Month: September, 2021
Chris Hedges: The revengeful suffering orchestrated by the American empire on Afghans will be of Biblical proportions
worker | September 2, 2021 | 7:28 pm | Afghanistan, Fascist terrorism | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/533640-american-empire-afghans-suffering/

Chris Hedges: The revengeful suffering orchestrated by the American empire on Afghans will be of Biblical proportions

Chris Hedges: The revengeful suffering orchestrated by the American empire on Afghans will be of Biblical proportions
Washington, humiliated in Afghanistan as it was in Iraq, Syria, and Vietnam, is blind to its declining strength, ineptitude, and savagery, but still capable of murderous retribution against those who expose these truths.

The Carthaginian general Hannibal, who came close to defeating the Roman Republic in the Second Punic War, committed suicide in 181 BC in exile as Roman soldiers closed in on his residence in the Bithynian village of Libyssa, now modern-day Turkey. It had been more than thirty years since he led his army across the Alps and annihilated Roman legions at the Battle of Trebia, Lake Trasimene, and Cannae. Considered one of the most brilliant tactical victories in warfare, centuries later it inspired the plans of the German Army Command in World War I when they invaded Belgium and France. Rome was only able to finally save itself from defeat by replicating Hannibal’s military tactics.

It did not matter in 181 BC that there had been over 20 Roman consuls (with quasi-imperial power) since Hannibal’s invasion. It did not matter that Hannibal had been hunted for decades and forced to perpetually flee, always just beyond the reach of Roman authorities. He had humiliated Rome. He had punctured its myth of omnipotence. And he would pay. With his life. Years after Hannibal was gone, the Romans were still not satisfied. They finished their work of apocalyptic vengeance in 146 BC by razing Carthage to the ground and selling its remaining population into slavery. Cato the Censor summed up the sentiments of empire: Carthāgō dēlenda est (Carthage must be destroyed). Nothing about empire, from then until now, has changed.

Imperial powers do not forgive those who expose their weaknesses or make public the sordid and immoral inner workings of empire. Empires are fragile constructions. Their power is as much one of perception as of military strength. The virtues they claim to uphold and defend, usually in the name of their superior civilization, are a mask for pillage, the exploitation of cheap labor, indiscriminate violence, and state terror.

The current American empire, damaged and humiliated by the troves of internal documents published by WikiLeaks, will, for this reason, persecute Julian Assange for the rest of his life. It does not matter who is president or which political party is in power. Imperialists speak with one voice. The killing of thirteen US troops by a suicide bomber at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Thursday evoked from Joe Biden the full-throated cry of all imperialists: “To those who carried out this attack … we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay.” This was swiftly followed by two drone strikes in Kabul against suspected members of the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K), which took credit for the suicide bombing that left some 170 dead, including 28 members of the Taliban.

ALSO ON RT.COMGeorge Galloway: Do Britain and the US secretly want Julian Assange to commit suicide?The Taliban, which defeated US and coalition forces in a 20-year war, is about to be confronted with the wrath of a wounded empire. The Cuban, Vietnamese, Iranian, Venezuelan, and Haitian governments know what comes next. The ghosts of Toussaint Louverture, Emilio Aguinaldo, Mohammad Mossadegh, Jacobo Arbenz, Omar Torrijos, Gamal Abdul Nasser, Juan Velasco, Salvador Allende, Andreas Papandreou, Juan Bosh, Patrice Lumumba, and Hugo Chavez know what comes next. It isn’t pretty. It will be paid for by the poorest and most vulnerable Afghans.

The faux pity for the Afghan people, which has defined the coverage of the desperate collaborators with the US and coalition occupying forces and educated elites fleeing to the Kabul airport, begins and ends with the plight of the evacuees. There were few tears shed for the families routinely terrorized by coalition forces, or the some 70,000 civilians who were obliterated by US air strikes, drone attacks, missiles, and artillery, or gunned down by nervous occupying forces who saw every Afghan, with some justification, as the enemy during the war. And there will be few tears for the humanitarian catastrophe the empire is orchestrating on the 38 million Afghans, who live in one of the poorest and most aid-dependent countries in the world.

Since the 2001 invasion, the United States deployed about 775,000 military personnel to subdue Afghanistan and poured $143 billion into the country, with 60 percent of the money going to prop up the corrupt Afghan military and the rest devoted to funding economic development projects, aid programs, and anti-drug initiatives – with the bulk of those funds being siphoned off by foreign aid groups, private contractors, and outside consultants.

Grants from the United States and other countries accounted for 75 percent of the Afghan government budget. That assistance has evaporated. Afghanistan’s reserves and other financial accounts have been frozen, meaning the new government cannot access some $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank. Shipments of cash to Afghanistan have been stopped. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that Afghanistan will no longer be able to access the lender’s resources.

ALSO ON RT.COMAmericans have long claimed Afghanistan helped end ‘Soviet empire’ – now it’s their turn?Things are already dire. There are some 14 million Afghans – one in three – who lack sufficient food. There are two million Afghan children who are malnourished. There are 3.5 million people in Afghanistan who have been displaced from their homes. The war has wrecked infrastructure. A drought destroyed 40 percent of the nation’s crops last year. The assault on the Afghan economy is already seeing food prices skyrocket. The sanctions and severance of aid will force civil servants to go without salaries, and the health service, already chronically short of medicine and equipment, will collapse. The suffering orchestrated by the empire will be of biblical proportions. And this is what the empire wants.

UNICEF estimates that 500,000 children were killed as a direct result of sanctions on Iraq.  Expect child deaths in Afghanistan to soar above that horrifying figure. And expect the same imperial heartlessness Madeleine Albright, then the US ambassador to the United Nations, exhibited when she told ‘60 Minutes’ correspondent Lesley Stahl that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children because of the sanctions were “worth it.” Or the heartlessness of Hillary Clinton, who joked, “We came, we saw, he died” when informed of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi’s brutal death. Or the demand by Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia, who after the attacks of 9/11 declared: “I say, bomb the hell out of them. If there’s collateral damage, so be it.” No matter that the empire has since turned Libya, along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, into cauldrons of violence, chaos, and misery. The power to destroy is an intoxicating drug that is its own justification.

Like Cato the Censor, the US military and intelligence agencies are, if history is any guide, at this moment planning to destabilize Afghanistan by funding, arming, and backing any militia, warlord or terrorist organization willing to strike at the Taliban. The CIA, which should exclusively gather intelligence, is a rogue paramilitary organization that oversees secret kidnappings, interrogation at black sites, torture, manhunts, and targeted assassinations across the globe. It carried out commando raids in Afghanistan that killed a large number of Afghan civilians, which repeatedly sent enraged family members and villagers into the arms of the Taliban. It is, I expect, reaching out to Amrullah Saleh, who was Ashraf Ghani’s vice president and who has declared himself “the legitimate caretaker president” of Afghanistan. Saleh is holed up in the Panjshir Valley.  He, along with warlords Ahmad Massoud, Ata Mohammad Noor, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, are clamoring to be armed and supported to perpetuate conflict in Afghanistan.

ALSO ON RT.COMWayne Dupree: Biden will NEVER accept responsibility for his botched evacuation of Afghanistan“I write from the Panjshir Valley today, ready to follow in my father’s footsteps, with mujahideen fighters who are prepared to once again take on the Taliban,” Ahmad Massoud wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Post“The United States and its allies have left the battlefield, but America can still be a ‘great arsenal of democracy,’ as Franklin D. Roosevelt said when coming to the aid of the beleaguered British before the U.S. entry into World War II,” he went on, adding that he and his fighters need “more weapons, more ammunition and more supplies.”

These warlords have done the bidding of the Americans before. They will do the bidding of the Americans again. And since the hubris of empire is unaffected by reality, the empire will continue to sow dragon’s teeth in Afghanistan as it has since it spent $9 billion – some estimates double that figure – to back the mujahideen that fought the Soviets, leading to a bloody civil war between rival warlords once the Soviets withdrew in 1989 and the ascendancy in 1996 of the Taliban.

The cynicism of arming and funding the mujahideen against the Soviets exposes the lie of America’s humanitarian concerns in Afghanistan. One million Afghan civilians were killed in the nine-year conflict with the Soviets, along with 90,000 mujahideen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops, and 14,500 Soviet soldiers.  But these deaths, along with the destruction of Afghanistan, were “worth it” to cripple the Soviets.

Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, along with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, oversaw the arming of the most radical Islamic mujahideen groups fighting the Soviet occupation forces, leading to the extinguishing of the secular, democratic Afghan opposition. Brzezinski detailed the strategy – designed, he said, to give the Soviet Union its Vietnam – taken by the Carter administration following the 1979 Soviet invasion to prop up the Marxist regime of Hafizullah Amin in Kabul:

We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanctions focused on the Soviet  Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Agency prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to  make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again — for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechoslovak communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujahideen from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Over-the-horizon’ is just the newest buzz phrase for American incompetence – as proven by recent drone strikes in AfghanistanThe clandestine campaign to destabilize the Soviet Union by making it “bleed for as much and as long as is possible” was carried out, like the arming of the contra forces in Nicaragua, largely off the books. It did not, as far as official Washington was concerned, exist – a way to avoid the unwelcome scrutiny of covert operations carried out by the Church Committee hearings in the 1970s that made public the three decades of CIA-backed coups, assassinations, blackmail, intimidation, dark propaganda, and torture. The Saudi government agreed to match the US funding for the Afghan insurgents. The Saudi involvement gave rise to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, which fought with the mujahideen. The rogue operation, led by Brzezinski, organized secret units of assassination teams and paramilitary squads that carried out lethal attacks on perceived enemies around the globe. It trained Afghan mujahideen in Pakistan and China’s Xinjiang province. It shifted the heroin trade, used to fund the insurgency, from southeast Asia to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This pattern of behavior, which destabilized Afghanistan and the region, is reflexive in the military and the intelligence community. It will, without doubt, be repeated now in Afghanistan, with the same catastrophic results. The chaos these intelligence agencies create becomes the chaos that justifies their existence and the chaos that sees them demand more resources and ever greater levels of violence.

All empires die. The end is usually unpleasant. The American empire, humiliated in Afghanistan as it was in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, as it was at the Bay of Pigs and in Vietnam, is blind to its own declining strength, ineptitude, and savagery. Its entire economy, a “military Keynesianism,” revolves around the war industry. Military spending and war are the engine behind the nation’s economic survival and identity. It does not matter that with each new debacle the United States turns larger and larger parts of the globe against it and all it claims to represent. It has no mechanism to stop itself, despite its numerous defeats, fiascos, blunders and diminishing power, from striking out irrationally like a wounded animal. The mandarins who oversee our collective suicide, despite repeated failure, doggedly insist we can reshape the world in our own image. This myopia creates the very conditions that accelerate the empire’s demise.

The Soviet Union collapsed, like all empires, because of its ossified, out-of-touch rulers, its imperial overreach, and its inability to critique and reform itself. We are not immune from these fatal diseases. We silence our most prescient critics of empire, such as Noam Chomsky, Angela Davis, Andrew Bacevich, Alfred McCoy, and Ralph Nader, and persecute those who expose the truths about empire, including Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Daniel Hale, and John Kiriakou. At the same time a bankrupt media, whether on MSNBC, CNN, or Fox, lionizes and amplifies the voices of the inept and corrupt political, military and intelligence class including John Bolton, Leon Panetta, Karl Rove, H.R. McMaster and David Petraeus, which blindly drives the nation into the morass.

ALSO ON RT.COMIf Biden worried less about the optics of communicating with the Taliban, the IS-K carnage may not have happenedChalmers Johnson, in his trilogy on the fall of the American empire – ‘Blowback’, ‘The Sorrows of Empire’, and ‘Nemesis’ – reminds readers that the Greek goddess Nemesis is “the spirit of retribution, a corrective to the greed and stupidity that sometimes governs relations among people.” She stands for “righteous anger,” a deity who “punishes human transgression of the natural, right order of things and the arrogance that causes it.” He warns that if we continue to cling to our empire, as the Roman Republic did, “we will certainly lose our democracy and grimly await the eventual blowback that imperialism generates.”

“I believe that to maintain our empire abroad requires resources and commitments that will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and, in the end, produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent,” Johnson writes. “The founders of our nation understood this well and tried to create a form of government – a republic – that would prevent this from occurring. But the combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor of an imperial presidency. We are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire. Once a nation is started down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play – isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialism, and bankruptcy. Nemesis stalks our life as a free nation.”

If the empire was capable of introspection and forgiveness, it could free itself from its death spiral. If the empire disbanded, much as the British Empire did, and retreated to focus on the ills that beset the United States, it could free itself from its death spiral. But those who manipulate the levers of empire are unaccountable. They are hidden from public view and beyond public scrutiny. They are determined to keep playing the great game, rolling the dice with lives and national treasure. They will, I expect, preside gleefully over the deaths of even more Afghans, assuring themselves it is worth it, without realizing that the gallows they erect are for themselves.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Jesus Christ was world’s first COMMUNIST, Russian Marxist leader Zyuganov says, repeating claim holy savior was really a socialist
worker | September 2, 2021 | 7:24 pm | Gennady Zyuganov | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/russia/533767-zyuganov-jesus-first-communist/

Jesus Christ was world’s first COMMUNIST, Russian Marxist leader Zyuganov says, repeating claim holy savior was really a socialist

Jesus Christ was world's first COMMUNIST, Russian Marxist leader Zyuganov says, repeating claim holy savior was really a socialist
From casting out the moneylenders to feeding the masses and healing the poor for free, Jesus Christ’s revolutionary zeal matches up with almost all of Communism’s ideological values, one of Russia’s top politicians has claimed.

Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of Russia’s communist party, the KPRF, made the explosive comments in an interview with KP Radio on Thursday. According to him, “the first communist on the planet… was Jesus Christ.”

“Put Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the moral code of the builder of communism side by side, and you’ll simply gasp,” the politician said. “You need to study the Bible, then you will understand a lot.”

ALSO ON RT.COMRussia’s Communists to stage nationwide protests against ‘political repression’ after popular party figure is BANNED from electionZyuganov heads the country’s second-largest parliamentary group, the successor to the Communist Party that governed the Soviet Union. However, not everyone disagreed with his diagnosis, with the spokesman for the Moscow branch of the Orthodox Church saying that “we do not consider it correct and appropriate to compare God incarnate with any political and economic teachings, including communism.” However, he added, the Church opens its doors to supporters of all parties.

READ MORE: Russia is becoming ‘fascist’ state due to political ‘repression’ & ‘cannibalistic’ reforms, veteran Communist leader tells Putin

The question of whether Jesus’ radical opposition to established authority and his message of humility, charity and love for mankind makes him a left-wing figure is still hotly debated. However, the Orthodox Church, and religious belief in general, faced tough restrictions from the state during the Soviet era. The intellectual founder of the communist ideology, German philosopher Karl Marx, branded religion “the opium of the people,” arguing that faith in an afterlife was designed to placate those living downtrodden existences.

Last year, Zyuganov proposed including a reference to ‘God’ in the Russian constitution, raising eyebrows among some who are used to seeing Russia’s communists adhere to strictly secular lines. “Actually, in many ways, the moral code of a builder of Communism is built on the Bible,” he said at the time.

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Texas Governor Says Will Sign Republican Voting Rights Bill Into Law
worker | September 1, 2021 | 7:51 pm | Local/State | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/us/202108311083762956-texas-governor-says-will-sign-republican-voting-rights-bill-into-law/

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a press release he will sign the Republican-supported voting rights bill into law that passed the state legislature earlier in the day.

“Senate Bill 1 will solidify trust and confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Abbott said on Tuesday. “I look forward to signing Senate Bill 1 into law, ensuring election integrity in Texas.”

In July, more than 50 Democrats from the Texas legislature arrived in Washington, DC as part of a second attempt to deny Republicans a quorum to pass the bill, which seeks to ensure the integrity of the election system.

The Republican legislation will limit early voting hours, ban drive-through voting, further restrict voting by mail, ban public officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications, make it easier to overturn an election based on fraud allegations and provide poll watchers more access where election activity takes place. 

Texas is one of 48 US states that have introduced or proposed 408 voter bills of May 19th. So far, 25 have been signed into law.

What Next After US Defeat?
worker | September 1, 2021 | 7:47 pm | Afghanistan | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202108311083759727-what-next-after-us-defeat/

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There may no longer be US military boots on the ground in Afghanistan, but there are still plenty of Afghan boots that Washington can mobilize to destabilize the country and, more importantly, the region.

Already there are tribal leaders in the Panjshir province declaring the beginning of anti-Taliban resistance. One of them, Ahmad Massoud, the young leader of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, wrote an opinion column in the Washington Post last week in which he appealed to the US for weapons and support to “once again take on the Taliban”.

Another allied leader is former Vice President of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh, who is also based in Panjshir province – the only area not under the control of the Taliban* – and who has vowed that he will never share the same roof as the dominant militant group.

U.S. Army Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, steps on board a C-17 transport plane as the last U.S. service member to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 30, 2021 in a photograph taken using night vision optics
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U.S. Army Major General Chris Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, steps on board a C-17 transport plane as the last U.S. service member to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 30, 2021 in a photograph taken using night vision optics

This week marks a historic and shameful defeat for the United States in Afghanistan after 20 years of futile, destructive military occupation. Two decades since launching a war in the country to oust the Taliban rulers, the latter is back now in power. And what’s more, they are militarily stronger than ever after inheriting entire arsenals of American weaponry abandoned by the fleeing US troops.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, trying to put a positive spin on the debacle, said the military mission was over and “a new chapter” of diplomacy was opening. We can safely bet that “diplomacy” here is a euphemism for Washington’s political sabotage and machinations to ensure Afghanistan feels the full wrath of Uncle Sam’s vindictiveness for years, if not decades, to come.

 

Early signs indicate the form. Since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15, Washington has frozen some $7 billion in foreign assets belonging to the state of Afghanistan. The Americans have also ordered the International Monetary Fund to cut off nearly $400 million in immediate funds that were due to Kabul. This suggests that the US is shaping up for a new chapter of economic warfare against the Taliban in much the same way that it has inflicted on Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979 against the US-backed Shah, and also more recently against Syria following the defeat of America’s proxy war for regime change. 

Many other nations that defy the US militarily end up incurring economic terrorism from Washington. Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Venezuela, among others.

However, in addition to economic warfare, the United States could also exercise the option of fueling a proxy military conflict – a civil war – in Afghanistan by sponsoring the anti-Taliban factions. These factions can be traced to the Northern Alliance and the Haqqani Network which the US-backed in the proxy war against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. No doubt, the CIA and Pentagon still maintain contact lines with these warlords. The fact that one of them was given a high-profile platform in the Washington Post last week to appeal for weapons to fight against the Taliban is a clear sign of such deep state influence.

It is significant that Russia, China and other regional countries are wary of security repercussions stemming from an unruly Afghanistan. Russia has rebuked the US over its freezing of Afghanistan’s assets, saying that the country needs international support, not isolation, in order to aid war reconstruction and stability. Likewise, China has engaged with the new Taliban authorities with promises of massive economic investment to develop infrastructure and industries in return for guarantees of regional security.

 

This alludes to a wider strategy by Washington. Fomenting proxy conflict in Afghanistan through military and economic means is not just a matter of narrow vindictiveness against the Taliban conquerors who gave Uncle Sam a bloody nose for all the world to see. Such machinations provide the US with opportunities to cause regional security problems for Russia and China. One can reasonably surmise that the Americans have been exploiting Afghanistan as a spoiler against Russia and China for at least 40 years, not just the last two decades.Afghanistan could potentially become a linchpin in China’s global economic development plans. The country sits at the crossroads of China’s new silk routes crisscrossing between Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Given that the Biden, Trump and Obama administrations have all prioritized “containing” China and Russia as “great power rivals”, it seems that postwar Afghanistan presents a different opportunity for American imperial ambitions.

From Washington’s cynical point of view, such a new phase of proxy war in Afghanistan and, more widely in the region, would be a lot less costly compared with the full military occupation over the past 20 years involving $2 trillion expenditure. Plus there are no disturbing scenes of bodybags arriving back on American soil.

Thus, celebrating the defeat of the US in Afghanistan comes with caution. The next chapter could be an even more murky and sinister story.


*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.