Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Afghanistan?

What are we doing in Afghanistan? According to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, the Administration together with the Congress are working to complete our “mission”. This is good news for enthusiasts of American imperialism who naturally take to national, militaristic, rallying calls. Mission is a carefully chosen word. Used in this sense by propagandists, it connotes purpose, goodness, unity, and suggestively…Stop! Because once you accept the premise that we have a mission in Afghanistan, you are sufficiently indoctrinated.

With this level of indoctrination, attention can be safely turned away from the mission itself onto its details, things like strategy, tactics, timing, resources, and flexibility. Schumer assures us that, in this debate over details, all the president’s advisers are getting their say.

He calls the War in Afghanistan a “complex issue” to which there are no easy answers. There are easy answers, but Washington doesn’t like them. And what makes the issue complex is the circular way Washington must represent the situation in order to keep the public in line with the program. Foremost in this regard is to frighten, therefore the inevitable scare talk about protecting our country from terrorists (in lieu of a truly formidable enemy) and, in general, cultivating enemies (Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela), the one thing that is indispensable to the Pentagon.

The thinking person must examine the concept of terrorism and the government’s repeated reference to it. If one accepts the State Department’s definition limiting it to non-state actors, the U.S. is conveniently exempt. This certainly answers the question of why no government officials will be considered terrorists, but it is hardly because of the popularly accepted notion of innocence. State terrorism is violence on a scale (for example, “Shock and Awe” in Iraq) that is not approachable by non-state actors.

We talk about “defeating” al Qaeda. What can that possibly mean when their methods are those of the already defeated? It is the method of those that lack – no size, no resources, no army, navy, or air force – possessing a very finite ability and number that cannot be reduced to zero. Indeed, all indications are that our military aggression (with even mere military presence constituting low-grade aggression) in Muslim lands will move the number, predictably, in the opposite direction of zero.

The point is not that small scale terrorism has a place because large scale terrorism exists. That is simply a fact. The point is to oppose all forms of terrorism, wherever it emanates from. The citizen is in no position to affect foreign terrorism, but has a natural and proper role to address the terrorism carried out by our own government. Understanding why it is that our government exploits small scale terrorism to advance its own agenda is a step in this direction.

Which brings us to the real mission, actually obliquely referred to here by Schumer:

“We can achieve victory in Afghanistan when we have an environment that is conducive to economic development and most importantly when the Afghans have a security infrastructure that permits them to independently fight off and neutralize the Taliban insurgency in that country.”

Putting aside what he relegates most importance to, the two operative words are “economic development”, and it is not theirs that we are interested in. If we are not interested in helping Cuba’s economic development, 90 miles from our shore, why would we care about Afghanistan, halfway around the world.

All the troops, all the missiles, all the Predator drones are there to bring Afghanistan under American dependence, consolidating U.S. presence in the oil and gas rich Caspian Basin with its geopolitical significance toward potential enemies Russia and China, and encircling Iran. We’re fighting them “over there” not so we don’t have to fight them “over here”, but because that’s where the oil and gas are. Try telling that to the American public and see if it turns up a few less patriots.

The vaunted “stability” that Washington yearns for in foreign countries has nothing to do with stability. What country has been more stable than Cuba for the past 50 years? Stability in the State Department sense means compliance with U.S. instructions, access for U.S. investment, access to the country’s raw materials, and the necessary military basing these entail. The cheapest asset of U.S. multinationals is the U.S. military, serving to protect foreign investment with costs of blood and limb, paid for in full by the commons.

Collateral to this use of the military, some GIs in Afghanistan are now said to be under Army investigation for allegedly killing three Afghan civilians in Kandahar earlier this year, as well they should be. But notice the distinction between this, an instance of military justice, and the enforcement work known as domestic justice. Domestically, at least sometimes, we use the weak to get the strong. There is a compelling logic to this because the weak only do what the boss allows. Besides, there is much in this for the prosecutor in the way of making a reputation, and what it says for career advancement.

In the military, the strong are used to get the weak. Careers are advanced by sealing off potential damage from above, for example, then Major Colin Powell in Vietnam, the subject being possible U.S. atrocities. If all the truth were known, the responsibility in Afghanistan rests with those who give orders, ultimately, Washington.

JAMES ROTHENBERG can be reached at: jrothenberg@taconic.net

WORDS THAT STICK

 

More articles by:

James Rothenberg can be reached at:  jrothenberg@taconic.net

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail