No: 3

Autumn 2002

US prolongs suffering

by Andrew Lennox
We are all very familiar with the suffering of the Afghan people, the images beamed daily by satellite into our lounge rooms. The great blocks of rubble that used to be the once beautiful city of Kabul; orphaned children and burkha-clad women begging in the streets; and the long lines of refugees fleeing in terror.

This is not USA's fault, the media tells us the problems began when the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1980. They tell us the Soviet "invasion" prompted a rebellion by the people, eventually turning into the catastrophic 22-year civil war, and resulting in the complete destruction of their country.

The USA, with Australian and British help, are now there in the name of peace and democracy to "clean up the mess".

Only there was no Soviet invasion. And the civil war? Initiated, armed and paid for by the USA.

Afghanistan, land of towering Himalayan Mountains, green river valleys and arid plains.

For centuries Afghanistan had seen little change, yet in the space of just 30 years the name has become synonymous with Cold War, civil war, terrorists and Islamic fundamentalism.

How did this happen?

Until the 1970s Afghanistan remained a feudal society, where a small handful of families owned all the land, and the majority of the 15 million people lived in primitive conditions. Most were illiterate. There was little infrastructure or industry.

Yet the Afghans were fiercely independent and deeply religious. They had fought three successful wars against British attempts at colonisation.

In April 1978 a revolution took place, led by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). The feudal regime was overthrown and power passed into the hands of the people.

The PDPA had a program of land reform, industrialisation, education, health care and democratisation.

These revolutionary changes were not to the liking of the big landowners and those who had previously held positions of power and privilege.

Nor were they to the liking of the imperialist powers the USA and the UK, who immediately began planning measures to overthrow the People's Government.

Even less to their liking was the "Treaty of Friendship, Good neighbourliness and Co-operation" Afghanistan signed with the USSR.

The treaty provided that each side would consult each other and would, by mutual consent "take relevant measures with a view to ensuring the security, independence and territorial integrity of the two countries".

The treaty was registered with the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the counter-revolutionary moves continued. As early as February 1979 US newspapers were reporting that armed guerrillas were being trained in Pakistan to overthrow the Afghan Government.

Financed by Saudi Arabia and supplied with US weapons, the counter-revolutionary rebel incursions increased in their severity. (Starting to sound familiar?)

In December 1979, aware that an all-out imperialist invasion was imminent, the Afghan Government requested that the Soviet Union provide them with military assistance, in accordance with their treaty.

"INVASION!" screamed the governments of the USA, UK, Australia and other imperialist countries throughout the world. And using their transnational media empires to spread their propaganda, they re-ignited Cold War fears, and raised anti-communist hysteria to fever pitch.

As with any great lie: if you fling enough mud around eventually some of it will stick. And so the label "invasion" remains in use to this day.

However, the fact remains: if the Soviet troops entered Afghanistan at the request of the Government, how can it possibly be considered an "invasion"?

Still not convinced? Consider this: when Australia was being attacked by Japan during World War II, and we asked for US troops to assist us, did the media proclaim "The USA has invaded Australia"? Of course not.

As we now know, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan was a long and costly exercise, with great loss of life. There is no doubt that this cost, both financial and moral, was an important factor in the demise of the Soviet Union.

The retreat of the Soviets in 1989 lead to the eventual fall of the Peoples' Government. Using their stockpiled cash and weapons, the rebels then turned against each other.

And what became of these US "freedom fighters"? Ever heard of The Taliban?

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