Afghanistan – Imperialism’s unwinnable war


It will be recalled that shortly after the events of 11 September 2001 in America where Saudi and Egyptian men took over passenger airliners and destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York by flying into them, and likewise severely damaging the Pentagon building in Washington, the Bush administration took advantage of the prevailing panic in imperialist circles to announce the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the latter’s obscurantist clerical and anti-imperialist Taliban regime. The connection between “9/11″ and Afghanistan’s regime was far from obvious and probably totally non-existent, but Bush was easily able to convince both hawkish and “liberal” elements in the US and in the imperialist countries allied with it that an assault on Afghanistan was necessary to make the world safe from terrorist attack. As a matter of fact, the war against Afghanistan had been in preparation in Pentagon circles for some time before the fatal date.

The US interest in Afghanistan was the construction of pipelines to carry oil from the Caspian Sea out to the Persian Gulf without having to cross Russian or Iranian territory. There has been one such pipeline opened since 2001 between Baku and Ceyhan, but it crosses some very volatile areas, and the US strategy is to have several alternative pipelines under its effective control. It had pumped billions of dollars into supporting the fundamentalist Muslim elements in their war to drive out Soviet influence from the region, and was shocked and horrified at the ingratitude of the mullahs in refusing cooperation on the subject of pipelines. Once Bush was elected President of the US, with a government entirely committed to, and made up of persons closely connected with, the US oil and armaments industries, the policy of advancing the interests of the oil industry through war that would benefit the armaments industry was inevitably to be promoted.

It needed to be backed up by a propaganda campaign against Muslims – all Muslims – so that it became legitimate in the minds of broad swathes of the population to strike against the Muslim regime in a given country when attacked by representatives of an Islamic movement in a completely different country. “They” were all to be branded as being part of a huge conspiracy against “democracy”, which they are all supposed to hate!

The relative caution with regard to military adventures which the US developed following its defeat in Vietnam was thrown to the winds in the light of the fact that the Soviet Union had collapsed and was therefore no longer in any position to offer succour to the enemies of US imperialism. Besides, in Afghanistan it would not be communists they were fighting but just a load of feudal tribesmen. With its overwhelming superiority in military hardware, US imperialism was confident that Afghanistan could be subdued in extremely short order – so much so that it sought no allies for the assault against Afghanistan for that way there would be no need to offer them a share of the loot (reconstruction contracts especially) following what the US believed would be an easy victory.

Defeat of the Taliban

It was apparently an easy victory. From the first day of US bombing to its takeover of Kabul only some 6 weeks elapsed. The Taliban offered little resistance, but simply melted away, leaving the US troops to rampage all over the country supposedly looking for Osama Bin Laden who unsurprisingly proved as elusive as WMD, the excuse for the war against Iraq, were to prove some 2 years later. ‘Democratic’ elections held at the point of US and UN ‘peacekeeping’ guns, brought in a puppet government headed by a quisling acceptable to imperialism, namely Hamid Karzai.

Afghanistan then disappeared from the news having apparently been effectively ‘pacified’. It seems, however, that the anti-imperialist elements were merely biding their time.

As Patrick Cockburn points out in The Independent of 9 September, (‘Why ‘victory’ in the first phase of the war on terror unravelled’): “…President Karzai never controlled the four fifths of the country outside Kabul. One third of the MPs in the new parliament elected last year were warlords and drug smugglers. Aid was inadequate. For farmers in the southern provinces growing opium poppies was the only cash crop that could pay off their debts. Meanwhile the Taliban were raising fresh men. From a few hundred last year they claimed to have 12,000 men under arms in the south this year.”

So we now discover, 5 years after the first US bombs fell on Kabul, that ‘the Taliban’ are back with a vengeance: “Large areas of Afghanistan have again fallen under their control, and it is not impossible to imagine them retaking the country”. (The Mirror, 7 October 7006, Simon Reeve, ‘And you call this winning, Mr President?’). “The district where the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, was born, south-west of Kandahar, is again under Taliban control, a situation mirrored across large swaths of the south. The government of Hamid Karzai clings on to the cities of the south while Nato forces in Kandahar and Helmand are locked in an all-out war.

Once confident that Afghanistan was quiet, US imperialism mounted, along with its allies this time (albeit not without considerable bickering over the prospective shares of the spoils) its attack on Iraq in 2003. This required the US to withdraw men and materiel from Afghanistan for redeployment in Iraq. It then became clear that the Iraqi resistance was going to be able to enmire those forces in Iraq for an indefinite period … In Afghanistan, therefore, the anti imperialist forces began to seep back:

“For General Sir Michael Rose, who led the SAS and commanded British forces in Bosnia, it is simple: ‘Having defeated the Taliban in 2001, the West then mistakenly shifted its effort and resources to Iraq, leaving most of Afghanistan insecure…This has allowed the Taliban to return'” (Raymond Whitaker and Tom Coughan, Independent on Sunday, 10 September 2006, ‘9/11 A bloody legacy’).

Although incidentally the anti-imperialist forces in Afghanistan are always referred to as “the Taliban”, reports abound that the ultra-fundamentalist Taliban is an insignificant element within them – notwithstanding the fact that any activities this minority indulges in which is divisive and damaging to anti-imperialist unity is given wide publicity in the pro-imperialist media. Prominent among these are the closure of girls’ schools and threats against the girls’ teachers – just the kind of propaganda as was used during the Spanish Civil War against the Republicans who were all held responsible in the imperialist and fascist media for the church burning and murder of priests and nuns perpetrated by a tiny minority of extreme Anarchists. The truth of the matter is that the anti-imperialist forces are by no means all Taliban. According to Christina Lamb in the Sunday Times of 10 September 2006, (‘What a bloody hopeless war’), “… the total reported killed this summer comes to more than Nato’s own assessments of Taliban in the area. ‘We are killing far too many people,’ says a top British military officer. ‘They can’t all be Taliban’ …

“‘The trap the coalition forces are in is that the Taliban are no longer the Taliban, they are disillusioned Afghans,’ said Emmanuel Reinert, executive director of the Senlis Council, an international policy think tank that has offices in Helmand.”

Much less is there any truth in the tales that the people waging the anti-imperialist struggle in Afghanistan are all in fact Islamic fanatics who have come from Pakistan, as is admitted by James Meek in The Guardian of 14 October (‘In their minds all they want to do is kill English soldiers’): “It is striking that not once, in all my conversations with the officers and men of A Company [an army unit currently engaged in the fighting in Helmand Province] was there any suggestion that the Taliban fighters shooting at them were anything but local. This is a big change from the early days of the British presence in southern Afghanistan, when the talk was of foreign fighters moving in from Pakistan.”

In the north and west of Afghanistan, the US controlled puppet government of Karzai has managed to reach an accommodation with the local warlords that enables them to retain their feudalist control of their respective areas under the guise of being ‘democratically elected’. They are kept happy by being allowed to prosper from the poppy trade, being allowed even to set up opium refineries in the areas under their control and to get splendiforously rich on the proceeds of peddling their killer wares on the streets of Britain and America. However, the sway of these corrupt reactionaries over ‘their’ areas must be highly volatile, in view of the fact that they maintain feudal relations of production that condemn the vast majority of the population to an abject poverty that expresses itself for instance in an infant mortality rate of 25%! In the south of the country, however, any attempts to ally with the local chieftains have most definitely come to naught. As a result, while in the north and west of the country the opium business is allowed to flourish undisturbed, in the south the US has been trying to destroy it in order to prevent the Taliban from raising money through its sale. In the absence of alternative crops, the peasants, who can barely scratch a living even from growing opium poppies, are driven wholesale into the arms of the anti-imperialist resistance.

Intensity of the war in southern Afghanistan

“During three months of intense combat, nearly half a million rounds of machine gun ammunition, more than 4,000 rounds of high explosive, 7,500 mortar rounds, 1,000 hand grenades and 85 anti-tank missiles have been used. In September, pilots got through nearly 500 bombs and rockets as they gave air support to troops on the ground in what has been the RAF’s largest bombing operation since the Iraq invasion in 2003…

“Like the infantry, the Harrier pilots arrived expecting ‘peace enforcement’, but found the reality very different” (Raymond Whitaker, Independent on Sunday, 15 October 2006, ‘Dannat’s army understrength’.

In fact, “In Helmand the British are consuming ammunition faster than at any time since the second world war” (Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, 6 September 2006, ‘Talk to Mullah Omar, if it saves British soldiers’ lives’).

Although, since it is losing the war, the army is complaining bitterly of being under-strength and under-equipped, they in fact have an overwhelming superiority in armaments. When the ‘Taliban’ sought to storm its compound at Sangin, remote attacks by artillery, mortars, Apache helicopters and jets were directed against the ‘Taliban’ under the direction of a staff sergeant standing on the roof of the district headquarters. And “Sometimes even an American B1, a $1 billion cold war bomber designed to drop nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union, was called in to attack a Taliban mortar position manned by men in pyjamas and plastic sandals.” (James Meek, op.cit.).

Yet, notwithstanding their overwhelming superiority in armaments, “British forces are taking casualties in clashes that Brigadier Ed Butler, the outgoing commander of UK forces, calls more ferocious than anything in Iraq” (James Steele, ‘There is never going to be a Nato victory in Afghanistan’, The Guardian, 20 October 2006). And James Meek (op.cit.) says: “Other British units have fought and suffered losses in [Sangin – an] outwardly unremarkable town of 30,000 people, but none fought harder and took more casualties than A company and the few dozen non-paras grouped with it. For the best part of two months, they experienced the kind of vicious combat British troops haven’t seen since Korea. Roughly every seventh man in the original 65-strong company was killed or wounded. One platoon, the 1st lost almost a third of its fighting strength: not quite D-Day levels, where airborne units were halved by combat, but getting close…”

Research by Professor Sheila Bird, Vice President of the Royal Statistical Society, shows that “death rates among UK and Canadian troops involved in ‘major combat’ in Helmand province are six times higher than those of UK troops involved in combat in Iraq”. Many other soldiers have been severely wounded or incapacitated by shell shock, but apparently the Ministry of Defence does not count these. In any event, so dangerous is it for British troops in Afghanistan that Prince Harry whose unit has been posted there is not going to be allowed to go there!

Kim Sengupta and Ahmed Rahim report in the Independent on Sunday of 24 September (‘The dead zone’) a British officer saying: “We are flattening places we have already flattened, but the attacks have kept coming. We have killed them by the dozens, but more keep coming…”

Although there are British officers who are simply incapable of believing that it is possible for all the military might of imperialist forces to be defeated by men in plastic sandals, the more general view is that in Afghanistan Nato is going to fail in it first attempt to mount a major operation outside Europe. There are even suggestions that US imperialism has already concluded that there is no way of pacifying Afghanistan by force. Nato forces were sent in precisely to conduct a policy alternative to the violence that had failed US imperialism in reaching its objectives. They were supposed to win over local people by implementing reconstruction projects, but they failed utterly and have found themselves committing the same mindless violence as the Americans – desperately trying to achieve by force what they were unable to achieve by ‘peaceful’ means.

A policy nightmare for imperialism

In Afghanistan the sheer decadence, parasitism and moribund nature of imperialism is coming into play to secure its defeat. Its parasitism makes demands that it secure the monopolist control of the world’s dwindling oil reserves. Britain, the European Union and the United States are all imperialist powers, imperialism being capitalism that has developed to its final, dying stage. Like the Phantom of the Opera, they can only retain a semblance of youthful vitality by devouring the living flesh of the young and energetic. The world oil monopoly is a means of access to that living flesh, as all rivals would have to pay tribute to the monopolists just to satisfy the energy requirements of their own production. To be able to survive they would be forced to finance their imperialist enemies, who would be in a position to starve them out altogether if they came to be regarded as a threat. Imperialism’s various monopolies are the reason why in a world capable of producing enough of the necessities of life to meet the needs of every person on the planet, there is still dire poverty on a mass scale. However, the greater the desperation of imperialism to subjugate and oppress, the greater the resistance of its victims – people and nations – all over the world. Both the poverty to which it subjects its victims, and the wars by which it tries to force submission on them, force the victims to struggle harder, until the day comes when they are able to break free – a disastrous day for imperialism.

Throughout the imperialist era, the great powers have struggled against each other for the domination of Afghanistan. The ‘Great Game’ of the Victorian era was all about the struggle between Britain and Imperial Russia to extend their influence into each other’s colonies and spheres of domination. During Soviet times, Russia was no longer interested in foreign conquest but was interested in encouraging the neutrality of states on which it bordered in order to safeguard its socialist system from military attack by the imperialist powers who were all extremely anxious to annihilate it. Soviet Russia was therefore generous with development aid to Afghanistan, which was able to make modest progress in the years following the Second World War. The imperialist powers, however, wanted to destroy Afghan neutrality and Soviet influence in the country, and they proceeded by arming Afghanistan’s reactionary feudal class and encouraging them to wage war in the name of Islam against the modicum of progress that was being introduced to Afghanistan with Soviet help. The Soviet Union intervened on the side of the Karmal regime in Kabul, which it had helped to install, but lost. Through a complicated struggle the pro-Soviet Kabul regime fell to the Taliban forces. The next phase of the operation, as far as imperialism was concerned, however, was to step into Soviet shoes. However, unlike the Soviets, who had supported a progressive intellectual class and were in turn supported by them, the imperialists had nothing to offer the Afghan people. The fundamentalist Taliban regime which took over from the mildly pro-Soviet regime that it had brutally overthrown turned out to be just as chary of US imperialism as its predecessor had been.

Then in 1991 the Soviet Union itself collapsed and countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Tadjikstan and Kyrgizstan which border the oil rich Caspian Sea ceased to be part of the Soviet Union. This opened up a free-for-all for imperialism to rush to secure Caspian oil supplies – only to find that it was all very well to own oil wells in these countries: the problem remained as to how it was to be got to market. Overnight imperialism’s erstwhile allies the Mullahs became monstrous enemies who had to be overthrown. As we have seen, US imperialism, using the pretext of 9/11 – for which the Mullahs were in no way responsible – did overthrow them. But still the people of Afghanistan remained resistant to US imperialist domination. Still it remained impossible to build the pipelines of which the big American and British oil monopolies dreamed night and day.

The question now being asked by quite a few sections of even the bourgeoisie is: “If five years of pounding the Taliban by US forces has achieved so very little, what is the plan for the alliance [Nato] to do better?” (Tim Garden, Independent on Sunday, 17 September 2006, ‘Nato: the case for the defence’).

The escalation option

One choice being considered by imperialism is to escalate military operations in the hope that if only the imperialist forces hit hard enough the ‘Taliban’ will be defeated: “Lieutenant General David Richards, the Nato commander, believes in hitting the Taliban hard, using air and artillery strikes, even though they risk killing many civilians. ‘They think they can face us down. We will prove to them that they are defeatable’, he said last week” (Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, 20 October 2006, ‘There is never going to be a Nato victory in Afghanistan’).

The drawbacks of this option are many:-

It is costly.

“It is clear that without considerably higher levels of men and money, Afghanistan could slip back towards anarchy, and not only in the embattled south. ‘We are very concerned that it will escalate next year, and that parts of Afghanistan will become no man’s land’, a senior official in Kabul said yesterday. General Sir Michael Rose, who led the SAS and British forces in Bosnia, said recently that with Nato’s present resources and strategy ‘we simply cannot win’.”

The various imperialist powers who bear that cost will need to raise the finance for the purpose by taxation. By increasing in this way the cost of production of commodities for the corporations under their protection, the governments in question are making the production less profitable and less competitive, perhaps even endangering their survival in the face of competition from, say, China and India who do not participate in these wars. If the imperialists could be absolutely sure of winning in the end, they would perhaps be less affected by cost considerations, but the experience of the Vietnam war, which US imperialism escalated step by step until it could afford absolutely no more but still lost, is still fresh in the memory – especially of those imperialist concerns that do NOT have oil interests. It is certainly on the cards that imperialism will decide not to throw good money after bad and look for an exit strategy before it is too late.

(b) It is hard to generate enough men and materiel.

The imperialist armies actually find it hard to generate enough men and materiel to keep the war going at its present level, especially given the imperialist involvement in Iraq, and its desire to expand its warmongering to Iran, Korea, the Sudan and parts of Latin America.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, British imperialism severely pruned its military expenditure (in the interests of the profits of its corporations), believing that it could now make do with merely a ‘Rapid Reaction Force’, which would intervene to prevent trouble before it even started. “The legacy of defence cuts by the Tories after the collapse of the Soviet Union followed by a series of ‘salami cuts’ by the Blair government has left the army stretched to breaking point by its role in the American-led ‘war on terror’. And furthermore: “There are nowhere near enough transport helicopters to mount two large expeditionary operations, and the army’s armoured vehicles are years out of date” (Michael Smith, ‘In the line of fire’, Sunday Times, 15 October 2006). The whole idea that it could find itself fighting for years on end in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan seemed hardly credible, and yet that is what has happened. Both British and US forces are stretched to breaking point, seeking anxiously to involve troops from other countries. But other countries necessarily ask: what’s in it for us if we intervene to help you pull chestnuts out of the fire? Why should we fight for YOU to have an oil monopoly? You were in the past offering reconstruction contracts, but in the past you hogged these reconstruction contracts to yourselves, and in any event it doesn’t look as if any reconstruction is going to be possible any time soon. Hence “Other big Nato members, such as Germany, France and Italy, have behaved far worse than Blair. They have sent troops to Afghanistan not to fight, but to play out a charade of solidarity. It is widely said that the Afghan deployment is a key test of whether Nato can remain a serious organisation. The omens are not auspicious” (Max Hastings, ‘The Taliban will be back in power if the west doesn’t narrow its ambitions’, The Guardian, 11 September 2006).

(c) It is counter-productive.

Christina Lamb, writing in the Sunday Times of 10 September (‘What a bloody hopeless war’) quotes one Leo Docherty, a captain in the Scots Guards who are fighting in Afghanistan: “All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed or who have had to flee are going to turn against the British. It’s a pretty clear equation – if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I would. We’ve been grotesquely clumsy – we’ve said we’ll be different to the Americans who were bombing villages, then behaved exactly like them. To my mind we’ve lost the hearts and minds before we’ve ever begun”. Faster than anti-imperialist fighters are killed, they are being created by exactly the kind of mindless violence that the likes of Lieutenant General David Richards is advocating.

Buying influence

If the resistance cannot be killed with bombs and rockets, is it possible that they can be killed by kindness? “Fighting alone is not the solution … We’ve got to win over the 70% of people in southern Afghanistan who are good peasant stock and basically want security and the means to feed their families. If it’s only fighting they see ahead of them for the next five years, chances are that they will say well, we’d rather have the Taliban and all that comes with it”. This is the view expressed by the very same Lt General Richards who has been talking about smashing the Taliban to smithereens, quoted in the Sunday Times of 8 October 2006 by Christina Lamb, ‘British hire anti-Taliban mercenaries’.

It is, however, often said that imperialism would not be imperialism if it could improve the lives of the masses of the people. Imperialist corporations are in business to maximise profit, and it can only do that in the long run by relatively impoverishing the masses. To date $82.5 billion has been spent in Afghanistan on military operations since 2002, compared with just $7.3 billion on development. The Soviet Union, because it was free of the imperative of maximising profit, could well afford to encourage development in friendly nations by paying above market rates for their products, for instance. This, however, is not an option for imperialism, even it seems when waging war is infinitely more expensive.

Rather than take measures that would benefit the masses of workers and peasants in Afghanistan, the various imperialist hyenas rely on alliances with influential hyenas, as a result of which “corruption is booming among the supporters of President Karzai. As everywhere in the Muslim world, this promotes popular anger which threatens to discredit secular democracy” (Max Hastings, op.cit). The result is that the ‘Taliban’, “a disparate force of perhaps a few disorganised thousands” can operate successfully “due to the fact that the majority of southern Afghans are sick of the squandered efforts of their own Government to improve their lives or give them any security.

“At the outskirts of Kandahar yesterday police at three checkpoints extorted cash from travellers. One policeman boasted that he made $600 a month from civilians. The city’s ruined roads and burgeoning unemployment suggest that nobody has benefited from five years of world support for President Karzai’s Government” (Anthony Loyd op cit).

The only way that imperialism has been able to buy influence in Afghanistan, and then only in the northern half of the country, is by backing feudal warlords turned drug barons. The imperialist press in this country all stress the opium production and heroin processing that is rife in Helmand and the difficulties involved in countering it. What they do not mention, however, is that the greater part of heroin production in Afghanistan takes place in the ‘pacified’ North, directly benefiting the feudal warlords allied with US imperialism, such as General Dostum. Patrick Cockburn (op.cit) informs us that Afghanistan produces 6,100 tons of opium, 92% of the world’s total, and the 2006 crop is 40% up on 2005. Incredibly there aren’t enough consumers in the rich countries for all this opium to be sold, and the price of heroin on the streets of London has as a result hit an all time low. But only one third of it is produced in British-controlled Helmand Province. Whereas the heroin produced in the north of the country ‘pacifies’ not only the warlords of the area, but also the peasants who are able to make a good living by growing it, as well as the rebellious youth of the imperialist countries who consume the heroin, heroin production and poppy cultivation in the south is still subject to eradication programmes because it is seen as financing the ‘Taliban’ war effort. Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, called for “Counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics efforts” to “reinforce each other so as to stop the vicious circle of drugs funding terrorists and terrorists protecting drug traffickers,” while he called on Nato to “destroy heroin labs, disband drug bazaars, attack convoys and arrest smugglers”. What hypocrisy! It is fine, it seems, for drugs to finance imperialist aggression, but quite a different thing for them to finance the anti-imperialist struggle! The truth is that under imperialist protection the Afghan drug trade has reached unsurpassed heights, despite the fact that production in ‘Taliban’ controlled areas is under constant attack by US and British imperialism. It follows that by far the greater part of the surge in production is taking place under imperialist protection in the ‘pacified’ north.

In the absence of any other crop that is able to sell at a reasonable profit for Afghani farmers on the world market, to destroy poppy fields is to condemn peasant families to die of starvation. The anti-imperialist resistance therefore thrives on its willingness to protect peasants against the imperialist destruction of their crops.

If imperialism were serious about its desire to stop the drugs trade, which it certainly is not, then it would offer farmers subsidies to grow alternative crops, but imperialism is incapable of doing that because there is no profit in it – unlike in drugs where profits are high, with prices maintained artificially high by the fact that drugs are in theory legally prohibited – although in practice their use is both widespread and encouraged.

Conclusion

The imperialists will not be able to impose their will by force on the Afghani people. As William Rees-Mogg correctly said in the Mail on Sunday of 22 October (‘Why are we in Iraq? Nobody seems to know’) “Superior force from the wrong side of the ocean cannot subdue a nation in arms. That was the lesson of Vietnam; it was also the lesson that George Washington taught King George III in the years after 1776…” The imperialists are beginning to learn this lesson all over again, and the signs are that important sections of them are looking for some kind of exit strategy along the lines of negotiating with Mullah Omar and organising a legal opium trade for southern Afghanistan:

“Karzai, besieged in Kabul, knows one thing. He must do a deal with the Taliban as he has with the northern and western warlords. His spring appointment of gangsters and drug runners as police chiefs and commanders may have appalled his foreign paymasters [or then again they probably gave the orders]. But Karzai [read: his imperialist paymasters] has only one way to survive outside his capital: buying support from those who can repay with security. In the south that is commanders in league with the Taliban, even if it meant Mullah Omar returning to Kandahar… [T]here is no alternative to negotiation” (Simon Jenkins, ‘Talk to Mullah Omar if it saves British soldiers’ lives’, The Guardian, 6 September 2006).

The moguls of the oil industry and the armaments industries, however, along with their financial backers, are driven like crazed gamblers to lay larger and larger bets in a futile attempt to win back what they have lost. If they continue the way they are doing, they are most efficiently recruiting for the anti-imperialist resistance on a mass scale.

At the same time they are exposing the people of the imperialist countries to the danger of reprisals: “It is a fact that ‘we’ cannot take our armies and warships and tanks and helicopter gunships and para battalions for foreign wars and expect to be unhurt at home. This is the inescapable logic of history that Bush and Blair will not face, will not acknowledge, will not believe – will not even let us believe” (Independent on Sunday, 8 October 2006, ‘Are Bush and Blair hoping they can distort the mirror of the world’s reality with their words?’).

On the other hand, there is no guarantee of success even if imperialism does sue for peace with the ‘Taliban’. The masses of southern Afghanistan have been thoroughly roused and may well have very little interest in an imperialist peace which leaves them still suffering a 25% infant mortality rate, with their lives barely improved and certainly not back to the levels that they enjoyed in the time of the pro-Soviet regime. They will expect their leaders to deliver improvements in their lives, and turn their weapons against those leaders if they fail to deliver.

One cannot but conclude that in invading Afghanistan, as much as in invading Iraq, the imperialists lifted a rock only to drop it on their own feet. Seeking to prolong the reign of imperialism, they have only succeeded in shortening it.