses a huge challenge to the Afghani people’s resistance movement. It should be noted that the Taliban’s initial abilities and current resurgence is fuelled by weapons, power, and decisions of Western forces. Thus, what happened on August 15 does not mean the end of the U.S. imperialist domination in Afghanistan and it also does not mean a Taliban victory.
Historical crimes of the “New American Century”
In the 1980s, the U.S. funded and assisted anti-Soviet mujahideen fighters, some of whom later became the Taliban. During the 20-year war, the U.S. has spent around $2trillion, lost thousands of troops, killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, and caused displacement of around four million Afghans, while keeping its refugee resettlement numbers exceptionally low.
The U.S. started to wage war in Afghanistan with the aim of implementing “the project for the new American century,” a plan to prevent the decline of U.S. supremacy through military means. This plan was devised by the neo-conservatives under the Bush administration to prevent the fall of American hegemony through warmongering, invasion, and occupation of the imperialist-dominated countries.
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) – US chapter has historicized the U.S. government’s declaration of war in Afghanistan.
On October 7, 2001, a British-backed U.S. bombing campaign began against the Taliban and ended up killing thousands of innocent civilians.
On May 1, 2011, Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
On February 9, 2020, the U.S. government and the Taliban signed a peace agreement, ensuring a ceasefire within the U.S., but not between the Talibans and the Afghani people.
“As the Bush administration planned its ground invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, first lady Laura Bush said the war was necessary to ‘liberate’ Afghan women from the brutality of the Taliban and their brothers, fathers, and husbands. This claim, rooted in racist and orientalist tropes of Islam and Muslim people, would be parroted by Western feminists for years to come, painting a picture of docile and helpless Muslim women who are in need of saving,” ILPS US said in a statement.
Continued invasion under Biden
The Bush doctrine and the U.S. “endless war” policy were not only continued by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, they have also expanded the aggression to other West Asian and African countries. Now, under Joe Biden, although the U.S. is withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, the United States is not seeking an end to “endless warfare.” Thus, the war and aggression started by the neoconservatives of the Bush administration under the name of “war on terror” continues under Biden’s reign.
“At my direction, my team is refining our national strategy to monitor and disrupt significant terrorist threats not only in Afghanistan, but anywhere they may arise — and they’re in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere,” Biden stated.
It could be remembered that on April 13 this year, Biden announced that he is “ending the longest war of America’s history” by withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11. Choosing this date is not just a random decision – it is an attempt by the current U.S. government to reinforce the long-time lie that the goal of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was to protect its people against terrorism.
The cost of U.S. war on Afghanistan
Indeed, there is money in war. When former U.S. President George W. Bush signed on September 18, 2001 the Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the government invested a starting $ 10,000-worth of stock in an S&P 500 index fund.
International news organization The Intercept noted that if this investment was evenly divided among America’s top five defense contractors (Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics) on September 18, 2001 — and faithfully reinvested all dividends, it would now be worth $97,295.
“This is a far greater return than was available in the overall stock market over the same period. A $10,000 invested in an S&P 500 index fund on September 18, 2001, would now be worth $61,613. That is, defense stocks outperformed the stock market overall by 58 percent during the Afghanistan War,” The Intercept reported.
“These numbers suggest that it is incorrect to conclude that the Taliban’s immediate takeover of Afghanistan upon the U.S.’s departure means that the Afghanistan War was a failure. On the contrary, from the perspective of some of the most powerful people in the U.S., it may have been an extraordinary success. Notably, the boards of directors of all five defense contractors include retired top-level military officers,” The Intercept added.
ILPS- US also stated reports that have also shown that a significant amount of the $5 trillion spent by U.S. on the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan has gone to military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, DynCop, and Academi (Blackwater), who at one point outnumbered soldiers in Afghanistan three to one; with one contract to the Harris Corporation amounting to $ 1.7 billion for communications equipment for Afghan security forces. On top of this, the U.S. military and state department have also had a long term and vested interest in Afghanistan’s estimated $1 trillion in mineral wealth and untapped natural gas and oil deposits.
With the continuous U.S. aid of weapons and war machines, the Taliban finds itself set for a handover of power.
Afghanistan under the Taliban leadership
The Taliban intensification of war months before their swift takeover of Kabul was more for making gains in the peace talks. In a recent press conference, they have not yet clearly outlined their preferred political system. Their former political system was under the name of the Islamic Emirate, known to be an authoritarian and theocratic regime headed by a mullah named Amir al-Mu’minin.
It is clear to the Taliban leadership that their Islamic Emirate system does not have support within Afghanistan and even from regional and international powers. Russia, China, India, Iran, and even Pakistan do not want the Islamic Emirate to return to power.
Now that the U.S. government has withdrawn its occupying forces in Afghanistan, military balance is shifted in favor of the Taliban. It should be noted that in the past, they have managed to seize districts and provincial capitals even when the puppet Afghanistan regime was equipped with military aid from U.S. occupation forces.
“Based on its record, it is unlikely that the Taliban will rule in a way that will uphold the Afghani people’s interest for genuine freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and pro-people development. Global powers China and Russia have immediately expressed their willingness to work with the Taliban government. At the same time, the situation can also provide the US imperialist forces and allies, especially NATO to build legitimacy for another occupation in Afghanistan and maybe beyond. It seems that from being a direct colony of the world’s top superpower, Afghanistan will now be subject to competition for influence by other global powers,” International League of Peoples’ Struggle said in a statement.
After two decades of brutal occupation, bombings, and airstrikes, the U.S. and its allies have continued to exploit the language of human rights, democracy, and gender justice to cloak imperialism. The rights of vulnerable sectors like the Afghani women and minorities will never come from the Taliban, nor the beast that led to its creation, the U.S. imperialist government.
Afghanistan will remain the center of the world crisis, hotbed of imperialists, and breeding ground of fundamentalist forces so long as the U.S. imperialist order continues to maintain its global hegemony. The dangers of class exploitation, social oppression, and accumulation of capital will continue.
These circumstances also present the Afghani people new challenges and opportunities to strengthen their resolve for a democratic revolution. History has taught us that the real victory relies on the people struggling, uniting, and resisting imperialist powers.