Black Agenda

Freedom Rider: Death to Afghanistan

By BAR Editor and Senior Columnist Margaret Kimberley

After eight years of U.S. occupation, the Afghan people live in terror, “not only caused by bombs and bullets, but by no bid contracts, private mercenaries, theft of resources and destruction of infrastructure.” Barack Obama promises more of the same, as he preens and struts his imperial stuff to demonstrate his fitness for the American presidency. With his calls for big increases in U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan, Obama delivers the kiss of death for additional thousands in the region, and proves for the umpteenth time that he is no peace candidate. The endless Iraq occupation and the escalated Afghanistan occupation will bring more harm to the region than Bush could have dreamed.

America is going to do for the people of Afghanistan what it has already done for the people of Iraq. The United States, claiming to save them from evildoers, will kill many thousands more Afghans than it already has. Iraq is a political loser for Republican candidate John McCain, but the system demands constant feeding of the insatiable military industrial complex. Afghanistan fits the bill perfectly.

No one, not even president Bush, is still arguing against a troop withdrawal time line for Iraq. Bush uses a new term, “time horizon,” to describe the Iraq exit, but the inference is clear. There is no strong desire to stay the course in Iraq among any constituency aside from the most committed and dreadful Bushites, and why lose an election when you can use a new focus group tested term. The argument among the political elite has changed from trying to defend a discredited occupation to scaling it down and moving it to a neighboring country.

While the invasion of Iraq was unpopular in many quarters, very few Americans actively opposed the military presence in Afghanistan. One week after the September 11 attacks, only one member of Congress, Congressional Black Caucus member Barbara Lee, was willing to vote against the authorization to use military force against terrorists. Wishy-washy liberals who were queasy about invading Iraq are not shy about crying out for revenge against the Taliban. There is little outrage when the United States and other NATO nations bomb and shoot hapless Afghan farmers and their families.

The kiss of death for Afghanistan was personally delivered by Barack Obama himself. He knows that war against the Taliban is a political winner. His call to escalate the Afghanistan occupation can kill several birds with one stone. His loophole-filled plan to draw down troops in Iraq will please whiny liberals who have no strength for a real fight and he will also serve the corporate ruling class by insuring continued military spending.

Obama is shrewdly campaigning for president by simply acting as if he has the job already and he is using his pro-war credentials in Afghanistan and Iraq to do it. He is spanning the globe, planning visits with world leaders and giving anxious white voters less reason for alarm by keeping them accustomed to seeing him in presidential photo opportunities in Germany, or Afghanistan or Iraq. It also never hurts to join soldiers for ham and eggs in the mess tent and make inane remarks such as, “To see young people like this who are doing such excellent work, with so much dedication ... it makes you feel good about the country.” Obama looks more presidential by the minute.

Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai was the latest campaign propaganda victim. Even as American bombs fall on his citizens as they travel to weddings, he was forced to pose with Obama and grin for the cameras, all the while knowing that the United States brings nothing but more death to his country.

America has been in the process of destroying Afghanistan for nearly thirty years. Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, had the brilliant idea of flooding Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan with guns and money, all in order to counter the Soviet presence. Brzezinski, like many of his discredited foreign policy colleagues, is now advising the Obama campaign. As always, Ph.D.s who create deadly blowback, such as on September 11, are always employable, no matter how often they guess wrong or how much destruction they create around the world. Serving the interests of the corporate class means always having a gig.

Many of the so-called warlords in Afghanistan who are now resisting America’s presence were once on the CIA payroll themselves. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a Carter and Reagan era favorite, receiving arms and money and even visiting the United States in 1985 but he is now calling for attacks on American troops.

The embarrassing existence of Hekmatyar and friends will do nothing to stop the war of terror inflicted on innocent human beings. Everything old is new again in foreign policy. No one is willing to point out that discredited strategies have risen from the dead. One of Obama’s advisors, Susan Rice, invokes the name of Ronald Reagan in a complimentary way. “[S]upport for the Afghan resistance to Soviet aggression was the right decision in the 1980s.” Her boss has said on more than one occasion that he will have a foreign policy like Reagan’s, so his promise to repeat the corruption of the past should not come as a surprise.

The troop draw down in Iraq will not end the terror of occupation. That terror is not only caused by bombs and bullets, but by no bid contracts, private mercenaries, theft of resources and destruction of infrastructure. The endless Iraq occupation and the escalated Afghanistan occupation will bring more harm to the region than Bush could have dreamed. One uninformed but optimistic Iraqi had this to say about Obama. “He is much better than others because he is black and black people were tyrannized in America. I think he will feel our suffering.”

No he will not. Anyone who feels suffering doesn’t want to be president of the United States. Spreading the suffering is the first item on the job description.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Agenda Report (BAR). Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at: Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgandaReport.Com

Ms. Kimberley maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.

—Black Agenda Report (BAR), July 23, 2008