Oct 6, 2008
“The current situation [in Afghanistan] is bad, the security situation is getting worse, so is corruption, and the government has lost all trust. ... Foreign forces are the lifeline of a regime that would rapidly collapse without them.”
These words came from the British ambassador in Afghanistan, according to a French newspaper.
This only confirms reports filtering out of Afghanistan that the government of Hamid Karzai, installed by the U.S., controls little more than its own head-quarters – and that only thanks to the presence of over 70,000 foreign troops, 30,000 of them American. Kabul, the capital, is virtually besieged by the Taliban, who were ousted from power by the U.S. military in 2001 but are back. Reportedly, the Taliban now control large parts of the country, either directly or through alliances with local officials.
Lately, the U.S. military has stepped up its air and ground attacks near the Afghan-Pakistani border, where Taliban forces are based. The U.S. media has reported that in July President Bush signed a secret order allowing U.S. troops to cross the border into Pakistan, spilling the war into that country.
Both U.S. presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, openly say they will continue Bush’s policy. During the primaries last July, Obama publicly suggested extending the war into Pakistan: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistani] President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” McCain, who in the first months of the campaign denounced this suggestion, has since come over to Obama’s position: send more troops to Afghanistan.
But this war has created problems for the U.S. government. The “accidental” civilian casualties resulting from U.S. attacks have embarrassed the Afghan and Pakistani governments, forcing them to publicly criticize the U.S. And the high number of civilian casualties of war have only increased and strengthened anti-U.S. sentiments in the population, not only in Afghanistan but also Pakistan. “If those people in those areas were not part of the Taliban forces before these strikes, they will be now,” said a Pakistani general.
The border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan poses a special problem for imperialist powers, because there is no regional government that has effective control in that area. That always leaves open the possibility of destabilization throughout the Middle East, with its oil reserves and pipelines.
The same chatty British ambassador is said to have suggested that the best solution would be installing an “acceptable dictator.” And a high-ranked British general was also quoted in the media, saying: “If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this. That shouldn’t make people uncomfortable.” At least not the U.S. and British governments, which continue to look for a dictatorial regime to impose their will on the region.
These quotes have virtually the same weight as if they came from top U.S. officials, because the U.S. and Britain have been close allies on the international scene for almost a century now.
Of course, all this doesn’t mean the U.S. will end fighting soon, nor its military presence, in the area. The U.S. has established at least one big military base in Afghanistan and, by all indications, intends to keep it.
One way or another, what the U.S. has planned for the region is another dictatorship – one that can help the U.S. control that part of the world. But that means only more poverty, suffering – and also more war – for the Afghan population, who already have suffered so much during decades of war.