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U.S. war crimes alienate peoples of Pakistan, Afghanistan

Published Nov 8, 2009 10:27 PM

Recent events in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan have again put the spotlight on U.S. imperialist designs to continue to subjugate and dominate these south-central Asian countries. They have also shown that the besieged peoples of these nations will not bow down to what the belligerent occupation forces have in store for them.

Eight years of war and occupation in Afghanistan have failed to subdue the Taliban-led resistance. October was the deadliest month yet this year for U.S. forces engaged in the grossly misnamed “Operation Enduring Freedom.” Fifty-nine GIs lost their lives. (icasualties.org)

The Aug. 20 presidential election in Afghanistan was supposed to have provided a veneer of “democracy” and legitimacy that would justify the continued U.S.-led occupation and war. Instead, incumbent President Hamid Karzai “won” in an election marked by low voter turnout and rife with massive, widespread fraud. The U.S.-backed puppet leader had so many of his ballots invalidated that it pushed him below the 50 percent margin required for him to win.

Karzai’s main rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, himself a collaborator with the occupation forces, announced on Oct. 31 that he was boycotting the runoff election between him and Karzai scheduled for Nov. 7 after talks broke down on implementing measures to prevent further vote fraud.

The Taliban had called for a boycott of the election they called phony and said they would step up attacks on the occupying military forces. A Taliban statement warned that anyone involved in the electoral process would be considered a legitimate target. (aljazeera.net, Oct. 29)

On Nov. 2, under intense pressure from the United States and its imperialist allies, the Afghan “Independent Election Commission” canceled the runoff election and declared Karzai the winner, thus sparing the government and its U.S. masters another round of vote fraud charges and additional casualties.

These events occur as U.S. President Barack Obama is considering an increase of more than 40,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander of the occupation forces, has said that unless this minimum number of additional forces is sent, the U.S. effort risks failure in opposing the growing Taliban resistance.

Pentagon’s offensive against Obama

McChrystal’s active promotion of the escalation showed that the Pentagon was attempting to dictate policy to the Obama administration. The president has been meeting with a bipartisan “war council” focused on future military strategy in Afghanistan and whether to accede to the Pentagon’s demand for troops. It is apparent that many in the administration believe an escalation might lead to an even bigger debacle for the U.S.

In a speech at a naval air station in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 26, however, Obama tried to placate the warhawks, saying he would “never hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests.” (aljazeera.net, Oct. 27) He did not explain what vital interests the people of the U.S. have in Afghanistan.

Currently there are approximately 104,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including about 68,000 U.S. troops. Afghan armed forces number around 94,000 and are supported by a similar number of police, bringing the total occupation force to almost 300,000 members. (Associated Press, Oct. 28)

McChrystal says the extra forces are needed to implement a new strategy that focuses on “protecting civilians” while at the same time depriving the Taliban of popular support. In practice, this counter-insurgency strategy leads to enormous civilian deaths and high troop casualties. Taliban fighters number only approximately 25,000. Even with this 12 to 1 ratio, the U.S. occupation has been unable to defeat the resistance or curb attacks on its own forces.

In neighboring Pakistan, the U.S. government pushed the regime into a military offensive against Islamic resistance fighters along the border with Afghanistan in an area known as Waziristan. At stake for the Pakistani government is $7.5 billion in U.S. military aid to be used exclusively for “the war on terror.”

In what is said to be a response by the Taliban to the government offensive, which has driven hundreds of thousands from their homes, there were several bombings in Pakistan in October that killed more than 300 people. On Nov. 2, at least 30 more were killed in a bombing near Pakistan’s military headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Clinton flops in Pakistan

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on what much of the media called a three-day “charm offensive” to Pakistan Oct. 28-30. Her public relations tour was meant to shore up goodwill for the U.S., even as a majority of people in this impoverished country were rejecting U.S. military intervention and occupation in the region. Clinton’s plane had barely touched down when a bomb attack killed 105 people in the city of Peshawar—an attack the Taliban denied making.

Clinton offended both the people and the Pakistani government as she point-blank accused the government of purposely not ridding the country of al-Qaeda: “I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to.” (Reuters, Oct. 29)

Clinton then tried to soften her tone but it was too late. The Pakistani masses were infuriated by the arrogance of the imperialist master. It seemed that everywhere Clinton went, angry Pakistanis confronted her and put her on the defensive, “brimming with resentment toward U.S. foreign policy.” (AP, Oct. 29)

As Clinton was making a live broadcast with a primarily female audience of several hundred, a woman confronted the secretary of state, accusing Washington of “executions without trial” by using remote-controlled pilotless drones against the civilian population. Another woman asked Clinton how she would define terrorism. “Is it the killing of people in drone attacks?” the woman asked. A visibly frustrated Clinton could only reply “No.”

Since August 2008, some 70 airstrikes by pilotless drone aircraft have killed at least 600 people in northwestern Pakistan. Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, told a news conference in New York on Oct. 27 that such drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan “may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” (aljazeera.net, Oct. 28)

Clinton was asked repeatedly throughout her visit to Pakistan about the drone attacks and could only respond by saying, “There’s a war going on.”

Workers in the United States have no interest in fighting this war on behalf of an imperialist system that is desperately trying to maintain its stranglehold on the impoverished and struggling peoples of the world.

Poor and working people know in their bones that “terror” and “terrorism” are nothing but code words used by the powers that be to vilify and demonize those who would stand up and fight back to maintain their pride and dignity. Workers and oppressed people in the U.S. know that what’s needed is a “war on joblessness” at home.

The people of Afghanistan and Pakistan have shown an indomitable will to struggle against the largest military behemoth in the world in order to defend their sovereignty and drive out the invaders. What is decisive is not military might but the will of the people. It is the duty of anti-imperialist activists in the U.S. to show solidarity with the resistance forces and demand U.S. out of Afghanistan and Pakistan.