April 7, 2014
Press TV has interviewed Stop NATO International Network’s Rick Rozoff to discuss the recent presidential election in Afghanistan.
What follows is a rough transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Given the situation that Afghanistan has, is it a success simply that they can even hold a presidential election there?
Rozoff: That’s I think a realistic interpretation. It’s definitely a historic watershed in that, of course, this marks the smooth transition from the administration of Hamid Karzai, who has been head of Afghanistan in the entire post-Taliban, post-invasion period, to either Dr. [Abdullah] Abdullah or Dr. [Ashraf] Ghani [Ahmadzai]. It’s important I suppose in its own right, but as some of the lead-in into the story indicated, were still talking about a nation that has undergone 35 years of armed conflict, that is in tatters and that really needs international assistance of a civilian and an economic nature, rather than a military nature.
Press TV: We’ve seen an increase in attacks leading up to the elections and some attacks since the elections. Does this mean that the Taliban can basically attack whenever they want after more than 13 years of American occupation?
Rozoff: Unfortunately, I suspect that is the case. At least in many parts, perhaps in most provinces of the country, Taliban remains a formidable military force and what will soon be 13 full years of US and NATO military occupation of the country has not politically or otherwise neutralized the Taliban opposition.
You know, in fact all we’ve seen, to be perfectly candid about it, over the past 13 years is 40-fold increase in opium cultivation and the explosion of a heroin epidemic in and around Afghanistan, which has affected the lives of millions of people in India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, and elsewhere. This is all, I’m afraid, the West has to boast of in terms of accomplishment in Afghanistan.
Press TV: Is that a sign of improvement? In your perspective, what has the United States accomplished there in almost 13 years of being present in Afghanistan?
Rozoff: I mentioned before, the only thing they effectively have done is officiate over an explosion of opium cultivation, but also over the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghans, including thousands of civilians, and the displacement of not only hundreds of thousands but perhaps millions of Afghans, both internally displaced and those who have fled across the borders into Iran and Pakistan.
So, it’s been the latest chapter in a catastrophe, but truly, not to be too abstract about this, it goes back to 1839 when for the first time Britain intervened, in what subsequently became known as the Great Game in Central and South Asia to offset the influence of other powers in that part of the world, and this has gone on, you know, at the various interims up to the present day, where there were three wars that Britain was involved in, armed incursions into Afghanistan. You had the US supporting the Mujahideen out of Pakistan incidentally, as Mr. Korb alludes to. The fact that Taliban was harbored in Pakistan, apparently it was quite alright if other armed insurgents were also harbored for attacks inside Afghanistan with US assistance in the late 1970s through the early 1990s. This is the background against which we have to see the catastrophe that Afghanistan has become.
It is the greatest and the last victim of the Cold War and we cannot just arbitrarily begin…
Press TV: What about that Mr. Rozoff, basically saying that it depends on what the next president wants. Is it really up to Kabul to make that decision or is it definite that the United States is going to stay and would absolutely demand to do so?
Rozoff: We have to be realistic. The United States does not operate in the manner that Mr. Korb says, and God bless his idealistic interpretation of events in the world, but they’re simply not true. Let’s look at the Ukraine for example.
There is no doubt in my mind that the US embassy is working right now to get the third runner, Zalmay Rassoul, to throw his party support far behind whichever the two of the front running candidates the United States has determined should be the next head of state of Afghanistan. That’s how it works in the real world and that the US will play a not insubstantial role in engineering the outcome of the election in Afghanistan. That’s number one.
Number two, you know, the fact that as Mr. Korb alluded to, the US and its NATO allies stepped up military forces, actually to the number of 152,000 foreign troops from 50 nations in Afghanistan, which is a historic precedent: I mean we never had that many troops from that many nations occupied Afghanistan or any other nation, for that matter. And that what we’re looking at is a military network that the US and company have managed to build not only in Afghanistan but in neighboring Central Asian countries, like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and I think the US and its NATO allies who have a propensity for interfering militarily in any part of the world they see fit to do so in, are going to be very reluctant not to continue to apply pressure on whichever government takes power in Kabul for a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
We have to recall that leading up to this election for several months, major US and NATO officials have used not only harsh, but threatening language, towards President Hamid Karzai, essentially tried to twist his arm to sign the BSA before the election.
Press TV: Well, what about this Mr. Rozoff? All of this is under UN OK, according to our guest in Washington? What exactly does this mean?
Rozoff: Yes, I mean that’s actually not true. Even as we talk, fifteen years ago, the 78-day air war was launched by the United States and its NATO allies against the unoffending Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a massive onslaught that destroyed civilian infrastructure, killed thousands of civilians without a United Nations mandate. Eleven years ago, a similar situation obtained in Iraq, where the US and Britain and other NATO allies attacked the country without a UN mandate. Even when there is a UN mandate, as in three years ago with Libya, UN Security Council Resolution 1973, it is taken way out of proportion to what was actually sanctioned or mandated and used as a pretense for an ongoing war.
I would also, if we had more time to discuss it, discuss the relevant UN mandates vis-a-vis the Afghanistan, and argue that in no way do those mandates envision much less authorize the stationing of 152,000 combat troops from the US and NATO in the country for 13 years.
Press TV: Why does the United States really want to stay in Afghanistan?
Rozoff: I discussed earlier the concept of the Great Game. The person most, in my estimate, most directly responsible for the 35-year catastrophe of Afghanistan is Polish-born, former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, self-styled geo-strategist, who is the person most deliberately and directly responsible for giving the Soviet Union “its Vietnam” in a rough paraphrase of his own words, and that if Afghanistan had to serve as the chessboard upon which he waged geopolitical battle for the United States and its Western allies, and if the Afghan people were ultimately the victims, it didn’t seem to mean much to Mr. Brzezinski. We’re talking about geopolitics and we’re talking about trying to thwart the emergence of a genuine multi-polar world, particularly one growing out of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization whose members and observers include first of all, Afghanistan itself now, with Hamid Karzai having attended the last several Shanghai Cooperation Organization heads of state summits and I’m sure his successors will attend this year’s, but also the fact that Russia, China, the Central Asian countries, and others involved, the US would like to put a spoke in that wheel.
The Debate – Afghanistan Vote
PressTV News Videos on Apr 6, 2014
On Saturday, Afghanistan held its presidential election and it may take weeks for the final results to be tallied. Certain polling stations could not be opened because of the danger from the Taliban who had promised to disrupt the whole election. More than 50 percent of eligible voters participated. However many are asking why does the Taliban have so much power to disrupt everyday life in Afghanistan when the US has had troops there since 2001 with the goal of wiping out the Taliban and bringing security to Afghanistan.