InternationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 3

The reality behind the Afghan war

It is a simple truism that every war is fought to protect some partisan interests, capture some resources, enforce new order, enslave other peoples, destroy a country and nation, show and prove mighty power, crush emerging threats and create fear among the masses and states of the world. Every war is justified by using religion, ideology, human rights and other catchy slogans. Every war enriches a class of people while kills and impoverishes others. The Afghan war has all these bitter characteristics and factors.

The US and its NATO allies have lost the Afghan war. In the twenty years’ war, around 6,000 Americans, including soldiers, civil contractors, lost their lives. Over 100,000 Afghans were killed while the US spent more than $2 trillion on this war. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, “the US launched more than 13,000 drone strikes in Afghanistan between 2015 and 2020, killing up to 10,000 people”.

In spite of the atrocities, spending, military and technology might, the US and its NATO allies failed to achieve their designs in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has once again proved  itself a graveyard for the empires. History tells that, since World War II, the US has indulged in many actual and proxy wars around the world. In the wars, millions of people have been killed and trillions of dollars have been spent. But the US has not won even a single war.

America’s defeat in Vietnam, pulling out of Iraq and now withdrawal from Afghanistan have tarnished its image of being invincible and superpower. However, many Western writers believe that the military-industrial complex of the US has earned a lot of money through the wars. They are of the view that the military-industrial complex has again won in Afghanistan despite America’s defeat in the war.

Simon Jenkins writes in the Guardian: “Joe Biden declares an end to “an era of major military operations to remake other countries”. A president’s job, he says, is to protect and defend the “fundamental national security interest of the United States of America”. That does not include trying to construct new nations in foreign states. Quite so. But Biden isn’t the first president to make such claims. Each of his recent predecessors won power as non-interventionists, but tried to hold on to it by waging war. Bill Clinton said America’s mission abroad was “not about fighting a war”, it was about bringing people to the peace table. He ended up bombing Iraq and Yugoslavia. At first, George Bush agreed with Clinton’s sentiment. On coming to office, Bush’s aide, Condoleezza Rice, emphasised his opposition to foreign adventures. “We don’t need to have the 82nd Airborne escorting kids to kindergarten,” she told the media. Yet the Bush doctrine had soon proclaimed an American crusade for “the expansion of freedom in all the world with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny”. Not to be outdone, Barack Obama vowed to “pivot” foreign policy towards Asia, and be out of Afghanistan by 2011. He then surged into Afghanistan with 110,000 American troops. Donald Trump said Afghanistan was “a complete waste”. He then postponed departure for four years, leaving it up to his successor to handle. For powerful states, foreign wars may begin to look good: roaring planes, falling bombs and surging armies grab headlines. The glory of guns outbids that of money. But money ultimately has more power. Generals on both sides of the Atlantic have been pleading for what amounts to one last push. Behind them, military, industrial, diplomatic and even charitable sectors bulge with money and have a vested interest in continued occupation”.

John Pilger in his article titled “The Great Game of Smashing Nations” asserts that more than a generation ago, Afghanistan won its freedom, which the US, Britain and their “allies” destroyed. “I confess that (countries) are pieces on a chessboard,” said Lord Curzon in 1898, “upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.” The viceroy of India was referring in particular to Afghanistan. A century later, Prime Minister Tony Blair used slightly different words. “This is a moment to seize,” he said following 9/11. “The Kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us.” On Afghanistan, he added: “We will not walk away (but ensure) some way out of the poverty that is your miserable existence.”

The invasion of Afghanistan was a fraud. In the wake of 9/11, the Taliban sought to distance themselves from Osama bin Laden. They were, in many respects, an American client with which the administration of Bill Clinton had done a series of secret deals to allow the building of a $3 billion natural gas pipeline by a US oil company consortium. In high secrecy, Taliban leaders had been invited to the US and entertained by the CEO of the Unocal company in his Texas mansion and by the CIA at its headquarters in Virginia. One of the deal-makers was Dick Cheney, later George W Bush’s vice president.

For two decades, Americans have told each other one lie after another about the war in Afghanistan. The lies have come from the White House, Congress, the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA, as well as from Hollywood, cable news pundits, journalists, and the broader culture.”

In The Intercept, James Risen discloses: “America’s early adoption of drone warfare in Afghanistan helped make a fortune for Neal Blue, the chair of General Atomics; the Southern California energy and defense corporation manufactured the Predator, the first armed drone to fly over Afghanistan. (General Atomics subsequently produced the Predator’s follow-on model, the Reaper.) Blue and his brother, Linden Blue, vice chair of General Atomics, maintained low public profiles throughout the war, but as owners of privately held General Atomics, they were among the first — but hardly the last — American contractors to enrich themselves as blood spilled in Afghanistan.”

According to Tariq Ali, “During the Afghan war; Lockheed Martin had a 1,236 percent return on its investment, Northrop Grumman had a 1,196 percent return, Boeing had a 975 percent return, General Dynamics had a 625 percent return, and Raytheon had a 331 percent return. The military-industrial complex got exactly what it wanted out of this war.”

Andrew Cockburn writes in the Spectator: “The departure of American troops from Afghanistan is being lamented (or hailed – see the Chinese press, passim) as a defeat. But this is a shortsighted attitude, at least from the point of view of the US military and the multitude of interested parties who feed at its trough. For them, the whole adventure has been a thumping success, as measured in the trillions of taxpayer dollars that have flowed through their budgets and profits over the two decades in which they successfully maintained the operation.”

The US defeat and withdrawal from the Afghan war would not create peace in Afghanistan, the region and the world. Because, very soon, new conflicting fronts would be opened to enrich the military-industrial complex of America and its allies. Tragically, in these new wars, innocent people will be killed ruthlessly again in the name of religion, democracy, freedom and human rights. A new great game will be played on the dead bodies of innocent and poor people just to satisfy the insatiable lust for wealth of a cruel and cunning ruling class.