The Spark

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

A Warlord Like the Others

Jun 3, 2024

This article is translated from the May 31 issue #2913 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the Trotskyist group of that name active in France.

In an investigation titled “How the U.S. Backed Kidnapping, Torture and Murder in Afghanistan,” the New York Times shed light on what the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan by imperialist armies was like.

The city of Kandahar and its region were under the control for around 15 years of a certain Abdul Raziq, first a militiaman, then police chief, and finally general. American journalists recently traveled to this region, which is now governed by the Taliban like all of Afghanistan. They say they could not have traveled like this during the reign of warlords like Raziq. They identified between one and two thousand disappearances, which most likely ended in torture and murder carried out on Raziq’s orders and sometimes by him personally.

As the newspaper says, Raziq was “America’s Monster.” General Austin Miller, head of NATO troops in Afghanistan, called him his “great friend” and was at his side when Raziq was killed by his own bodyguard in 2018. The U.S. occupying forces relied on this warlord—and the terror he spread—to fight the Taliban. “We created Raziq,” a special forces colonel says today. Similarly, his predecessors had created Osama bin Laden a generation before. And everyone was perfectly aware of the abuses carried out by their monster!

When Kandahar’s previous police chief was assassinated in 2011, U.S. forces investigated Raziq. He was already rumored to be guilty of kidnappings, disappearances, and corruption. According to one officer, “There was a lot of discussion about whether we should use him or imprison him.” The American army decided to put him at the head of the police in the province. But they stopped entrusting captured Taliban to him, because Raziq systematically killed them instead of imprisoning them. Many officers believed that the Taliban insurgency could be defeated with people of Raziq’s caliber. In reality, his abuses led an increasingly large proportion of Afghans to want to get rid of such a bloodthirsty warlord at any cost, because he had “disappeared” their loved ones. The Taliban were able to base their reconquest of power in 2021 on these hard feelings.

The promises repeated by U.S., French, and other Western leaders for 20 years to establish a democracy respecting human rights in Afghanistan were nothing but camouflage. Their terror-based rule needed henchmen fit for the job.