The impending Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has two readings. Those who
defend the U.S. empire lament the loss of U.S. credibility.
That’s the New York
Times’ take as expressed in today’s article “Afghanistan’s Unraveling May
Strike another Blow to U.S. Credibility.” The Time’s writes: ““What made the U.S. strong, powerful and rich was that
from 1918 through 1991 and beyond, everybody knew we could depend on the U.S.
to defend and stand up for the free world,’’ said Tom Tugendhat, chairman of
the British Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.”
How can the NY Times uncritically quote
such a statement? How does the U.S. stand up for the free world when it is buddy-buddy
with governments of the ilk of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Emirates, Bahrain, when
it stands idly by in the face of fierce repression by governments it supports
such as Chile (under Piñera), Colombia (under Duque) , Ecuador (under Lenin
Moreno), when it just gently slaps the wrists of Bolsonaro in Brazil, Duterte
in the Philippines and Duda in Poland while imposing crippling sanctions on
Venezuela, and engineers coups against
democratically elected governments that result in repressive, corrupt and
reactionary regimes in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964) Chile (1970),
Indonesia (1967) and those are just a few names.
The second take is that the Taliban’s
triumph has to force on the U.S. a long-overdue introspection with regard to
its interventionist foreign policy. Just because the U.S. is “democratic” and
our adversaries Russia and China are not does not mean that our foreign policy
is designed to protect democracy. Throughout the Cold War this was not the
case, and now even less so. It’s no more the case than it was with Rome in
Biblical times. Yet this is the basic assumption of the champions of U.S. interventionism.
For two decades since Bush’s invasion in 2001 we
have been defending a government of war lords which is no better than the
Taliban that we have been combating. Now people in the U.S. have to ask the
obvious question: all that destruction, all those lives lost, all those people
displaced, why has the war dragged on for so long? The only argument that the
hawks who dominate both the Democratic and Republican parties have come up with
(and was Biden’s talking point) is that we have knocked off Bin Laden and so our
mission was accomplished. Does anyone really believe this? Does Biden believe
it? First, Bin Laden was bumped off in 2011and so why did the intervention
continue for another ten years? And second, Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan,
and so why were we in Afghanistan instead of Pakistan? With such weak
arguments, people in the U.S. have to wake up to the real explanation of U.S.
interventionism. It’s to assert U.S. power throughout the world to defend
corporate interests. It has nothing to do with “making the world safe for
democracy” any more than World War I did, Woodrow Wilson notwithstanding.