The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
Whether by Zealot Militia, or Imperialism's Army, Terrorism Targets the Population

Aug 30, 2021

Declaring himself "outraged as well as heartbroken" by the loss of civilian life, Biden denounced the terrorists who organized the suicide bombing at Kabul airport.

Yes, ISIS-K, which quickly claimed "credit" for the bombing, is an enemy of the population wherever it has gone. But Biden himself is nothing but a front for U.S. imperialism, which is the enemy of people all over the world.

ISIS-K "a militia of religious zealots" planned this latest bombing with complete disregard for the cost in Afghan civilian lives. Seeking to show it could damage the U.S. military, ISIS organized a deadly bombing in an area where civilians crowded around U.S. troops. It was ready to kill indiscriminately.

ISIS may have killed 13 U.S. military personnel, but it took perhaps 170 Afghan civilians along with them.

The pictures that streamed out of Kabul, just before and after the bombing, were grotesque. Thousands of people jammed up against the bottom of high concrete walls, pleading for a chance to get into the airport to escape from Afghanistan. Then the bomb went off. The bodies of men, women and children littered the sewage canal into which they were thrown by the blast, torn up by pieces of shrapnel.

As terrible as those few minutes were, replayed over again on TV, they give only a faint idea of the carnage inflicted on the Afghan population during the 20 years the U.S. military has been occupying the country.

The population has been the victim of other terrorist bombs, whether set off by ISIS, by the Northern Alliance, by the Taliban, by tribal warlords or by drug gangs. The goal of each group was to impose itself on the country, or at least to stake out part for its own fiefdom. So, yes, the Afghan population has paid dearly for the desires of these forces to establish their own dictatorship.

But, above all, the civilian population has been the victim of big power terrorism, the much more deadly violence dispensed by the U.S. military. Its high-tech bombs—filled with old-style shrapnel—rained havoc on the population. So did the drones and missiles, guided by sophisticated targeting systems. And then there were the nearly 800,000 U.S. troops who rotated in and out of Afghanistan. They carried out deadly, boots-on-the-ground, "seek-and-destroy" missions. How many civilians died from these missions, no one knows, because the U.S., which controlled Afghan governments during all these years, banned such reports.

Afghan civilians were "collateral damage," this term used by American generals to minimize civilian deaths. All told, upward of 200,000 Afghans died. Seven million people were driven from their homes out of a total population of less than 40 million.

Biden, in speaking of the U.S. troops who were killed at Kabul airport, said that they "died defending our visions and our values in the struggle against terrorism."

The values they defended were the values of this capitalist system, built on exploitation. They died in the service of U.S. imperialism, which rests on military force—state organized terrorism—to maintain its domination over the whole world. They died, as have so many other U.S. soldiers, so that U.S. corporations could go on draining oil out of the Middle East, lifting mineral wealth out of Africa, exploiting starvation-wage labor in Asia. The tragedy of the U.S. troops is that they volunteered to be part of the military, to be used by their class enemy against people much like themselves in other countries.

Whether they joined the U.S. military because they fell for claims of patriotism foisted onto them by schools, churches and politicians; whether they joined to get a training or to see something of far-off places; whether they joined because jobs were scarce in rural areas so many of them came from—in one way or another, they all became assassins for imperialism, used against peoples all over the world. In so doing, they dug their own grave, and along with it, the graves of so many people in countries just like Afghanistan.

The news media is filled with films of their caskets being brought back to full honors, with somber music or drumbeats played in the background. The flag is flying at half mast over post office and government buildings. Patriotism runs riot. The 13 coffins have been turned into props in a propaganda video.

This sickening patriotic show, built on the dead civilians in Afghanistan and the dead U.S. troops—these are the values of imperialism. It is a system that needs to be tossed on the junk heap.

People in other countries are not our enemies. What matters for them matters to us. We can start by turning our back on all the patriotic crap which today inundates us. In this world controlled by imperialism, that's already a big step.