The fiasco of American imperialism in Afghanistan is plain for all to see. How could anyone say it was a success after seeing the revolting images of tens of thousands of Afghans begging to be evacuated by the American army and clinging desperately onto the planes? And on top of the chaos came the horror of the bomb attacks.
But those who defend the policies of the major world powers tell us that the failure is due to it being impossible to bring freedom in from outside or, even worse, that “the Afghan people are not ready for democracy”. As if that was the reason the Americans, with all the Western leaders behind them, went to Afghanistan!
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 following the attack on the World Trade Center, ostensibly to track Bin Laden, mastermind of Al Qaeda. But it was, above all, a golden opportunity to occupy an immense country in a strategic region and try to set up a regime that it could control.
During the twenty years of war, US administrations sought to rely on every possible clique, including the most corrupt and reactionary ones, to help them develop a semblance of an Afghan state and army. They spent 2,000 billion dollars to do it. The money wasn’t spent on building schools, hospitals or the infrastructure that might change things for the country’s inhabitants and offer them the prospect of a better life!
The death toll is 2,500 American soldiers and 200,000 Afghans, there are millions of refugees and internally displaced persons. And the US is leaving a powder keg in its wake. Not only is it resigned to the return of the Taliban but it’s counting on them to combat the Daesh militia, who are considered to be even more dangerous!
The population is now trapped in one of the poorest countries in the world, a country poisoned by fanaticism and barbarism. This particularly affects the petty bourgeoisie that developed in the shelter of the Western presence and who believed in the promises the Americans made. Women are hiding without knowing if they will be allowed to work, to study or to leave home without being imprisoned in a burqa. This shows the true value of promises of freedom and democracy made by imperialist leaders.
What is happening in Afghanistan should serve as a lesson to us. Although France only had a secondary role as a yes-man to the Americans, it’s playing sorcerer’s apprentice in Mali and the Sahel. So that it can defend the interests of Total, Bolloré, Dassault, etc., the French government is behaving as if it were still a great world power.
Macron recently gave an example when he attended the summit in Bagdad, Iraq. The summit, intended to coordinate the war on terrorism, convened, among others, Saudi Arabia, whose medieval régime is no better than that of the Taliban and is well known for giving support to certain terrorist groups against others. This is despicable play-acting but for Macron, it was an opportunity for self-promotion. In all seriousness, Macron posed as a moralist on the theme “France will not leave and will remain present in Iraq and in the Sahel”. He even went on to add “France will not abandon those who have fought alongside it”. How cynical!
Even as terror rained down on Kabul, he proclaimed his opposition to the arrival of another influx of Afghan immigrants! And his pseudo-proposal of a protected zone for repatriating Afghan auxiliaries is nothing more than a sham. Imperialist leaders don’t care about those who serve them. This is very clear from what happened to the Harkis1, auxiliaries to the French army, at the end of the Algerian war.
The principal victims of imperialism are the men and women of the countries that have been pillaged and devastated by wars. They are the women and men of Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali. But we are all concerned and doubly so. It is illusory to think that we can live in peace in a world that has been made uninhabitable for millions of women and men. And the multinationals who profit from the oppression of populations in poor countries are the very same as those which exploit and impoverish us here.
None of the problems facing humanity–the risk of widespread war, terrorism, the economic and ecological crisis–can be solved unless we challenge the domination of imperialism and the capitalist system on which it’s based.
In this fight, the victims of imperialism, the Afghans, the Iraqis and the Africans who come knocking on our door are not our enemies but our allies. The first thing we should do is reach out to them.
1 The Harkis were native Algerians who served as auxiliaries in the French army during the Algerian War of Independence from 1954 to 1962. When Algeria gained independence, the Harkis were considered as traitors to their country. Those who could, sought refuge in France, where the government “welcomed” them with next to nothing in terms of political rights, jobs and housing.