Cover photo of Taliban fighters by Wali Sabawoon
By Mike Talavera
According to a draft order making the rounds at the Pentagon this week, US President Donald Trump has set in motion plans to accelerate the reduction of US ground forces in Afghanistan. The move has provoked outrage from Trump’s critics, but his opponents are downplaying the fact that Trump’s hand is being forced by the anti-imperialist resistance led by the Taliban.
US imperialism has been on bad footing in Afghanistan ever since it invaded in 2001, but its escalating losses in recent years prompted US officials to meet and make a “peace” deal with the Taliban in February of this year, with the main condition being the withdrawal of all US troops within 14 months.
Currently there are about 4,500 troops left in Afghanistan, and at the end of October President Trump tweeted that all of them would be home by Christmas as a last ditch effort to secure votes before the presidential election, which he ended up losing. The draft order from this week states that half of those troops will be taken out of the country before Trump’s term ends.
Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, shortly before he was fired by Trump this month, had submitted a classified memo cautioning the president about the negative consequences of a rapid pullout, namely that it would endanger remaining personnel and possibly undermine the ongoing negotiations between the Taliban and the US puppet government.
The Taliban’s consistent violations of the terms of the February Deal, which the Trump administration has not condemned but rewarded with a quicker troop withdrawal, exposes US imperialism’s disadvantage in the conflict. Despite pummeling Taliban forces and terrorizing the Afghan people for two decades, the US has only dug its grave deeper.
Last year, hundreds of confidential interviews were obtained by the monopoly press outlet The Washington Post showing that senior government officials and others involved in the imperialist war on Afghanistan had intentionally misled the US public to cover up how poorly the occupation was going, including the deliberate changing of statistics.
Last month, new reports surfaced of war crime allegations against CIA-backed Afghan strike forces, including summary execution of villagers, and this week similar allegations were levied against Australian forces in Afghanistan. These are only the latest in a long list of atrocities carried out by imperialist forces in the wake of the US invasion, including the torture of prisoners in Bagram, the mass bombing of Helmand province, and the Kandahar massacre.
Trump’s naysayers have put their hope in President-elect Joe Biden to keep troops in Afghanistan, but Biden has made no indication that he plans to renege on the February Deal with the Taliban. In fact, he said in a July interview that his administration would bear “zero responsibility” if the Taliban took control of the country after a US troop withdrawal.
“The responsibility I have is to protect America’s national interest and not put our women and men in harm’s way … that’s what I’d do as president,” Biden said.
The bottom line is that Trump may be speeding up the process of troop withdrawal so he can claim to have ended the war for a future electoral campaign, but the necessity of the withdrawal is being imposed by the successful armed resistance led by the Taliban. The Islamist group has launched an offensive in districts all over the country in the past month and on October 12 besieged Lashkar Gah, the capital of the Helmand province. Recent US estimates have shown a 5% casualty increase among Afghan puppet forces this quarter compared to last year.
The US military has been planning for some time to downgrade its presence in the Middle East to redistribute its forces to South America to clamp down on rising rebellions there as well as in the Pacific to counter Chinese imperialism. No matter where US imperialism goes, it will only find the same kind of trouble it found in Afghanistan.
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