Afghanistan: a general admission of abject failure – again

By TONY SEED

U.S. General Scott Miller, who took over command of the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on September 2, admitted in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Tuesday, October 30, that the war in Afghanistan “is not going to be won militarily.”

The U.S. imperialists have finally admitted after 17 years what all the other invaders of Afghanistan throughout history have already been forced to admit – that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan.

A spectre is haunting a subcontinent that contains one third of the world’s population – the strivings of the peoples of Central and South Asia for genuine independence and emancipation. The general admission of failure demonstrates the need to discuss on a broad basis the real reasons for the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan and other lands, and to expose in detail the Canadian government’s shameless motivation for collaborating with U.S. and the NATO bloc in the occupation of that war torn country as an integral component of the commemoration of the centenary of the end of World War I and the opposition to imperialist war.

Predictably, the U.S. with all its advanced weaponry thus joins a long list of failed invaders over the past 2,000 years, including the Maurya Empire of ancient India, Alexander the Great of Macedon, the Umar caliphate, Genghis Khan of Mongolia, Timur (Tamerlane) of Persia and Central Asia, the Mughal Empire of India, various Persian Empires, the British Empire, the Sikh Empire, and the Soviet Union of Brezhnev. All of these invaders left Afghanistan, an extensive and ancient country of Asia, in the end, mission not accomplished, besmirching its people as “barbarians,” “infidels” and “scumbags.”

The geographical position of Afghanistan, and the peculiar character of the people, invest the country with a political importance that can scarcely be over-estimated in the affairs of Central and South Asia. From the 1830s, the Afghan territories became the arena of a general resistance against the British, Tsarist Russian and now the American empires, which many times mounted to widespread uprisings in the subcontinent. [1] From 1839 to date, the Afghan people have fought five major wars for independence. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have given their lives or were forced into exile in their struggle to end colonial rule. The Afghans are proving, yet again, that when God wishes to punish someone, he sends them to attack Afghanistan.

On 11 September 2001 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airliners and used them to attack New York and Washington, DC, killing almost 3,000 people including 24 Canadians, and shocking the world. It is often forgotten that the U.S. launched its invasion of Afghanistan codenamed Operation Enduring Freedom.as a global “war on terrorism” in blitzkrieg style just three weeks later on October 7, 2001 on the basis of an outrageous fraud – as “revenge” and “retribution for 9/11 despite the fact every one of the terrorists publicly identified were all from Saudi Arabia. It is conveniently overlooked that the Taliban government guaranteed that it would bring the al-Qaeda leadership for trial in a third country, an offer the U.S. rejected. US President George W. Bush did not seek a declaration of war from Congress, nor did he seek approval from the United Nations.

The day after the attacks, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien telephoned United States president George W. Bush to pledge “Canada’s complete support” for the Americans. The exact nature of this commitment became clear in October: without any formal declaration of war, Canada would take part in a U.S.-led campaign to invade Afghanistan, capture members of al-Qaeda led byOsama bin Laden, dismantle their training camps and overthrow the Taliban government. Canada’s intervention would be multifaceted, involving land, air and sea forces as well as civilian diplomatic and intelligence resources. Internally, both governments manipulated the occasion to further integrate the Canadian Forces under U.S. command, militarize the border, attack the rights of the people through the draconian Patriot Act and other measures, criminalize dissent under the pretext of “security.”

Though Canadian military intervention dates back 150 years ago to provide cannon fodder for the British Empire to quell the Indian War of Independence, the Canadian bourgeoisie – compared to the imperial powers and their “Great Game” (Curzon) and “Grand Chessboard” (Brzezinski)  – was a relative latecomer to the struggle for Asia.[2]

To this ignominious end, successive Liberal and Conservative governments spent over $30 billion, deployed 40,000 soldiers to that far-away land between 2001 and 2014 and sacrificed the lives of 159 Canadians and seven civilians since 2002 as the “go to country” in NATO.

Even though Afghanistan was a strategic though land-locked country, the warships were also deployed to southwest Asia. During Operation Apollo, from 2001-2003, 15 Canadian warships from bases in Halifax and Esquimalt were sent to the region – Canada’s largest naval operation since the Second World War.

Iroquois-Preparations

This photo is taken on the same day that Prime Minister Chretien, speaking in Halifax, declared that Canada was not involved in Iraq. Crew and support staff load supplies aboard destroyer HMCS Iroquois on Thursday, February 20, 2003. Captain Maddison and the crew are preparing the ship for Monday’s deployment to the Middle East in support of Canada’s Operation Apollo. Sailors laden with supplies stream on to the aging warship as they get ready for a six-month mission in the Persian Gulf. Activity on this historic dock hasn’t ceased since last Thursday when the captain and crew were told they had 10 days to prepare for the deployment. (CP PHOTO/Scott Dunlop)

By 2003, the army and naval deployments concentrated on Afghanistan allowed the United States and Britain to amass their forces in their “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq, justified by the disinformation of getting rid of “weapons of mass destruction” and the fiction of its involvement in 9-11. In parallel, Chrétien declared on March 19, 2003 that Canada was not involved; on the day of the announcement 5,000 U.S. troops were moving through airports in Newfoundland enroute to Iraq. He had other fish to fry: on January 31 and February 1, 2003, the Liberal government organized an international gathering to discuss overthrowing Haiti’s elected government. At the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti,” US, Canadian and French officials decided that president Jean-Bertrand Aristide “must go” and the country would be put under a Kosovo-like UN trusteeship. A year later 500 Canadian troops occupied Haiti for six months.

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq total more than one million people; the suffering endured by the peoples and the destruction of the social and natural environment is unbelievable. This is a mere summary, which must because of limitations of space leave out a thousand shocking details. The number of civilians – mostly women and children – killed or injured by airstrikes in Afghanistan has risen a startling 39 per cent year on year, according to UN figures released on October 10, casting fresh scrutiny on the use of air power by the United States and its allies at a time of near-record “precise” bombing. The rise comes after the departed US commander for the war promised a “tidal wave of air power” to combat a resurgent Taliban. Sixty per cent of this year’s casualties have been women and children, according to the UN report.

By 2010 the transparency of the Canadian military was such that it began to withhold all injury reports, releasing only statistics after the end of a calendar year, citing bogus security reasons. The Department of National Defence also refused to disclose the nature or severity of injuries and wounds, claiming it was an operational secret.

By June 2013 figures released by DND showed that the total number of Canadian soldiers injured and wounded in more than ten years of war had reached 2,071 by the end of December 2012. 1,436 of these were listed as NBI (Non battle injuries) and 635 were listed as WIA (wounded in action).

In October, 2015 a Globe and Mail investigation revealed “a disturbing number the military has kept secret: that at least 54 soldiers and vets killed themselves after they returned from war.” These are young men and women spiritually devastated and psychologically traumatized by their participation in an amoral and unjust war, misled and betrayed by a government and its generals who enriched themselves. It noted that “the overall suicide tally likely undercounts veterans whose suicides are not regularly tracked by the government.”

2013.9.11.Sydney Veterans-Miles Howe

View of the large rally in Sydney, Cape Breton on Nov. 9, 2013 demanding that government provide public service to veterans.

Nevertheless, the Ford government in Ontario is attempting to invoke the memory of those who died in the Afghanistan war in this centenary year of the end of World War I, in keeping with subordinating Canada to the cause of U.S. wars of aggression today, which must be opposed.

From Stephen Harper’s dream of “pacifying” the Afghan resistance, to Stephane Dion’s “balanced approach” of conducting war and development at the same time, to Jack Layton’s “withdrawal of our troops, after consultation with our allies,” and for Canada to play a “development” role in Afghanistan, through to Justin Trudeau’s “responsibility to protect,” “responsible conviction” and so on, these “leaders” showed they were all warmongers.

2009.HISF Rally Joya 05

Former Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya addressing the rally against the first Halifax International Security Forum in November 2009.

The killing of civilians in both Afghanistan and Pakistan including wedding ceremonies, the destruction of thousands of homes in the name of searching for insurgents, the humiliation of the people became synonymous with the celebrated 3D (defence, diplomacy and development aid) approach to empire-building that Canada was testing in in Afghanistan as well as Haiti since 2004 as well. The Trudeau Liberals openly acknowledge that this was in preparation for playing a more “visible international role” in other wars of aggression and intervention of the U.S. NATO bloc in “failed” and “fragile” states such as in Iraq and Syria since their election in 2015 in order to “ensure human security” in these nations. [3]

2003.Feb.24.hmcsiroquois_peace_protest

Protest in Halifax against the deployment of the HMCS Iroquois to the Arabian Sea on Monday, February 24, 2003

The war violates the UN Charter and international law and no amount of justifications change this fact. Canadians in their majority also oppose this war along with all wars of aggression and occupation. In Halifax, for example, they convened weekly mass democratic meetings in front of the city library on Saturdays beginning right after 9/11. Immediately Operation Apollo was announced, Haligonians organized their protest outside CFB Stadacona. A tent city erected by youth was destroyed by Military Police on the eve of official visits by Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and Chrétien to send off the warships with all manner of pomp and circumstance.

Across Canada, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life took the initiative to raise their voice, participating in national days of action, rallies, pickets, forums, sit-ins, and petitions. History vindicates their conviction and social conscience. Soldiers too became increasingly politicized due to their conditions. They publicly condemned the government for its unconscionable treatments of veterans. This anti-war movement was right. Attempts to undermine their conviction – to convert this movement into a lobby group or to declare it is “dead” – have failed despite the concerted efforts of the establishment forces together to do so – the political parties in government, the monopoly media, the Department of Defence, along with the polling companies and “experts.” All of it is to cover up that Canada’s role was not about reconstruction or defending rights, let alone “nation-building.”

The British raj knew this in the 19th century which is why, to impose their nation state on the peoples of the Indian subcontinent, they massacred people in their millions and had to engineer their division on every conceivable communal basis. These “leaders’ “notions of “democracy” and “nation-building” are based on these utterly failed models which are leading the entire world to the brink of new holocausts.

“A friend and a partner”

By 2017 the Taliban controlled more Afghan territory than at any time since their fall in 2001. On October 18, 2018, in an attack at a meeting in which the US’s top general was present, Kandahar’s police chief, governor, and intelligence chief were all killed.

The Trump regime will not quit Afghanistan. To do so would be to jeopardize the narrow interests it serves. U.S. President Donald Trump has personally delineated a so-called strategy for victory in Afghanistan that his commanding general states cannot be won and that was denied to 100,000 U.S. troops under Obama’s celebrated “surge” in 2010. Like King Canute, he vows to “push onward to victory with power in our hearts.”

Canada is still involved in Afghanistan, from military training to self-serving development and aid schemes. The Trudeau Liberals boast in their hubris a defence minister whose sole credential is his alleged exploits in counter-insurgency in Afghanistan.

New enemies are thus being added to the endless list of the Pentagon pantheon of officially-designated monsters, right at a time when public opinion is once again rising up against illegal and unjust wars and to create anti-war governments as the order of the day. Internationally, they say the enemy is no longer terrorism but Russia, China and other states that they claim are out to undermine liberal democratic institutions while at the same time cling to the argument that the occupation of Afghanistan is necessary to provide for the security of citizens of the U.S. and NATO countries against terrorism.

In his interview with NBC, Gen Miller claims “that without stability in Afghanistan, terror groups like ISIS-K [Islamic state in the Khorasan, based in eastern Afghanistan – ed.] and al Qaeda will attack U.S. and allies outside the region.

“I try to simplify to everyone here what this is all about, it’s about protecting the citizens of your [own] country,” he said, referring to the NATO nations participating in the ongoing occupation here.

Gen Miller goes so far as to call the depraved, criminal warlord and police commander Gen Abdul Raziq, the American golden boy who was killed two weeks ago, “a friend and a partner” and “somebody I knew very well.” “Afghanistan lost a patriot, my condolences to the people of Afghanistan. The good he did for Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan cannot be undone.” [4] Nor can the American commander explain why the U.S. is allied with al Qaeda (al Nusra) in Syria, whom it calls “moderate rebels,” and the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya. These words represent the soulless lack of principles of imperialism where the absence of the human factor/social consciousness can excuse any depraved activity.

Far from “fighting terrorism” it is the United States and the other occupying forces that are terrorizing the people of Afghanistan, and who are supporting and “training” a government of corrupt war criminals installed by the U.S. imperialists, which it terms a “government of national unity.”

The war against Afghanistan was and is a project for world domination and enslavement of nations in Eurasia and Asia carried out in the name of the highest ideals. The economic engine is the seizure of territories and populations in their race for raw materials, markets in which to export capital, and military advantage points. The NATO powers are not only dependent on oil (and its transhipment); fifty different strategic minerals such as manganese, cobalt, titanium, chromium, platinum, tin, nickel, iron, lead and copper from the Indian Ocean region. It is not for nothing that the 2008 Manley Report identified the rich natural resources and other assets of Afghanistan to justify the policy of helping “develop” the economic base of the Afghan people so that they could allegedly have a higher standard of living. All this is done in the name of “civilizing” “lesser breeds without the law” – to quote the British racist-imperialist poet Rudyard Kipling, who also coined in 1899 the phrase “white man’s burden.” This is what today is presented as “spreading democracy” and the “responsibility to protect” in the belief that Anglo-Saxons deserve to rule other nations, especially ones of colour they deem inferior.

All of those powers who have despicably used Afghanistan as an imperial battle ground for the past four decades are rightfully in debt to the Afghan people, not vice versa. As a result, the Afghan people are owed unconditional reparations and the recognition of their right to do with those reparations as they themselves decide – without outside interference, and with an immediate end to the occupation. Only then can the Afghan peoples’ right to self-determination be realized. Similarly, the conflicts between India and Pakistan and the situation in Kashmir have no hope of being resolved without the expulsion of foreign intruders.

Nation-building which does not conform to what the people themselves need and want to open their societies’ paths to progress and contribute to the same internationally is not worthy of the name. All over the world the people are affirming their right to be, in the face of increasingly difficult conditions and circumstances. It shows that the fundamental striving to be human cannot be extinguished except through death. For the peoples, the slogan Victory or Death and Never Again has emerged as a fact of life the world over.

Notes

1.It is the situation inside Afghanistan that constitutes one of the contributing factors that has helped to bring about the further weakening of these empires in those fatal years and aggravated their rivalry for spheres of influence and redivision, as the liberation struggle against Soviet social imperialism weakened its empire and, in various ways, contributed to its dissolution.

One notable example is that of Amanullah Khan (after 1923, Padshah Amanollah) who was esteemed by Bolshevik leaders such as V.I. Lenin and Joseph Stalin because, though an Amir, unlike the European café social democrats, the European socialists and “radicals”, he actually fought the British Empire in what came to be called the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919. Amanullah was the first foreign head of state to visit Moscow after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 where he met with Lenin. He was encouraged by the Bolshevik Revolution together with the Indian Revolution and his war, however brief, also inspired the Indian masses rising against the British Raj. Links were established between the Afghans and the Indian revolutionaries such as the Ghadar Party.

In the same spirit, the defeat and humiliation of the British Army of the Indus in the 1830s encouraged the revolt of the Indian sepoys in the 1857 first War of Indian Independence. Developments in Afghanistan, in fact, are only a link in the common chain of struggle of the Central Asian peoples for liberation from the autocracy and suzerainty of decaying empires, feudalism and war lordism.

2.The colonial geography of urban Halifax, Nova Scotia – monuments, street names and the names of public institutions – commemorates this involvement, e.g., Lucknow Street derives its name from the successful 1857 siege of the British Residency within the city of Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh (then named Oudh, and annexed by the East India Co. in 1856), and the Bengal Lancers Riding Academy emulates the cavalry of the British Indian Army.

3.In February 2016 the Liberal Party-connected Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa published a paper discussing Afghanistan and the 3D approach as “a role model for Canada’s Middle East Mission.” At the time, its founding director, Roland Paris, was the newly-appointed Senior Advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for foreign affairs. In 2014, the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization appointed him to a ten-member international panel of experts to advise on the future of NATO. He is also a fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a member of the Agenda Working Group of the Halifax International Security Forum.

4. Canadian military writer Scott Taylor condemns Gen Miller’s characterization of Raziq. He points out that “in 2017 the United Nations committee on torture was intent on prosecuting Raziq on charges of torture and enforced disappearances. According to the UN, Raziq was ‘operating secret detention centres,’ where prisoners were tortured. Then there was an incident involving the discovery of mutilated corpses linked back to individuals who had been under Raziq’s detention… To round out his resume, Raziq was also accused of hugely profiting from the illegal drug trade.” He further brings out the role Canada played in propping up this warlord:

“These allegations were documented by Canadian journalist Matthieu Aikins in a 2009 piece published in Harper’s Magazine, and the notion that Raziq was profiting from the opium and heroin trade was supported by then Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance.

“At the time, Vance was NATO’s regional commander in southern Afghanistan, and he is currently Canada’s chief of defence staff.

“Raziq took over his role as Kandahar’s police chief in 2011 when his predecessor — Khan Mahammad Mojayed — was killed in a suicide attack in April of that year.

“That means that for more than eight months, Canadian soldiers were deployed in direct combat support of this ruthless, illiterate, drug-dealing, torturing murderer.”

With a file from Dougal Macdonald and TML Daily, 2008

Related reading on this blog

Designed to fail: American aggression in Afghanistan

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