A CP news feed printed in the Jan18-20 weekend edition of Metro reports of two Afghan farmers being shot by Canadian gunfire a few days before christmas last year. The report states "A 12-year-old boy said he was there when soldiers - whom he insisted were Canadian because he recognized their vehicles - shot and killed his father and seven-year-old brother while they tended crops north of Kandahar City." That is the unfortunate reality of war-ravaged Afghanistan to which the role of the Canadian military is contributing. This particular story is a perfect example of just how difficult and almost impossible it is for conventional armies to defeat guerrilla warfare and civilian militas, something NATO and U.S forces are obviously having a hard time with, which often results in the tragic deaths of innocent civilians.
Mainstream media reports claim that the ISAF is gaining ground and controls most provinces, but 2007 was the bloodiest year since the 2001 invasion, and independent research groups claim that Taliban presence still dominates the majority of the country's provinces. A November 2007 report by the Senlis Council (Stumbling Into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink) states that "The Taliban has proven itself to be a truly resurgent force. Its ability to establish a presence throughout the country is now proven beyond doubt; research undertaken by Senlis Afghanistan indicates that 54% of Afghanistan's landmass hosts a permanent Taliban presence, primarily in southern Afghanistan, and is subject to frequent hostile activity by the insurgency. The insurgency now controls vast swaths of unchallenged territory including rural areas, some district centres, and important road arteries. The Taliban are the de facto governing authority in significant portions of territory in the south, and are starting to control parts of the local economy and key infrastructure such as roads and energy supply. The insurgency also exercises a significant amount of psychological control, gaining more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people who have a long history of shifting alliances and regime change." The fact that Taliban support is growing and that the civilian population is increasingly involved in the Afghan Resistance to U.S/NATO Imperialism is a clear indication that the majority of Afghans want the ISAF to leave their country. The occupation's persistence is a tyrannical violation of the Afghan people's right to self-determination.
Civilian opposition and involvement also higlights how Afghanistan, much like Iraq, is now more and more becoming an unwinnable war. An Al-Qaeda strategist, Ayman al-Zawahiri, stated in 2001 "The leadership made a decision to dismantle the Taliban and integrate into the Afghan society once again. This move will enable it to return in seven years, in harmony with a well examined plan to defeat the Americans and their plans." This could be an indication as to why the Taliban managed to come on so strongly in 2007. And even if U.S/NATO forces were to somehow gain the upper-hand, the militias always have that option open to them, to scatter back into the civilian population and simply play the waiting game. The Taliban is not going anywhere, they are at home in their own country, time is on their side, but the imperialists at some point will have to go back home.
Another huge problem for U.S/NATO forces is the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Achilles' heel of the so-called war on terror, which are completely controlled by and have served as a base for the Taliban divisions of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and all sorts of other insurgent activity, with an Al-Qaeda presence. Again the Senlis report states: "Ever since their egress from Afghanistan in November 2001, the Taliban’s Command and Control structures have re-established themselves in Quetta, Pakistan, directing insurgency propaganda and activities from a safe haven just 60 kilometres from the border with Afghanistan. Furthermore, the North West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas have become a training ground for an array of actors intent upon driving NATO forces from Afghanistan. Bolstered by support from elements of Pakistan’s overbearing military establishment, the Taliban have established firm roots within these regions. Parts of Waziristan in NWFP are now controlled by militant islamists..." So again the situation simply amounts to a waiting game for the Taliban. Neither Pakistan's military nor the imperialist forces in Afghanistan have taken the initiative to do anything about the NWFP and FATA; in any case, even if they wanted to they would be unable to do so.
It was revealed last week that British diplomat Paddy Ashdown will become the United Nation's new super-envoy to Afghanistan. In a response of desperation to the impossible situation of Afghanistan, the UN thinks that added bureaucracy will somehow provide the solution to their problems. So typically egocentric American isn't it, to use the word super to refer to the chief executive of a major imperialist intervention. But there is reason to believe that Mr.Ashdown will take a different approach to NATO's failure in Afghanistan. He is not a typical politician and is in much better touch with the realities and nuances of a military intervention than anyone else involved. He acknowledges "that Afghanistan has become a disorganized disaster, that we are repeating the worst mistakes of the Balkan Wars, that we are on the verge of a loss that would be even more dire than the West's defeat in Iraq." He also openly admits that there is more to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan than just the war on terror: "Our failure relies on the fact that we believe, for some bizarre reason, that we have such a unique system of government in our own countries - by the way, not a view shared by many of our citizens - that we believe we have a right to impose it lock, stock, and barrel, along with the values and everything that goes along with it, on other countries with the use of B-52s, tanks and rifles." What is manifest through these wars is the imperialists' distorted, contradictory theory of democracy, the self-righteous assumption that western-style "democracy" is the envy of all nations.
Mr.Ashdown says that these nations before being able to embrace any sort of democracy are in need of something far more basic; "Look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs. They want security. Actually, I think democracy is what people choose when they have enough prosperity that they want a system of government that will protect it. The big thing about democracy is not that its efficient, but that its the best means of protecting what you have." In other words, Afghans at the moment are worried first and foremost about surviving, not about what sort of government is best for them; a country cannot prosper when it is consumed by war. The Senlis Council report puts it this way: "Living conditions in Afghanistan, particularly in the south, remain appalling. Overall health indicators for women and children are at exceptionally low levels, with only two countries having worse child mortality rates than Afghanistan. Access to healthcare, education and other basic services is dramatically hindered by the lack of essential infrastructure. Today, the majority of the Afghan population is malnourished and lacks essential access to safe drinking water." The result so far of the more than six year military occupation is that unemloyment in Afghanistan is over 80%, only 13.5% of Afghans have a stable income, and 48.8% of families have at least one child that works. Afghanistan has the lowest per capita income in the world. The U.S/NATO forces try to legitimize the occupation on the grounds that, by rescuing them from the inhumane customs of the Taliban, they are vastly improving conditions for women. Yet, one of five women dies of pregnancy related causes every thirty minutes in Afghanistan. Only 13% of Afghans have access to safe drinking water. In 2004, three years into the occupation, less than 40% of Afghans had access to basic healthcare. There is only one doctor for every 50,000 people. A war-torn reality renders impossible the capacity for stability and human prosperity.
In essence, democracy is the freedom to choose, so a military intervention to impose it is a complete paradox. I do not condone terrorism or some of the brutal religious practices of the Taliban, but I categorically state that the war on "terror" is primarily just a convenient pretext for ruling class ambitions. The culture crusade of neo-democracy to pacify the resisters, and forceful neo-liberalism to produce the conquest of capitalist globalization. The resistance in Afghanistan and internationally must consolidate its strength and solidarity in demanding with a loud voice that imperialism grant humanity to the Afghan people immediately.
U.S/NATO Forces Out of Afghanistan Now!
Self-Determination for All Oppressed Nations!