the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Aug 29, 2022
August 30 marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, twenty years after the U.S directly invaded the country, and more than forty years after U.S. intervention in it really began.
In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in support of an allied government facing an uprising by Islamic fundamentalists known as the mujahideen. The U.S. quickly jumped in to funnel enormous amounts of weapons and training to those fighting the Soviets. After the Soviet Union withdrew, various mujahideen warlords began a civil war for control of the country, eventually won by the Taliban, which itself came out of a layer of students in the religious schools set up by the U.S. to train these fighters.
When asked if he regretted organizing support for these forces in 1998, after the Taliban had taken over most of the country, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski replied: “What is more important to the future of the world? The Taliban, or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims, or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”
In fact, the U.S. had no real problem with the Taliban’s fundamentalist government, even as it banned women from going outside the home without a man, forced them to cover themselves from head to foot, and imposed the death penalty for adultery. Until, that is, the U.S. decided to make an example of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Just one month later, on October 7 of 2001, the U.S. began a massive bombing campaign in Afghanistan in preparation for the U.S. invasion of the country, even though the Taliban was not involved in 9/11.
To eject the Taliban, the U.S. allied with non-Taliban mujahideen warlords, and then set these men up to run the country. Many were just as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban. Abdul Rashid Dostum, for instance, was accused of suffocating hundreds of prisoners of war to death in shipping containers, of raping men, women, and children, of ordering the murder of his wife when she caught him having sex with a child, and even of ordering that his men rape one of his political opponents with an assault rifle. Under the U.S., this man became Vice President.
To reinforce unpopular warlords like Dostum, U.S. forces carried out unending bombings and drone attacks on opponents of the regime, night raids of homes, and torture of suspects—throwing much of the population back into the arms of anyone who claimed to be resisting the U.S. occupiers. Already in 2012, Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president during much of the U.S. occupation, commented that if the U.S. were to withdraw, “everything will collapse. The army is rubbish. The government is a puppet.”
Afghanistan was left in shambles by the 20-year U.S. war and occupation. But even after it finally decided to withdraw—a bi-partisan decision negotiated by Trump and carried out by Biden—the U.S. wasn’t content to turn the shambles it had created over to the Taliban. Instead, the U.S. ensured that the new Taliban government would rule over a completely collapsing economy. The U.S. imposed sanctions and seized nine billion dollars in Afghan government funds, with the Biden administration announcing plans to distribute half of that money to victims of 9/11, even though not one Afghan was involved in the attacks of that day. Worst of all, the U.S. froze Afghanistan completely out of the international banking system, meaning that the country cannot even print money, nor can it conduct international trade.
On top of that, the U.S. cut off foreign aid to the country—which accounted for 75% of Afghanistan’s budget. Government workers of all sorts are not getting paid. There is literally no money for the state hospital; no money for schools; no money for the water and sewer systems.
The result has been mass starvation. According to the U.N., over 90% of Afghans don’t get enough to eat, and about half the population is suffering from acute hunger. About one million children under the age of 5 are suffering from prolonged acute malnutrition, meaning even if they survive, they will face long-term health consequences.
For more than 40 years, the U.S. has inflicted unending misery on the population of Afghanistan. One year after it withdrew its troops, the U.S. war on Afghanistan’s population continues.