On Monday afternoon, US President Joe Biden delivered a nationally televised address in response to the collapse of the US-backed puppet government in Afghanistan.
The scale and historical impact of the catastrophe suffered by US imperialism in Afghanistan, which in many ways surpasses even its defeat in the Vietnam War, has found expression in the speech, perhaps the most gloomy experience of an American president for half a century.
Biden acknowledged the stalemate in the US war, noting that four US presidents had overseen the conflict and saying he refused to pass it on to a fifth. He asked how many more Americans he would need to send to die in Afghanistan, showing that he is well aware that the war is deeply unpopular.
During the speech, Biden did admit that the pretexts under which the United States invaded Afghanistan were lies. Despite claims by the Bush administration and the media that a central objective of the US invasion and occupation was the preservation of democracy and the well-being of the Afghan people, Biden said that the United States didn’t care.
“Our mission in Afghanistan was never meant to be about nation building,” he said. “It was never meant to create a unified centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan today remains what it always has been, preventing a terrorist attack on the American homeland. “
In other words, the claim of George W. Bush, who started the war in Afghanistan by claiming that he sought to save “a people from starvation and to free a country from brutal oppression”, was a lie.
As anyone who was to blame for the US debacle in Afghanistan, Biden insisted, it was the Afghan people, ungrateful to the US military who had spent two decades murdering, torturing and bombing them.
Even though he did admit that the Bush administration lied about the search for democracy and prosperity for the Iraqi people, Biden doubled down on another lie, that the American war was launched to fight terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
The American intervention in Afghanistan, which had such catastrophic consequences for the people of that country, did not begin 20 years ago, but in 1978, under the presidency of Jimmy Carter. It started as an effort to foment a civil war, to mobilize insurgents against a Soviet-backed government in Kabul, and to give Moscow “its own Vietnam,” in the words of Carter’s chief strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski.
This policy continued aggressively under the Reagan administration, whose CIA Director William Casey encouraged Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to recruit and arm Islamic fundamentalists from across the Middle East to join. the fighting, leading to the rise of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. .
The Taliban came out of the same process at a later stage, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the collapse of the USSR. Working through the government of Pakistan, the Clinton administration has promoted the Islamist movement as a force for stability and a potential vehicle for US access to the oil resources of Central Asia.
As Biden erases this earlier story, what he said about the past two decades of US involvement in Afghanistan amounted to self-exposure of the policies of four administrations.
He said, “I have always promised the American people that I will be honest with you. It was a back door admission that everything the US government said about the war, including the reasons for the 2001 invasion, was a lie.
The speech was notable for its thinly veiled critique of the Obama administration, in which Biden was vice president. He cited his own opposition in 2009 to the influx of US troops into Afghanistan, which brought the total to 100,000 and increased the death toll, especially among innocent Afghan civilians. It has also led to increased casualties for American soldiers to record levels.
Obama ran for president in 2008 claiming that he was not opposed to all wars, only “stupid” ones like the war in Iraq, while supporting the war in Afghanistan. Once elected, he abandoned his anti-war pretensions, and his administration became the first in US history to serve two full terms under continuous warfare.
Corporate media responded to Biden’s speech with barely disguised hostility. Media experts are concerned that he has bluntly admitted truths long hidden by the media themselves, which promoted the intervention in Afghanistan as an exercise in counterterrorism, democracy building and rise in the status of women.
Nothing needs to be said, of course, about the status of women cremated by US bombs and drone missiles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen or Somalia. Or their brutal treatment by American allies like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Sheikhs.
As for last week’s outcry over the plight of Afghan interpreters, embassy workers, US occupation collaborators and others fleeing the advancing Taliban, what about the tens of thousands in jail? by the Afghan puppet regime, subjected to torture by the CIA or its mercenaries? An important aspect of the Taliban’s rapid advance in recent weeks has been the opening of dungeons in every provincial capital, resulting in the release of 5,000 prisoners held at Bagram Air Base and 5,000 others at the prison. Kabul Central, Pul-e-Charkhi.
A New York Times an editorial published on Sunday, as the scale of the disaster in Afghanistan became clear, emphasized these two pretexts: the plight of women and the plight of those who worked with the US occupation regime. As usual with the Times, these so-called humanitarian concerns have been used to reinforce the worn-out “democratic” pretensions of US imperialism.
Under the headline “The Tragedy of Afghanistan,” the editors lamented the outcome of the war because America’s aspirations to promote “the values of civil rights, the empowerment of women and the rule of religious tolerance have been proven. to be exactly that: a dream ”. He lamented the plight of “Afghans who worked with American forces and embraced the dream – and especially the girls and women who had embraced a measure of equality.”
The editorial went on to reiterate the claim that the war began in response to the 9/11 attacks and then “evolved into a two-decade nation-building project” that was “a story of mission drift. and pride, but also American faith in the values of freedom and democracy.
In fact, the $ 2 trillion wasted during 20 years of war was a testament to the “enduring” commitment of the American ruling class to take over the world by military force. There have been endless reports in recent days about corruption in the Afghan regime – now that it has collapsed – but much less about even more corrupt American entrepreneurs and corporations for whom the war was a godsend.
According to official figures, more than 100,000 Afghans have been killed in the war, no doubt a vast underestimate. The United States waged this war by “counterinsurgency” methods, that is, by terror: bombing of marriages and hospitals, drone assassinations, kidnappings and torture. In one of the supreme atrocities of the war, in 2015, American planes carried out a half-hour attack on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 people.
In other words, the tragedy of Afghanistan is not the fact that the United States lost the war, but the tragic encounter of this historically oppressed country with American imperialism.