The events of the last month have been utterly heartbreaking but not surprising. Afghanistan has fallen to the Taliban. While America’s presence in Afghanistan has been a completely unnecessary, violent, and greedy venture, how they are withdrawing with no regard to refugees, civilians, and issues such as data handling, can tell us a lot about the tyrannical fickleness of colonialism, Western capitalism, and American exceptionalism. America stands on the world stage as a toddler, picking up countries it deems geopolitically valuable when it sees fit, only to discard them when it gets bored. The whole event gives us parallels to the West’s handling of Vietnam and the fall of Saigon, and humanitarian failures such as Belgium’s complete mishandling of protection for Tutsis in Rwanda (that’s not before turning the Hutu and the Tutsi ethnicities into a class system and leaving them in terror. Hats off to you Belgium).
The wrongful invasion and war on Afghanistan have been longer than WW1, and WW2 put together. It stands as one of the most blatant expressions of the neo-colonial hard power of the twenty-first century. Britain might not rule the waves, yet it’s happy to bask in the reflected glory of the new center of Western imperialism: AMERIKA. This updated system of Western imperialism needs to be understood in the shift of the center of power from Europe to the United States.
The last hundred years of imperialism at its worst
To understand the recent events and illustrate the violence of the “land of the free and brave”, let’s look at the last 40 years, briefly. Since at least 1919 and probably before the US or the British have been in Afghanistan, the origins of the Taliban also have a direct link to the West. On Valentine’s Day 1945, President Roosevelt met with the Saudi King Abdulaziz, an American warship in what is known as the Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal. Lots were said in this meeting, but the main thing that was exchanged had a part in paving the way for where we are now. Roosevelt’s vision for America needed oil. In exchange for oil and for Saudi Arabia to invest in US technology, Abdulaziz, I’m sure, asked for many things, but one stands out in this context. He requested that his country’s faith, and the Middle East’s in general, would be left alone. In Saudi Arabia at the time, there was a particular sect of Islam that the West calls Wahabbism or Salafi – a definitive rejection of anything modern and a deep-seated form of Islam that was presented in the 7th century at the time of the Prophet (SWT). In this exchange, over a handshake, the US could be seen to have provided a cover and through-way for this sect of Islam. Many like it to spread through society and become a deep-rooted ideology among a minority of Muslims. King Abdulaziz agreed, thinking much like the US, it was the most logical way to help stop the spread of communism that was apparently sweeping through other Arab countries.
Fast forward to the cold war, and we see America using Afghanistan again as a proxy for its own whims. Funding the mujahideen (not to be confused with the umbrella term that the West has put every Islamic fundamentalist group under) or MA, a band of freedom fighters who ran the Soviets out of Afghanistan, America saw them as the perfect way to stop the spread of communism, America’s ultimate boogeyman. This situation boils down to a scenario where America would use a people they thought beneath them to fight Russia. Of course, they will never declare war directly because it never goes well. But it also meant they could assert geopolitical dominance on the country and protect their interests in oil and other resources. As the fighting continued, a small band of fighters, deeply entrenched in their own vision of Islam, benefitted from the US funding and arms and managed to become an independent group. This group is now what we know as the Taliban.
The events of 9/11 devastated the West and America sought to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice. Afghanistan offered to hand over Osama Bin Laden in a neutral country to be tried. Bush refused. Bush was clear he wanted military action. We can find the answer to this lunacy in the makeup of America’s military-industrial complex. America’s biggest exports to this day are arms and Hollywood. We could write a whole other article about the intersection between Hollywood and pro-war propaganda (watch this space). The year before 9/11, America’s military budget was $46billion per year in public funds. Last year’s figures were $168 billion. That is on top of the trillions and TRILLIONS (Forbes reports it as $300 million per day for the last 20 years) America has spent, countless lives of Afghan civilians violated and obliterated and an Islamophobic campaign that has swept the world, making all Muslims feel unsafe.
Lots of private military companies were given no-bid contracts and when looking at the founders or senior management, they had ties to Bush directly within congress or indirectly as confidantes or friends. Eric Prince, the founder of Blackwater, the security company that had security personnel killing civilians for fun and was heavily under scrutiny for exploitation of sex workers, boasted he had a $5 billion plan to “privatize the Afghan war”. If there is one thing we can take away from this, the West will spend money and waste lives frivolously, even at their own detriment to uphold Western colonial and racist ideals.
The speed and sheer disregard of the way the US and UK forces have abandoned Afghanistan has left 100s of 1000s of Afghan civilians in grave danger. There are reports of the Taliban going door by door, searching for people who worked with the US or journalists reporting, especially females. There are reports of women burning degrees and people erasing their social media presences, all in fear of the Taliban’s reign. Scenes at Kabul airport of people dropping to their deaths clinging on to planes desperate for escape, draw parallels to the falling man of 9/11. Only they won’t be granted the same amount of empathy, care, or compassion.
Everything that we have seen happen based on this ideology, happened because it was because of America flirting and nurturing it. The fact it was allowed to spread so wildly comes back to Western and American interests. Afghanistan and the Middle East are a massive testament and example of the failure of the West. Of how greedy the West is and how violent the West is. It’s a complete mirror of the West and Western hypocrisy. But it is also a country that demands deep respect, as one of the only decolonial countries on earth, having run out both the Russians and the British. Afghanistan is a force that bows to no one and it will see a new day, a new uprising for the people and for everyone under its skies, despite the Taliban’s iron-fist rule. We have already seen the flag of the Northern Alliance fly in the Panjshir Valley, and sightings of Ahmad Massoud, son of late Afghan politician and absolute G, Ahmad Shah Massoud have been reported. Afghanistan will resist once again. America and the UK need to mind their business, help the resistance and ensure safe passage for refugees. That’s it. You were there for 20 years and just caused devastation. Sit this one out, lads.
Let the West hang their heads
In this war, what has the US gained besides some rich, over-inflated White men making billions? Over 67,000 Afghans and 47,000 civilians were killed, and more than 8-10 million have become displaced internally and externally seeking refuge.
How does this keep happening to the West? How did the West after everything, after Vietnam, after Korea, and now Afghanistan take such a massive L that will now kill hundreds if not thousands of people as the Taliban sweep through the country killing men, women, and children that don’t follow their way.
I hope politicians for the last forty years who have done what they have done in Afghanistan hold their heads so heavy for the rest of their lives, like Sisyphus, who had to roll a falling boulder up a hill for eternity. How can they ever chat out their mouths about being exceptional “world-beating” powers? The only thing they beat is their chests, which are not fit to breathe the same air as the countless people fighting for true freedom and true equality.
The ignorance of colonialism and so-called “Western exceptionalism”
For twenty years the Americans have been in Afghanistan chiefly for the thing that they didn’t want to happen: to stabilize Afghanistan away from the Taliban. Not only were they fighting the Taliban during this period, but they were also training the Afghan national forces to fight off the Taliban, defeat the Taliban and keep a stable Afghanistan for when the West left. How has the West been in the country for twenty years, with the “most sophisticated” military and the “best” military training in the world, and the people they’ve been training to fight off the Taliban in their own country fell in two weeks and the capital fell in a matter of hours? For twenty years they’ve been preparing for this moment and thought this would never happen. Another example of Western entitlement and white saviourism, led by the United States, to smugly enforce its will on other parts of the world.
The idea that these “feeble” countries in the desert would quickly bow to Western military might is again brought into question. Joe Biden could not have been clearer back in July when he said that a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was “not inevitable.” That same day Boris Johnson was equally confident, telling MPS “there is no military path to victory for the Taliban.” The Taliban look defiant and uncontrollable right now in the context of a mythical omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent Western Whiteness. Yet the mainstream press always treated the Taliban as if they were a band of disconnected fighters, hiding in caves. They are a formidable force, who should have been given their due by the enemies if they were ever going to be defeated. But Western arrogance trips up the feet of those who wish to stick their nose into everything, no matter how many people die.
And this is not to be a Taliban apologist. But the Taliban have something that the West will never understand because US and UK politics and the politicians are so steeped in privilege that they will never get it. They do not know what it is like to be in these countries. They do not know the shared history. The shared love for their land. Their culture. The British and US have no overarching or general consensus of a culture we all agree on. To be nationalistic about your country in this context and then put the religious extremist fundamentalism on it was something they should have studied. They have no clue. These man have been waiting for forty f**king years and they fought off Russia. And America was so ignorant in their colonial thinking that they thought they could sweep in all happy as Larry with their world-beating-state-of-the-art blah blah blah. What?! And the Taliban have been fighting, fighting, and fighting for 20 years with patience, resilience, and the extremist fundamentalist thinking of “no matter how fucking long you’re in my country I will take my country because I will outwork you.”
The American Empire got beat by a “rogue militia.” Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires because it is unconquerable. It’s a testament to the fact that we’re living through Britain becoming more and more irrelevant to global affairs. Now the US president claims it wasn’t about “nation-building,” except Joe, back in 2003, you said it was about “nation-building” 2003. This is blatantly obvious as we see that the main threat to and more efficient version of Western imperialism, China, is now seeking to engage in more “friendly relations” with Afghanistan. China, like any emerging neo-colonial, seeks to tap into Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and further advance regional infrastructure connections.
It’s precise because the West is retreating that they are claiming and blaming. The Afghan military wasn’t inherently corrupt; America’s foreign interests corrupted the country. The US has driven corruption in Afghanistan through CIA and military deliveries of bags of cash to Afghan power brokers and a system of bribes to guarantee US soldiers continued to be fed and supplied. Ludicrously, the US government has spent billions paying the Taliban not to attack convoys supplying troops sent to fight the Taliban. Afghanistan has always been important geographically to the West, as a military outpost, as a key source of resources.
Dig-up the motherf*****s
In the most disrespectful way, we want everybody to get this, everyone involved to be dragged.
Blair to be dragged.
Bush to be dragged.
Everyone at Blackwater to be dragged.
The defense secretary choking up about “twenty years of sacrifice” to be dragged.
I need them to dig up Roosevelt’s body and ask him what the f**k he was doing on Valentine’s day 1945.
I need everybody to be dragged and to understand.
You will never be the power you want to be. Every war is a tantrum by mediocre White men who have been told everything is theirs. Now it isn’t.
Leave Afghanistan alone. Help the people. Help the resistance. And the next time the US wants anyone to go to war? I think it’s safe to say they should question their competence, intent, and intelligence. Anyone with this much lack of planning and foresight in any other job would have been.