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Afghanistan, Corporate Media and the Declining Image of the United States

By Abayomi Azikiwe 

Sep 7, 20210

A monumental defeat of imperialism in Central Asia will have a long-term impact on Washington and its NATO allies.

Mainstream western media outlets are continuing to mourn the United States and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan after a twenty-year occupation.

Scenes of a rapid pullout combined with the chaotic situation at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul exposed to the world further that Washington had lost yet another imperialist war.

From the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to Cable News Network (CNN), MSNBC and Fox, commentators are questioning the wisdom of the administration of President Joe Biden in his decision to exit Afghanistan militarily. Even the purported “liberal” networks are resurrecting the war hawks such as John Bolton and H.R. McMaster as “expert commentators”, whose failed extremist policies are in line with the “war on terrorism” and its concomitant disastrous social consequences.

Evidently, the corporate and government-controlled media in the U.S. and Western Europe are inextricably linked to the military-industrial and intelligence complex. The only institutions which benefited from the endless wars of the previous two decades are the defense industries which have supplied the weapons that have killed and maimed untold numbers both abroad and within the U.S. itself. The Pentagon often provides military equipment to domestic police agencies which are then turned against antiracist demonstrators fighting to end law-enforcement misconduct.

This failed Afghan intervention was a major element of the so-called “war on terrorism”, a global initiative launched in 2001 in the immediate aftermath of the hijacked airplane attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon outside of the nation’s capital. These events, which caused the deaths of 3,000 people and the injuring of many others, prompted the U.S. Congress to pass a series of draconian bills, the most well known of which is the Patriot Act.

Over the last two decades the focus of foreign policy under Democratic and Republican administrations have centered on the notions of the U.S. being a fortress state. The then President George W. Bush, Jr. in 2001 said during a nationally televised address in the aftermath of 9/11 that “either you are with us or with the terrorists.”

This mentality has resulted in a general decline in the status and well-being of people in the U.S. and around the globe. The enlistment of young people within the armed forces accelerated after the 9/11 attacks setting the stage not only for the bombing, invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, it fueled further wars in Iraq and Haiti during 2003-2004.

Hundreds of Muslims were arrested and placed in prison with long sentences simply because they were politically expendable. The irrational ideas that the source of instability within U.S. society was to be found among people with origins in Asia and Africa who adhered to the Islamic faith, continued to permeate the corporate and government-controlled media for many years after September 11.

Although the Republic of Cuba is a sovereign socialist state in the Caribbean, the U.S. still occupies a naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Cuba has repeatedly asked Washington to leave the base, yet the imperialists remained and to add insult to injury, they created a prison at this location to house what the Pentagon and State Department describes as “enemy combatants.”

This category was created to avoid the guidelines involving the detention of prisoners of war. The U.S. was waging a war on the world while denying on a legal and political basis this reality in an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

During the immediate post-9/11 period, the U.S. suggested that the repressive measures enacted through the Patriot Act would only apply to Muslims suspected of terrorist activities within the country and abroad. However, it became quite obvious that the enhanced authority of the security apparatus which consolidated and created new law-enforcement and intelligence agencies would have an impact on police departments as well.

There was a marked increase in repressive measures carried out by local and state law-enforcement. The number of people incarcerated in jails and prisons continued to escalate exponentially.

Between 2013-2020, there was the reemergence of mass demonstrations and urban rebellions against racist police repression. Cities such as Ferguson, Baltimore and later Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, New York City, Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia, Portland, Atlanta, along with many others became centers of resistance against unjustified police killings and the deployment of state and federal forces to quell and monitor unrest.

Successive administrations beginning with the Bush regime right up to the current Biden presidency have failed to adequately address the domestic crises of institutional racism, national oppression and economic exploitation. At present with the roll back of jobless benefits and the expiration of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moratorium on evictions due to the economic decline which engulfed the U.S. since March 2020, there will be a new wave of millions imperiled by the lack of a sustainable safety net for the majority of working and oppressed people inside the country.

Economic Impact of the “War on Terrorism”

A website entitled “Costs of War” emanating from Brown University calculated that the losses to the U.S. and world economies as a result of the unbridled imperialist militarism of the Pentagon and NATO stands at approximately $8 trillion. These funds could have been utilized to rebuild the infrastructure and societal institutions in the West and other geo-political regions. (https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/figures/2021/BudgetaryCosts)

Business Insider which monitors developments in the U.S. economy including the expenses associated with the Department of Defense, said of the situation prevailing after two decades of military conflict and occupation, that: “The estimate factors in ‘future costs for veteran’s care, the total budgetary costs and future obligations of the post-9/11 wars.’ The report attributes $2.3 trillion to the Afghanistan and Pakistan war zone, $2.1 trillion to the Iraq and Syria war zone, and $355 billion to other war zones. Dr. Neta C. Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project, in a statement said the project’s accounting ‘goes beyond the Pentagon’s numbers because the costs of the reaction to 9/11 have rippled through the entire budget.’” (https://www.businessinsider.com/us-war-on-terror-deaths-cost-over-8-trillion-report-2021-8)

Moreover, the human costs of the “war on terrorism” is discussed in this same Business Insider report noting the number of deaths and the displacement of tens of millions of people internationally. The crises of African, Asian and Latin American dislocations as refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have not abated in Central Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean and on the borders with the U.S. The political debates generated by the large influx of migrants from former colonial and oppressed nations has created deep divisions within the western imperialist states.

Business Insider says later in the report that in these critical matters: “Costs of War also estimates that the war on terror, which will mark its 20th anniversary in a few weeks on September 11, has directly killed 897,000 to 929,000 people — including at least 387,072 civilians. Crawford said this is ‘likely a vast undercount of the true toll these wars have taken on human life. ‘It’s critical we properly account for the vast and varied consequences of the many U.S. wars and counterterror operations since 9/11, as we pause and reflect on all of the lives lost,’ Crawford added. In a report released last year, Costs of War estimated that the war on terror has displaced at least 37 million people on top of the hundreds of thousands of people killed in direct war violence.”

The rise of neo-fascist parties in Europe, a vote in 2016 in Britain that led to the withdrawal by the UK from the European Union (EU) as well as the ascendancy of the one-term presidency of Donald J. Trump, has weakened the capacity of these imperialist centers to address and effectively resolve the current COVID-19 pandemic. Massive unemployment and dislocation within the labor markets will continue to influence the mitigation efforts aimed at ending the pandemic.

A New Imperialist Frontier on the Horizons

Many observers and analysts do not believe that the U.S.-NATO defeat in Central Asia will end imperialist wars. There are discussions underway within the Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the State Department to mobilize and redirect resources towards China, Russia and Iran.

All three nations have expressed a willingness to work with the Taliban and the government it is attempting to establish in Afghanistan. Contrarily, the EU has stated categorically that it will not recognize any Afghanistan government which is dominated by the Taliban. Such a scenario may provide additional openings for Moscow, Beijing and Tehran to consolidate their relations with Afghanistan along with other nations within Asia.

The Biden administration has not lifted any of the sanctions and tariffs imposed upon Russia, China and Iran. Cuba, which is located only 90 miles from the shores of Florida in the U.S., has been subjected to a renewed destabilization campaign against the socialist government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel. These methods of tackling the declining influence and authority of U.S. imperialism will only result in the further alienation and isolation of Washington on a global scale.

Antiwar, anti-imperialist, social justice, national democratic and Left currents in the U.S. must militantly oppose the prospects for military conflict against those states which are identified by Washington as adversaries. The largest enemy of progress and stability for the proletariat and oppressed peoples domestically and internationally stems from the role of Washington and Wall Street in their quest for new avenues of exploitation and domination.

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Monday September 6, 2021

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