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Is Killing Peasants Protecting America’s Interests?

Photograph Source: Fibonacci Blue – CC BY 2.0

The war drags on. There is no end in sight. Peace negotiations are thwarted again. Republicans and Democrats alike appear in the press decrying the possibility of the enemy coming to talk peace and staying at Camp David. Personally, I was surprised by the Camp David aspect of the story only because I figured Trump might try and get the Taliban negotiators a floor or two in one of his hotels or resorts. Why go to Camp David if the family Trump can make a few bucks? If Trump properties are good enough for the Chinese and the US Air Force, why not the Taliban, too?

Perhaps the real reason for the most recent failure of the peace negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan client regime and the US can be found in Secretary Pompeo’s remarks on CNN’s State of the Union show this past weekend.

“You should know in the last 10 days we’ve killed over a thousand Taliban.” Pompeo told the audience. “And while this is not a war of attrition, I want the American people to know that President Trump is taking it to the Taliban in an effort to make sure that we protect America’s interests.”

Sarcastically speaking, there’s nothing bloodthirsty in that statement. Sounds like a man seeking peace to me. As for the veracity of the quote, let’s take a look. To begin with, if the US and its client forces really did kill one thousand Afghans in the preceding ten days, how can they be certain the dead were Taliban? A more likely scenario is that the dead, whether it’s a few hundred or a thousand, included many Afghan civilians who happened to live in areas controlled by the Taliban who are, after all, Afghans too. Indeed, since the Trump administration took control of the White House and Washington’s wars in 2017, the number of civilians killed by so-called US-led forces has increased each year. This is largely due to the US change in strategy from counterinsurgency to a war primarily fought from the air. In other words, the US is bombing and otherwise attacking anti-occupation forces and the places that shelter them with less intimate targeting than previously. As any observer of modern warfare can tell you, this means that more civilians die—what warmakers call collateral damage.

As for the idea that the US occupation and war in Afghanistan is not a war of attrition. If this statement means that the US hopes to wear down the Afghan resistance to the occupation, then Pompeo’s statement could not be truer. In fact, most reports indicate the Taliban and other resistance groups are actually more aggressive now than they were before Trump’s inauguration. Truth to tell, the only war of attrition that is being won regarding the US and Afghanistan is the war to wear down the opposition to US military adventurism among the United States’ population.  The warmakers and their media have clearly won that battle. Barely a peep emanates from any quarter regarding Washington’s war on much of the world anymore.

I remember the disbelief so many US residents felt on September 11, 2001 after the bloodshed blamed on Al Qaeda. I also remember the anger and calls for revenge. It was this combination of factors that made it very easy for the US war machine to begin its global war on terror. Those events were the excuse the war machine was waiting for. Eighteen years later, the world is not safer, not freer, and not peaceful. Instead, millions of people are refugees from countries affected directly and indirectly by the US-led wars on people and places in Washington’s way. The military and homeland security establishment sucks the homeland dry while building a police and surveillance state that locks up innocents and kills them in their homes. Its stretch is broader and deeper than at any point in human history. There is no apparent end to any of this. Local wars like that in Afghanistan go on forever. The strategy for these wars is unclear to almost everyone, including those fighting it. The desire to end them—like this most recent round of peace negotiations that almost reached Camp David—cycles in and out of favor with the rulers in the White House. The grotesque amounts of money and human hours wasted in these endeavors would be better spent by giving every Afghan and resident of other nations under fire from the US a million dollars each. This would be cheaper and more likely to end the killing than any military undertaking.

So, let’s go back to Pompeo’s statement and that part about protecting America’s interests. This is where the lies told by successive administrations becomes apparent. What exactly are America’s interests? How does occupying and continuing the war on the Afghan people further American interests? The only logical conclusion to draw is that nobody in power really wants the war to end. Its continuation—and the continuation of US wars and subversion around the world—serves the interests of some Americans. They are not the majority but they are the wealthiest and most powerful. The fact that so many of the rest of those living in the US accept this definition of American interests bodes ill for us all.

9-11 occurred eighteen years ago. The state terrorism of the war on terror continues. Its justification, if it ever had one, is long past.

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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