October 17, 2008

Afghanistan: A War for Empire

Not a good war gone bad

by Larry Everest

One thing that's not been up for debate in the Presidential campaign is Afghanistan: both candidates (not to mention George W. Bush) agree on the urgent need to escalate - and win - that war. This stance has overwhelmingly gone unchallenged - even by most who opposed the invasion of Iraq. But the war in Afghanistan is not the proverbial "good war," now gone bad. It was an unjust, imperialist war of conquest and empire from the start. And it continues to be an unjust, imperialist war of empire today.

The war in Afghanistan was never simply a response to 9/11. It was conceived of by the Bush administration as the opening salvo in an unbounded war for greater empire under the rubric of a "war on terror." This war's goal was to defeat Islamic fundamentalism, overthrow states not fully under U.S. control, restructure the Middle East and Central Asian regions, and seize deeper control of key sources and shipment routes of strategic energy supplies. All this grew out of over a decade of imperialist planning, strategizing and intervention. And from the beginning all of it was part of an overall plan to expand and fortify U.S. power - to create an unchallenged and unchallengeable global imperialist empire.

All this is shown by what the U.S. rulers were doing - and planning - in these regions and globally during the decade of the 1990s, including in Afghanistan itself. It can be shown by the plans the U.S. had for destabilizing, perhaps overthrowing, the Taliban government of Afghanistan even before 9/11. It can be demonstrated by the actual discussions and decisions taken by the Bush regime in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, and by the U.S.'s war objectives in Afghanistan and the Middle East as a whole, which it is still pursuing. And it can be shown by the U.S.'s conduct of the war and the impact it has had on the people of Afghanistan.

The "war on terror" and the invasion of Afghanistan emerged from a decade of planning, strategizing, and struggle among the U.S. rulers over how to expand and strengthen their grip on the planet.

The 1991 collapse of the social-imperialist Soviet Union was a geopolitical earthquake. Suddenly the U.S. rulers found themselves no longer facing a rival nuclear-armed, imperialist empire. They called it a unique "unipolar moment," where the U.S. faced no major rivals to its global pre-eminence. But in the wake of the Soviet collapse, they faced new and daunting challenges - the possible rise of new rivals (Russia, China, the European Union or some combination thereof), massive economic shifts brought about by the Soviet bloc's collapse and the acceleration of capitalist globalization, destabilizing problems in the oil-rich Middle East, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a growing number of impoverished, war-torn, or fragmented states (so-called "failed states") whose collapse could unravel the U.S.-dominated global order.

Right after the Soviet collapse, a core of imperial strategists - the neoconservatives or neocons - began arguing that the U.S. should lock in this unipolar world and prevent any rivals from emerging to challenge the U.S.

This was articulated in the Defense Department's 1992 "Defense Planning Guidance" - written by Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby and Zalmay Khalilzad under the direction of then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney - all later top officials in the Bush II administration. . . .


Larry Everest is the author of "Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda."

"UPI Interviews Pakistan ISI Chief General Hamid Gul," September 14, 2001

Eric Margolis, "A Quick Guide to Afghan Politics," Toronto Sun, November 15, 2001

Enver Masud, "The war on Afghanistan was planned before September 11, 2001," The Wisdom Fund, April 27, 2002

Lutz Kleveman, "The New Great Game," Guardian, October 20, 2003

Daniel Howden and Philip Thornton, "The Pipeline That Will Change the World," Independent, May 20, 2005

Enver Masud, "'Supreme International Crime'," The Wisdom Fund, June 29, 2005

Abid Ullah Jan, "Afghanistan: The Genesis of the Final Crusade," Pragmatic Publishings (April 7, 2006)

Enver Masud, "FBI: Bin Laden Not Wanted for 9/11," The Wisdom Fund, June 8, 2006

[Significant deposits of copper, iron, gold, oil and gas, and coal - as well as precious gems such as emeralds and rubies - are largely untapped and still being mapped--"Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine," AFP, February 21, 2008]

Declan Walsh and Richard Norton Taylor, "Afghanistan Mission Close to Failing," Guardian, February 29, 2008

Jeremy Page, "The Taleban Besiege Kabul," Times, August 23, 2008

Anand Gopal, "Afghanistan's emerging antiwar movement," Christian Science Monitor, October 20, 2008

William Pfaff, "How Many Villages Must We Bomb Before We Find bin Laden?," Tribune Media Services, November 13, 2008

Tariq Ali, "Plus and minus: How to win in Afghanistan," Asia Times, November 19, 2008

Clancy Chassay, "Acid attacks and rape: growing threat to women who oppose traditional order," Guardian, November 22, 2008

David R. Henderson, "The Libertarian Case against the War in Afghanistan,", November 24, 2008

[ . . . the president is asking the international community for a timeline on how much longer the war is going to take.--"Karzai Grows Impatient as US General Warns War Has a 'Long Way to Go',", November 25, 2008]

[Every suicide attack and kidnapping is usually attributed to "the Taliban." In reality, however, the insurgency is far from monolithic. There are the shadowy, kohl-eyed mullahs and head-bobbing religious students, of course, but there are also erudite university students, veteran anti-Soviet commanders and poor, illiterate farmers. The movement is a melange of nationalists, Islamists and bandits that fall uneasily into three or four main factions and many subfactions. The factions have competing commanders with differing ideologies and strategies, who nonetheless agree on one essential goal: kicking out the foreigners.

. . . the Afghan rebellion is mostly a homegrown affair. Foreign fighters, especially Al Qaeda, have little ideological influence on most of the insurgency, and Afghans keep their distance from such outsiders.--Anand Gopal, "Who Are the Taliban," Nation, December 3, 2008]

Jerome Starkey, "Tribal leaders to sabotage West's assault on Taliban," Independent, December 4, 2008

[Ask any Afghan what's really needed, what would render the Taliban irrelevant, and they'll tell you: improving the behavior of the officials whom the United States and its allies ushered into power after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.--Sarah Chayes, "The Other Front," Washington Post, December 14, 2008]

M K Bhadrakumar, "All roads lead out of Afghanistan," Asia Times, December 20, 2008

Shaiq Hussain and Haq Nawaz Khan, "Pakistan Launches Assault in Northwest," Washington Post, December 31, 2008

Pamela Constable, "Resistance to U.S. Plan for Afghanistan: Troop Boost Complicated by Growing Taliban Influence, Anger Over Airstrikes and Civilian Deaths," Washington Post, January 16, 2009

"Obama ready to cut Karzai adrift: As support for Afghan leader wanes, rivals go to Washington for meeting with new President," Independent, January 23, 2009

[The shocking intelligence assessment shared by Moscow reveals that almost half of the US supplies passing through Pakistan is pilfered by motley groups of Taliban militants, petty traders and plain thieves. The US Army is getting burgled in broad daylight and can't do much about it. Almost 80% of all supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. The Peshawar bazaar is doing a roaring business hawking stolen US military ware, as in the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. This volume of business will register a quantum jump following the doubling of the US troop level in Afghanistan to 60,000.--M K Bhadrakumar, "Russia stops US on road to Afghanistan," Asia Times, January 27, 2009]

[In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO's top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan."--Susanne Koelbl, "NATO High Commander Issues Illegitimate Order to Kill," Spiegel Online, January 28, 2009]

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