Five Demands We Should Fight For in Response to the Crisis in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is in ruins and facing a major crisis. U.S. imperialism and the Taliban offer no solutions to the crisis. The working class and oppressed people in the U.S. must put forward a struggle in solidarity with the Afghan working class and oppressed. What should we be fighting for?
  • Left Voice | 
  • August 31, 2021
Image by Luigi Morris

1. No Support for Imperialists, No Support for the Taliban. For the Right to Self-Determination for the Multi-ethnic Afghan People. 

The U.S. war and occupation of Afghanistan has resulted in a humanitarian crisis and destruction for Afghanistan, which is overwhelmingly impoverished due to the intervention of U.S. imperialism. The Taliban, an ethnic-religious nationalist group that ruled much of the country before the war, took advantage of reactionary sentiments and the misery resulting from the 20-year imperialist war in order to gain support among some sectors and retake the country with stunning speed. The Taliban, though, are no alternative to U.S. imperialism; it is a pro-capitalist, patriarchal fundamentalist group that organizes against all oppressed sectors of society and will bring about further misery for the Afghan people. In fact, the mujahideen in Afghanistan, a precursor of the Taliban, were allies with U.S. imperialism and were funded and armed in the struggle against the former Soviet Union. Neither the United States nor the Taliban offer solutions for the people of Afghanistan. 

In response to the U.S. withdrawal, other world powers are seeking influence in Afghanistan — primarily China, but also Russia and others. While these world powers, who are seeking more capitalist profits by expanding their global influence, may be a welcome development for the Taliban who seek legitimacy, they offer no solutions for the Afghan working class. 

Needless to say, ISIS-K — another fundamentalist right-wing group that seeks to recruit those who are discontented by having the Taliban in power — also offers no solution for the Afghan people. Nor does the rebanded Northern Alliance, also known as United Islamic National Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, which was allied with the United States during the invasion of Afghanistan, collaborated with the imperialist occupation, and now seeks U.S. support to fight the Taliban — but not U.S. imperialism. 

We defend the right to self-determination of the Afghan people and their inalienable democratic right to decide on the course of their country, without imperialist and foreign interference. The Afghan population is multi-ethnic and diverse, and includes the women who have for decades been speaking out against the Taliban, the U.S. occupation and its puppet government, and the Northern Alliance. Their voices are central to the project of self-determination. 

To put an end to the imperialist oppression of Afghanistan along with fighting for the withdrawal of troops or against interference in Afghan politics, it is necessary for Afghanistan’s working class and oppressed people to fight against the military fundamentalist groups and local leaders who are committed to maintaining a system based on oppression and exploitation. Only the exploited and oppressed people of Afghanistan can effectively achieve national independence and overthrow the capitalist social order that oppresses them.

2. No Bombs, No Sanctions 

The United States dropped tens of thousands of bombs on Afghanistan over the last 20 years, during the administrations of Trump, Obama and Bush II, including a record 7,400 as recently as 2019. Trump dropped the so-called “mother of all bombs” in 2018 — the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in conflict. The wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan killed an estimated 240,000 people.

Already, in response to the attack on the Kabul airport, Biden has bombed Afghanistan and is promising more bombs. Several children have been murdered by the Biden administration in these bombings. U.S. bombs routinely execute people, often indiscriminately, including at weddings and in hospitals

The bombing must stop now. This demand must be part of a broader struggle against U.S. interventions and bombings throughout the world, including in places such as Somalia that Biden has bombed within the last month. 

Some say that the way to fight the right-wing, patriarchal Taliban is to sanction the group and its leaders or sanction countries such as Pakistan that have long supported the Taliban. However, sanctions are really just imperialist weapons that affect the working class of semi-colonial countries. They devastate these countries and create deep poverty and desperation. They primarily hurt the working class and oppressed, not the capitalists or the rulers, as is evident by the misery sanctions have wrought in Iran and Venezuela. 

Sanctions against Pakistan would disproportionately affect the millions of Afghan refugees that live in the country. We must fight to lift all imperialist sanctions and other tools of economic imperialism employed in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

3. U.S. Out of Afghanistan, Close All the Bases

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is not only a failure of the military intervention. It also reflects a change in the United States’ geopolitical strategy and the concentration of the massive U.S. military apparatus in the dispute with China, now seen as the main threat to declining U.S. world hegemony. The withdrawal should not be mistaken as progressive or anti-imperialist. 

The United States maintains a huge military presence globally, with 700 military bases and a total of 150,000 to 200,000 troops in more than 150 countries. The real reason for these permanent bases in foreign countries is to protect the political and economic interests of U.S. capitalists. These bases are sites of torture, violence, and sexual assault of women, as well as sources of environmental destruction

Our fight is not only to get the United States out of Afghanistan, but to close all U.S. bases around the world.

4. Let Them All In

The horrifying images of desperate people running after airplanes, falling from the sky, or pushing their children over walls, never to see them again, highlights the desperation of the people of Afghanistan. We see this same desperation on the faces of refugees throughout the world as they flee authoritarian governments and the terrible results of imperialism.

We must fight to let them all in.

Every refugee should have the right to immigrate to the United States under safe and humane conditions, unlike the ones that are currently befalling those in overcrowded camps in Qatar who are awaiting entry into the United States. These refugees have the right to housing and support upon entering into the United States, including employment and other resources, as well as full political, economic, and social rights.

While bourgeois politicians only want a limited number of those who collaborated with U.S. imperialism during the war to be afforded entry, we must fight for the entry of any refugee from Afghanistan to anywhere in the world. It is part of the fight to abolish ICE and open the borders to all. 

5. Make the Capitalists Pay 

The war and occupation of Afghanistan was paid for by racking up massive U.S. debt, which has ballooned to $28.5 trillion. The war and occupation cost a whopping $2.26 trillion. The defense industry has reaped massive profits from imperialism’s foray into Afghanistan. Public Citizen has revealed that Lockheed Martin’s stocks generated a 1,236-percent return throughout the war, Northrop Grumman’s was 1,196 percent, and the list goes on. These profits were subsidized by taxes dollars paid by the U.S. working class: Congress handed over some $2 trillion to companies of the military-industrial complex.

For many who joined the military as a way to finance college, as a path to citizenship, or just because they needed a steady paycheck, the cost of the war has also been massive. Many lost their lives; thousands have come back from war struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  In fact, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined have created an epidemic of PTSD unlike anything the U.S. military has ever seen; this epidemic has included a huge spike in (regular) suicides of service members and veterans.

The working class shouldn’t pay one penny for the debt created by this imperialist war for capitalist profit. The trillions wasted in Afghanistan could have funded health care for millions, free and public higher education, and a major public infrastructure program.
The capitalist class should pay for the crisis they created. It is time to impose massive taxes on the super-rich and expropriate all the war profiteers — Boeing, Shell, Blackwater, and all the others — that have profited from the misery of the Afghan people.

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