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The Afghanistan Nightmare

The recent atrocities in Afghanistan have once again thrown the Afghan war into the headlines. The latest murders in Kandahar province, where 16 innocent Afghanis, including nine children, were shot dead by a rampaging U.S. staff sergeant, have further added to the turmoil and agony of the region. It has served to intensify the mass opposition to foreign occupation, which, while promising “democracy,” has brought catastrophe in its wake.

The recent murders follow a trail of gruesome events: a U.S. “kill team” paraded trophy pictures of their blood-soaked victims; a video was posted of U.S. Marines laughing and joking as they urinated on the dead bodies of Taliban fighters; and then the U.S. military was discovered burning copies of the Koran in a pile of garbage, sparking widespread riots in which 30 died.

Afghanis are sickened by regular reports of U.S. air strikes on wedding parties, systematic drone attacks, as well as the indiscriminate actions of NATO troops, which have led to the slaughter of countless innocent people.

People are saying, “Enough is enough!” After a decade of occupation, a mass revolt has developed against the Americans and the other occupying powers. Even those who oppose the Taliban want the NATO troops to get out.

“Americans have lost this game,” explained Abdul Salem Jan, a farmer from the province next to Kandahar. “The only option is for them to leave.”

In reality, the Americans have lost this war, as we predicted. They have certainly lost the war over “hearts and minds.” Even their puppet, President Karzai, under massive public pressure, has demanded that NATO troops return to their bases. The U.S. and its allies have never been so unpopular or so isolated. Pressure is also rising in the United States and Britain for the troops to be brought home.

The American imperialists are in a dead end. In early 2010, Obama authorized a massive “surge” involving an extra 30,000 troops. But this has completely failed. Since the beginning of the surge, 964 U.S. troops have lost their lives—more than the 947 lost before the surge since the start of the war in 2001. Things have gone from bad to worse. Obama is desperate to extract himself from this morass by 2014, but even this may be too late, as the hatred against NATO becomes increasingly intense.

With over 400 British soldiers and nearly 2,000 American soldiers dead, ordinary people are saying it is time to get out. The latest poll by the Washington Post-ABC revealed that 60% of Americans believe that the Afghan adventure has not been worth the cost in lives or money. In Britain, the support for the immediate withdrawal of troops has gone up from 48% in June 2011 to 55% today.

U.S. President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron have condemned the latest atrocities, but this is the height of hypocrisy. Such atrocities take place on a daily basis. Nevertheless, the American and British governments say they intend to stay the course. They cannot admit it was their “war on terror” that has caused this horrendous mess. Obama has described it as a “war of necessity.” From the perspective of the imperialists, that may be so. But the war is nonetheless unwinnable.

The imperialists have been resting on the Karzai government, but even this weak reed has become increasingly unreliable. Karzai is in the pocket of the drug barons and criminals and is up to his neck in corruption. The stooge politicians, who have been in league with the warlords and drug dealers, have grown fat on military contracts and the funds from the imperialists.

These funds, together with laundered drug money, are then salted abroad in foreign banks. Last year, some $4.6 billion was sent abroad, which was equal to the whole state budget for 2010–11. This is  more than $150 for each Afghani citizen in the country. But per capita income according to the UN is less than $500 per person. As a result, the regime is deeply unpopular.

While the Americans say they are involved in a war with the Taliban, it was the American imperialists who created the Taliban in the first place, as a weapon against the Soviets. Bin Laden started out in the payroll of the CIA. Today, rather than destroying the Taliban, their actions have served to strengthen them. They are also involved in negotiations with the Taliban to try and find “peace with honor.”

The imperialists intended on staying until the Afghanis could train up their own military and police forces, but this strategy is in shreds. A growing number of Afghani police and soldiers have turned their guns on those who are training them.

“If the current government fails to do anything, in the next two years we’ll go back to the early 1990s and civil war,” said Habib Athaee, a student in Kabul. This is the dangerous legacy of imperialism.

We stand for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan. There is, however, no way forward for the Afghani masses on the basis of landlordism and capitalism. In addition, there is no solution within the narrow boundaries of Afghanistan itself. Revolution in Iran and Pakistan are a key part of the solution.

It is not a black or white situation: either pro-Taliban or pro-NATO occupation and the Karzai government. Broad layers in Afghani society are against both.

The International Marxist Tendency has a sizable organization in Pakistan and a developing group inside Afghanistan. Despite the terrible difficulties, they are determined to build up the forces of Marxism and offer a socialist way out of the morass.