“These two visions, one of tyranny and murder the other of liberty and life clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave US and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over. And that nation is coming to life again.”
George Bush; War College Address
Bush can take the podium in front of a national audience and claim success in Afghanistan without a whimper of dissent from the media. The American press has decided that any adventure pursued under the banner of “the war on terror” is just dandy with them as long as American lives are not at stake. It doesn’t matter if the country is already a “basket case” (as a visiting British MP described Afghanistan last week) just as long as the flag draped coffins aren’t being dumped off in Dover twice a week.
Actually, Afghanistan might be in worse shape than Iraq. The American intervention toppled the Taliban regime, but has left nothing to replace them. In fact the war has returned the country to a medieval state of warlords and fiefdoms; a situation that resulted in 25 years of factional fighting and civil war.
So where does Bush get the nerve to sound off about “a nation coming to life again?”
Afghanistan is buried on America’s back pages; another pitiable entry in The Bush Administration’s log of imperial neglect. Once the Taliban were routed and attention shifted to Iraq the country receded into predictable anarchy. There was no stopgap for the ensuing chaos; no plan to assist in the transition; just platitudes and air strikes, the panacea for whatever ails you. This seems to be the SOP (standard operating procedure) for the White House czars. Washington has no interest in nation building and the press has no intention of reporting on policy failures that leave 24 million people without security.
The press dutifully steps up its coverage when some pathetic public relations gambit is being orchestrated by Karl Rove and his Madison Ave cohorts. That was the case with the Afghanistan Constitution; the widely “ballyhooed” first step towards democracy. As it turns out, the document could have been run through the shredder for all the value it’ll have on Afghan society. The “constitution” hasn’t improved the appalling security situation nor has it restrained the warlords and drug traffickers from “business as usual” in the countryside.
What difference does a constitution make to the average Afghan if he can’t go 5 miles outside of Kabul without being shot or robbed? He’s looking for security not some worthless decree that serves no purpose other than a talking point on the FOX News Hour.
Now, the country is being pushed pell-mell towards elections, a step it is clearly not ready to make. (And a step that has forced Hamid Karzai to conduct secret negotiations with remnants of the Taliban on a power sharing agreement) The intention is simply to demonstrate the “great strides” that are being made in Afghanistan to improve Bush’s reelection prospects at home. It is a purely superficial development that has no affect on the deteriorating security situation. The press has wasted a fair amount of column space on these tentative elections, promoting the image of a beleaguered third world state as a burgeoning democracy. Once again, the American media has shown itself to be a reliable partner in the promotion of dubious policy.
Afghanistan is a tragic example of American foreign policy run amok. The promises of liberation and reconstruction have only generated more suffering and death.” Operation Enduring Freedom” was nothing more than a marketing ploy designed to project American military power into the region and secure long-coveted pipeline routes. It has created a situation that is more unstable than before. A recent report from Kim Sengupta confirms this; “The UK Independent has learned that an all-party group of MPs from the Foreign Affairs Committee has returned from a visit to the country shocked and alarmed by what they witnessed. They warn that urgent action must be taken to save Afghanistan from plunging further into chaos because of Western neglect.”
This is the reality of the Afghanistan campaign; a nation teetering towards anarchy because it fit nicely into the global designs of a handful of fanatics in Washington. It is a reality that has been scrupulously omitted from the establishment press because it doesn’t exemplify the virtue of American warmongering. A faithful rendering of the facts of the Afghanistan war would convince the American people that it was a cruel and cynical misadventure that never should have taken place. Nearly, three years after the end of major hostilities, the country is still more fractured and unsettled than ever. Large swaths of the country are engaged in an unreported war and the drug trade is fueling even greater instability. The Taliban have been replaced by the equally misogynist warlords who rule with an iron fist and have a similar disregard for basic human rights.
This state of affairs won’t be reversed by America’s paltry commitment of troops and resources, nor will it be improved by saccharine stories of Afghan elections and constitutions. Afghanistan is on the brink; driven by (to use George Bush’s words) “a totalitarian political ideology pursued with consuming zeal and without conscience.” This ideology was the real impetus for our war in Afghanistan.
It’s doubtful that either Bush or his friends in the media will be able to keep Afghanistan out of the headlines much longer. This mess bears the American imprimatur, and sooner or later those chickens will be coming home to roost.
MIKE WHITNEY can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org