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 treatment."

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 war.

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. occupation.

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 election."

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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