The United States should never have invaded Afghanistan. The Afghan people suffered from U.S. violence for decades and now will face further hardship under the Taliban. The United States is right to withdraw as it has no right to occupy any country and the Taliban draws legitimacy from the U.S. occupation. At the same time, U.S. actions continue to demonstrate a clear lack of regard for the lives of Afghans. President Biden blames Afghans, framing the conflict as a “civil war” that the U.S. somehow stumbled into, obscuring the direct role the United States has played in starting and prolonging the bloodshed.
The Taliban emerged in part because of U.S. foreign policy decisions in the 1980s. The U.S. and its allies funded, trained, and armed the Afghan mujahideen to undermine the Soviet Union and bog them down in an unwinnable war. After Soviet withdrawal and Afghanistan’s descent into civil war, some of these former mujahideen fighters formed the Taliban with the backing of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), another major recipient of U.S. dollars. Twenty years after the United States overthrew them, the Taliban now control more territory than they did before the U.S. invasion.
The Taliban’s rapid takeover demonstrates the failure, by its own metrics, of the U.S. “nation-building” project. Despite rhetoric about humanitarianism and peacebuilding, the U.S. invaded for cynical interests of the U.S. government and corporations, building institutions that were never intended to stand on their own. Leaked documents from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), known as the Afghanistan Papers, revealed in 2019 that the U.S. military had long operated without a credible plan to defeat the Taliban and manipulated data to present the false idea that the war could ever be won. However, the Pentagon refused to admit defeat and risk harming the U.S. position as the global hegemon.
The war in Afghanistan is a monument to United States hubris; but more than that, it demonstrates the vicious nature of imperial capitalism in the neoliberal era. The occupation was a cruel, prolonged handout to weapons manufacturers, private military contractors, and investors, who all profited from the suffering of the Afghan people. Every facet of the U.S. occupation was an opportunity to exploit the people and land of Afghanistan in the pursuit of profit. This is the only “success” of Afghanistan: it was incredibly lucrative for corporations.
As socialists, we recognize that one of the greatest threats to liberation is U.S. militarism. We must stand against not only open conflict but also against occupation, interference in foreign affairs, sanctions, and other coercive trade practices. In other words, we must move beyond being anti-war to being anti-imperialist.
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) International Committee stands firmly in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, in particular with the women and ethnic minorities sure to face persecution under the Taliban. All Afghans who desire it should be granted asylum in the United States or another country of their choosing, with a waiver of all application hurdles and provision of all necessary support. In addition, the United States must end all its current wars and reckon with its past and present imperialist aggression, including its interventions in the name of “humanitarianism” and its saber-rattling propaganda. Those responsible for the war and its innumerable crimes, particularly George W. Bush and members of his administration, should face justice for their actions.
DSA International Committee reiterates its calls for ending the Global War on Terror, including the repeals without replacement of the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force; the end to all overseas counterterrorism or other military operations; the closure of all of the United States’ 800+ overseas bases; dismantling of the national security state and slashing the exorbitant military budget; reinvesting those resources into social spending, reparations, and climate justice; and accepting all refugees resulting from previous and current conflicts without exception.