The Spark

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

Afghanistan:
Talk versus reality

Sep 8, 2008

Today the Bush administration pretends that U.S. troops are in Afghanistan to defend the democratic regime of Hamid Karzai and to protect the position of women against a return of the Taliban to power.

For years, during both Republican and Democratic administrations, the U.S. had a much different stance toward the Taliban.

When Soviet forces retreated from the country in 1988-89, the Taliban progressively extended their hold over the south of the country, pushing aside the old tribal landlords. They finally took the capital, Kabul, in September 1996. The U.S. and its allies stood to the side, giving their OK. In the years before, they had greatly aided all the Islamist forces who had fought the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, including the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

But following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, Bush needed to make a show of force for U.S. public opinion. In the days that followed, the U.S. and its ally Britain began military preparations against Afghanistan, which was presented as the sanctuary of Al Qaeda, under the pretext of seizing Bin Laden. On October 7, U.S. jets began to bomb the country. Bin Laden may have been there, but seven years later, he’s still not caught. And the U.S. is still bombing civilians.

The Karzai regime is far from the glowing image that the imperialist politicians want to attribute to it. A report issued in November 2007 by the U.N., which was the official sponsor of the war in Afghanistan, admitted as much. With respect to the creation of the Afghan police: “Corruption and clientelism seems to affect the police in a particularly grave manner.” The judiciary system suffers from “institutionalized corruption.” And “Journalists risk imprisonment if they criticize the application of Islamic law.”

As for the condition of women, which is so often invoked to justify the coalition’s military intervention, “The U.N. estimates that at the beginning of 2007, thirty% of arrested women weren’t detained for penal reasons, but rather essentially for violations of moral order, and that another 30% were detained for adultery.” The condition of women in the territory controlled by the Karzai government is horribly oppressive.

The U.N. report concludes: “The aspiration for a durable peace ... begins to resemble an ideal whose realization seems more and more precarious.”

Ideal? The U.S. intervention, just like those that came before, have made the lives of the Afghan people intolerable.