by BA and Venkatesh Sundaram

Abstract; The 20 year old US led occupation of Afghanistan has come to an end. However, there are signs that big power interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan will continue.  Only the people of Afghanistan have the right to decide on the future of their country. The history of the last 42 years is recalled, starting with the invasion by the USSR in 1979 and their defeat and withdrawal, the long period of instability, the Taliban Government, and the events leading up to the US led invasion of 2001. US imperialism used the 9/11 events of 2001 to launch an unjust war and occupied Afghanistan to advance its strategic aims in the region.  These aims have now changed and there is no interest left in continued occupation, hence the withdrawal.  The people of Afghanistan have to put their house in order now and resist big power interference and are entitled to a peaceful and prosperous future.

Hindi abstract: अफगानिस्तान पर अमेरिका के नेतृत्व वाले 20 साल पुराने कब्जे का अंत हो गया है। हालांकि, ऐसे संकेत हैं कि अफगानिस्तान के आंतरिक मामलों में बड़ी शक्ति का हस्तक्षेप जारी रहेगा। अपने देश का भविष्य तय करने का अधिकार सिर्फ अफगानिस्तान के लोगों को है। पिछले ४२ वर्षों के इतिहास को याद किया जाता है, १९७९ में यूएसएसआर द्वारा आक्रमण और उनकी हार और वापसी, अस्थिरता की लंबी अवधि, तालिबान सरकार और २००१ के अमेरिका के नेतृत्व वाले आक्रमण तक की घटनाओं के साथ शुरू होता है। अमेरिकी साम्राज्यवाद एक अन्यायपूर्ण युद्ध शुरू करने के लिए 2001 की 9/11 की घटनाओं का इस्तेमाल किया और इस क्षेत्र में अपने रणनीतिक उद्देश्यों को आगे बढ़ाने के लिए अफगानिस्तान पर कब्जा कर लिया। ये उद्देश्य अब बदल गए हैं और निरंतर व्यवसाय में कोई दिलचस्पी नहीं बची है, इसलिए वापसी। अफगानिस्तान के लोगों को अब अपना घर व्यवस्थित करना होगा और बड़ी शक्ति के हस्तक्षेप का विरोध करना होगा और शांतिपूर्ण और समृद्ध भविष्य के हकदार होंगे।

Source of image: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/afghanistan-crisis-live-updates/article35969623.ece

President Joseph R. Biden of the United States of America announced the end of the US occupation of Afghanistan nearly 20 years after the invasion first took place in October 2001, after the spectacular 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and on the Pentagon in Washington D. C. and in a couple of other sites.  The US has withdrawn its troops. The Taliban who had been in power before the invasion has captured large parts of Afghanistan including Kabul and is now in the process of setting up a government.  Much propaganda has been taking place that the Taliban would impose its view of governance and law on all the people of Afghanistan and much fear mongering has been taking place.  In the meantime, the violence has not completely ended and a blast at Kabul airport on August 25, 2021, has claimed the lives of many persons including US servicemen.

President Biden has vowed to take revenge on what he calls a dastardly act.  There is continuing uncertainty and most countries have closed their embassies with the exception of China, Russia, and Pakistan.  All signs are that there will be continued big power interference in Afghanistan and that the region continues to be unstable.  Experts have various scenarios for how the events will unfold in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Twenty years after the invasion of Afghanistan the US President has declared that “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build. It is the right and the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future, and how they want to run their country”. Considering the long history of war-mongering and invasions of the US governments, this declaration of Biden cannot be taken at face value.

All the above said, it must be emphasized here that no one has a right to determine the future of the people of Afghanistan except for the people of the country themselves.  The people have a long and proud history and over the centuries have not been conquered especially by big powers including Russia, Britain, and now the United States of America.  The present crisis has its roots in the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the erstwhile USSR, which sent in its military to back the rulers who had installed themselves after a coup a little earlier.  The ensuing period saw a brave fight by several freedom fighters, who amongst others were also backed by Pakistan, the US, and others.  The Russian withdrawal came in 1989 after finding themselves in a quagmire and essentially at the same time as the collapse of the East Bloc. That was marked by the bringing down of the Berlin Wall and the liquidation of the erstwhile German Democratic Republic which was soon merged into the Federal Republic of Germany.  The USSR itself was dissolved in 1991, having collapsed after the full restoration of capitalism, having thrown off its socialist shell.  It may be recalled that the USSR had carried out invasions in 1956 of Hungary and in 1968 of Czechoslovakia, willy-nilly violating the sovereignty of other countries.  The invasion of Afghanistan was also one such and part of the Cold War calculus.

Subsequently after several years of instability the Taliban installed a government and was considered legitimate in the eyes of the world.  In 2001 after the 9/11 events, the US was quick to declare that the mastermind of those attacks was in Afghanistan and demanded the handing over of Mr. Osama Bin Laden, failing which Afghanistan would be invaded.  At the time of the invasion thousands were killed, and very heavy ordinance and bombardment took place with the use of the largest known explosives with the exception of nuclear weapons in many parts of Afghanistan.  In addition, hundreds of persons were detained and flown out and imprisoned in Camp X-Ray in the Guantanamo Bay in the territory of Cuba, to evade the application of US law.  Afghanistan was a test case for invasion and occupation to mobilize domestic opinion in the US to attack other countries and eventually also to attack Iraq in March of 2003.  The launching of the unending wars continued with action in Libya in North Africa and also covert involvement in Syria.

These events have to be seen in light of the philosophy of US exceptionalism and dominance as expressed in several circles of US thinking on diplomacy and international affairs.  This is probably best expressed in the documents of the now disbanded Project for the New American Century, whose members included some of the most powerful and influential persons from political circles, think tanks, industry, corporations, and finance sector.  The key notions for establishing American hegemony included overwhelming military force, eliminating of rivals, overwhelming technological superiority, preventing rivals from arising and pre-emptive strike.  In order to meet these objectives, they wrote of the desirability of `Pearl Harbour’ like events, and as it happened the 9/11 attacks of 2001 provided precisely those attacks.  The readiness of US military forces to carry out the invasion of Afghanistan at short notice even suggests foreknowledge and indeed there is more to it than meets the eye.

Having thus launched an invasion on an `Islamic’ country that was one of the weakest in the region, the US set in motion the plan of systematic invasion of several countries.  With the replacement of the George Bush administration by the Barack Obama administration in 2008, in which Mr. Biden was the Vice-President, an intensification of military occupation took place. Drone attacks in Afghanistan as well as in neighbouring Pakistan became a daily occurrence.

Matters began to change with the Presidency of Mr. Donald Trump who articulated his displeasure with wars of occupation at least in what appeared to be in countries where there were no longer any strategic aims.  With the rise of the Chinese rivalry Mr. Trump wished to deploy his energies elsewhere.  Indeed, the present withdrawal comes as a logical corollary of the efforts already put in place by the Trump administration in Doha through the offices of the United Arab Emirates government.

It may therefore be concluded from this that whatever strategic aims the US had in 2001 had spent themselves and it was no longer necessary for them to be bogged down in a useless military engagement.  Resources need to be deployed elsewhere as the US continues its project of domination of the world, and its engagement with China, Russia, and Iran, which among others have refused to fall in line.  In this dangerous game, the US continues to engage its traditional partners such as Japan and Australia and is involving India today in Quad.  A dangerous game is being played out in front of our eyes.

In the meantime, the people of Afghanistan have to put their house in order as various groups come together.  Whatever their differences, it is their right to determine the destiny of their country.  There will be continued Big Power interference which must be resisted.  Having left in ignominy, there is little doubt that the US will continue a subversive game, indeed as will the other Big Powers who may today be enjoying the humiliation of a rival.  They too should be forewarned that trying to stamp on the sovereignty of Afghanistan will not stand them in good stead.  The people of Afghanistan have a right to lead peaceful lives and a right to build a safe and secure future for themselves according to their own terms.

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