May 18, 2013
The truth is out, much to the embarrassment of the Barack Obama administration. NATO’s presence in Afghanistan is scheduled to end in 2014 when an approximate 34,000 US troops are supposed to be pulling out on the basis of mission accomplished. However, if that mission was to eradicate the Taliban’s hold on this war-torn country—which is highly debatable in the first place—not only has it not been accomplished, but the Americans are not even planning to leave any time soon. Instead, the US is doing all it can to put on a grand show to give Afghans the impression they will soon be captains of their own destiny without foreign interference.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a man who generally eschews diplomatic-speak, has spilled the beans. In recent days, he has revealed that the US is set on maintaining nine military bases around Afghanistan for an indefinite period, following the official end-2014 deadline for US troop withdrawal. That is hardly surprising when American bases have been increasingly peppering the region since the 9/11 attacks, forming a neo-imperialist empire of bases. The US has refuted Karzai’s claims, saying it does not seek permanent bases in Afghanistan.
Chalmers Johnson, who authored the book Blowback, published in 2000, wrote: "Due to government secrecy, our [US] citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent, except Antarctica, actually constitutes a new form of empire . . . Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Base World, one can’t begin to understand the size and nature of our [America’s] imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order."
What is shocking is the fact that President Karzai is preparing to agree to the US demand to retain bases in Kabul, Bagram, Mazar, Jalalabad, Gardez, Kandahar, Helmand, Shindand and Herat—with conditions. In return, he is asking for security and economic guarantees. That sounds like a sellout when in the past he has demanded the Americans quit certain provinces and has repeatedly blasted the Pentagon for its indiscriminate drone attacks that leave innocent casualties and a trail of devastation.
Unfortunately, Karzai will not be at the helm to deal with the backlash from his own people as he has pledged to throw in the towel in 2014, permitting his successor to be freely elected. Freely elected or not, whoever replaces him will be little more than a US puppet as long as American troops and their sophisticated armoury remain scattered around Afghan soil. Afghanistan will be a de facto US protectorate. That may not be so bad if a continued American presence provided the peace, security and prosperity most Afghans crave, but in the light of the US record to date, it is likely to have the opposite effect. If Afghans are hostile to US forces now, that hostility will increase once they realise what is in store.
The George W. Bush administration’s pretext to invade Afghanistan was always a canard. The war was ostensibly launched to smoke Osama Bin Laden out of his Tora Bora cave. The problem was although his hide-out was surrounded by fire power, he was permitted to make his escape. A 2009 report submitted to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, under cover of a letter signed by former presidential candidate John Kerry, now US Secretary of State, questions why Bin Laden "was allowed" to flee?
Bin Laden was a convenient bogey man to dupe the American public into supporting that war when a more likely target was the Taliban rulers, who had made the mistake of refusing to give their assent to a trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline that would have benefited a consortium, led by the Union Oil Company of California (UNOCAL). Indeed, in 1997, top-level Taliban officials were invited to Texas and were given the red carpet treatment. By all accounts, they provisionally agreed to the $2 billion (Dh7.35 billion) deal provided the Taliban government received US recognition. When they got the message that recognition was not on the cards, they were inclined towards UNOCAL’s Argentine competitors.
The clincher persuading me that the US has been engaged in duplicity and dirty tricks from the get-go is this: Days before September 11, 2001, there was a plan on Bush’s desk to topple the Taliban by force, according to a report by a bi-partisan US inquiry, initiated due to allegations made by former White House counter-terrorism tsar Richard Clarke.
The core aims of the US military adventures in Afghanistan and Iran have nothing to do with the promotion of democracy and all to do with its strategy of worldwide domination and exclusion of competitor nations from shrinking energy resources. What has been done to Afghanistan is a war crime of mammoth proportions, but the victor’s justice translates to the perpetrators getting off scot free. Not only have tens of thousands of Afghans and more than 3,300 occupation troops lost their lives, the country remains one of the most dangerous on earth. Furthermore, it is the biggest exporter of cannabis and opium. This year, poppy farmers in Afghanistan anticipate a record crop.
If Karzai were truly the patriot he purports to be, he would not be mulling deals with the occupier, all his energies would instead go towards booting them out.
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at email@example.com.