A friend in the Antipodes whom I shall call “A Modern Anzac” has provided a long-term appraisal of Western intervention in Afghanistan which questions the interpretation from Clive Williams as well as those voiced by former PM, John Howard, and by Greg Sheridan and others in The Australian newspaper [i] In doing so, I have imposed by own highlighting…. Michael Roberts
A Modern Anzac
A = Frontal Challenge One
This kind of narrative belongs to a 1800s mindset of military thinking: it is outmoded and irrelevant to the 21st Century.
I would say the biggest mistake for the Americans was intervening into Afghanistan in the first place, supporting the mujahideen, giving rise to the Taliban for geopolitical reasons, just to topple the former Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1978-92) led by President Najibullah. This government was improving education, rights for women, and reconciliation – much the same values the US, UK and Australia give for being in Afghanistan – except it is more than that. These countries were there for geopolitical reasons. The US had toppled a leftist government in Iran in 1953 and sure didn’t want a leftist government in Kabul, so it had to go. With US and Pakistani support, the Taliban overthrew it. In 1996, the Taliban captured and killed President Najibullah outside the UN compound, no doubt cheered on by the Americans.
It is time Western commentators stopped putting gold on the face of the US government and military. The 5.2 trillion spent by the US in Afghanistan was wasted – money the US could have better used to build infrastructure like a Western style Belt road.
US interventions have been disastrous everywhere, from Vietnam to the Arab Spring, Iraq, Nicaragua to name a few, imposing their own ideological systems, and denying sovereignty for geopolitical reasons. The Arab Spring was a total disaster… it brought nothing but death to many and created a power vacuum that unleashed extremely dark forces which the world is still dealing with today. American cheerleaders, like those found in The Australian, are part of the problem.
For a brief list of US toppling governments, denying sovereignty, and installing US backed governments, see ……..……………………………… …………………………………… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change
John Howard is also trying to put gold on Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan saying it was not a failure, to reinforce support for his own decision to get involved in Afghanistan, and to keep up morale among veterans. But his words cannot change history, and those not consumed by official Australian narratives on Afghanistan can see clearly it was a total failure. It is useless to deny it.
If the US had not intervened in the 1990s, supporting the mujahideen and the group that later came to be known as Taliban (a US creation), then the last 40 or so years in Afghanistan may have been very different and not the mess it has become today. The US has to stop interfering into other countries, stop funding military think tanks, and the military industry, and start putting money into useful things for humanity.
The US cannot afford to pump money into wasted military interventions, as it is running our of money, has massive debts, and is printing money like crazy just to get through the pandemic. This 19th century mindset has to go.
Unlike the US, neither Russia, China, nor Iran intervened into Afghanistan to support the Taliban overthrowing the Afghan National Government. China urged the US to not withdraw so quickly, but the US didn’t listen.
B: Further Thoughts
- US interventions into Greece in 1967 and Indonesia were plain evil. Communists didn’t kill the Generals and throw them down a well. That narrative was used to kill millions of Indonesians, including those whose only crime was to be given rice from communists — all of this madness supported by the US and Australia.
- Can Clive Williams explain in what way the 5.2 trillion spent in Afghanistan over 20 years has made a valuable contribution to humanity? “Defeating terrorism, al-Qaeda and killing Bin Laden” is not a satisfactory answer to this question.
- As for the US supporting a corrupt government in Kabul, it was a government of their making.
[i] This friend’s line of work renders him/her vulnerable to reprisals so some protective ‘dressings’ have to be implemented.