Avoiding defeat' in Afghanistan: Old strategy, new war

The statement below was issued by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).

Afghan Protest
The war against the Afghan people has been a catastrophe.
Now the Pentagon’s goal—one embraced by President
Obama—is to avoid the appearance of defeat.

The ANSWER Coalition opposes President Obama’s decision to send tens of thousands more troops to occupy Afghanistan. This number is likely to grow.

All U.S. forces must be immediately withdrawn from Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a sovereign country and has the right to determine its own destiny. Its people are proud, with a history of resistance to colonial-type occupation going back centuries. The idea that the Afghan people can be brought to heel by the armies of invading foreigners is a fantasy.

Although they have been invaded by U.S. and NATO armies and bombed relentlessly for nearly eight years, the people of Afghanistan have never attacked the United States. In the first three months of the invasion, the U.S. Air Force dropped thousands of cluster bombs and used other high-tech weapons against a people so poor that their average life expectancy was 43 years and annual income was less than $300.

From October to December 2001 alone, more than 3,500 Afghan civilians were killed in the onslaught—most of them poor farmers who had probably never heard of the World Trade Center.

The Pentagon now says that the war must go on until the resistance is defeated. At the same time as it sends more troops, there are strong hints that the United States is now seeking a new relationship with sectors of the Taliban leadership. Before Sept. 11, 2001, Washington gave tens of millions of dollars in aid to the Taliban government.

Although the Taliban was formed in 1994, that group’s top leaders fought in a CIA-financed war in Afghanistan that started decades earlier. In the late 1990s, the Taliban gave refuge to Osama Bin Laden and U.S. aid kept flowing. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Taliban government told the Bush administration that they would consider turning over Bin Laden, but they wanted proof that it was his forces that carried out the attacks.

Instead of providing proof, Bush responded with his "no negotiations" mantra and launched a full-scale invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. The invasion of Iraq came only 18 months later.

Sept. 11 provided a pretext for the Bush team’s neoconservative strategy of endless war. War was the preferred option to carry out their fantasy of total American power in all areas of the globe. As with the Iraq invasion, the Bush administration desired the opportunity to militarily smash the existing government in Afghanistan, so as to replace it with a U.S. puppet regime. Control and access to oil and natural gas and other energy resources have far more to do with the U.S. occupations in the Middle East and Central Asia than concern about democracy, women’s rights or fighting "terrorism."

The Bush fantasy has been a catastrophe for millions of people, and there is no light at the end of this tunnel. The resistance controls most of the country. Now the Pentagon’s goal—one embraced unfortunately by President Obama—is to avoid the appearance of being defeated.

"Avoiding defeat" was the same rationale Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger used to justify the continued war in Vietnam from 1969-1973. Their slogan then was "Peace With Honor." What a sham! Tens of thousands of GI’s were sent to their graves and an even larger number of Vietnamese died during this time period so that the politicians and generals would not have to admit that they were wrong.

Thousands more soldiers and marines are being sent now to kill and be killed so the U.S. government and the Pentagon brass can avoid the perception that they "failed to win" the war against the Afghanistan resistance. Thousand more people will go to an early grave so the political elites—in the military and in the civilian government—can avoid the public relations fiasco of having "not won the war." That is neither a good reason to die nor a good reason to keep killing Afghan farmers who only wish to be left alone.

We call on all people in the United States—workers, veterans, active-duty service-members—to stand united against the occupation of Afghanistan. We have nothing to gain from this war—and it comes at our expense. Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!

Background to the current conflict

When Afghanistan’s 1978 revolution ushered in a new, secular and reform-oriented government, the U.S. government sought to overthrow it in the largest and most expensive covert operation in CIA history.

It was that government in Afghanistan that legalized women’s rights, undertook mass literacy programs—including those for girls—and legalized trade unions. But because it called itself "socialist" and had good relations with the USSR (they shared a 1,000-mile-long border), the Afghan government became the focus of an all-out coordinated assault by the CIA and Pentagon starting in 1978.

The reason for the murderous covert war against Afghanistan’s government was the same as the massive covert war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government that came to power only a year later. Both governments were considered "socialist" and targeted for destruction as part of the U.S. Cold War strategy.

In Nicaragua, the CIA employed the former armies and thugs of the hated Somoza dictatorship to fight against the Sandinistas. In Afghanistan, the CIA and Pentagon employed pro-feudal elements who assassinated thousands of literacy workers and young socialists. Those targeted were going to villages with the message that girls should go to school, and that the centuries-old feudal custom of bride-price should be eliminated. It was during this covert CIA war that Osama Bin Laden and his fighters went onto the CIA payroll.

In the popular propaganda presentation in the western corporate media, the CIA’s employment, training and supply for pro-feudal elements in Afghanistan, like Osama Bin Laden and others, was in response to the Soviet military intervention into Afghanistan in December 1979. In fact, the real scenario was just the opposite. The Soviets sent in their army to support a socialist government that was likely to be toppled by the CIA-funded war.

The architect of the covert war against Afghanistan was Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s hawkish national security advisor. Brzezinski, in a moment of boastfulness and extreme imperial arrogance, revealed the truth in a 1998 interview that it was the United States’ covert war that drew in the Soviet invasion not the other way around. Their goal was to use Afghanistan as a pawn in a larger geo-strategic chessboard. The following is the interview of Brzezinski with the French periodical Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998:


The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?


Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec. 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.


Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?


It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.


When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?


Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.


And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?


What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

As far as cynicism goes, Washington’s feigned concern for the people of Afghanistan, and especially for Afghan women, is hard to top.

The Veterans and Service Members Task Force of the ANSWER Coalition put the escalating war in Afghanistan into the right perspective. They wrote:

"We who have served, or are currently serving, or have had family members in the U.S. military have an obligation to tell the truth and expose the lies that are promoted to win popular support for the Pentagon’s varied operations.

"We have served during or fought in its various wars, from World War II to Korea, to Vietnam, to Panama, to the first Iraq war, to Somalia, to Yugoslavia, to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Through our individual experiences, we have recognized that the U.S. military interventions today are in the service of imperialism rather than a defense of the people of this country."

follow us

get updates