Category: Afghanistan
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.

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
© REUTERS / US ARMY
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.

Afghanistan Follies
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:50 pm | Afghanistan | Comments closed
A new posting –

Afghanistan Follies

– from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

In twenty years, the US occupiers succeeded in fostering unimaginable corruption, in installing cynical leaders completely detached from the Afghani people, in introducing a swarm of NGOs parasitically feeding on Western funding, and in finally restoring Afghani acceptance of the Taliban… To read more, please go to: https://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/2021/08/afghanistan-follies.html
Terror Warning in Kabul to Avoid US, UK Shame?
worker | August 31, 2021 | 8:30 pm | Afghanistan | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202108261083718929-terror-warning-in-kabul-to-avoid-us-uk-shame/

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Just when the eyes of the world are watching a shambolic and shameful scramble out of Afghanistan by the United States and its British ally then we get this dramatic terror warning.

Media reports say the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand issued “very specific” and “near-identically” worded warnings for throngs of people to disperse from the airport in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

The four allies are members of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence grouping which also includes Canada. That indicates a coordinated messaging by those governments.

The warning claims that a little-known Islamist terror group, Isis-K, is planning to “imminently” hit the airport entrances with suicide bombs. The group is distinct from the dominant Taliban* militants.

Consequently, the US and its allies are urging people to immediately vacate the area around the airport. Curiously, all entrance gates to the airport are mentioned as high-risk areas.

© AP PHOTO / SHEKIB RAHMANI
Самолет C-17 в аэропорту Кабула

Further to the grim warning, Britain’s military minister Ben Wallace advises people milling around Kabul airport: “Head for the border,” according to a front-page report in the Guardian. “If they think they can make it to a third country, that may be a better option,” said Wallace. Meaning, a better option than being airlifted out of Kabul by Britain’s Royal Air Force.

The suspicion is that the alleged terror threat is all too convenient. The American and British governments are looking like callous fools from the debacle of their military retreat from Afghanistan. After 20 years of waging a criminal, futile war in the country, Washington and London are scurrying like rats off a sinking ship. The regime they propped in Kabul with billions of dollars and weaponry has fallen like a house of cards to the Taliban insurgents who swept into the capital on August 15, taking control of the country.

What’s making the retreat look even more shameful is the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport where the US and Britain are struggling to get their remaining citizens and Afghan aides out of the country ahead of the August 31 deadline next week when the last of American and British troops have been ordered out by the Taliban victors.

© REUTERS / US MARINES
Evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport

It is estimated that there are as many as 1,500 US citizens still trapped in Afghanistan. Britain is saying there are as many Afghan interpreters and others who assisted the British military occupation and who are eligible for evacuation.

That means come next week there are going to be even more ignominious scenes of thousands of American and British collaborators left stranded in Kabul as the last of the military cargo planes take off. It will be potentially an epic PR disaster for Washington and London.

Hence the suspicious terror warning put out by the Americans and British and amplified by their Five Eyes partners, Australia and New Zealand. The purpose seems to be: disperse the abandoned and desperate throngs whose image would otherwise create a searing global image of betrayal.

Things do not add up in the official warning. For a start, the Isis-K group is not known as a credible terror outfit. Secondly, in another context, US President Joe Biden recently said that Isis-K was the “sworn enemy” of the Taliban. Thirdly, we are told that the Taliban have “ring-fenced” the perimeter around Kabul airport with checkpoints to stop Afghans from reaching the area. So, if the area is so tightly controlled by the Taliban, how is their “sworn enemy” Isis-K supposed to mount a suicide bomb attack?

Having said that, a horrific bombing could be carried out by some unknown agency (the CIA, MI6?) in order to “substantiate” the terror warning.

Another dubious point is this: the Western intelligence agencies are supposed to now have “very specific” information on an imminent terror attack. But these same agencies did not have information warning of the Fall of Kabul when the Taliban ousted the Western-backed regime on August 15.

British minister Ben Wallace’s advice to Afghans to leave Kabul and “head to the border” to escape through neighboring countries is another telling part of the cynical calculation. In other words, he’s saying, get lost in the deserts and mountains far away from the world’s eyes… and, do us a final favor chaps, just go away and die somewhere remote and anonymous.

*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.

 

John Pilger: The Great Game of smashing countries
worker | August 25, 2021 | 7:29 pm | Afghanistan | Comments closed

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/533018-west-destroyed-afghanistan-pdpa-revolution/

John Pilger: The Great Game of smashing countries

John Pilger
John Pilger
Journalist, film-maker and author, John Pilger is one of two to win British journalism’s highest award twice. For his documentary films, he has won an Emmy and a British Academy Award, a BAFTA. Among numerous other awards, he has won a Royal Television Society Best Documentary Award. His epic 1979 Cambodia Year Zero is ranked by the British Film Institute as one of the ten most important documentaries of the 20th century.
John Pilger: The Great Game of smashing countries
As a tsunami of crocodile tears engulfs Western politicians, history is suppressed. More than a generation ago, Afghanistan won its freedom, which the United States, Britain and their “allies” destroyed.

In 1978, a liberation movement led by the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) overthrew the dictatorship of Mohammad Daud, the cousin of King Zahir Shar. It was an immensely popular revolution that took the British and Americans by surprise.

Foreign journalists in Kabul, reported the New York Times, were surprised to find that “nearly every Afghan they interviewed said [they were] delighted with the coup.” The Wall Street Journal reported that “150,000 persons… marched to honour the new flag… the participants appeared genuinely enthusiastic.”

The Washington Post reported that “Afghan loyalty to the government can scarcely be questioned.” Secular, modernist and, to a considerable degree, socialist, the government declared a programme of visionary reforms that included equal rights for women and minorities. Political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

Under the monarchy, life expectancy was 35; one in three children died in infancy. Some 90% of the population was illiterate. The new government introduced free medical care. A mass literacy campaign was launched.

For women, the gains had no precedent; by the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up 40% of Afghanistan’s doctors, 70% of its teachers and 30% of its civil servants.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘US troops call it World War Z’: RT correspondent in Kabul airport describes ‘horrendous’ situationSo radical were the changes that they remain vivid in the memories of those who benefited. Saira Noorani, a female surgeon who fled Afghanistan in 2001, recalled:

“Every girl could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked… We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian films on a Friday… it all started to go wrong when the Mujahedin started winning… these were the people the West supported.”

For the United States, the problem with the PDPA government was that it was supported by the Soviet Union. Yet it was never the “puppet” derided in the West, neither was the coup against the monarchy “Soviet backed,” as the American and British press claimed at the time.

President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state, Cyrus Vance, later wrote in his memoirs: “We had no evidence of any Soviet complicity in the coup.

In the same administration was Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s national security adviser, a Polish émigré and fanatical anti-communist and moral extremist whose enduring influence on American presidents expired only with his death in 2017.

On July 3, 1979, unknown to the American people and Congress, Carter authorised a $500 million “covert action” programme to overthrow Afghanistan’s first secular, progressive government. This was code-named by the CIA Operation Cyclone.

The $500 million bought, bribed and armed a group of tribal and religious zealots known as the Mujahedin. In his semi-official history, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward wrote that the CIA spent $70 million on bribes alone. He describes a meeting between a CIA agent known as ‘Gary’ and a warlord called Amniat-Melli:

“Gary placed a bundle of cash on the table: $500,000 in one-foot stacks of $100 bills. He believed it would be more impressive than the usual $200,000, the best way to say we’re here, we’re serious, here’s money, we know you need it… Gary would soon ask CIA headquarters for and receive $10 million in cash.”

ALSO ON RT.COMSchrödinger’s terrorists: Washington warmongers suddenly worried about Al-Qaeda and ISIS, amid Afghanistan agonyRecruited from all over the Muslim world, America’s secret army was trained in camps in Pakistan run by Pakistani intelligence, the CIA and Britain’s MI6. Others were recruited at an Islamic College in Brooklyn, New York – within sight of the doomed Twin Towers. One of the recruits was a Saudi engineer called Osama Bin Laden.

The aim was to spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and destabilise and eventually destroy the Soviet Union.

In August 1979, the US Embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests… would be served by the demise of the PDPA government, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.”

Read again the words above I have italicised. It is not often that such cynical intent is spelt out as clearly. The US was saying that a genuinely progressive Afghan government and the rights of Afghan women could go to hell.

Six months later, the Soviets made their fatal move into Afghanistan in response to the American-created jihadist threat on their doorstep. Armed with CIA-supplied Stinger missiles and celebrated as “freedom fighters” by Margaret Thatcher, the Mujahedin eventually drove the Red Army out of Afghanistan.

Calling themselves the Northern Alliance, the Mujahedin were dominated by warlords who controlled the heroin trade and terrorised rural women. The Taliban were an ultra-puritanical faction, whose mullahs wore black and punished banditry, rape and murder but banished women from public life.

In the 1980s, I made contact with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, known as RAWA, which had tried to alert the world to the suffering of Afghan women. During the Taliban time, they concealed cameras beneath their burqas to film evidence of atrocities, and did the same to expose the brutality of the Western-backed Mujahedin. ‘Marina’ of RAWA told me, “We took the videotape to all the main media groups, but they didn’t want to know…”

ALSO ON RT.COMWorld Bank cuts off financial support to Afghanistan as Taliban seizes powerIn 1996, the enlightened PDPA government was overrun. The president, Mohammad Najibullah, had gone to the United Nations to appeal to for help. On his return, he was hanged from a street light.

“I confess that [countries] are pieces on a chessboard,” said Lord Curzon in 1898, “upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world.”

The Viceroy of India was referring in particular to Afghanistan. A century later, Prime Minister Tony Blair used slightly different words.

“This is a moment to seize,” he said following 9/11. “The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us.”

On Afghanistan, he added this: “We will not walk away [but ensure] some way out of the poverty that is your miserable existence.”

Blair echoed his mentor, President George W. Bush, who spoke to the victims of his bombs from the Oval Office: “The oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America. As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering…

Almost every word was false. Their declarations of concern were cruel illusions for an imperial savagery “we” in the West rarely recognise as such.

In 2001, Afghanistan was stricken and depended on emergency relief convoys from Pakistan. As the journalist Jonathan Steele reported, the invasion indirectly caused the deaths of some 20,000 people as supplies to drought victims stopped and people fled their homes.

Some 18 months later, I found unexploded American cluster bombs in the rubble of Kabul which were often mistaken for yellow relief packages dropped from the air. They blew the limbs off foraging, hungry children.

ALSO ON RT.COMBiden says US & allies ‘stand shoulder to shoulder’ on Afghanistan – would not reveal how Americans get out of Kabul after Aug. 31In the village of Bibi Maru, I watched a woman called Orifa kneel at the graves of her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, and seven other members of her family, including six children, and two children who were killed next door.

An American F-16 aircraft had come out of a clear blue sky and dropped a Mk82 500-pound bomb on Orifa’s mud, stone and straw house. Orifa was away at the time. When she returned, she gathered the body parts.

Months later, a group of Americans came from Kabul and gave her an envelope with fifteen notes: a total of $15. “Two dollars for each of my family killed,” she said.

The invasion of Afghanistan was a fraud. In the wake of 9/11, the Taliban sought to distant themselves from Osama Bin Laden. They were, in many respects, an American client with which the administration of Bill Clinton had done a series of secret deals to allow the building of a $3 billion natural gas pipeline by a US oil company consortium.

In high secrecy, Taliban leaders had been invited to the US and entertained by the CEO of the Unocal company in his Texas mansion and by the CIA at its headquarters in Virginia. One of the deal-makers was Dick Cheney, later George W. Bush’s vice president.

ALSO ON RT.COMWhite House and Pentagon stand by ‘unlikely’ August 31 Afghan evacuation deadline, despite heavy criticismIn 2010, I was in Washington and arranged to interview the mastermind of Afghanistan’s modern era of suffering, Zbigniew Brzezinski. I quoted to him his autobiography in which he admitted that his grand scheme for drawing the Soviets into Afghanistan had created “a few stirred up Muslims.”

“Do you have any regrets?” I asked.

“Regrets! Regrets! What regrets?”

When we watch the current scenes of panic at Kabul airport, and listen to journalists and generals in distant TV studios bewailing the withdrawal of “our protection,” isn’t it time to heed the truth of the past so that all this suffering never happens again?

John Pilger’s 2003 film, ‘Breaking the Silence’, is available to view at http://johnpilger.com/videos/breaking-the-silence-truth-and-lies-in-the-war-on-terror

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

A Tale of Two Withdrawals: Why Soviet and US Pull-Outs From Afghanistan Were So Different
worker | August 24, 2021 | 7:17 pm | Afghanistan, USSR | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/us/202108181083640041-a-tale-of-two-withdrawals-why-soviet-and-us-pull-outs-from-afghanistan-were-so-different/

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Washington’s disorganised and haphazard pull-out from Kabul comes in sharp contrast to how the USSR left the country in February 1989, says American independent journalist Max Parry, recalling how the US political establishment tried to create a Vietnam-style Afghan quagmire for the Soviets, but eventually fell into its own trap.

On 15 August, the US hastily evacuated its embassy staff from the Afghan capital of Kabul as the Taliban* entered the city.

Viral image of a US military helicopter flying over the embassy evoked strong memories of the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, prompting media pundits and social media users to draw parallels between the US’ Vietnam War and the protracted 20-year-long Afghan campaign. In April 1975, Dutch photographer Hubert van Es took a picture of people scaling a ladder to a US helicopter on a rooftop in Saigon, at the end of the Vietnam War.

​It appears that the White House was not prepared for a yet another “Saigon moment” last Sunday: on 12 August, US intelligence services forecast that Kabul would fall in 90 days; then they corrected their prognosis to 72 hours. However, the capital fell quicker than that, and weeks ahead of the scheduled deadline, triggering the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government and panic at Kabul Airport.

Ironically, over 40 years ago Washington planned to create a similar “Vietnamese quagmire” for the USSR in Afghanistan. Operation Cyclone aimed at arming and funding Afghan insurgents had been launched months before Soviet troops entered the Central Asian state at Kabul’s request, according to the memoirs of ex-CIA Deputy Director Robert Gates.

​Ex-National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski recalled in 1998 that the trick was to “induce a Soviet military intervention”. Nevertheless, after a 10-year war, the Soviet forces avoided a humiliating “Vietnam-style” defeat by ending the fight and conducting an orderly withdrawal between 15 May 1988 and 15 February 1989.

Afghan children and a soldier bid farewell to Soviet soldiers riding atop an armored personnel carrier as the official troop withdrawal begins after nearly a decade long military intervention in war-torn Afghanistan, Sunday, May 15, 1988, Kabul, Afghanistan
© AP PHOTO / LIU HEUNG SHING
Afghan children and a soldier bid farewell to Soviet soldiers riding atop an armored personnel carrier as the official troop withdrawal begins after nearly a decade long military intervention in war-torn Afghanistan, Sunday, May 15, 1988, Kabul, Afghanistan

Soviet Pull-Out Vs. US ‘Saigon Moment’

“The key difference between the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and the US pull-out today is the completely disorganised and haphazard nature of the latter”, says independent American journalist Max Parry, referring to the messy evacuation of the embassy staff and the dispatch of an additional military contingent to the country to wrap up the withdrawal as soon as possible.

Despite being bogged down in a protracted and exhausting standoff with the US-armed Mujahideen, the Soviets managed to carry out their drawdown “in an orderly, responsible fashion”, he points out.

Nevertheless, the US and its allies tried to hinder the Soviet pull-out, according to the journalist. He explains that although the Geneva Accords stipulated the timetable for the Soviet evacuation, which Moscow adhered to, “the US actually violated the agreement in continuing to send arms to the jihadists”.

“The Americans did everything to ensure that the pull-out either did not take place or, if it did, with huge losses for us”, recalled Colonel-General Boris Gromov, the last commander of the 40th Army in Afghanistan, in his 2019 interview with Sputnik. Nevertheless, the Soviet military prevented provocations and ensured safe a withdrawal through land routes, which was apparently more risky than the US aerial pull-out.

Furthermore, in contrast to Washington, “the Soviet Army left intact a relatively stable government to preside over the country”, the journalist remarks. The pro-Soviet government of Mohammad Najibullah ruled the country and maintained armed resistance against the Mujahideen until April 1992. The Afghan insurgents took Kabul shortly after his resignation.

Afghan mujahideen prepare a rocket attack on the government troops in Shaga, Eastern Nangarhar province, on January 15, 1989 during the Afghan Civil War opposing the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) supported by Soviet Union
© AFP 2021
Afghan mujahideen prepare a rocket attack on the government troops in Shaga, Eastern Nangarhar province, on January 15, 1989 during the Afghan Civil War opposing the Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) supported by Soviet Union

Agreements With Responsible Power Brokers

Gromov revealed that the Soviet military leadership had set up and maintained contacts with the leaders of the Peshawar Seven, a military-political union of the leaders of the Afghan Mujahideen. In particular, the general struck an agreement with Ahmad Shah Massoud, one of the key Afghan warlords leading the fight against Soviet forces in the Panjshir Valley area. According to the general, the Mujahideen kept their word and provided safe passage for Soviet troops.

In contrast, it remains unclear exactly what agreements were concluded between the Biden administration and the Taliban political and military wings given that the speed of the militants’ advance apparently caught the US off guard, according to Parry. Furthermore, the Biden administration’s postponement of completion of the military pull-out from May to September 2021 prompted ire from the Taliban leadership and threats that the Mujahideen would fight to the bitter end should the White House violate the Doha accords.

To complicate matters further, ex-President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani fled the capital, thus breaking earlier agreements on an orderly power transferal. According to Russian officials on the ground in Kabul, Ghani attempted to smuggle out a vast sum of money as he fled the country.

​”Till the very end, Ghani refused to ensure a peaceful transition where he would step down”, says Parry. “Finally, when Afghan and Taliban leaders had tentatively reached a ceasefire deal in Qatar with the provision that Ghani would step down from office, the agreement fell apart amid the Afghan president’s escape, which apparently even took his own officials in the midst of negotiating in Doha by surprise. Abdullah Abdullah, whom Ghani shared power with in the unitary government and led the intra-Afghan peace talks, immediately denounced Ghani for his sudden departure”.

​Moreover, it appears that Washington did not trust the Ghani government very much, the journalist believes: “When the US recently vacated Bagram Air Base, they did so without even letting the Afghan commander in charge of the airfield know in advance, which indicates a serious rupture in communication between Washington and the Ghani government in Kabul”, he says. According to Parry, this episode “should serve as a warning to lackey governments of Washington around the world that they too could be abandoned at the drop of a hat”.

National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski's famous visit to Pakistan to speak with Afghan refugees and fighters against the pro-Soviet Afghan government. Screengrab from AP archives.
© PHOTO : SCREENSHOT / YOUTUBE AP ARCHIVE
National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s famous visit to Pakistan to speak with Afghan refugees and fighters against the pro-Soviet Afghan government. Screengrab from AP archives.

Operation Cyclone Boomeranged on the US

Joe Biden’s 16 August address on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan prompted a wave of criticism from conservative commentators for “absolving himself of responsibility” and “more or less invit[ing] the Taliban to take over the country”. For his part, former President Donald Trump lambasted his successor for the “incompetent” way of pulling out.

​”The completely careless manner in which the Biden administration handled the withdrawal took what could have been a certain foreign policy victory and turned it into a complete PR disaster for the White House”, says Parry.

He explains that the American people unanimously supported an end to the 20-year conflict and withdrawal of US troops. Still, the way in which it was conducted, “along with the widely perceived out-of-touch characterisation of events on the ground by Secretary of State Blinken and Biden himself”, has backfired on the administration, according to the journalist.

​Now, Biden’s White House has found itself being blasted from both the right and left over its handling of the Afghan debacle, Parry notes, predicting that this serious setback for Biden on matters of foreign policy will help the GOP going into the midterms next year.

Meanwhile, one should bear in mind that it was Washington’s policy-makers who armed, trained, and enabled the Afghan Mujahideen back in the 1980s, the journalist remarks. Speaking to Le Nouvel Observateur’s Vincent Jauvert on 15 January 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski highlighted that he did not regret that the US’ Afghan covert war resulted in the emergence of the Taliban, designated as a terrorist organisation in many states.

“Regret what?” Brzezinski asked. “That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? … What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire?”

At the time, the prominent geostrategist could not have imagined how this covert op would eventually boomerang on the US.

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

NATO Knives Out for US
worker | August 20, 2021 | 7:47 pm | Afghanistan | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/202108191083659750-nato-knives-out-for-us/

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It was bound to end like this. The United States and its NATO partners went into Afghanistan in the first place to subjugate and plunder with imperial swagger.

Now that the whole criminal enterprise has collapsed 20 years later, the recriminations are intense and bitter.

There were extraordinary scenes in the British parliament this week and among other European capitals. Politicians across the board have been slamming US President Joe Biden’s administration for the disastrous failure in Afghanistan.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was recently referring to Biden as “dear Joe” has taken to blaming his administration for the mess that has hit the fan this week as Western states rush to evacuate embassies.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders are worried about a deluge of refugees from Afghanistan.

Biden, as well as his predecessor Donald Trump, are being blamed for the collapse of the NATO-backed regime in Kabul which has been swept away by the Taliban insurgents.

Boris Johnson said the British and other NATO members had no choice but to cut and run from Afghanistan because the Americans had preemptively done so.

NATO officer in Afghanistan
© AFP 2021 / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA
NATO officer in Afghanistan

How hilarious! So much for “Global Britain” being a world power for good alongside its American “special partner” and their “shared values”. A British navy flotilla currently on a world tour is seen to be as useless as a rubber duck in a bathtub.

British lawmakers and former military chiefs are livid from the United States’ rapid withdrawal from the Central Asian country which blindsided other NATO members.

Other European politicians are decrying that it is the worst failure in the history of the NATO military alliance formed in 1949.

Indeed, the main culprit for the debacle in Afghanistan is Washington. But it is delusional for the Brits and other NATO members to try to shift the blame entirely. They all went into that country using the alliance’s so-called Article Five collective defense clause. The war and 20-year occupation were illegal from the outset having no mandate from the UN Security Council nor any plausible self-defense claim.

The claims about revenge for the “9/11 terror attacks” are risible. The US and its allies went into Afghanistan in a blatant show of military strength to project imperial force to the rest of the world, primarily Russia and China.

All of the NATO powers are guilty of war crimes from the two-decade aggression in Afghanistan, including the mass killing of civilians and running detention-torture centers. Trillions of dollars funded by taxpayers were squandered, given as subsidies to military companies, while hundreds of thousands of lives were destroyed. Millions of Afghans have been made homeless.

The British are first-among-equals in their complicity with American crimes. It was former prime minister Tony Blair who acted as George W Bush’s international cipher for enabling the war.

In the end, the Americans wanted out of their quagmire which they had created 40 years ago when they sponsored the rise of the Mujahideen against a Soviet-aligned government in Kabul. The Mujahideen were the forerunners of the Taliban* and the Al Qaeda* terror network which has since metastasized in several countries giving the US and NATO a pretext for invading.

It is caustically amusing how the Americans used NATO collective defense to give their imperial crimes in Afghanistan a veneer of “international coalition”. Yet in the end, when it came to packing up and getting out, the United States made its decision unilaterally without consulting its so-called allies. And that’s what’s galling them.

The British and the other European governments are now left in the lurch to deal with the public anger and shame over the Afghanistan debacle.

 

If there is possibly one positive thing to come out of the catastrophe and criminality it is the public realization that the United States and its gang of NATO accomplices are a rogue organization that is a threat to world peace and not, as they preposterously claim, to be about upholding defense, security and “rules-based order”.

Afghanistan started as an imperial criminal enterprise. Now that the charade is exposed, we can expect all the culprits to scurry for cover. And in their scampering for alibis, the knives are out for the king rat – the United States.

*The Taliban and al-Qaeda are terrorist organisations banned in Russia and many other countries.

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