With the ‘liberation’ of Kabul, Kunduz and other Afghan cities, the ruling class is trying to paint the war in new colours. We are now being told that, thanks to American bombs, we can celebrate the fall of the Taliban regime and the arrival of Northern Alliance troops in these cities. The systematic bombing of Afghanistan is supposed to be a small price compared to the benefits obtained: women can throw off the burka (although very few have actually done so) and men can cut their beards and go to the pictures. This is the compensation the population is offered for the hundreds, perhaps thousands of ‘collateral’ deaths, the destruction of homes and of the already collapsing infrastructure, the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands who still face a winter of misery and starvation not to mention the political oppression that will undoubtedly be imposed upon them by the new gang that has taken over.
The Northern Alliance is the same clique which plunged the country into chaos after the defeat of the USSR. Its rule of rape and pillage resulted in many welcoming the Taliban as a better alternative. And already it has shown its real nature very clearly: pogroms against ‘foreign’ Taliban, the massacre of 500 prisoners after the so-called revolt at Marzer e-Sharif (aided and abetted by US air attacks), the execution of 150 prisoners at Takteh Pol, near Kandahar for ‘refusing to surrender’.
And yet we are being sold the line that the Taliban (supported by the US when it first came to power) was, along with bin Laden’s al-Qaida group, the real cause of the suffering of the Afghanistan population, the real cause of the present war - and that now at last the country can look forward to peace and reconstruction.
Lies! In Afghanistan, as in the Middle East, in Kosovo, in all the other so-called ‘humanitarian wars’, the civil population has simply been held hostage by the imperialist rivalries between different bourgeois states and gangs. The barbarism of war isn’t caused by a particular faction of world capital, but by world capital as a whole.
The defeat of the Taliban will bring no prospect of peace either in the short or the long term. On the contrary, ethnic conflicts are going to sharpen, further destabilising both Afghanistan and the region around it. The real perspective is one of growing chaos, whatever the ‘solutions’ cooked up by the UN or by the various imperialist powers, local or global. All of them, including the USA’s most ‘loyal’ ally, Britain, are trying to get a foothold in the country under the guise of ‘peacekeeping’ or ‘humanitarian aid’, and so prevent the US from achieving total and undisputed control of this key strategic region at the crossroads of Asia and the Middle East. The end of the present phase of the conflict will only whet the appetites of the competing imperialist sharks and thus prepare the ground for further competition and conflict.
War in the name of peace
War in the name of peace - it’s nothing new. The ruling class has been singing the same refrain since the beginning of the 20th century. The first world war was the ‘war to end war’. Balance sheet: 20 million dead. The second world war was fought in the name of democracy against fascism, civilisation against barbarism. Balance sheet: 60 million dead. Today, in the name of another noble cause, the ‘fight against terrorism’, capitalist civilisation has carried out new massacres that in turn will provoke even bigger massacres in the future, not only in Afghanistan, but throughout the entire region. Already the US is looking for the next target on its ‘anti-terrorist’ hit list, the current favourite being Iraq.
Peace is impossible in decadent capitalism. War has become the way of life of this doomed and dying system. Since the first world war, capitalism has demonstrated over and over again that it has exhausted all possibilities for peaceful expansion. At that point it entered into a permanent crisis of overproduction, and so into a state of permanent self-cannibalisation, acted out through the endless military rivalries of the various nation states, large or small. The more capitalism sinks into its economic contradictions, the more it rots on its feet, the more wars will multiply, revealing the utter bankruptcy of a system which has nothing further to offer humanity.
The only way to put an end to this hellish spiral is to put an end to capitalism before it destroys the planet. And this can only happen if the working class develops its struggles against the effects of the economic crisis, against poverty and unemployment, against the intensification of exploitation; if it comes to understand the intimate connection between war and the crisis of capitalism; if it reaffirms its own historic perspective, its political programme: the replacement of capitalism with a society without classes, frontiers and nations, a society based on the satisfaction of human needs and not on exploitation, competition, and the hunt for profit. Only in such a society can there be real and lasting peace on Earth. WR 1/12/01