The dramatic collapse of the Afghan Government and the lightning fall of Kabul demonstrate the failure and futility of twenty years of American wars and military intervention as part of its so-called ‘War on Terror’.
The Kabul government collapsed because it had lost all popular support and when the US announced its withdrawal there was no one left to defend it. The US withdrew because, after 20 years of fighting they had got nowhere and, slowly but surely, were facing defeat. Better, they thought, to get their troops out relatively intact than to be trapped on the ground. One of the fundamental facts of world politics in the 21st century has been the relative decline, economically and militarily, of US imperialism. The US is now much less able to police the world for empire and capital.
The time has come for the Irish Government and State to cease hitching its bandwagon to the US – over Afghanistan, over Iraq, over Palestine – and it must end the US military’s continual use of Shannon airport. The time has come for Ireland to reassert its stated position as a neutral country in deeds as well as words. As part of this Ireland should have a policy of welcoming refugees and breaking with the cruel policy of Fortress Europe and Frontex in the Mediterranean.
The situation faced by the people of Afghanistan is tragic but it should not be imagined that before this Taliban victory it was somehow tolerable. On the contrary Afghanis have been subject to relentless war for over forty years –the Russian invasion in 1979, followed by civil war, followed by US invasion accompanied by endless bombing of villages, funerals, weddings and civilians in general together with torture, brutal war lords, and rampant corruption. Politicians and media will focus a lot on the situation of Afghani women and Afghani women’s rights like women’s rights everywhere should be defended. But it also has to be recognised that fake feminism was used by US imperialism, especially by the likes of Hillary Clinton, to justify imperial war and that must be rejected. Their ‘concern for women’s rights’ never led either the US or the British or Irish governments to break their links to Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately the US is not the only imperialist power in the world. The Russian invasion in 1979 provoked resistance and helped lay the foundation for the Taliban; so did US backing for the Mujahideen against Russia. Now China has also entered the picture reaching a deal with the Taliban and welcoming the new government, at the expense of the persecuted Uighurs of the adjacent Xinjiang region. There are also numerous sub-imperial and minor reactionary forces in the world, like the Taliban, who are oppressors in their own right and are open to serving as proxies for big power interests. The Afghan people have been the victims of all of these.
The conclusion we should draw is opposition to all imperialist intervention beginning with that with which Ireland is most closely affiliated, namely the US. It is for the Afghan people to determine their own future.