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Afghan war: the web of lies comes undone

PSL Editorial

Mcchystal obamaThe Obama administration and the Pentagon know that they have lost the war in Afghanistan. Yet they are still sending tens of thousands more soldiers and marines to kill and be killed.”

The country learned on June 22 that the Pentagon is spending $2.16 billion of taxpayer money each year to pay the Taliban and other Afghan forces not to shoot at military convoys as they bring in supplies for the U.S. occupation. This revelation comes through a Congressional subcommittee report.

The report comes in the context of growing indications that Afghan President Hamid Karzai, backed by powerful interests in Washinton and in Europe, is seeking some sort of reintegration of the Taliban into the Afghan state. This has been the U.S. strategy for over a year now. More than 40,000 additional U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan just so that U.S. officials would have more leverage when they inevitably got down to negotiating.

At the same time, Gen. Stanley McChrystal's interview in Rolling Stone Magazine was just one more indicator of the demoralization and disarray that is an inevitable consequence of a failed military adventure. It also demonstrated the contempt of the Pentagon high command for civilian elected officials, including the White House, who, according to the Constitution, are their superiors. This, in spite of the fact that President Obama has at each and every turn taken his cue from the Pentagon authorities who had originally been given their positions by the Bush administration.

Obama has pledged, despite the sacking of McChrystal, to follow the same core strategy in Afghanistan. In short, that strategy is this: Knowing that the Afghan war is not winnable and that the insurgency cannot be destroyed, the U.S. government's main objective is to avoid the appearance of defeat. It must show “strength” now so that it can strike a good deal later. For that cause alone, 189 U.S. troops—and untold numbers of Afghans—have already died in 2010. These dealings alone prove that this war has nothing to do with destroying the Taliban or terrorism.

Even while denying the possibility of a deal with the Taliban at present, CIA chief Leon Panetta confirmed this basic strategy: “Unless they're convinced that the United States is going to win and that they're going to be defeated, I think it's very difficult to proceed with a reconciliation that's going to be meaningful.”

The Afghan war is a war for empire and geopolitical control. In addition to its strategic natural gas and oil pipelines and its bearing on the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, Afghanistan is now being called the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” With lithium, which is used in cell phone and computer batteries, the country's mineral wealth is estimated around $1 trillion. The economic stakes and potential for mass looting are so high that the U.S. government still dreams of establising a neocolonial relationship with the impoverished nation.

Enriching Wall Street and striking deals with the Taliban are not causes that the U.S. public will ever rally behind. They are not causes that will inspire young service members to go kill and die. That is why the White House would like to keep Afghanistan off the front pages. The truth, as it comes out, is showing that the “war on terror” is a fraud, and that these lives are being lost for nothing.

More and more rank-and-file members of the military are turning against the war, while the Pentagon and its generals do everything they can to hang on. Organizations like the ANSWER Coalition and March Forward!, an organization of anti-war service members and veterans, are stepping up their outreach to soldiers, marines, veterans and military families. It will be critical for all progressives and revolutionaries to join their upcoming anti-war actions.

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