Debate over Afghan war moves to Congress
Published Sep 18, 2009 8:25 PM
With Defense Secretary Robert Gates expected to ask for 45,000 more U.S. troops
for Afghanistan, it looks like a U.S. escalation of that ugly war will be the
next big issue to be fought out in Congress, with most opposition coming from
Democrats. Will the administration rely on support from the most rightist
forces in Congress to continue to promote the war against the Afghans, sending
many thousands of U.S. youth and contract mercenaries to kill and die occupying
that Central Asian land?
This issue has been sharpened by the obviously fraudulent election of incumbent
Afghan President Hamid Karsai, the growing casualties among U.S. and other NATO
occupation troops, and the ability of the Afghan resistance forces to strike
the occupiers in any part of the country.
President Barack Obama up to now has defended the U.S. intervention in
Afghanistan, contrasting it with the war on Iraq. His administration has
already doubled U.S. troop strength to 68,000 this year, with an additional
38,000 troops mostly from NATO allies whose populations oppose the war. Obama
used the Sept. 11 commemoration of the 2001 attacks to again justify
Afghanistan’s occupation as a means to end the threat from al-Qaida.
Recent polls by the Boston Globe and CBS News show, however, that more than
half the U.S. population opposes sending more troops and that Democratic Party
voters are decidedly against an escalation of the U.S. presence. In addition,
many of the Democratic Party’s politicians in Congress are reluctant to
openly embrace a wider war in Central Asia.
On Sept. 11 Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan—head of the Senate
Armed Services Committee—called for no more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Dianne Feinstein of
California, along with Republican Susan Collins of Maine, continued to question
the need for new forces and its wisdom on CNN’s “State of the
Union” on Sept. 13.
That same day, at a conference of experts, former President Jimmy
Carter’s adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski also warned that a U.S. escalation
in Afghanistan could become a quagmire. The imperialist strategist Brzezinski
had urged Carter in 1979 to throw U.S. arms and financial support to
reactionary Afghans who fought the government brought to power by a progressive
revolution. From 1979 to 1992 the CIA backed all the Afghan groups that fought
against Soviet troops, who had intervened at the request of the pro-Socialist
government in Kabul.
Republican Sens. John McCain from Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
and “Independent” rightist Sen. Joe Lieberman from Connecticut
published a pro-war piece in the Wall Street Journal online on Sept. 13. The
three called for more U.S. troops and a long-term U.S. commitment to the Afghan
occupation. In their argument, they favorably quoted Obama’s statement
that the Afghan war is “a war of necessity.”
Serious differences—but over tactics
Levin argued that adding U.S. troops would not only result in a large increase
in U.S. casualties, it would arouse more Afghan support for the anti-U.S.
resistance. Levin instead suggests that U.S. and other NATO forces, and
mercenary forces be used to train Afghan troops and officers to form an
expanded Afghan army. The three senators speaking on CNN’s talk show
expressed a similar position.
The three pro-war senators writing in the Wall Street Journal took a position
that sounded much like George Bush did regarding Iraq. They said the U.S. must
prevail and that if the public backed a strong intervention with whatever force
was needed, the U.S. would prevail, “just as in Iraq.”
The argument represents serious tactical differences within the ruling-class
establishment. On the principal question, however, they both make the
pro-imperialist argument that the U.S. has a right to intervene 10,000 miles
from its shore and that this intervention—if done effectively—would
protect the people of the U.S. and bring democracy to the Afghans, improve
conditions for women and develop the country. This is as far from the truth as
the 935 Bush administration lies about al-Qaida and “arms of mass
destruction” used to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq.
U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, starting in 1979, has overturned the one
progressive government that defended women’s rights—the
pro-socialist government brought in by the 1978 revolution. It has caused 30
years of civil wars, with the usual deaths, maiming and disruption of life. It
has displaced millions of Afghans, forcing many across the border into
Pakistan, where the war has followed.
In the U.S. it has helped only a handful of powerful arms corporations that get
rich from war and has depleted the funds that could be used for social
services. For these corporations, the war in Iraq was also lucrative. But
despite the claims of McCain, Lieberman and Graham, the Iraq war has been a
complete nightmare for the Iraqi people—killing more than 1 million,
turning another 4 million into internal or foreign refugees and poisoning the
relationship between sectarian groups as never before existed.
And the Iraq war is still going on, with 130,000 U.S. troops still occupying
the country. If the casualties are down from the last year or two, it is only
because these troops have left the cities and spend more time in their
Role of anti-war movement
The Afghan issue creates a dilemma for the Obama administration. If Obama
promotes an escalation of the war, he will need the most reactionary and racist
elements in the Republican Party to back this program, including many of the
same forces that have attacked all his other programs and viciously attacked
his leadership. If he hesitates to expand the war, the militarists—and
all the other enemies of the administration—will blame him for
For the large majority here that has opposed the U.S. intervention in Iraq,
there should be no dilemma over Afghanistan. The so-called anti-terror aspect
of the war is a cover story for U.S. military expansion into Central Asia. Even
in the official story, no Afghans were involved in Sept. 11.
An expansion of the war will mean more horrors for the Afghans and a growing
drain of U.S. lives and wealth that will—as with all U.S. wars—be
taken out of the necessary social services at home and hurt the working class,
the growing mass of unemployed and all oppressed peoples.
A series of anti-war actions are planned in October around the U.S. to demand
the U.S. get out of Afghanistan. They should get the support of all progressive
organizations and individuals, as should the growing number of U.S. troops who
are refusing duty in that country.
E-mail: [email protected]
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE