[pjw] ANALYSIS: The US-supported Afghan regime falls (World Socialist Web Sit 8/15)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Mon Aug 16 13:01:14 EDT 2021

Hello PJW supporters

We've been calling for the US to get out of Afghanistan since before they 
went in. Now Americans had to flee in the face of an inevitable tide of 
Taliban fighters storming the capitol. While it's on the one hand a time 
to enjoy that our demands have been met, the suffering of the Afghan 
people both during the 20 years of US occupation and what's to come make 
this a more somber occasion.

I typed in the words "Imperialism Afghanistan" into the web search engine 
and  this article from the World Socialist Web Site popped up. Again, I 
don't always agree with everything they say, but this is a good analysis 
of "what went wrong" with a strong reminder that the US will likely try to 
find a way to go back and do it again.
dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

The fall of the Afghan puppet regime: A historic debacle for US 
The WSWS Editorial Board
13 hours ago

The sudden fall of the US puppet regime in Afghanistan on Sunday is a 
humiliating debacle for American imperialism. It marks the collapse of a 
regime that was imposed through a criminal war and occupation, promoted on 
the basis of lies, and maintained in power through assassination, torture 
and the bombing of civilians.

As Sunday began, the Pentagon announced that two battalions of Marines and 
a US infantry battalion were arriving at Kabul International Airport to 
bolster the Afghan regime. The puppet Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, 
issued a video calling on his regime’s security forces to maintain “law 
and order.”

However, Taliban troops, after briefly pausing their lightning advance at 
the gates of Kabul, seized key points in the Afghan capital during the 
day. By nightfall, Taliban officials reported they had taken over the 
presidential palace and would soon announce the formation of a new 
government. Bagram airbase, the infamous NATO prison and torture center, 
fell to the Taliban, who freed the 7,000 prisoners housed there.
A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, 
Sunday, Aug. 15 2021. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

As Sunday progressed, Ghani and his national security adviser fled the 
country. In the morning, American time, US Secretary of State Antony 
Blinken said US officials were abandoning the embassy for the Kabul 
airport. But by evening, US diplomats had to admit Washington no longer 
controls even the Kabul airport and that US citizens in Kabul have been 
instructed to hide.

In an article titled “Taliban Sweep in Afghanistan Follows Years of US 
Miscalculations,” the New York Times admitted: “President Biden’s top 
advisers concede they were stunned by the rapid collapse of the Afghan 
army in the face of an aggressive, well-planned offensive by the Taliban. 
… As recently as late June, the intelligence agencies estimated that even 
if the Taliban gained power, it would be at least a year and a half before 
Kabul would be threatened.”

In reality, the much-vaunted “democratic” regime set up by Washington and 
its NATO allies in Afghanistan amounted to a political zero. Maintained in 
power only by tens of thousands of NATO troops and US warplanes, it 
dissolved virtually overnight as US and NATO troops were withdrawn.

If American ruling circles were unprepared for the sudden collapse of the 
regime they propped up at such an enormous cost, it is because to a 
significant extent they believed their own propaganda. During the course 
of two decades, no major newspaper, television network or mainstream media 
outlet examined this neocolonial war of occupation with a modicum of 

The human and social costs of the war in Afghanistan are catastrophic. 
Official tallies, no doubt massively understated, claim 164,436 Afghans 
were killed during the war, together with 2,448 US soldiers, 3,846 US 
military contractors and 1,144 soldiers from other NATO countries. 
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans and tens of thousands of NATO personnel 
were wounded. The financial cost to the United States alone is estimated 
at $2 trillion, financed by debt that will cost a further $6.5 trillion in 
interest payments.

Yesterday’s events inevitably recall the famous photographs of US 
diplomats boarding helicopters on the rooftop of the embassy in Saigon, 
nearly a half-century ago, at the end of the Vietnam War. In its 
implications and political consequences, however, the US debacle in 
Afghanistan is if anything even more significant.

The collapse of the Afghan government shatters the delusionary conceptions 
the American ruling class embraced following the Stalinist bureaucracy’s 
dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The disappearance of Washington’s 
main military rival was viewed by the American ruling class as an 
opportunity to overcome its global decline and domestic contradictions 
through the use of force. US military and foreign policy planners 
proclaimed a “unipolar moment” in which the unchallengeable power of the 
United States would oversee a “New World Order” in the interests of Wall 

The victory of the US and its allies in the first war against Iraq in 
1991, before the final collapse of the USSR, was taken as a demonstration 
that “Force Works!” as the Wall Street Journal proclaimed at the time. 
President George H. W. Bush declared that through its criminal bombing of 
a largely defenseless country, American imperialism had “kicked the 
Vietnam syndrome once and for all.” One year later, in 1992, the Pentagon 
adopted a strategy document declaring that the objective of the US was to 
militarily “discourage advanced industrial nations from challenging our 
leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”

At the time of the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, under the Clinton 
administration, the delusion emerged that US dominance in precision-guided 
munitions would transform world politics and establish Washington as an 
unchallenged world hegemon. Responding to these conceptions, the WSWS 

     The United States presently enjoys a “competitive advantage” in the 
arms industry. But neither this advantage nor the products of this 
industry can guarantee world dominance. Despite the sophistication of its 
weaponry, the financial-industrial foundation of the United States’ 
preeminent role in the affairs of world capitalism is far less substantial 
than it was 50 years ago. Its share of world production has declined 
dramatically. Its international trade deficit increases by billions of 
dollars every month. The conception that underlies the cult of 
precision-guided munitions—that mastery in the sphere of weapons 
technology can offset these more fundamental economic indices of national 
strength—is a dangerous delusion.

In the context of the project for global conquest, the war in Afghanistan 
was seen as central to the US strategy of controlling Central Asia and the 
“world Island” of Eurasia, so as to strengthen the position of US 
imperialism against China, Russia and the European imperialist powers. 
After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the WSWS rejected the arguments 
that the invasion was part of a “war on terror” against Al Qaeda and the 
Taliban, which were themselves the product of US efforts to destabilize 
the Soviet Union two decades earlier:

     The US government initiated the war in pursuit of far-reaching 
international interests of the American ruling elite. What is the main 
purpose of the war? The collapse of the Soviet Union a decade ago created 
a political vacuum in Central Asia, which is home to the second largest 
deposit of proven reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the world. … By 
attacking Afghanistan, setting up a client regime and moving vast military 
forces into the region, the US aims to establish a new political framework 
within which it will exert hegemonic control.

In 2003, the US invaded Iraq, based on lying claims, trumpeted by the 
entire US media, that the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction 
(WMDs) that it would give to Al Qaeda. Comparing the unprovoked attack on 
defenseless Iraq to the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland that began World War 
II in Europe, the WSWS wrote:

     Whatever the outcome of the initial stages of the conflict that has 
begun, American imperialism has a rendezvous with disaster. It cannot 
conquer the world. It cannot reimpose colonial shackles upon the masses of 
the Middle East. It will not find through the medium of war a viable 
solution to its internal maladies. Rather, the unforeseen difficulties and 
mounting resistance engendered by war will intensify all of the internal 
contradictions of American society.

These words resonate powerfully today. Taken collectively, the wars in 
Afghanistan and Iraq, along with the invasion of Libya and the 
CIA-instigated civil war in Syria, have left millions dead and entire 
societies shattered. Far from establishing the unchallenged global 
domination of American imperialism, they have led to one debacle after the 
next. Conditions in Iraq, three decades after the first Gulf War, are, if 
anything, even worse than in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a metaphor for the entire rotting edifice of American 
capitalism. US budget deficits have been papered over by electronically 
printing trillions of dollars of fictitious capital in “quantitative 
easing” funds handed over to the super-rich in bank bailouts. To the 
fictitious capital on which US capitalism’s bubble economy is based, 
corresponds the fictitious power conferred on the Pentagon by “smart 
bombs” and drone murder strikes in countries like Afghanistan.

A serious warning is in order: powerful elements of the American ruling 
elite are no doubt preparing many contingency plans, each more reckless 
than the last, to respond to this debacle. They have no intention of 
simply abiding by the devastating loss of prestige and credibility 
involved in their defeat at the hands of an Islamist movement armed only 
with light weapons in one of the world’s poorest, most war-torn countries.

The remarks by former CIA Director and retired Army General David Petraeus 
in a radio interview Friday point to the discussions taking place behind 
the scenes. Calling the US position in Afghanistan “disastrous,” Petraeus 
declared: “This is an enormous national security setback, and it is on the 
verge of getting much worse unless we decide to take really significant 

The US military has a great deal of its prestige invested in Afghanistan 
and the broader project of imperialist conquest of which it was a part. 
The American ruling class will not retreat from its efforts to control the 
world through military force, upon which its wealth depends.

Unlike Vietnam, the American ruling class cannot blame the debacle in 
Afghanistan on an anti-war movement. With the assistance of the 
organizations of the upper middle class, which bought into the “war on 
terror” and “human rights imperialism,” broad-based opposition to war 
within the United States has been suppressed and directed behind the 
Democratic Party, which is, no less than the Republicans, a party of Wall 
Street and the military.

The homicidal response of the ruling class to the pandemic, however, shows 
that the ruling class has no more regard for the lives of workers within 
the major capitalist countries than they do for the masses in Central Asia 
and the Middle East. Even as the pandemic continues to spread, there are 
growing expressions of working class opposition.

The development of this opposition into a conscious political movement for 
socialism is inextricably connected to the fight against imperialist war. 
This is the fundamental lesson of the entire criminal debacle that is the 
US war in Afghanistan.

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