John Catalinotto / Workers’ World – 2008-08-02 22:18:12
(July 30, 2008) — Barack Obama’s international trip this July was historically unprecedented. On the one hand, it showed the enormous contrast with the hated and isolated George W. Bush. On the other, it refocused attention on US criminal wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The people of the US—about 70 percent of them according to all recent polls—hate the war in Iraq and want it over. Even Iraq’s occupation Premier Nuri al-Maliki made a point of publicly supporting Obama’s plan for a 16-month pullout of US troops. The puppet premier placed in office by US bayonets, bombs and dollars wants the US out soon, or at least wants to look like he does. Most US allies are already out.
Obama and his opponent John McCain support the US occupation of Afghanistan, as does the great majority of the US ruling class. Washington’s NATO allies participate, despite the war’s unpopularity among their populations. The governments know this is the price for being considered part of the imperialist world.
Obama even asked for more German support during his triumphant Berlin speech, much to the chagrin of anti-war forces in Germany.
To most people in the US, the occupation of Iraq is directly connected to the lies of the Bush administration and the profits of the oil companies. And they’re right.
But regarding Afghanistan, the people have been misled. Many believe that US aims in Afghanistan were and are limited to a police action against al-Qaeda, against those allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks in 2001, and to the Taliban.
The truth is that the ruling group then in Afghanistan, the Taliban, had come to power with Pakistani backing at the end of a long civil war. Washington had financed and trained all the most reactionary forces, including Osama bin-Laden’s group, during that period in order to overthrow the revolutionary Afghan government that the Soviet Union had supported starting around 1980.
Criminal Invasion and Occupation
Instead, Washington carried out a full invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The US bombs killed many civilians then —starting October 2001 — and continue to do so now. The US puppet regime, headed by Hamid Karzai, has failed to stabilize the country, and Karzai is mockingly called “the mayor of Kabul,” Afghanistan’s capital.
Afghanistan’s 30 million people today are no more content with US rule than a smaller population was with the failed British attempt to extend its empire there in the 19th century. While the “surge” was supposed to be taming Iraq, the resistance movement inside Afghanistan was growing. Now both the Democratic and Republican candidates campaign to place more US and NATO troops inside Afghanistan.
In May and June more US-NATO “coalition” forces were killed by the resistance in Afghanistan than were killed in Iraq. In mid-July the US was forced to abandon a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan after resistance fighters killed nine US troops and briefly seized the area, near the village of Wanat in Nuristan province. US officers remarked that the Afghan fighters had carried out a well-planned, sophisticated attack.
NATO slaughter of civilians continues. The United Nations estimates that 698 civilians were killed in the first six months of this year in Afghanistan; this compares with 430 killed during the same period last year. Of those 698, some 255 were killed by NATO forces. Human Rights Watch says air strikes alone have been responsible for killing 119 civilians in 2008.
Like the puppet al-Maliki in Iraq, the puppet Karzai in Afghanistan has to put some distance between himself and the foreign occupiers. Karzai has made public statements asking NATO and US-led coalition troops to avoid killing civilians. Still, three airstrikes in July killed 78 Afghan civilians.
Washington’s drive to increase both the US and NATO’s role in Afghanistan is matched by its threats to expand the war over the border into Pakistan. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking July 25 from Australia, demanded that the new Pakistani government—the US client Gen. Musharraf has been driven almost completely out by a mass electoral movement—send troops against Taliban forces in its western provinces that are allegedly striking into Afghanistan from Pakistani territory. (Washington Post, July 25)
The border there between the two countries, arbitrarily placed by the British Empire in the 19th century, splits the Pashtun people, who have never recognized the line. By threatening a new intervention, Washington risks involving 170 million Pakistani people in a new phase of its attempt to control the Middle East and South Asia.
The US role in Afghanistan is another criminal, reactionary occupation that must be ended.
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