March 7, 2020

After 19 years of war, over $1 trillion in spending, 2,400 dead and a torrent of lies, the US may now be facing an end to its longest war.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. There were three reasons: 1. to cover up the humiliation of the tough-talking Bush administration for being caught sleeping on guard duty by the 9/11 attacks; 2. To secure oil pipeline routes through Afghanistan from Central Asia down to Pakistan’s sea coast; and 3. To occupy a supposedly empty square on the Asian chessboard before China did.

Since 2001, hardly a word of truth about Afghanistan has come out of Washington. All wars are accompanied by a bodyguard of lies, as Churchill wrote, but the lies and
propaganda about Afghanistan were extraordinary and shameful.

Chief among the lies: Osama bin Laden was the architect of the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans and that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban movement. In fact, the plot was hatched in Germany and Spain by Saudi exiles, not Afghans, who claimed the US was occupying their nation and exploiting its riches.

Faked videos were shown on US TV to implicate bin Laden. He applauded the attacks after the fact, saying they were revenge for Israel’s destruction in large part of Beirut in 1982.

The so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ in Afghanistan cited as a reason for the US invasion were actually camps run by Pakistan’s intelligence service, an ally of the US, to train insurgent guerrillas for action against Indian rule in Kashmir. I know this because I toured some of the camps. General Hamid Gul, the head of ISI, Pakistan’s crack intelligence service, briefed me on this operation.

Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, told me the US had threatened to ‘bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age’ if it did not allow the US to wage war against Afghanistan from Pakistani territory.

Al-Qaeda’s founder, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, told me `after defeating the communists in Afghanistan, we will go on to liberate Saudi Arabia from American rule.’ He was assassinated soon after.

To this day, what’s left of al-Qaeda remains an anti-imperialist movement. In recent years, al-Qaeda and Taliban have become bitter enemies. Taliban agreed in recent talks never to shelter al-Qaeda or the more recent, Islamic State movement. It originally sheltered bin Laden only because he was a hero of the anti-Communist struggle and an honored guest. Taliban offered to hand bin Laden to an impartial court. The US refused and quickly invaded Afghanistan.

Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, was a serious enemy of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Yet the Bush administration lied that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11 to justify invading and grabbing its oil riches. Most Americans believed this falsehood promoted by Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney.

I was in Afghanistan and Pakistan when Taliban was formed. Far from being a ‘terrorist’ movement, as the Americans and their Afghan communist allies claimed, Taliban was created by a village preacher, Mullah Omar, to protect caravans from bandits during the Afghan civil war of the early 1990’s, and to protect women from mass rape. When Taliban took Kabul, it crushed the drug trade and restored order with an iron fist.

America’s main ally in Afghanistan, the Communist dominated Tajik Northern Alliance, was put into power in Kabul and quickly restored the opium trade. Today, US Afghan allies control almost all the drug trade which props up the puppet government in Kabul.

Three US presidents claim they tried to end the Afghan War – but failed. Why? Intense opposition from the war party, military industrial complex, and the neocons. $1 trillion is huge business. Many war suppliers grew rich on this conflict; imperial generals got promotions and new commands. Politicians loved to orate against so-called ‘terrorism’ and call for more war. The costs of the Afghan War were buried in the national debt, to be repaid by coming generations.

None of the presidents were able to stand up to the deep state. President Donald Trump claims he will shut down the Afghan War, which he properly termed, ‘stupid.’ But can he?

It will be so easy to sabotage the fragile cease-fire agreement just signed in Qatar. The Afghan drug lords have already started fire fights. US generals and conservatives quail at the prospect of being charged with losing this war.

The best way to end a war is to end it. Declare victory, bring the troops home, cut off the dollars and ammo and leave.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2020

This post is in: Afghanistan


  1. Steve_M. says:

    If the so-called cease-fire agreement between the US and the Taliban crumbles, as it almost certainly will after the US has pulled its troops out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will overrun the country, just as the North Vietnames army did to South Vietnam in 1975, well after the US took its combat troops out of there. The question then would be whether the US would go back to fight the Taliban or else Congress will prevent the president from sending the troops back to Afghanistan. My bet is that if Trump is still president, the US would do nothing about the Taliban situation and turn its attention to other matters. But, will the military-industrial complex willingly stand aside and let the Trump administration to leave Afghanistan? That’s the more interesting question right now.

  2. peter mcloughlin says:

    “Great Game” diplomacy of the 19th century is still being played out in Afghanistan today. Big Power rivalry led to world war one, and by consequence the second. The pattern of history points to a third – this time nuclear.

  3. On top of the government the entire prowar american corporate media fell into line and sold the lies and fired or blacklisted anyone who questioned the lies or refused to support the war like Phil Donahue, Jessie Ventura, Gwynne Dyre and some guy named Eric Margolis.

  4. Eric, is there any good estimate of the number of Afghans who died as a result of this war? The number should include direct action deaths as well as indirect deaths, ie mortality of the general population, caused by the destruction of water systems, hospitals etc.

    Ditto Iraq where civilian deaths would have been much higher since their medical system was much more advanced than that of Afghanistan, hence proportionately much higher deaths when their water and health systems were destroyed and not repaired for years or even decades.

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