On August 15th, 2021, the Taliban rolled into Kabul the capital city, as if they were on a welcome mat. This defeat for U.S. policy in the Middle East and Asia in general is froth with evidence, that from the beginning of this enterprise in Afghanistan, the U.S. then under George W. Bush had no clue on how to conduct this war except for the bravado of the military might of the American Imperial power.
Pictures and newsreel showing the rapid departure of American personnel reminded us of the debacle in Saigon, with the exit of American forces and personnel. At that time in 1975, the American defeat in Vietnam showed conclusively that the American Empire could no longer be the policeman of the world. Nevertheless, American imperialism showed once again, in Iraq and Afghanistan, how it does not understand and remains ignorant of the world situation based on politics and diplomacy. On numerous occasions that have led to disasters, the United States still does not comprehend the workings of the world and ultimately believes that military might is the only solution to maintain U.S hegemony.
On the 16th of August President Biden, under pressure from within his own party, the American people, and the International community, addressed the American public and the world. In this address we saw the true nature of Joe Biden. He began by reaffirming that he was right in taking the decision of withdrawal and that since anyway Donald Trump had already signed an agreement with the Taliban for a withdrawal, his hands were tied and therefore he had no choice.
Since when does the President of the United States have no choice? No! Joe Biden showed his hypocritical approach that has marked his political career, both as a Senator from Delaware and as Vice President in Washington. He accused the Afghan people of not willing to defend their country and that the Afghan army showed its weakness, while their President abandoned his post and country. First of all I think Mr. Biden should take a lesson in Afghan history. The Afghan people have fought fiercely against the British, the Russians and even the Taliban for well over 150 years. It is not the Afghan people who gave up but the American political and moneyed class that gave up. As Biden said it himself, “we have spent two trillion dollars” with nothing in return. Again, we had more hypocrisy from Biden. The American companies backed by the class with economic interests supported the prolonged war for 20 years. They exploited the mineral resources of the country, and supported the troops with handsome military contracts.
According to “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War” (1), under the George W. Bush , Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations, the so-called strategy for going into Afghanistan was to defeat Al-Qaeda and prevent another 9/11. The United States led NATO intervention was actually a strategy for nation building which obviously failed. When President Biden in his recent addresses to the American People vowed that the objective in Afghanistan was not Nation building but to destroy Al-Qaeda and prevent another 9/11, he was not telling the truth. As Vice –president in the Obama administration he was given the task to survey and to intercede in American foreign policy, he therefore was well aware of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and even helped to apply it.
We must not forget that with the fall of the Soviet Union, American foreign policy changed and influenced by the writings of Francis Fukuyama, the United Sates after 9/11 understood that this was the opportunity to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and build the so-called American democracy to contain Iran and of course China. This was the Middle-East/Asian strategy that under George W. Bush, Obama, Trump and Joe Bien as V.P under Obama, would apply over the next 20 years. This was an opportunity for American imperialism to take hold and expand its influence, which it has, among the new republics that were set free by the fall of the Soviet Union.
Seven hundred and seventy-five thousand service personnel (775,000) were deployed through rotation in Afghanistan, 2444 service personnel were killed, 20,589 wounded and 934 billion and 978 billion dollars (2), approved and spent, all under false pretences that the war was progressing. These expenditures do not include the money spent by the CIA and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
When Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned several military leaders who were present to answer questions before the Foreign Relations committee, all responded that “that our effort turned a corner in the fight”. Senator Warren responded rhetorically, “We have turned so many corners, that it seems now we are going in circles”. Therefore, it is not for lack of commissions, questions and information that has circulated throughout this war, that the American people should have known the real reason why the U.S. was in Afghanistan.
A three star General Douglas Lite, White House Afghan Czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, when interviewed by the Washington Post for The Afghan Papers responded, “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan. We didn’t know what we were doing. What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking. If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction” (3). Even Robert Gates who served under Obama and was a successor to Donald Rumsfeld who served under George W. Bush, in an interview for “The Afghan Papers” admitted, “We didn’t know jack shit about Al-Qaeda” (4).
All this reminds us of the “Pentagon Papers” from which the American people learned the real reasons for the War in Vietnam. After Vietnam many in Congress, State Department, Pentagon, etc. vowed never again would the United Sates get involved in a long protracted war. Vietnam lasted 15 years and Afghanistan 20 years.
Vietnam led to a steady decline of American imperialism, yet the subsequent administrations totally rejected any possible decline of its hegemonic power, particularly as the Soviet Union became involved in Afghanistan, which weakened the Soviet power abroad. The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union to impose a so-called Marxist government became known later as the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, American imperialism saw another opportunity to solidify its imperial hegemony and expand its economic strength with the advent of globalization.
For United Sates this began a new era for expansion without any further major obstacles. 9/11 brought in a new world, which the United States foreign policy makers could not understand. They only understood that this new enemy Al –Qaeda could be used to drum up vast American support and their NATO allies to once again impose U.S imperialism without any obstacles. At least this is what they thought.
Nothing in American foreign policy makers mind could stop American hegemony to take advantage of this new world situation, without really understanding the new contradictions born out of this new world situation. It was business as usual for the United States, the sole super power on the planet.
The corruption that already exited in Afghanistan made no difference. On the contrary it was used by the U.S. to demonstrate how they were building, with so-called elected governments to bring a new era to Afghanistan, under American control obviously, which past imperial powers were unable to do. Therefore, ‘America should be proud of their American troops and the good work they were doing to elevate a new Afghanistan’ became the leitmotif for the American propaganda machine throughout this eventual catastrophe.
Will this disaster in Afghanistan make progressive forces wake up and take notice, that China has become the eventual target for U.S. imperialism to try once more to solidify its fragile hegemony?
- “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War”, Washington Post, May 31, 2021. The Afghan Papers have been put into book form, by the original author Craig Whitlock. The book will be out in September 2021 published by Simon and Schuster. The Afghanistan Papers are 2000 pages long, which contain interviews from military personnel, intelligence officers, Pentagon officials (retired), service men and women who served in Afghanistan.
- Nate Crawford, Co-director “Costs of War Project”, Brown University
- “The Afghan Papers”, Washington Post, May 31, 2021.
- IBID page 8.