Mar 2, 2020
With great fanfare, on February 29, the U.S. announced a new peace deal for Afghanistan. Except that it’s not really a peace deal at all. The U.S. has promised to withdraw if a long series of conditions are met—in 14 months.
The first U.S. condition for this deal was that the Taliban oversee a “reduction” in violence for seven days. In the face of the violence and destruction created by 20 years of the so-called U.S. “war on terror,” this “condition” is a cynical hoax.
In 2019, the U.S. dropped 7,423 bombs and missiles on the country, the most since the Air Force began keeping track in 2006. In response, the Taliban—or organizations the U.S. calls the Taliban—carried out more than 8,000 attacks. So by any measure of violence on the ground, there is no end in sight. In fact, the violence has accelerated.
Even before the current war began, for more than forty years, the U.S. wreaked chaos on this country, supporting one violent, fundamentalist group of warlords after another, for its own imperialist interests.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, in a spectacular show of power against one of the poorest countries on earth. U.S. leaders called this retaliation against those who attacked the Twin Towers and Pentagon, even though not one Afghan was among the 9/11 terrorists and the Taliban were not implicated in the attacks. In fact, the U.S. needed a way to flex its muscles and prove that it would not tolerate an attack on its financial and military centers, and that it was still the world’s superpower.
The U.S. then flooded huge sums into Afghanistan—in some years, the U.S. budget for the Afghan war was 60 billion dollars, while the entire GDP of the country was just 12 billion! This money served to fund corruption and reinforce “allied” warlords, who smuggled drugs, plundered, and raped.
The Taliban—or at least, groups calling themselves the Taliban—made a comeback by feeding off the anger of the population at the brutality of these U.S.-backed warlords. So U.S. troops set about trying to root out the Taliban “insurgency,” bombing Taliban-friendly villages, carrying out night raids and torture, and by doubling down on military support for the “friendly” warlords.
The U.S. has carried out variations on this war policy under three presidents, for nearly 20 years now, without bringing the country any closer to being “stabilized.”
The U.S. population has paid a steep price: 2,400 U.S. troops killed; thousands more wounded, including with severe PTSD and the accompanying increase in veteran suicides. Two trillion dollars of our tax money have been used to destroy this already impoverished country—so far.
For the Afghan population, U.S. intervention in their country has been a disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, with many more wounded. At least seven million have been driven from their homes, out of a total Afghan population of 30 million.
In this context, the current “peace” deal is nothing but a cynical ploy, aimed at helping Trump’s chances of re-election by allowing him to brag that he is finally getting the U.S. out of its longest war. If the U.S. eventually withdraws from Afghanistan, it will be well after the 2020 elections—the real point of Trump’s “peace” announcement.
Whatever the outcome of the Trump administration’s show of making a deal to eventually withdraw, the Afghanistan war is a symbol of what U.S. imperialism means for the people of the world.