•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

time to end u.S.-NAto occupation of Afghanistan

McChrystal fired after exposing rifts in U.S. war policy

Published Jul 5, 2010 11:25 PM

A look at Google News shows that tens of thousands of articles have reported or commented on President Barack Obama’s firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his replacement by Gen. David Petraeus. This exposure of disarray and demoralization within U.S. imperialism’s military and civilian leadership provides a welcome opportunity to accelerate efforts to force Washington and its allies to withdraw and end the illegal U.S.-NATO war and occupation of Afghanistan.

It is time to increase writing, speaking and acting against this unjust, colonial occupation.

There is little doubt that the surge of publicity about the war in Afghanistan has awakened more interest in it. The BP oil spill and the failure of the capitalist economy to generate jobs are still on the front burner, but for a few days they had competition in the media.

Here’s what happened. McChrystal, his press secretary and his adjutants let freelance reporter and war critic Michael Hastings join their inner circle for a dinner in Paris as they were waiting out the Iceland volcano’s ash to fly out during the spring.

During that dinner the adjutants made some snide remarks insulting U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry — himself a former three-star general — Vice President Joe Biden and Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke. They called National Security Adviser and former four-star Gen. James Jones “a clown.” McChrystal also said Obama seemed uncomfortable at a meeting they had in the fall.

McChrystal’s team also let loose with a few comments that indicated the “counterinsurgency” strategy that both McChrystal and Petraeus champion is not going well for the occupation. McChrystal himself called the reoccupation of the Marja region a “bleeding ulcer.” That was the region whose retaking was supposed to turn the tide for the war against the Taliban.

A senior adviser to McChrystal added, “If Americans [sic] pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.”

Though Hastings’ article opened with some of the remarks that made it “go viral” on the Internet, it was otherwise a carefully written piece examining the difficulties of the U.S. position in Afghanistan — without questioning Washington’s motives for the occupation or for the Pentagon’s aggressive role worldwide.

Hastings concludes, “Whatever the nature of the new plan [for Kandahar], the delay underscores the fundamental flaws of counterinsurgency. After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The very people that COIN seeks to win over — the Afghan people — do not want us there.”

Expanding U.S. interests

Some 36 hours after the article appeared, Obama accepted McChrystal’s resignation. By offering no excuse or denial, McChrystal appeared almost relieved to be relieved of his command.

Given the infighting among U.S. officials directing the war; the near collapse of the announced offensive in Kandahar; the announcement by the Netherlands and Poland that their troop withdrawals would proceed; growing war opposition in Germany and Britain; increased deaths among U.S.-NATO forces; and the instability of the puppet President Hamid Karzai, one can see why the general might have wanted to quit.

Much of the discussion in the corporate media was on civilian-military conflicts, on the problems with the Afghan occupation and on the differing strategies to obtain a U.S. victory. None come close to exposing the central truth that U.S. intervention in Afghanistan is based not on “ending terror” but on expanding U.S. imperialism’s geopolitical interests.

Washington first supported groups like al-Qaida in the 1980s against the Soviet troops invited in by a progressive Afghan government. Later it allowed the Pakistan military regime to place the Taliban in power. The U.S. then invaded Afghanistan in 2001 using an alleged “war on terror” as the pretext.

Now the war has gone on longer than the war against Vietnam, with more than 1,000 U.S. troops dead and more coming. The Taliban has gone from being a reactionary and unpopular government to being the leading force in a resistance war of the Afghan people.

Both civilian and military officials here are committed to pursuing U.S. imperialist interests. In front of the Rolling Stones writer, McChrystal and his gang attacked Eikenberry and Jones even though the two are former top generals. They attacked Biden, a civilian official, who is the author of the strategy of dividing Iraq with ethnic and religious-based militias, a strategy that has brought untold hardships upon millions of ordinary Iraqis.

They attacked Holbrooke, the “Af-Pak czar,” a State Department official who authored NATO’s war of aggression that tore Yugoslavia apart.

In Iraq, McChrystal carried out secret operations for five years targeting groups and individual Iraqis. He is the author of the counterinsurgency plan for Afghanistan. This plan includes an attempt to avoid civilian deaths — mainly because civilian deaths tend to increase support for the resistance forces. McChrystal is also supposed to be closest to Afghan President Karzai.

Petraeus, McChyrstal’s replacement, also represents the Pentagon. According to all reports he too is committed to this counterinsurgency plan and the continuation of U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

Exposing high cost of war

Most if not all of these officials, civilian and military, would be candidates for charges of war crimes in a world where U.S. military and economic power no longer decided right and wrong.

Like any other U.S. presidency, the current administration is captive of the giant U.S. military machine in running foreign policy, just as it is captive of Wall Street and the big banks regarding economic policy and of the big oil firms regarding the environment. One general’s firing can’t change that balance.

But in a time of unprecedented budget cuts of social services and extended unemployment benefits, it is easier for the population, especially the workers and oppressed and youth, to see that a costly war in Afghanistan is both a drain and a crime. That the war’s leadership is unraveling opens the door to a potential mass struggle that can make a difference in ending the war in Afghanistan.