As Hollywood has noted, and later U. S. records confirm, the predecessors to the Taliban, the U.S. funded and armed brutal Afghan Mujahideen or jihadist freedom fighters were instrumental in securing the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s , who were supporting the communist secular Afghan government in Kabul. A government it should be noted, who fully supported the rights of Afghan women to be educated, to work and live a life equal to men.
After several years of extreme violence and turmoil across Afghanistan, the Taliban came to power in the late 1990s,
As Consortium News notes: The triumphant Taliban imposed harsh Islamic law on Afghanistan. Their rule was especially cruel to women who had made gains toward equal rights under the communists, but were forced by the Taliban to live under highly restrictive rules, to cover themselves when in public, and to forgo schooling.
The Taliban also granted refuge to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, who had fought with the Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviets in the 1980s. Bin Laden then used Afghanistan as the base of operations for his terrorist organization, al-Qaeda, setting the stage for the next Afghan War in 2001.
After the 9/11 attacks in New York by Al Qaeda, the Taliban agreed to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States. However their offer was refused, and instead President Bush launched a war to remove the Taliban from power beginning with a brutal bombing campaign in October 2001
If the purpose of Bush’s Afghan war was not to trap Osama bin Laden – what was the purpose?
The United States had been negotiating with the Taliban for an oil pipeline to traverse Afghanistan from Central Asian oil fields, and appeared to be on relatively good terms with them.
It was only much later that the hype about a humanitarian intervention for women’s rights etc came to the fore in Western media. However this supposed human rights agenda by the United States and the United Kingdom is contradicted by their wholehearted support for the brutal Mujahideen the Saudi regime, and their unconditional support for the Israeli genocidal actions against Palestinians (amongst many other brutal regimes supported and armed by Western governments)
This was simply one more racist colonial invasion; putting more money into the pockets of U.S. war profiteers.
See below, John Pilger’s video ‘Breaking the Silence’ from 10 years ago in Afghanistan
As a Western person I oppose discrimination against any person of any gender or race- however I also oppose the barbaric use of violence to impose one’s will on others we do not agree with- something my country New Zealand has been complicit in along with other Western white countries.
Setting up an indigenous Afghan army funded and trained and managed by foreigners to oppose local people who they may in fact know by tribe or family, and who are trying to defend their country from invasion, was always a recipe for failure. Such troops’ only motivation could be their paycheck, not patriotism for their country: so when the occupation force goes in the dead of night, the money goes with them and the local funded military disintegrate- they have nothing to fight for.
Similarly a ‘democracy’ funded and approved and beholden to an occupying power is not a democracy -it is a mockery of ‘democracy’.- and an extraordinarily corrupt one at that– why else would you pretend to lead your country whilst under an occupying power?
As Marshall Auerback and Patrick Lawrence note in ‘The Scrum’: Ashraf Ghani, (the last of the U.S. appointed Afghan ‘Presidents’) was among the more preposterous creations of the Obama administration, a man who personified our American presumption that we can go around the world making all others in our image without reference to histories, cultures, or political traditions.
We know the colonial occupation forces killed many thousands of civilians (through bombing campaigns, drone murders, the brutal occupation and destruction of villages and people’s homes and the use of torture at Bagram airbase and other locations in Afghanistan- civilian losses that the occupying forces continue to largely deny.
New Zealand’s ex-prime minister Helen Clark’s commentary on the resurgence of the Taliban might be interpreted as disingenuous, were it not for the fact that she is a United Nations employee and knows full well the extent of the indiscriminate murder, torture and destruction, let alone the phenomenal levels of corruption by NGOs supposedly ‘re-building Afghanistan’ committed by the occupying powers in their 20 year presence in Afghanistan.
We might also note the opium and heroin rat lines from the Afghan poppy
fields which miraculously came into full bloom (Afghanistan now supplies by far the largest share of opium in the world), after the American occupation
and which will now , once again, be shut down by the Taliban. Mysteriously drug trafficking explodes in volume in those areas where Western intelligence
operatives, and particularly the CIA, are heavily involved: Colombia,
The New Zealand presence in Afghanistan is one more shameful example of our complicity in the United States’ war crimes..
While there will be many in Kabul and other major Afghan cities who have come to enjoy Western values, comforts and the easy money that came with the occupiers, there will be many many more Afghans who are thankful that the brutality and systematic racism of the Western occupying powers is finally at an end.
The lessons other vulnerable countries have learnt from Western occupying powers’ brutal occupation of Afghanistan will not be soon forgotten..
Nor will the boys coming home from that 20 year war be immune to its effects on the psyche..
“One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.”
– Booker T. Washington
That is not to say Afghanistan is going to become some liberal, rights respecting country any time soon: traditional rigid views about women’s rights and other ethnicities and belief systems -particularly in rural areas, are gong to prevail for some time to come. And Sharia law is not exactly a very forgiving dogma; but there are signs that the new Taliban leadership recognise that they will have to adapt to the modern world if they are to be accepted by the wider international community, especially investment from Chinese and other neighbouring countries. Certainly, as of 17th August 2021, the Taliban command have so far largely behaved with honour and discipline for the defeated.
It should also be noted that the Taliban are not ‘terrorists’ and in no way resemble ISIS or the earlier Mujahideen . While they may have sheltered Al Qaeda in the past, they have no record and no stated intent of terrorist actions outside (or within) Afghanistan.
And it should also be remembered that the Taliban’s astonishing victory in the past week has been at minimal cost of human life and suffering; a victory, as Pepe Escobar notes, contrived by ” lots of persuasion, tribal deals, zero columns of tanks (and) minimal loss of blood”.
It is time now for the new Afghan government to demand reparations from all those Western occupation governments for the deaths, torture, trauma and misery; and land and property losses of the last 20 years.
Perhaps Westerners could also remember, for the future, that the way for outsiders to encourage change in any other society, is to demonstrate your positive values: your generosity, your honesty, your capacity to forgive and your willingness to listen…
As Richard Falks and others note, what follows next in Afghanistan will depend not only on how the Taliban keep their promises of greater tolerance , but also on the United States and its Western occupying allies respond to the Taliban in power. To date Western media is hyping up the threat and supposed savagery of the Taliban to extraordinary degrees (my local New Zealand TV news channel interspersed commentary of the Taliban with video of ISIS troops marching in uniform) and the U.S. withholding of Afghan federal reserve money and aid by other Western countries . Without the Western aid that Afghanistan infrastructure has come to rely on over the last 20 years, severe hardship and starvation will be the lot of Afghans already brutalised by this pointless war.
It is now likely that further Western brutal adventures, such as the Afghan occupation , will not be viable options , as China particularly expands its somewhat more benign influence in the region.