Deirdre Griswold / Workers.org – 2012-03-02 20:33:24
(February 29, 2012) — No longer can soothing words from the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon cover up the intolerable brutality of the US-NATO war of occupation in Afghanistan.
Every attempt by the politicians and military commanders of these imperialist powers to justify the war is being shattered by a massive uprising of the Afghan people, who are not only marching and loudly demanding “US go home!” but putting their lives on the line to do so.
Starting Feb. 22, huge protests erupted all over Afghanistan after it became known that troops at Bagram Air Base, the largest US base in the country, had confiscated copies of the Quran from hundreds of prisoners held there and burned them. Since then, scores of Afghans have been killed as the foreign occupiers fired on demonstrators.
What happened next reveals how utterly hated the occupiers have become after 11 years of war — the longest war in US history. The Pentagon cannot rely on the obedience, much less support, of the very troops and police they have been training for years and to whom they will supposedly “hand over” control of Afghanistan at the end of 2014, according to President Barack Obama’s timetable.
Nor can the US rely on the continued participation of other imperialist countries in what has been essentially Washington and Wall Street’s war, but one sporting a NATO flag with some 10,000 troops participating from other countries.
Explosion of anti-US Fury
The grim situation for the imperialists became clear when on Feb. 24, as protests rocked Afghanistan, the dead bodies of a US Air Force lieutenant colonel and an Army major were discovered in what was considered to be a super-secure room inside the Afghan Ministry of the Interior. An Afghan intelligence officer, who was believed to have shot them through the head, escaped and became an instant hero to the people.
That same day, an off-duty police officer who joined a protest in Kabul told a reporter, “I will take revenge from the infidels for what they did to our Holy Quran, and I will kill them whenever I get the chance. I don’t care about the job I have.” (New York Times, Feb. 24)
Even a bloc of members of the Afghan Parliament, elected in the stifling political climate of a country occupied by foreign troops, “called on Afghans to take up arms against the American military.” (New York Times, Feb. 22)
If people who work for the state express these sentiments, what must be the views of ordinary people?
In response to this explosion of anti-US fury, General John R. Allen, overall commander of the US war in Afghanistan, ordered all US military personnel in the country to undergo 10 days of “sensitivity training.”
Obama made a weak apology for the Quran burning and said the military commanders would investigate this “accident.” This only further enraged the Afghan people, as such apologies after US atrocities have become routine and have led nowhere.
With the killing of the two US officers, Washington and NATO — in the arrogant style that colonial overlords employ at their own peril — immediately withdrew all their civilian and military personnel from Afghan ministries where they had been calling the shots.
The French and German foreign ministries quickly followed up with announcements that they were “temporarily” withdrawing all their advisers from Afghan government institutions. Just a month earlier, France had said it would withdraw all its forces by the end of 2013, a year earlier than expected. President Nicolas Sarkozy is in a close election race at a time when the French population is overwhelmingly against the war.
Der Spiegel reported Feb. 24 on the closing of a German base in Afghanistan: “Germany’s military, the Bundeswehr, reported that thousands of people protested in the area covered by Regional Command North, which is headed up by the Germans. The military reported that protests attracted between 100 and 2,000 people in different cities including Talokan, Maimana, Baglan and Faizabad. In Talokan, 300 protesters gathered in front of the Bundeswehr base. A reporter for German public broadcaster ZDF said protesters attacked the base with stones.”
Thousands of Afghans were in the streets all over the country, fighting heavily armed foreign troops with nothing more than sticks and stones. Even after being fired on, they continued to battle, resulting in the death of several US soldiers.
Latest in Long Line of Atrocities
The burning of the Quran was the last straw after years of vicious war and occupation against the Afghan people. Shepherd boys have been attacked and killed by US planes. US soldiers have made videos showing themselves urinating on the dead bodies of Afghans.
A photo of Marine snipers in Helmand province posing in front of a US flag and a Nazi SS banner turned up on the Internet site of arms manufacturer Knight’s Armaments. A news release on the website of the 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team referred to their base as Combat Outpost Aryan. (Military Times, Feb. 14)
Clearly, the problem is not just a “few bad apples.” The day-to-day work of wielding brute force to subjugate a nation of people fosters the vilest racism and chauvinism, akin to the Nazi “Ubermensch” worldview that was cultivated by German imperialism prior to World War II. Then it was the Jewish people who were scapegoated. Today, Muslims are under attack because the imperialists want control over their countries’ oil and other valuable resources. It is no wonder that many of those who resist are rallying to the banner of Islam.
What people in the US should not forget, however, is that in 1978 there was a secular, progressive revolution in Afghanistan that promoted equal rights for women and an end to debt slavery to the landlords. The US government, through the CIA, organized a clandestine army in collaboration with the enemies of that revolution which brought it down, all in the name of fighting “godless Communism.”
The only consistent thread in imperialist foreign policy is to protect the profit interests of the ruling US corporations and banks. These capitalists and their military view the world only as a source of super-profits; if the people impede this process they must be pacified or gotten out of the way.
But the Afghan people refuse to be pacified.
There is only one way out: Bring all the troops home now. That’s what working people in the US want and need too. Demanding an end to the war in Afghanistan must be brought into every struggle here — for jobs, housing, health care, education, decent wages and all the other rights that have been sacrificed on the altar of profits.
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