I vividly recall watching the spectacle at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon as the defeat of United States involvement against the workers and farmers in Vietnam was sealed. Watching the Today Show on NBC this morning was eerily similar.
This promises to be a defining moment in the Democratic Administration of Joseph Biden, but it goes much deeper than this presidency. This 20-year campaign in Afghanistan dates back President George Bush after 9/11 and is part of a much bigger deployment of troops in the area and the world to defend U.S. interests against its capitalist rivals and workers who might dare challenge its prerogatives.
Earlier this year the Militant newsweekly looked the pending withdrawal from Afghanistan and placed these events in historic context. A few excerpts:
“The war in Afghanistan is the longest ever fought by the U.S. rulers, the world’s dominant but declining imperialist power. Acting on the illusion that they won the Cold War when the Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe came apart, and could impose their authority as the one ‘indispensable power,’ Washington began a series of wars and military operations from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Pakistan.
“Each conflict was aimed at imposing compliant regimes and extending the U.S. rulers’ global reach at the expense of their capitalist rivals. Each brought down carnage on the peoples of those countries as well as on the U.S. troops, workers in uniform used as cannon fodder.
“The U.S. government claims its war in Afghanistan was intended to prevent another 9/11 attack. But the massive use of military might there was primarily aimed at ‘persuading’ governments across the region ‘that continuing to get crosswise with Washington is not only against their class interests but contrary over any extended period to their own survival,’ a 2005 Socialist Workers Party resolution explained…
“Washington’s two-decade occupation of Afghanistan has done nothing to eradicate the wretched living conditions working people there face. Some 57% of adults are illiterate. The infant mortality rate is 46.5 deaths for every 1,000 births, in contrast to 5.6 in the U.S.
“The U.S. capitalist rulers came out of [World War II] proclaiming they would now preside over an ‘American century.’ But they fought in Korea to a stalemate, were defeated in Vietnam, presided over war and destruction across the Middle East, and now say they’ll get out of Afghanistan.
“‘Working people need our own foreign policy,’ Alyson Kennedy, the Socialist Workers Party’s 2021 Texas state campaign chairperson, told the Militant, ‘starting from solidarity with fellow working people in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan and across Central Asia.'”
You can read the full article, “Washington says will pull out of 20-year Afghan war,” at the Militant. It covers a popular revolution that swept Afghanistan in 1978 followed by the subsequent involvement and defeat of the Soviet Union there.
The Militant article excerpted above described the United States as “[a]cting on the illusion that they won the Cold War when the Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe came apart….” This idea probably takes many readers here by surprise since this is not at all how the collapse of the Soviet Union is usually described.
For more about this, New International #11 contains a 1990 article by Jack Barnes entitled “U.S. Imperialism has Lost the Cold War.” It’s available at Amazon or through Pathfinder Press, or you can read the entire issue online.
Title image is a screenshot from the Today Show on NBC.
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