By Yossi Schwartz, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 14 August 2021, www.thecommunists.net
During the military intervention of Stalinist Russia in Afghanistan that began on December 24, 1979, under the pretext of upholding the Soviet-Afghan Friendship Treaty of 1978, Moscow stood behind Babrak Karmal, the exiled leader of the Parcham faction of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) – the Stalinists of Afghanistan.
While the official American li(n)e was that the CIA aid to the Mujahiddins began during 1980, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979, in reality according to Brzezinski (the special adviser to Carter), in an Interview with Le Nouvel Observateur in 1998: “It was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” (…)
Q: “When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against secret US involvement in Afghanistan, nobody believed them. However, there was an element of truth in this. You don’t regret any of this today?
Brzezinski: “Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, essentially: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.” Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war that was unsustainable for the regime, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire
“Q: And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?
“Brzezinski: What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?” (1)
Thus, even before Stalinist Russia sent its army to Afghanistan in support of the Afghan Stalinists, the American imperialists covertly financed and armed Islamic fundamentalist factions like the Taliban in the fight against the Afghani government. There are claims that the USA at that time supported Bin Laden. For example, Senator Rand Paul made the claim “that the U.S. government once “armed” and “funded” Osama bin Laden”. (2) The CIA of course has denied that it supported the Arab fighters — including bin Laden. (3)
“According to a 2011 Congressional Research Service report from John Rollins, a specialist in terrorism and national security, the U.S. “did covertly finance (about $3 billion during 1981-1991) and arm (via Pakistan) the Afghan mujahedin factions, particularly the Islamic fundamentalist Afghan factions, fighting Soviet forces.” (4)
While not taking responsibility for the invasion by Stalinist Russia, it was necessary to defend the USSR that was still a degenerated worker state in the proxy war with American imperialism. We can learn the correct revolutionary position from Trotsky and his position on the USSR war with Finland. The national rights are subordinated to the strategic needs of the international working class.
“Stalin’s assault upon Finland was not of course solely an act in defense of the USSR. The politics of the Soviet Union is guided by the Bonapartist bureaucracy. This bureaucracy is first and foremost concerned with its power, its prestige, and its revenues. It defends itself much better than it defends the USSR. It defends itself at the expense of the USSR and at the expense of the world proletariat. This was revealed only too clearly throughout the entire development of the Soviet-Finnish conflict. We cannot therefore either directly or indirectly take upon ourselves even a shadow of responsibility for the invasion of Finland which represents only a single link in the chain of the politics of the Bonapartist bureaucracy. It is one thing to solidarize with Stalin, defend his policy, assume responsibility for it – as does the triply infamous Comintern – it is another thing to explain to the world working class that no matter what crimes Stalin may be guilty of we cannot permit world imperialism to crush the Soviet Union, reestablish capitalism, and convert the land of the October revolution into a colony. This explanation likewise furnishes the basis for our defense of the USSR.” (5)
Stalinist Russia, licking its wounds, retreated from Afghanistan in February 1988.
On October 15, 1999 the United Nations Security Council, pushed by the USA that aided the Taliban for years, adopted Resolution 1267, condemning al-Qaeda and Taliban as terrorist organizations and imposed sanctions on them. The terrorist action against the World Trade Center in New York in 9/11 was a response to the sanctions. It provided President George W. Bush a pretext to attack Afghanistan to win what he called “the war against terrorism.” Bush demanded from the Taliban to “deliver to the United States authorities all the leaders of al-Qaeda who hide in your land,” or “share in their fate”.
“On October 7, 2001 the U.S. military, with British support, began a bombing campaign against Taliban forces, officially launching Operation Enduring Freedom. Canada, Australia, Germany, and France pledge future support. The war’s early phase mainly involves U.S. air strikes on al-Qaeda and Taliban forces that are assisted by a partnership of about one thousand U.S. Special Forces, the Northern Alliance, and ethnic Pashtun anti-Taliban forces. The first wave of conventional ground forces arrives twelve days later. Most of the ground combat is between the Taliban and its Afghan opponents”. (6) The USA used Cluster Bombs that killed not only Taliban’s fighters but many civilians as well.
“Most human rights organizations focused on the dangers cluster bombs posed to Afghan civilians. “Some groups highlighted the inherent inaccuracy of CBUs. Landmine Action said they are “prone to miss their targets.”79 Anti-mine NGOs emphasized the dud rate and long-term effects of unexploded bomblets. “Politicians must tell the military that they do not have the right to use arms they know have dramatic consequences against civilian populations, even after a conflict is over,” said the director of Handicap International. Landmine Action noted that the duds both endangered civilians’ lives and kept the already starving population from farming their land. Seeking to minimize the aftereffects of these duds, several critics called for the U.S. government to take responsibility for post-war cleanup.“ (7)
The USA created its own puppet government led by Hamid Karzai, chairman of Afghanistan’s interim administration in December 2001. On May 1st, 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared an end to “major combat.” The announcement coincides with President George W. Bush’s “mission accomplished” declaration of an end to the fighting in Iraq.” (8) Rumsfeld says President Bush, U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. Tommy Franks, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai “have concluded that we are at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.” (9)
Nevertheless, the USA did not pull back its soldiers from Afghanistan or Iraq. Thus, the fight of the Taliban’s fighters has been an anti-Imperialist war where it was necessary to be in the war on the side of the Taliban without giving them political support.
Now the USA is forced to leave Afghanistan. With every passing day we learn that the Taliban capture another major city. As these lines are written the Taliban captured the provincial capital of Logar, 50 km (30 miles) south of Kabul. “The Taliban captured another three provincial capitals in Afghanistan on Friday, completing their sweep of the country’s south in a lightning offensive that is gradually encircling Kabul, weeks before the U.S. is set to officially end its two-decade war. The latest significant blow was the loss of the capital of Helmand province, where American, British and allied NATO forces fought some of the bloodiest battles in the past 20 years. Hundreds of foreign troops were killed in the province.” (10)
No doubt, this is a real defeat for the US and NATO which is in the interest of the international working class and the oppressed. “The onslaught represents a stunning collapse of Afghan forces after the United States spent nearly two decades and $830 billion trying to establish a functioning state after toppling the Taliban.” (11)
The American ruling class is very aware of the parallel between this defeat and the escaping of the American army and its collaborators from Saigon at the end of the war of Vietnam. “Back in June, as the Taliban advance built momentum, Biden himself addressed the Saigon parallels and dismissed them out of hand. “There’s going to be no circumstance where you’ll see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan,” he said.” (12)
China, the rising imperialist power, is very satisfied with the victories of the Taliban.
“China is prepared to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan if it succeeds in toppling the Western-backed government in Kabul, U.S. News has learned, a prospect that undercuts the Biden administration’s remaining source of leverage over the insurgent network as it continues its startling campaign to regain control.” (13)
Unlike China, imperialist Russia has a mixed reaction to the victories of the Taliban. On one hand, Russia is worried about the influence of the Taliban’s victories on Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. For this reason, on August 5, “Russia carried out military drills in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which seek to prevent a spillover of instability from Afghanistan to Central Asia.” (14) At the same time, Russia’s diplomatic activities in Afghanistan reinforce its Great Power status from 2017, “Russia formed the six-party mechanism to promote cooperation between Russia, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India, and facilitate a national reconciliation in Afghanistan.” (15)
Israel is worried about the victories of the Taliban: “Israel would do well to consider how developments resulting from the US-Taliban agreement could impact on its interests. First, if media reports about Israeli use of Afghanistan territory for collection of intelligence on Iran are correct, Jerusalem should prepare for that operating environment to change following the US departure. Second, in the context of the Iranian nuclear issue, the precedent set by Washington reaching an agreement with a US adversary that contains weak enforcement mechanisms and is negotiated behind the back of a US ally may be a cause for concern in Israel.” (16)
As the RCIT statement from the 19/10/2018 said: “Shamefully, most so-called left-wing parties in Europe and North America (as well as reformist outfits like the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan) fail to show any support for the Afghan resistance struggle. Many of these cowardly Stalinists, left-reformists and pseudo-Trotskyists fail to side with the Syrian Revolution against the reactionary butcher Assad (a lackey of Russian imperialism), justifying this with their professed opposition against Western imperialism. However, at the same time they are incapable to lend support to the most important ongoing popular insurgency against the Western Great Powers. Such pseudo-left forces are totally useless for the struggle against imperialism!” (17)
Defeat the imperialists and their servants in Afghanistan!
Military victory for the Taliban!
No political support for the Taliban!
For a workers and poor peasants republic as part of a region-wide socialist federation!
5) Leon Trotsky: Balance Sheet of the Finnish Events (April 1940)
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We refer readers to the following documents of the RCIT:
Afghanistan: Good Riddance, Yankees! The Meaning of the U.S. Retreat from Afghanistan and its Consequences for the inter-imperialist Cold War with China, 17 April 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/afghanistan-good-riddance-yankees/
Afghanistan: A Successful Strike against the US Occupation. Major Attack by the Afghan Resistance against a High-Level Meeting of Afghan and U.S. Generals in Kandahar, 19.10.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/afghanistan-a-successful-strike-against-the-us-occupation/
“A Really Good Quarrel”. US-China Alaska Meeting: The Inter-Imperialist Cold War Continues, 23 March 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/us-china-alaska-meeting-shows-continuation-of-inter-imperialist-cold-war/
Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/