The objective of colonial powers has never been to bring civilisation, development and peace to the nations they invade. What history shows is quite the opposite.
The balance of the Christian West’s expansion across the planet leaves a panorama of desolation, plundering and destruction that benefits those peoples very little, if at all. And it is no different in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a battlefield on which the powers of Western capitalism, defeated by the Taliban, are leaving behind them a scene of total destruction and a population subjected to fear and oppression. They do not know which lot is worse, the Western invaders who leave in their wake thousands of murdered civilians, millions of displaced people and a material backwardness greater than what there was before, or the Taliban, one of the most reactionary expressions of Islamism.
Those extreme currents of Islam share more than a few values and customs with the rest of the religious extremisms found in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and, keeping things in due proportion, something similar is happening with Israel’s racist Zionism and with some of the currents of Christian fundamentalism in the civilised West (the United States, for example) whose narrative is equally loaded with values totally contrary to humanist ideology.
The West, which for over two decades has waged an atrocious war in Afghanistan that subjects the local population to various forms of extermination (for example, indiscriminate bombings), competes with the Taliban in its level of ignorance of the most basic human rights.
Ignorance of the right to life, for a start. Moreover, neither the westerners nor the Taliban enjoy enough social support to gain legitimacy.
The supporters of the West constitute a small elite of collaborators and business people, along with middle-class urban sectors (very rare in one of the poorest countries on the planet) who are now trying to leave the country any way they can or are resigned to the victors’ regime of oppression.
The Taliban’s supporters are also a relative minority, limited to a few ethnic groups and regions (there are a lot in Afghanistan and they do not all support Islamic fundamentalism).
Everything points towards the majority of the population being, for the most part, simply spectators and unwilling victims of the excesses of both sides.
The Taliban are savage oppressors of groups that do not accept their reactionary precepts; a set of rules that are imposed violently, especially on women and children who are denied their condition as people – under their restrictive rules they are simply objects.
The westerners, in different ways, are no better. What to say of the many Guantanamos installed there? What to say of the systematic bombardment of rural weddings based on the allegation that “Taliban leaders attend them”?
What are the United States and its NATO allies seeking in Afghanistan?
What all colonialists, traditional and modern, seek: to plunder natural riches, increase markets for their products, ensure their control of zones of influence and trading corridors, and beat their competitors (in this case Russia, Iran and China).
Despite the scenery shown by the media being desolate and almost desert-like, Afghanistan has the planet’s largest deposits of lithium, a mineral of strategic value which is indispensable to the development of new technologies, as well as being one of the world’s largest producers of opium, in enormous demand in the metropolitan markets and immensely profitable.
Moral and legal objections that may be put forward matter little to them; opium guarantees large profits and that is sufficient for capitalist logic.
Afghanistan is, moreover, in a key position for the construction of an oil pipeline of strategic importance for the large oil and gas multinationals, as well as being hugely important to the new Silk Road that links China to Europe especially, and is vital for the competition to dominate the world economy.
For the West, this territory is key for the installation of indispensable military bases, above all for the United States that is trying to box Russia and China in.
The Europeans participate in this military strategy (as part of NATO, mainly) although there are signs that support for the United States is cooling given that they also have their own interests. Washington’s complaints relating to the “scant investment in the alliance” are well known.
Following the triumph of the Taliban, the situation is disastrous for the Afghan population.
A triumph that, although seemingly very solid, still has to be consolidated, especially among certain ethnic groups and in regions that are not closely linked to the Taliban. In this context, the laments of Western powers over the excesses that the new government in Kabul will bring (did they ever disappear, especially for the majority of the population?) are no more than diplomatic formalities.
The West needs to justify its defeat and must solemnly condemn the huge dangers of Taliban fundamentalism but is almost certainly already seeking to normalise relations with those who were always its friends, those whom it financed and armed against the Soviet Union, those with whom it has always maintained good contacts.
The disagreements that led to war must be overcome for the common good.
The European Union’s head of foreign affairs has already stated (very solemnly, of course) that it will not recognise the new government in Kabul but that the necessary contact will be maintained.
Biden, for his part, is surely discreetly initiating similar contacts in an attempt to ensure the Taliban permit the United States to maintain some form of military presence in the country in exchange for, if not formal recognition, at least an easing of the sanctions that have been taken this very week against Kabul.
Afghanistan is not Cuba nor Venezuela, with whom the conflict is of a different nature; it is a conflict that has anti-imperialism at its core, something completely alien in the Afghan case. The new government in Kabul will try as far as possible to limit the excesses of its “lads”, many of whom are not even Afghans but fundamentalists and professional terrorists from other countries.
They will seek to relieve the pressures of their long-time allies, the westerners, who in their turn have the problem of trying to explain to their populations why they have been supporting groups like the Taliban and others as dangerous or more so. This policy started with the support given to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a means of combating the growing Arab nationalism promoted at the time by President Nasser and which was a serious danger to the old and new colonial powers.
Those who today are tearing their hair out over their defeat are the same countries that have promoted the Taliban since their beginnings, in the same way that they have promoted other fundamentalist groups who subject millions of people to terror throughout the world.
Before long we will see how the West reconciles itself to the new Taliban government and how the excesses of
fundamentalism are tolerated, just as happens in Saudi Arabia and other similar regimes. The price doesn’t matter, what matters are the profits. (PL)