Saturday, 8 October 2011

A Criminal Decade for Afghans.

A toast to Freedom?

We have been in Afghanistan for 10 years now, though the US has interfered in Afghan affairs for closer to 30 years. It is almost common knowledge that the US intervened in the 1980s and backed the Mujahideen to fight the Russians who had invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Actually it was the Carter administration that put together $500 million to set up the Mujahideen in 1978 to counteract the Saur Revolution. The fundamentalist regime of General Zia-ul-Haq was more than welcome to assist the Americans in the bid to prevent Afghanistan from falling under the Iron Curtain. The support for General Zia-ul-Haq went as far as to support the radicalisation of Pakistani society, Jihadist manuals were actually printed at the University of Nebraska before being distributed throughout Pakistan. The consequent sympathy for Islamism in Pakistan combined with bureaucratic incompetence and institutional corruption is what kept Osama bin Laden safe in the country for so long. The horrible war which has now touched Pakistan as well as Afghanistan, for lack of a better word, cannot be understood without this context.

The Poodle's reward.
In the beginning we were told this is the "fight for freedom" and we were told "we will see freedom's victory" in the end. There is little mention of the facts about the people who run Afghanistan now. It is a narco-state where 50% of the economy is "black", which means that the cultivation and trafficking of drugs accounts for half of the Afghan economy. The war lords who cultivate and smuggle drugs out of the country are the same people who slaughtered 50,000 people in a 4 year bid to takeover Kabul in the 1990s. The war lords were won over to "our side" with truckloads of cash and guns. For years now these thugs have gotten away with the mass-rape of women, girls and boys. There is no serious commitment to the reconstruction of the country, instead the Karzai government is allowed to wallow in corruption while the ordinary Afghan goes without universal health-care and education. The Afghan people are only permitted a role of ratifying the position of President Hamid Karzai as the country is occupied and trashed.

The purpose of the invasion was never to overthrow the Taliban, the US had supported the Taliban for years and had provided billions of dollars in support of the regime. Then after 9/11 came the demands from George Bush that the Taliban has to hand over Osama bin Laden to the Americans. The Taliban agreed provided that the US put forward evidence (which is normal procedure for an extradition) and the US then proceeded to bomb Afghanistan without any international authorisation in October 2001. Ironically, the following year Bush and Blair were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. It is worth noting that there were 5 million Afghans on the verge of starvation in the country at the time and, as the bombing commenced, it looked as though the number could rise to 7.5 million. Thankfully the war has not led to starvation on a huge scale, but that does not excuse the immoral nature of the war. Unless we think that it was a sensible idea for Russia to station nuclear missiles in Cuba and point them at the US because it didn't lead to a nuclear war.

The Long Ride to a Free World?
The attacks of September 11th 2001 provided an opportunity for the US to drive a wedge into the Islamist movement, which was actually highly critical of the "new approach" al-Qaeda had taken to attack the far enemy rather than one of the many near enemies. If there had been a serious operation to apprehend the suspects then a wedge could have been driven into the Islamist movement, Osama bin Laden would have been isolated and the threat of terrorism could have been decreased. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the chief strategist of al-Qaeda, wrote then that the aim of the group was to lure the US into an over-reaction in which it would "wage battle against the Muslims." So that the US would be left vulnerable in a horrible drawn-out conflict while the long divided Islamist movement could be brought together against the West. The plan worked out as the US and UK jumped at the opportunity to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. There have since been attacks against cities across Europe, from Sweden to Spain.

It is difficult to ignore the strategic value of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the battle for control of energy resources in the region, which has yet to conclude and we have to bare in mind the superpowers in waiting (e.g. China and India). Logically any pipeline from India would have to pass through Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to reach the nearest sources of oil and gas in Iran or Turkmenistan. The problem is that India could feasibly turn to Iran for oil and gas, but the US wants to isolate Iran and would prefer it if the Indians turned to Turkmenistan. Afghanistan is situated close to major energy producers in Central Asia and the Middle East, it shares a border with Iran and therefore could be used to "contain" it's independent neighbour. The possibility of a Central Asian energy network which would exclude and isolate Iran is quite appealing to the US. To the chagrin of the Americans, Iran has managed to extend its influence in Iraq and Afghanistan in spite of the continued efforts to marginalise Iran in world affairs.

Talking Tough, Talking Bullshit.
Only when some of "our lads" are killed in battle are we allowed to criticise the war. So the deaths of over 40,000 Afghans would be fine so long as no American or British troops died along the way. The assumption is that this is a noble war against terrorism, which has to be fought to secure the West from further terrorist attacks. The line goes "If we don't fight them over there, we will be fighting them over here." The same argument was used by the US government to defend it's war against the Vietnamese, President Johnson stated "We have to stop the Communists over there [Vietnam] or we'll soon be fighting them in California." This is perverse because American and British troops are effectively dying in Afghanistan to raise the threat of terrorism in the US and the UK. As the war has been escalated it has spilled over into Pakistan, so now the possibility of a state with nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Islamists has increased. Protection of Western civilians and prevention of the spread of terrorism has nothing to do with the Afghan War.

The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with freedom, democracy or anything as sanitary as self-defence. Not so much as a thought of the Afghan people has ever passed through the minds of the war-pigs and chickenhawks who decided to start this war. We are only allowed to question the war because "our lads" are suffering, which might explain there is little ink and camera film used to cover the slaughter of thousands of Afghan civilians. The vast majority of the people who have been killed in Afghanistan were the victims of the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, not the defenders of Osama bin Laden. We have to concede that the backlash has come from the victims of war, the Taliban now represents a small element of the armed opposition to the occupation. The war itself has made the West hated even more than it was before 9/11 and neither George Bush nor Tony Blair will have to live with the consequences of such hatred. It was Jean-Paul Sartre who said "When rich people fight wars with one another, poor people are the ones to die." Think Bush. Think Blair. Think of Obama and Cameron. Forgive none of these bastards.

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