Photo: Screenshot of video of Afghans at Kabul airport as a US military plane takes off (Source: unknown twitter user)
By the Editorial Board
The imperialist forces led by the US have lost the war in Afghanistan after nearly 20 years of occupation as the Taliban swiftly finalized their takeover of the country on Monday. The Afghan people defeated the US and their North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies through two decades of guerrilla warfare, waged by a loose yet broad armed resistance with the Taliban at its head. The defeat of the US and its lackeys in the Afghan puppet government is a major and humiliating defeat of imperialism, which no matter how many weapons it possesses, has once again been shown to be fundamentally weak and in a state of irreversible decay.
In early July, Biden announced a final withdrawal of US forces from the country and began the process of evacuating US military and security contractors. Over the course of nine days, the Afghan Security Forces ceded city after city to the Taliban, handing over the capital of Kabul without resistance. As Kabul was taken over, the head of the puppet government, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, fled in a helicopter reportedly filled with large amounts of cash. At the US embassy, the American flag was taken down as plumes of smoke from burning files rose over the complex. It should be noted that when Biden originally announced the military withdrawal, he claimed that the mission “hasn’t failed” and called a Taliban takeover “highly unlikely.”
The plan to evacuate US diplomats, citizens, and Afghan people who collaborated with the US military was thrown into disarray by the sheer speed of the Taliban advance as well as the retreat of the Afghan military. As Kabul fell, the monopoly media fixated on the swarm of people who rushed to the airport in an attempt to get on departing planes, which drew comparisons to the fall of Saigon in Vietnam when the US was defeated by another oppressed nation’s war of resistance. Other reports from the city however, indicated that the Taliban was mostly seeking to transition into power without violence at this time.
While video taken by the Al Jazeera press monopoly circulated of Taliban militants making themselves at home in the presidential palace, imperialist pundits and US government officials proceeded to panic about the current state of affairs in Afghanistan. Both Democrats and Republicans began to criticize and denounce the withdrawal, which was originally popular after nearly 20 years of war which produced very little to speak of in terms of concrete gains for US imperialism.
Defenders of US imperialism are once again raising the flag of ‘humanitarianism,’ with some using it as an excuse for further military involvement and others promoting donations to various US-based non-governmental organizations as a means to continue the low-intensity warfare through other methods.
In stark contrast, Biden defended his decision to withdraw US troops, saying, “I stand squarely behind my decision… After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces.” He went on to blame the rapid Taliban advance on the Afghan puppet government’s military forces, trained and armed by the US itself, saying, “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
However, other representatives of imperialism acknowledged that this was a humiliating defeat. The British imperialist Defense Secretary Ben Wallace called the occupation a “failure”, and the heads of member countries of NATO, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, grumbled about the US’s decision to pull out, but this is mostly for show. Since the beginning of the invasion of Afghanistan, when NATO invoked its mutual defense clause for the first and only time, the imperialists have obediently followed the tail of the US, the world’s sole hegemonic superpower.
Terrorism as Pretext for War and Occupation
On October 7, 2001, a month after 9/11, the US began bombing Afghanistan, launching the war with demand for the Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda and architect of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, as he was reportedly being harbored in Afghanistan. George W. Bush sold the war to the American people as a ‘War on Terror’ and reactionaries on both sides of the aisle promoted the idea that the goal of the war was to ‘promote democracy’ under the name “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
Biden himself was a staunch supporter of the invasion of Afghanistan as a senator, voting in favor of Bush’s resolution in 2001 to authorize military force against “nations, organizations, or persons” supposedly behind the 9/11 attacks. At that time, as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he said, “The nation is resolute, and I have every confidence we will prevail.” In his recent address on the US withdrawal, he claimed, “Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building.” In 2003 however, Biden defended extending the US presence in Afghanistan, saying: “In some parts of the administration, ‘Nation Building’ is still a dirty phrase. But the alternative to nation building is chaos. Chaos that churns out blood-thirsty warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists.”
After the US invasion, the Taliban was swiftly removed from power within just two months and a new puppet government was set up with the support of the United Nations Security Council, led by US imperialism, as well as the ‘Northern Alliance,’ a coalition of anti-Taliban forces that worked closely with the US military. While the NATO imperialists were able to depose the Taliban, they regrouped and began launching guerrilla attacks in 2003.
The US-led NATO forces continued their attempts to beat back the Taliban guerrillas throughout the mid-2000s, and under Barack Obama’s administration, a ‘surge’ of additional US troops were sent to Afghanistan in a desperate bid to resolve the situation militarily. In the following years, the US grew increasingly dependent on drone strikes and air bombardments and projected a positive image of the war, even as top military officials grew increasingly wary of their chances for victory. They mentioned explicitly in the “Afghanistan Papers,” a series of internal documents from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, that the US government had been lying in public statements about the trajectory of the war.
Ultimately, after more than $2 trillion was spent on the war, over 170,000 killed, and countless atrocities committed against the Afghan people, the US realized that the war was unwinnable and pivoted to drawing down its troop numbers and negotiating with the Taliban. While both Donald Trump and Biden attempted to get the Taliban and the Afghan puppet government to agree to a ‘power-sharing’ arrangement, the Taliban showed that negotiations can only reflect what has already been decided on the battlefield. By continuing their advance and capturing Kabul, they now hold all the cards and have no need to cooperate with the puppet government.
Despite New Rulers, US Imperialism Remains
During their first press conference with the media, the Taliban attempted to present a new image to the world, claiming that they will respect women’s rights within the framework of Islamic law, that they want an open and independent media, and announcing that they will grant amnesty to all members of the deposed government and US collaborators. However the feudal ideology that drives the Taliban does not serve the masses, not only for its backwards social and economic relations, but because it will not complete the task which the Taliban was part of carrying out up until they assumed the role of rulers: the total defeat of imperialism in Afghanistan, principally US imperialism.
The Taliban rode into power because the masses of Afghan people want an end to imperialist domination of their country, but the group, which has declared the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, is now yet another reactionary government that has already signaled that it will sell out its country to imperialism as necessary.
A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry issued the following statement as the Taliban took over Kabul: “The Afghan Taliban have expressed on many occasions that they hope to develop good relations with China and look forward to China’s participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, and will never allow any forces to use Afghan territory to do things that endanger China. We welcome these.”
China’s plays towards Afghanistan does not mean that the US will cease contending over the country in order to exploit its people, resources, and strategic geography. The Taliban’s own peace agreement with the US from February 2020 indicates their intention to maintain a workable relationship with US imperialism. The peace agreement reads:
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan … will send a clear message that those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies have no place in Afghanistan, and will instruct members of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan … not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies.”
Additionally, the agreement states that, “The United States will seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government…” Despite the hysteria of the monopoly media, the US will find ways to accommodate the Taliban’s feudal ideology, especially through economic means, while wagging its finger against the reactionary policies the Taliban government will institute.
Communist International, a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist online journal, wrote in the days prior to the Taliban’s final takeover that the Afghan people must now follow the path of new democratic revolution through People’s War to truly rid the country of imperialism. This means mobilizing the peasantry under the leadership of the proletariat and its Communist Party. Communist International states, “[until the People’s War] is initiated, we see clearly that US imperialism will continue to dominate the country, the Yankee leach will continue to suck the blood of the toiling Afghan masses. However, the outcome of the war – culminating in the events occurring at this very moment, shows us something of vital importance.”
Communist International also states that the expulsion of the US forces from the country is a clear indication once again of imperialism’s inability, even with all of its military and economic might, to win a war against an oppressed nation. The Maoist journal continues:
“Imperialist wars of invasion are no longer able to succeed as before in establishing [a] solid foothold. Imperialism is in total crisis. It is rotten to the core. It has reached stage four of cancer and [its] doom is impending.
“Let this be a sign to the masses of the world that we live in the historic epoch where the tides have turned. Imperialism is in a state of strategic defensive, the world proletarian revolution is in the state of strategic offensive. The bright future, the new dawn is in the horizon.”
Even before all the US forces have evacuated, the monopoly media is already insinuating that there must be new imperialist interventions in the country to oppose the Taliban government. It is indisputably clear that the US can not maintain itself in the country through war, and so it will shift to other means of domination, specifically economic and political domination. It will be up to the Afghan people to initiate new wars of resistance against the reactionary rule of the Taliban and the imperialist interests that will keep their hooks in the country even after the last US plane has flown out.
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