In what may appear to the average westerner as an uncharacteristic change in tone, the Taliban has issued an open letter directly to the amerikan people calling for immediate peace negotiations, and citing the long list of u.$. crimes in the country. The letter, which spans about 7 pages in its english translation, serves as a historical accounting for the numerous atrocities committed against the Afghan people in the name of establishing a “legitimate” government, among other things, in Afghanistan. The aim of this letter is to serve as an offer and a warning: this war in Afghanistan could last 100 years with no progress, but it does not have to. The Taliban has been ready for peace for many years, and yet it is the obstinance of the united $tates which prevents it.
The letter itself details the 3 principal pillars that were responsible for supporting the invasion and subsequent occupation of the country, and one by one points out their failure and illegality. To establish security and eliminate the so-called terrorists in Afghanistan, to eliminate the narcotics trade and to establish law and order with a “legitimate” government in the country. These were the objectives of the Bush regime in toppling the Taliban government and beginning what is now a 17-year occupation of the country that has claimed countless thousands not only through bombs and bullets, but by starvation, poverty and disease.
They first tackle the issue of “eliminating terrorists” and providing “security” to the country. As they point out, with the u.$. invasion of the country, the number of armed groups and warring factions has only risen, although Al Qaeda had been virtually destroyed in Afghanistan after the invasion, now reduced to only a few hundred fighters by most accounts, the prolonged occupation has not prevented the introduction of the Islamic State to the conflict, or countless smaller sectarian factions, all vying for control in the country.
By their own admission they have not prevented the metastasis of organized crime, which now plagues the city of Kunduz which remains under the coalition’s “protection” since the defeat of the Taliban siege. The lives of Afghan people have never been less secure than under the u.$. occupation, between amerikan bombs, crime, military atrocities, and insurgent attacks. The war could not be sustained if not for the amerikan occupation, so it is clear that they have done less than nothing to create security.
Moving onto the second pillar, the united $tates claimed that they were going to eliminate the narcotics trade in Afghanistan, which now represents the primary source of opium poppies, used in the production of heroin and other opioids. We dealt with this issue in an article of our own on the link between the amerikan intervention and the heroin and opioid crisis in the united $tates. The open letter cements this argument with figures on the cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan, confirming that before the amerikan invasion only 185 hectares were utilized in the cultivation of poppies, mostly in the regions held by the amerikan-backed warlords of the so-called northern alliance. The Taliban had, for better or worse, been responsible for the near-eradication of the practice after they had come to power. Yet, after the u.$. invasion in 2001, the production quickly skyrocketed to 328,000 hectares, with heroin addiction rising from almost nothing before the invasion to now affecting more than 3 million Afghans. These are not rumors, but statistics taken directly from the UNODC itself.
As for the establishment of “law and order” through a so-called legitimate government in Afghanistan, the united $tates is desperately short on both law and order in their occupation of the country. The open letter confirms this not only in its prior discussion of the crimes of the u.$. occupation and the lack of security in the country, but also in the installation of a government which is anything but legitimate in both the eyes of the world and the Afghan people. The letter points out that this new government has set many infamous records internationally, ranking first in a number of disturbing categories: first in violation of human rights (more than 1.17 million human rights claims in the span of only 3 months); first in financial and administrative corruption; first in violence against women; first in the usurpation of land and embezzlement of foreign aid. The comprador Afghan government has turned a blind eye to the murder of its people so that it can focus more on what really interests them, namely the expansion of their own financial assets and personal power.
The list goes on, they discuss the loss of life not only for Afghans but also for the coalition in their pursuit of a hopeless victory in Afghanistan. Of course, western media says the letter is “rambling” and “bizarre”, euphemisms often employed against information embarrassing to the imperial project. Naturally, we insist the opposite. The open letter is accurate, concise and brief. They could have certainly written a book if they wished to go into the exact depth of amerikan cruelties, and could have chastised the amerikan people for having consistently failed to advocate for peace. They would have been right to do so. What have we done to ensure peace in Afghanistan? Perhaps we should be chastised, perhaps we deserve the mockery of the whole world on this matter. Not just the government, but the whole of the amerikan people. They do not do that, however. Instead they appeal to what we fear may be an absent conscience that pleads for peace.
This is not to suggest that the Taliban are the pinnacle of legitimacy and liberation, and the intention of summarizing their open letter should not be interpreted as a glowing review of their governance in Afghanistan. Rather, our intention is to demonstrate that the time has come for peace, and that this is a war that never should have been. We must speak for our role in the crime that has been the 17-year occupation of Afghanistan. Everything they say about the crimes of the united $tates in Afghanistan is true—if not understated—and we must admit that first and foremost. This must become an intervention among ourselves, to overcome the obstacles to a real anti-imperialist peace movement. The Afghan people will free themselves with or without our cooperation, but that does not give us license to continue, as we have done, to wait for intensifying conflict in Afghanistan to end on its own.
What’s more, how can we imagine victory for social revolution in the united $tates if we cannot even imagine a progressive end to the war in Afghanistan? As communists, especially, it is our greatest responsibility to transform the reactionary imperialist wars abroad into an internal revolutionary struggle against the monopoly capitalists of the united $tates. We cannot allow the obscurantists of the left-wing movement to continue abstracting our role in the various wars currently being waged by the amerikan imperialists. We do not demand an end to the war because we support a Taliban government, but because we have a duty to resist our own imperialist government and its crimes internationally. We must reassert our own agency in this struggle, and begin actually rebuilding the anti-imperialist movement, and if the Afghan resistance calls for peace, then we should support that call with our own.
Down with imperialism!
End the war now!