Speaking to Afshin Rattansi on RT this week, John Pilger gave a rather stark appraisal of the western imperialist project that took western powers into Afghanistan. He described the US military as “a killing machine,” out to make lots of money by killing innocent people. Pilger explains.. “Most imperialists are ‘incompetent’. They make mistakes and kill large numbers of people they didn’t ‘mean’ to kill (so they say)”
Pilger believes the real reason why the imperial forces pulled out of Afghanistan is because they had bigger fish to fry – China. Why focus on killing a few thousand in Afghanistan when you can kill millions in China and boost the arms trade to knew dizzying heights? That, he explains, is how imperialist think. It’s all about spreading their power and control over the rest of the world and he points out, there was no fathomable reason for why the US went into Afghanistan in the first place, given that the Afghans had nothing to do with the events on 9/11 but then imperialist don’t really need an excuse to invade, explains Pilger, they’ve done it many times over… “that’s what Afghanistan was, that’s what Vietnam was, that’s what Iraq was”.
Pilger then takes aim at Tony Blair, someone he describes as a ‘caricature imperialist’ who insists on perpetuating the myth of a global Islamic threat in order to serve his imperialist agenda of invading countries, blowing them up, undermining their culture and killing their people. He recalls the speech that Blair gave after 9/11, leading up to the invasion of Iraq… “this is a moment to seize, the kaleidoscope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again.. before they do, let us reorder this world around us.”
Pilger makes it clear, contrary to the popular narrative, the west does not have any altruistic reasons for invading foreign lands. Back in the 70’s, the US were intent on destroying any progressive government that came to power in Afghanistan. In 1978, the PDPA government was highly progressive. They brought in equal rights for women and poor people and they successfully tackled a major illiteracy problem. However, a leaked cable from the US Embassy in Kabul, from Aug 1979, stated.. “the US larger interests will be served by the demise of the PDPA govt, despite whatever set backs this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan” Clearly they had no interest in women’s rights or in the human rights of ordinary Afghan people. Pilger explains that what the US really cared about was Afghanistan’s strategic location and that they had a way to finance another “imperial project.” In fact, the US and the Taliban were in cahoots by the end the 90’s and US Tax dollars were being “laundered” to fund them.
The PDPA govt of the late 70’s had a highly progressive manifesto in which they wanted to change the extremely feudal system that dominated the majority of Afghanistan, explains Pilger. This is a system of various war lords who run their own fiefdoms and who trade in women, young boys and heroin. The US administration chose to back and finance these war lords to undermine the PDPA and effectively condemned the country back to the dark ages. Clearly, self governance would not have served the agenda of an imperial project.
The recent Afghan government also served that imperial project. Pilger describes Kabul as “an enclave in this feudalist country,” which might explain why things reverted back to Taliban control as quickly as they did once the US announced they were pulling out. Worth noting, the recent President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, was a neo-liberal who had studied in the US in the 60’s and spent a great deal of his time there. He was professor of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University and later went to work for the World Bank in Russia. The first time Ghani stood in a presidential election (2009) he came 4th. In the 2014 presidential election, he secured fewer votes than his rival in the first round but won the majority vote in the second round, however there were accusations of widespread corruption and fraud, so the US took it apon themselves to intervene and called for a unity government. Pilger describes Ghani as part of “the mercantile class” and says that “in Afghanistan, this class knew where the money was” and that’s what they ruled over, while most of the rest of the country remained in a medieval state.
“We are drowned in a Tsunami of propaganda” that promotes the US as the centre of importance in the world, says Pilger and 9/11 wasn’t the day the world changed. In Pilger’s opinion, the world really changed during the Korean war when “the US decided they were going to become a true imperial power.” He also points out that the propaganda machine is extremely adept at instructing us about what we should and should not remember and care about – remembering and caring about the victims of 9/11 but not remembering or caring about the women and children killed in Afghanistan, for example. He also points out that anyone who attempts to provide a counter narrative – professional journalists like Julian Assange, for example – will be “punished”
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