Afghanistan war myths



The truth is killing us


A statement by March Forward!

The Pentagon brass has promoted myths to convince us that we are fighting in Afghanistan for freedom and to protect the United States. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have a right to know the facts that the generals and politicians have been desperately trying to hide. This is not our war!

Myth 1: We are fighting to defeat the Taliban.

U.S. envoy Charlie Wilson meets with future Taliban leaders on behalf of the CIA, while providing them extensive funding and training.

The U.S. government has a long-standing friendship with the Taliban that soured relatively recently. The Taliban was founded in the early 1990s by members of extreme right-wing religious groups that had been funded and trained by the CIA to overthrow the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, which was established after a popular, progressive revolution in 1978. Even after they became the Taliban and violently seized power in Afghanistan, these groups received funding from the United States up until the Sept. 11 attacks.  
During the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, the United States tried desperately to form friendly business relations with their government, sending government representatives and CEOs to shake hands and negotiate oil pipelines with Taliban leaders. But the Taliban government was resistant to allowing U.S. business to do as they pleased—so the United States took advantage of the 9/11 attacks to launch a full-scale invasion in a country they had long tried to dominate.
Now, after nine years of pointless bloodshed, the Pentagon and the puppet Karzai regime are trying to negotiate a truce with the Taliban. A so-called High Council for Peace was recently set up to carry out these talks, which are actively supported by the military brass.
General Petraeus told a think-tank in mid-October, “We do facilitate that [talks with the Taliban] … it would not be the easiest of tasks for a senior Taliban commander to enter Afghanistan and make his way to Kabul if ISAF were not willing and aware of it and therefore allows it to take place.” (BBC, Oct. 15)
The Pentagon’s entire strategy is aimed not at defeating the Taliban, but at cutting a deal with some of its leaders to maintain the illusion of U.S. invincibility. So when they tell us we have to fight to defeat the Taliban, and drive them from any chance of political power, they’re lying—they are making us fight so the United States can gain the upper-hand at the bargaining table, so the Taliban will accept a power-sharing deal with the Karzai government, complete with holding top government positions. The U.S. is begging for a truce and our bodies are the bargaining chips.

Myth 2: We are fighting to defeat al-Qaeda.


 Countries where al-Qaeda has a base of operations

Al-Qaeda has almost no presence in Afghanistan. When asked in June about the number of members the group has throughout the country, CIA Director Leon Panetta casually remarked, “At most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less.” How could the United States possibly be waging a war with nearly 100,000 troops and tens of thousands of mercenaries to defeat an organization the size of a football team?

Like the Taliban, many members of Al-Qaeda, including Osama Bin Laden, received U.S. support during the war against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s. Robin Cook, who was the British government’s foreign secretary from 1997 to 2001, wrote  that “[t]hroughout the 80s he [Bin Laden] was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad.”

However, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are completely separate organizations. Al-Qaeda had no role in the pre-invasion Afghan government. Not only did the Taliban play no role in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, they actually offered to extradite Osama Bin Laden.

The generals, politicians, and corporate media have attempted to give the people of the United States, and especially service members, the impression that the Afghan government was “harboring” members of Al-Qaeda. However, Al-Qaeda is an international network with no formal ties to any state. Al-Qaeda has commanders and operatives in over 40 different countries; to say that the battleground is in Afghanistan is laughable. On Sept. 11, it had a presence in many countries throughout Africa and the Middle East; 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks were from Saudi Arabia. To equate Al-Qaeda with Afghanistan is a gross oversimplification that serves the interests of the war profiteers and warmongering politicians.

Myth 3: We’re in Afghanistan to defend women’s rights and human rights.


Afghan women protest the Karzai government and the U.S. occupation.

In March of last year, two men delivered bread to Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, a 75-year-old woman. Sawadi was arrested shortly thereafter because the men were not related to her, and being alone with them violated religious law. She was sentenced to 40 lashes and four months’ imprisonment. This horrible violation of human rights was not carried out by the Taliban or any other group in Afghanistan, but by the government of Saudi Arabia, which has been promised up to $60 billion of military aid from the U.S. government. How can the generals and politicians tell us that we are fighting for women’s rights and human rights when they prop up a regime as brutal as the Saudi monarchy?

The U.S. government has never waged a war for altruistic reasons; every decision it makes is calculated with the interests of the rich and powerful in mind. The enemies of Washington and Wall Street are selectively criticized for human rights violations, but client regimes like Saudi Arabia are given a free pass to be as oppressive as its rulers see fit. The U.S. government itself has committed horrible atrocities in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Base.

In Afghanistan, the situation for women has not improved. Since the occupation, there has been a 50 percent increase in suicide attempts among Afghan women and girls. Life under U.S. occupation has drastically diminished the living conditions for women in Afghanistan. Last year, the U.S.-puppet regime led by Hamid Karzai approved a law that requires women to get their husband’s permission to work or even leave the house and permits marital rape.

It is important to remember that there was a time in Afghanistan’s history when women’s rights and human rights were established and promoted. This was during the period when Afghanistan was lead by a progressive, socialist government. Hundreds of women’s schools opened all over the country, massive literacy programs were created, women won rights they had never before enjoyed and campaigns against sexism were established. During this time of progress in Afghanistan the CIA spent billions of dollars to overthrow the  government, sponsoring death squads (the future Taliban) to attack women’s schools and slaughter hundreds of teachers.

The only rights the Pentagon is interested in protecting are the rights of corporations that reap massive profits while GIs and Afghans suffer and die.

Myth 4: We are fighting in self-defense.


Like in Iraq, U.S. forces are protecting the construction of pipelines and refineries throughout the resource-rich region.

Afghanistan is more than 7,000 miles from the United States. As a result of centuries of colonial domination, over 70 percent of its population cannot read or write and millions live in poverty. The country’s Human Development Index, which is calculated by the United Nations to evaluate a country’s level of economic and social development, is 0.352, the second worst in the world. Afghanistan is an impoverished nation that is the victim of imperialism, not a threat that the United States needs to defend itself against.

The war in Afghanistan is a war of aggression just like the Iraq war. The Pentagon and State Department viewed an obedient Iraq as a critical component of a “new Middle East.” Likewise, Afghanistan was targeted partially for geostrategic reasons. Afghanistan is located at the crossroads of China, Russia and India, three rising economic powers that could potentially threaten U.S. global dominance. Having a proxy in such an important location would be of great value to Washington and Wall Street.

It is undeniable now that a major U.S. goal of  the Iraq war is to control the country’s massive oil reserves. Likewise the occupation of Afghanistan also serves an economic purpose. Afghanistan is located in an extremely resource-rich region that was once out of reach to U.S. business, in particular the natural-gas-rich former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Each of these countries has a wealth of natural resources to be plundered by U.S. capital.

The U.S. government has spent over $360 billion on the war, which is also a major justification for the $700 billion Pentagon budget. This money is funneled into massive corporations, military contractors and other war profiteers. Western corporations are salivating at the trillions of dollars of valuable mineral resources, especially lithium, that were recently discovered in Afghanistan.

A war of self-defense does not last nine-plus years. An unjust war aimed at imposing a subservient, corrupt regime on the Afghan people only increases international resentment towards the United States. If the U.S government were really concerned with preventing terrorist attacks, it would not be bombing, invading, occupying and brutalizing poor countries that have done nothing to us.

The United States has over 700 military bases in over 100 countries. Before 9/11, the last attack on U.S. soil was in the war of 1812. The reality is that U.S. military might is not about defending us from imminent threats, but securing a global network of economic and geostrategic domination through force and intimidation. Resistance to the U.S. military is a result of this imperialist foreign policy.

Myth 5: We are going to leave Afghanistan.


Revealing plans for massive, permanent U.S. compounds in Afghanistan.

The United States is preparing for a permanent occupation of Afghanistan. Although withdrawals have been promised starting next summer, “based on conditions on the ground,” it is clear that the Pentagon intends to leave thousands of troops to indefinitely continue the occupation.

To get an idea of what the military brass has planned for Afghanistan, we can look at what is happening in Iraq. Last August the war was officially declared over. However, 50,000 service members and thousands of mercenaries are still occupying the country. We have been told that combat operations have ceased, but GIs continue to die. Even military spokesperson Major General Stephen Lanza admits, “Every soldier is a combat soldier.” (Reuters, Aug.19)

U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said in an interview earlier this year that the United States military was “going to have to be there, strongly engaged, for a long time to come.” (Foreign Policy, Mar.10) Flush with natural resources and strategically located, Iraq would be a force that could potentially challenge U.S. hegemony in the region if it realizes full independence, and the Pentagon is determined to make sure this never happens.

The same model is being applied in Afghanistan. The administration has given vague and far-off dates for withdrawal to appease the public, but the top brass is setting up a permanent presence. General David Petraeus has been quoted as saying, “This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.” Last May, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a group of high-level U.S. and Afghan officials, “We’re not leaving Afghanistan prematurely, in fact, we’re not ever leaving at all.” (Huffington Post, Sept. 29)

Over the past few weeks, the Obama administration has officially pushed its much-touted “transition deadline” of 2011 to 2014, and revealed that massive numbers of U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan through that period. The top civilian NATO representative in Afghanistan recently said the heavy involvement of U.S./NATO troops will last “to 2015 and beyond.” (Reuters, Nov. 17)

Myth 6: The war in Afghanistan can be won.

U.S./NATO fatalities in Afghanistan reveal mounting success for the resistance.

Not only is the war in Afghanistan unjust, it is unwinnable. After nine years of bloodshed that brought the U.S. government no closer to its goal of dominating the country, the Pentagon is now focusing on avoiding the appearance of defeat. Thousands of GIs and innocent Afghans will die to maintain the false image of U.S. invincibility.

Even the military brass admits that the war cannot be won. General Petraeus said about Afghanistan, “You have to recognize that I don’t think you win this war.” Mark Carleton-Smith, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, called the war “neither feasible nor supportable,” and said that “[t]he American strategy is doomed to fail.” (The Times, Oct. 6) No amount of military muscle can force the Afghan people to accept foreign domination. The continuation of the occupation only deepens their will to resist.

Up to 75 percent  of Afghanistan is controlled by the resistance. Every time an area is captured by the United States, resistance fighters quickly move back in. For example, the offensive in Marjah last February was hailed as a turning point in the war. The plan was that occupation forces and Afghan collaborators would secure the area militarily and then massive amounts of aid would guarantee political loyalty.

However, the people refused to be bought. Captain Chuck Anklam, who leads a marine company in Marjah, told an Associated Press reporter Oct. 7, months after the “success” of the operation, “We’re in firefights all over, every day,” and “There’s no area that’s void of enemy.” (Associated Press, Oct. 8) General McChrystal, before he was fired, called Marjah a “bleeding ulcer.” The futility of this war is painfully obvious, but this doesn’t stop the top brass from sacrificing us for the shattered prestige of their empire.

Myth 7: The Taliban equals the resistance to the U.S. occupation.

Resistance to the U.S./NATO occupation is supported by the vast majority of Afghans, from all walks of life.

The Taliban only composes a fraction of the resistance to the occupation. U.S. Army General Ben Hodges admitted that only “a fifth [of fighters] or less are probably full-fledged, ideologically-motivated Taliban insurgents.” (PBS, Feb. 26)  After the 2001 invasion, an enormous number of armed groups were formed by ordinary Afghans. According to official military estimates, there are 1,800 different resistance organizations fighting the occupation. This proves that the resistance is a widespread, popular rebellion against what the vast majority of Afghan people rightfully see as a brutal occupation by a foreign invader bent on dominating their land.

They are not motivated by loyalty to the Taliban but a desire to defend the independence of Afghanistan. Every nation has the right to self-determination. Imagine the kind of massive opposition that would be provoked if the United States were under occupation.

The resistance has no intention of attacking the people of the United States, only defending their country against the aggression of the U.S. military. There are tens of thousands of Afghans involved in armed groups. While they oppose imperialism, they do not have any kind of ideological hatred for the people of the United States. They simply want to live their life in peace, free from foreign domination.

The members of resistance organizations are generally poor and working people, who have to struggle every day to survive. They are exploited and impoverished and few have access to decent health care or education. GIs have more in common with the resistance fighters than the privileged military brass that sends us to kill and die in an unjust, imperialist war. We have absolutely no reason to fight our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.


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