The U.S. War In Afghanistan Continues
by Stephen Kaposi
Z magazine, July/August 2005
In case you hadn't realized, the U.S.
invasion of Afghanistan has turned into another disastrous foreign
war that will probably only end when the U.S. withdraws. U.S.
soldiers, Afghan civilians, and those resisting the U.S. occupation
are still dying for a neco-con dream of a worldwide empire.
Over three and a half years after the
U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, there has been no victory and the
bloody war continues. If anything, the U.S. has suffered a defeat,
judging by the fact that the world's superpower hasn't been able
to fully secure its colony, despite Bush administration propaganda
to the contrary. Bush's declaration May 1, 2003 that "major
combat operations" had ended in Iraq may have received wide
coverage, but another bellicose announcement received little attention.
On the same day as Bush's announcement,
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave exactly the same
triumphant declaration while visiting Kabul. This is how Fox News,
the Bush administration propaganda service, announced Rumsfeld's
triumph: "In an announcement marking a major victory in America's
ongoing war on terror, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declared
Thursday that 'major combat activity' has ended in Afghanistan."
Just like in Iraq, the reality is the
opposite. From April 2005 on, the Taliban was once again "resurgent"
with a spring offensive launched. Convoys of trucks supplying
U.S. troops have been attacked, government buildings stormed,
and Afghan and U.S. soldiers killed in numerous attacks. A political
ally of America's puppet ruler, Hamid Karzia-a former oil company
representative-was beheaded in the southern "insurgency-hit"
Helmund province. International peacekeepers were stoned when
they started taking photos of women. There is even evidence that
Kabul's regime is slowly turning the people against it, as when
local villagers clashed with Afghan troops who came to destroy
their poppy crops.
Meanwhile, many people in the southern
city of Kandahar, concerned about rising crime and a lack of law
and order, are looking back with fondness to the Taliban' s time
in power. The Taliban maintained law and order and a sense of
stability, unlike the chaos the U.S. invasion has brought. Thousands
of people marched in the streets demanding the governor and police
chief resign, accusing them of collusion with criminals. At other
times, as in Iraq, such demonstrations have been crushed with
murderous gunfire from U.S. troops, their warlord allies, or a
faltering Afghan army the U.S. is trying desperately to create.
Later in April it was reported that the
Taliban had relaunched a radio service in Afghanistan using a
mobile transmitter consisting of a one-hour program broadcast
twice a day. Earlier in February 2005, U.S. intentions in Afghanistan
were made clear by Senator John McCain when he called for permanent
U.S. bases in Afghanistan to "safeguard [U.S.] security interests
in the region."
A few days later, there was a glimpse
that the situation in Afghanistan was not so good when it was
announced that parliamentary elections, scheduled for May 21 would
be delayed due to "logistical and security concerns."
Then in mid-May 2005, thousands rioted
in the eastern Afghanistan city of Jalalabad after reports said
that guards at the U.S. concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba had desecrated copies of the Koran. U. S. and Afghan troops
fired on the protesters, killing at least four. The rallies spread
to the capital Kabul and at least four other provinces, with university
students in Kabul chanting "death to America" and calling
the U.S. forces "invaders."
An Associated Press report called it the
"biggest display of anti-American anger since the ouster
of the Taliban." CNN described the riots as "anti-U.S.
riots" and significant rallies were also held in Pakistani
cities, with the anti-U.S. party, the MMA, announcing plans for
further protests. Even Pakistan's national assembly passed a resolution
demanding the U.S. government investigate the incident and punish
anyone found responsible.
Then there's the undefeated Taliban who
have been declared to be "resurgent" many times before
their latest resurgency this April. For example, no less than
18 months earlier, a Taliban "resurgence" was reported
in October 2003. U.S. forces launched major military sweeps in
October and December 2003 and March 2004 to stay in control of
the Afghan countryside.
Apart from Rumsfeld's first declaration
of victory on May 1, 2003, Hamid Karzai told BBC's David Frost
during an interview on June 8, 2003: "I don't see a resurgence
of the Taliban." He continued by saying: "As far as
the defeat of the Taliban is concerned, they are defeated, they
are gone-as a movement, as a government, as a structure, a political
structure, a religious structure-they are not there." Someone
should have told the German troops dying to keep Karzai in power-virtually
on the same day as the interview four German peacekeepers were
killed in a suicide bomb attack.
On February 26, 2004, Karzai again declared
the Taliban defeated. Within two weeks, "evidence" emerged
of how the U.S. was supposedly winning in Afghanistan. Human Rights
Watch released a major report documenting widespread abuses committed
by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The report states, U.S. forces
"have arbitrarily detained civilians, used excessive force
during arrests of non-combatants, and mistreated detainees."
The U.S.-run system of "arrest and detention in Afghanistan
exists outside of the rule of law" and "There is compelling
evidence suggesting that U.S. personnel have committed acts against
detainees amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading
Robert Novak reported at the end of May
2004, "The overlooked war continues with no end in sight
.... If U.S. forces were to leave, the Taliban-or something like
it-would regain power. The U.S. is lost in Afghanistan, bound
to this wild country and unable to leave." Later, on June
15, 2004, George Bush declared, "Coalition forces, including
many brave Afghans, have brought America, Afghanistan, and the
free world its first victory in the war on terror."
However, at the same time, news reports
were revealing the opposite of Bush's triumphal propaganda. The
Associated Press reported on the "deteriorating security"
situation, with an attack on international peacekeepers and 11
Chinese workers slaughtered in northern Afghanistan, far from
where the Taliban usually operates.
Then on August 13, 2004, NATO's top general,
General James Jones, declared the Taliban and Al Qaeda defeated
and that they would never challenge the government or be a major
threat again. Two days later, the "defeated" Taliban
killed seven Afghan soldiers and, by the end of September, at
least three U.S. soldiers were killed and 14 wounded, and dozens
more Afghan soldiers killed.
In October 2004, Agence France -Presse
reported that the mission in Afghanistan was "unaccomplished,"
despite Bush's "triumphalism." Little headway had been
made in creating a national army, poppy cultivation was increasing,
and outside Kabul most women were still wearing the full-covering
burka and living in fear. Karzai's puppet regime had little power
with warlords and militias still in control of much of the country-when
the Taliban wasn't on the rampage of course.
In the same month, some United Nations
workers were kidnapped in Kabul and many people were dying in
fighting elsewhere, including U.S. soldiers, Afghan soldiers and
civilians. Also in October 2004, it was reported that slick propaganda,
which included DVDs, was circulating in Afghanistan calling for
a "global jihad" against "oil-thieving Christian
crusaders." A British security expert noted, "This is
a significant migration of tactics. I've never seen quality material
with an international outlook like this before .... It's a call
to global jihad." The next month, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad
Omar issued a message to followers marking the third anniversary
of the Taliban's fall, urging supporters to continue their holy
A look at U.S. deaths in Afghanistan shows
how the war is slowly escalating. The number of Americans killed
has increased each year since the invasion in October 2001 and
the trend so far in 2005 seems to be upwards. In 2001, 12 U.S.
soldiers were killed; in 2002, 43 were killed; in 2003, 46 were
killed; and in 2004, 52 were killed. So far in 2005, 29 have been
killed. This matches the overall trend in Iraq, which has seen
a steady rise in the rate of American deaths throughout the U.S.
An analysis of Coalition deaths in Iraq
reveals the cumulative average U.S. death rate rose steadily through
2004 and continued to increase in 2005. Despite a drop after the
elections in January, the rate of U.S. deaths is increasing again.
As for the presidential elections that
installed Hamid Karzai, it was no more legitimate than the elections
held by the Soviets when they occupied the country in the 1980s.
In fact, respected commentator Eric Margolis stated at the time
of the December 2004 elections that those organized by the Soviets
were "more open and fairer that the recent U.S. -staged Afghan
In January 2005 the U.S. ambassador to
Turkmenistan announced that a "long-delayed" gas pipeline
would go ahead by 2006 and would run through Afghanistan to Pakistan.
So the U.S. crusade in Afghanistan to secure energy reserves for
the West and encircle Russia and China has turned into another
long, bloody foreign intervention. If the U.S. does eventually
secure a "stable" ally and possible permanent military
bases, it will only be due to the imposition of military force
to crush opponents, war crimes, enormous bloodshed, and substantial
human rights abuses.
Stephen Kaposi is the author of The Real
Axis of Evil: The Invasion of Iraq, Western Imperialism, Lies
and the Police State. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
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