Mad Max in Afghanistan

Brad Forrest

Brad Forrest

The Obama administration is continuing the Bush-era policy of crushing Afghanistan in the drive to dominate the Middle East. Even the top American commander, General Stanley McChrystal, calls Afghanistan a “ . . . tremendously complex, Mad Max, utterly devastated society . . .” (The Economist, August 22-28, 2009) This is, of course, due to decades of U.S. meddling in the region. The U.S. government supported the jihad (holy war) against the Soviets in the 1980’s, and they have been bombing the country to smithereens since 2001.

America has given the Afghan regime $32 billion in foreign aid since the fall of the Taliban regime as part of “reconstruction efforts,” but this has won them no supporters. The economy remains in such shambles that the opium trade accounted for $3.4 billion in exports last year, 33 percent of GDP.

Having invaded in 2001, the U.S. government’s imperialist effort is losing an unwinnable war in Afghanistan. The totally isolated government of Hamid Karzai in Kabul is the object of growing resentment. His “foreign funded government . . . the NATO led force that protects it, known as the ISAF, and Westerners in general” (The Economist, August 22-28, 2009), are increasingly alienated from the population as the tools of a puppet regime for installing western imperialist hegemony in the region. Yet somehow, with the help of American bayonets, Karzai has been reelected, in an election where the real winner was the absentee vote. In reality Karzai can’t even poke his nose outside his palace in Kabul.

With reluctance to deploy more troops, due to the fear of social upheavals in the U.S., the government has had to rely on a system of unreliable local proxies to do the fighting. This results in all sorts of rival tribes tattling on each other about cooperation with the Taliban and prevents the U.S. occupiers from gaining any solid intelligence. So far, all the allies have been able to do in Afghanistan is roll through like an uncontrollable tank creating “collateral damage” and enemies wherever they go. For example, in the southern Helmand province the Marines are dropping 500-pound bombs on villages to try to root out the Taliban. They’ve dropped bombs on weddings, and other sacred occasions, sowing resentment against the occupation far and wide.

To help turn things around for Obama’s “good war” as opposed to Iraq’s “bad war,” Obama has appointed Richard Holbrooke as the American envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. General Stanley McChrystal is the overall American commander in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s predecessor thought the mission needed 10,000 more troops, but was denied them. McChrystal says he has a year to show progress. This year is definitely too short. A recent YouGov poll by The Economist showed that 18 percent of Americans thought the U.S. was winning the war in Afghanistan. Forty-two percent of Americans thought the U.S. was losing, and 40 percent weren’t sure. As far as increasing the number of troops, 41 percent were opposed. But an astonishing 65 percent claimed the U.S. would withdraw without winning! The perspicacity of the American people is inspiring.

Imperialism can never break the will of the Afghan people to be free of foreign domination. A very astute commentary in the latest The Economist noted that the Afghan war might be for Obama “what Iraq was for Mr. Bush, or even what Vietnam was for Lyndon Johnson.”