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"We're gonna be in Afghanistan for the next half-century": our longest war is just getting started

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Plaque for the Afghanistan War
Plaque for the Afghanistan War
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The Biden administration is only creating the illusion that the war in Afghanistan is over. In actuality, the pullout of troops that we're seeing is merely a cover for a project to covertly continue the occupation, which the imperialists intend to be decades more long. We know this because a military insider told us this years in advance. In a 2018 speech at the Ron Paul Institute, retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson blew the whistle on the imperialist government that he used to serve, stating in reference to the U.S. military:

Here is what it has decided for Afghanistan... we are in Afghanistan as we were in Germany post-World War II, that is for half a century. It has nothing to do with Kabul and state building, nothing to do with fighting the Taliban or proving that we can reconcile with the Taliban, and nothing to do with fighting any terrorist groups. Because it is the only hard power the United States has that sits proximate to the Central Base Road Initiative of China that runs across central Asia. If we had to impact that with military power, we are in position to do that in Afghanistan. And second reason we're there is because we're cheek-in-jowl with the potentially most unstable nuclear stockpile on the face of the earth in Pakistan. We want to be able to leap on that stockpile, and stabilize it if necessary.

And the third reason we're there is because there are over 20 million Uyghurs, and they don't like Han Chinese in Xinjiang Province in Western China. And if the CIA has to mount an operation using those Uyghurs, as Erdogan has done in Turkey against Assad... well, the CIA would want to destabilize China and that would be the best way to do it. To foment unrest, and to join with those Uygurs in pushing the Han Chinese in Beijing from internal places rather than external. Not saying it's going on right now, you didn't hear that. But it is a possibility. So that is why we're there, and I'll wager there are not a handful of Americans who realize that we, our military, has decided that for these strategic reasons, which are well thought out, we're gonna be in Afghanistan for the next half-century.

With Biden so far leaving the door open for ongoing drone strikes within Afghanistan, having intelligence operatives and special forces stay within the country, and privatizing the war by replacing troops with a growing amount of mercenary contractors, Washington's routes towards sustaining this desired generations-long conflict are apparent. Even more ominous, and pertinent to Wilkerson's speculation about Afghanistan being used as a launching pad for further imperialist-incited Uygur-separatist terrorism against China, is Biden's refusal to reverse Trump's decision last year to cease recognizing the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization.

Trump's decision, which was strongly condemned by China due to the ETIM posing an increasing threat to the PRC's national security, has led to the organization undergoing a rapid growth in manpower, logistical and financial resources, and weaponry over this last year. The ETIM's suspiciously fast and convenient rise serves to advance the additional goal the U.S. empire now has within Afghanistan: to keep the country unstable so that China can't fill the power vacuum there. The empire wants manufactured chaos to fill this vacuum instead, preventing China from implementing its Belt and Road Initiative within the country while Biden pivots U.S. forces from southwest Asia into Washington's growing occupation of the areas surrounding China.

These are the motives behind the empire's project for condemning the people of Afghanistan to another generation's worth of atrocities by CIA-backed death squads (which will likely now take the even-less-accountable form of mercenaries), U.S. neo-colonial governance, which facilitates anti-democratic corruption and neoliberal exploitation, and imperialism--created cycles of violence that will now include a rising Uyghur-separatist terrorist organization that Washington is backing in the same manner as to how it backed Bin Laden in the 1980s.

All at a time when the impacts of global warming are being felt at an accelerating rate within the country, which is one of the most climate catastrophe-vulnerable places on the planet. Last month, International Rescue Committee Afghanistan Deputy Director Nasir Rizaee assessed about the drought, which is already displacing over 80% of Afghans within 5 of the country's provinces, that:

This drought and potential displacement is yet another fresh trauma for Afghanistan, which is reeling from the shockwaves of COVID-19. The effects will be especially intense and far reaching: nearly half of the population is already experiencing food insecurity and people are struggling to make ends meet. Already, 98% of people the IRC assessed have noticed a rapid increase in food prices as the drought has worsened, and the decrease in the production of vital crops will cause a severe economic downturn, felt most keenly by vulnerable families who will be unable to access food as prices increase to unattainable levels.

This could have been avoided. In 2012, Deputy Head of Research of the Centre for Conflict & Peace Studies in Afghanistan Dr Zubair Popalzai concluded that the policies Washington has brought to the country have left the population in economic disarray, making them inordinately vulnerable to a disaster like the one we're seeing now. Popalzai wrote:

Market-centered policies have widened [the] social and economic gap in Afghanistan. They have cultivated the seeds of social instability by leaving the socio-economic basis of political instability intact and even worsened. Poverty amidst plenty and the emergence of pockets of wealth have polarised socio-economic and political relations between and within Afghan communities and within the national political economy. From the outset, major Afghan policy documents such as the National Development Framework (2002) and Securing Afghanistan's Future (2004), for instance, proposed a state-building exercise, within the key modalities of private sector-led economic growth, the role of the state as enabler, and community-based development, which by creating a dichotomy between the economics and the politics depoliticised the very issue of state-building and rendered the much-needed unitary and strong state in Afghanistan incapable of intervention both nationally and internationally.

The horrors that this neoliberal assault on Afghanis has led to amid the climatic crisis, where mass displacement is imminent and a famine seems increasingly likely, are what China would help alleviate if it were given the opportunity to expand its Belt and Road Initiative into the country. The World Bank estimated in 2019 that the Initiative could lift 32 million people around the globe out of poverty if implemented fully, a prospect that would no doubt save many of the Afghani lives that have become doomed due to their deepening poverty amid ever-rising food prices. But the U.S. empire wants to sacrifice these lives for the sake of preventing China from scoring a point in the geopolitical game.

As Afghanistan and the other places under the empire's thumb become ever-less habitable, and as Washington's growing mercenary death squads continue the CIA's war crimes against the country's people, the media will direct our attention away from it all. The war will be considered "over" according to the prevailing narrative, and Afghanistan's addition to the long list of countries U.S. imperialism has created refugee crises within will be interpreted by the reactionaries as another reason to isolate the U.S. from the outside world.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here:

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