Having rendered much of the country of Iraq virtually uninhabitable, the destructive forces of U.S. imperialism are now being focused more intensely on Afghanistan and Iran.
The pressure against Iran is still in the threat stage, but Afghanistan has been suffering terrible devastation delivered by high-tech weaponry against small villages. The attacks by the U.S./NATO forces are now spilling over into the border areas of neighboring Pakistan. The most atrocious acts of aggression are being committed against rural people in the name of fighting “terror”—a formulation that could have come right from Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
The corporate media are virtually silent on the immense suffering being inflicted on the Afghans. It is only when U.S. troops are killed there that the war in Afghanistan makes it into the headlines here—as happened in mid-July, when nine U.S. soldiers were killed in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border.
Until now, the war in Afghanistan has been one in which the forces of resistance to foreign intervention have not been strong enough to take on frontally the U.S. and NATO troops. These intruders are armed to the teeth with high-powered weapons, night-vision equipment, satellite communications and guidance systems, and death-dealing aircraft that they call in to launch missiles or bombs whenever the forces on the ground feel threatened.
The resistance, on the other hand, has relied mainly on “suicide bombers”—that is, individuals so motivated that they knowingly sacrifice their lives in order to inflict casualties on the occupiers and the puppet forces allied with them.
The latest attack, however, was different.
It was, according to the U.S. military, a coordinated assault by some 200 “Taliban” and their supporters on a recently built U.S./NATO base in Kunar province, near Pakistan. The insurgents actually penetrated the base, killing the soldiers and wounding 19 more, 15 U.S. and four from the so-called Afghan army.
According to Western accounts, the insurgents had covertly occupied the hamlet of Wanat next to the base, first sending the inhabitants to other towns, and then launched their attack from there. The battle lasted for hours. They were repulsed only after the base called in strikes from U.S. warplanes, attack helicopters and long-range artillery.
“American ground commanders immediately called in artillery and airstrikes from a B-1 bomber, as well as A-10 and F-15E attack planes. Apache helicopter gunships and a remotely piloted Predator aircraft fired Hellfire missiles at the insurgents, military officials said.” (New York Times, July 15)
The daring shown by the resistance fighters in actually attacking a U.S. base must have shaken up not only local U.S. commanders but the top brass back at the Pentagon. However, what makes this battle a much bigger nightmare for them is that it proves conclusively that the people of Afghanistan are overwhelmingly with the resistance and opposed to the Western occupiers.
Some time ago, it was first mentioned in the corporate media that Hamid Karzai, the Afghan hand-picked by Washington to become the U.S. puppet president of Afghanistan, was derisively known in his country as “the mayor of Kabul,” meaning that his influence extends no further than the privileged enclaves set up for him and his apparatus in the capital city.
This contempt among the people for those selected by the invaders to rule over them has only deepened as the pain and suffering caused by this war have spread.
Tamim Nuristani, the former governor of Kunar province, “said some local people might have joined the militants since a group of civilians were killed in American airstrikes on July 4 in the same area. ‘This made the people angry,’ he said. ‘It was the same area. The airstrikes happened maybe one kilometer away from the base.’
“Mr. Nuristani strongly criticized those airstrikes, saying that 22 civilians had been killed. … Days after his comments, Mr. Nuristani was removed from his post.” (Times)
In May and June, some 69 U.S. and NATO soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest month since the war began and higher than the casualties the U.S. “coalition” sustained in Iraq.
What do they want from Afghanistan?
What makes the U.S. military and the politicians of both capitalist parties think that, by sending more troops there, they can subdue Afghanistan, whose fierce resistance to Western domination has been recognized ever since the British tried to conquer them in the mid-19th century and finally left with their tails between their legs?
The rhetoric coming from the U.S. government and foreign policy establishment explains this huge military operation in ideological terms—a “war on terror.” This phrase has been wearing thin for a long time with the U.S. public, as it has been used to justify the most atrocious war crimes and assaults on human rights.
There is a much more plausible reason. Those who cannot entertain the notion that the U.S. world empire is declining and who feel that military force is justified see Afghanistan as occupying a key location.
It is near the oil-rich Middle East and Iran. Near former Soviet republics that also are rich in natural resources to exploit. Near the South Asian subcontinent, where hundreds of millions of impoverished people in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries may take their destiny into their own hands. And near the People’s Republic of China, which has become a dynamo of economic development and is therefore seen as more and more of a challenge and a competitor by the corporate ruling class in the U.S.
In other words, Afghanistan has enormous “geostrategic” value to the imperialists, in addition to its own exploitable resources.
None of this will help the working people of the U.S. in their struggle for jobs, decent wages and conditions, or social justice. On the contrary, opposing imperialism’s dirty wars everywhere will elevate the struggle at home against the evils right here.
Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, now running for president on several independent tickets, recognized this when she said recently about her congressional record: “I consistently opposed every regular and supplemental appropriation meant to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
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