Breaking: Endless Wars Remain Endless


Will Swafford

In February of 2020, Donald Trump announced a deal with the Taliban to withdraw all American, coalition, and contractor forces by May 1, 2021. However, over a year later, current President Biden declared that it will be “tough” for the U.S. to meet the deadline. In response, the Taliban has stated that they will increase military action if the deadline is not met. In order to understand the situation in Afghanistan, one must examine its history. A condensed version follows:

Afghanistan is sometimes called “The Graveyard of Empires.” This is a fitting name, as for the last 40 years, Afghanistan has resisted two of the world’s greatest superpowers. In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded to support the left-wing government under attack from an insurgency. Like nearly all conflicts during the Cold War, this ensuing civil war became a proxy war between the Soviets and the U.S. While Moscow had deployed the Red Army to support their allies, the U.S. took a more clandestine approach. Under the Reagan administration, the CIA funneled resources, training, and weapons to a number of radical religious groups. Many of these guerilla forces would become what is known today as the Taliban. With heavy casualties on both sides, they successfully resisted the Soviet invasion until 1985, when the Red Army withdrew. The Soviet-Afghan War is commonly known as the “Soviet Vietnam.”

  The mujahideen continued their war against the left-wing government and took the capital, Kabul, in 1996. They were essentially in charge of the entire nation, until the American War on Terror. The Taliban offered refuge to Al Qaeda, the group responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. In the aftermath of the attacks, George W. Bush ordered troops into Afghanistan, effectively declaring war on the Taliban. The offensive was initially effective, but eventually created more resistance than the Americans experienced prior to the invasion. Afghanis saw the destruction brought about by American interference and joined the insurgency, an insurgency and a cause that have existed since the late 1970s. They see the Americans as invaders, just as they did the Soviets. Nearly twenty years later, over 16,000 civilians are dead and the Taliban control roughly 52% of the country. Nobody knows what victory looks like, and nobody wishes to acknowledge the criminality of the occupation.

So why are we pulling out? Should we be pulling out? Why are we not already out? There are doubtless a number of questions to be asked about this, and I will offer my take on it.

We are pulling out as a way to try to appease the popular belief that we should be out. However, this is more of a PR stunt, rather than an actual effort at peace. America should be out because there is no victory, and we should not have been there in the first place. The invasion was in clear violation of international law and has brought death and destruction to innocent people for nearly two decades. The reason we are not out is simply that the U.S. government does not want to be out. This is not a difference in administration or party preference, but rather a reflection of the purpose of the American state itself. The American state was designed to protect the interests of those that hold economic power. Wars waged by the American state are in the interests of these powers. In the simplest terms: the American government is a tool of the ruling class to both legitimize itself and obtain more profit. Afghanistan is home to an abundance of gold, platinum, uranium, lithium, chromite, coal, aluminum, copper, iron, and a host of valuable gems. This wealth is worth trillions. If the U.S. were without influence in Afghanistan, these minerals would be under the control of corporations from other countries, or even the people of Afghanistan themselves. To prevent this from occurring, the United States secures these resources for its own use, or rather, for the use of multinational corporations. However, as American control over Afghanistan has weakened, a number of Chinese corporations have begun doing business in the Graveyard of Empires. They have done so with no military presence. 

Besides the availability of mineral wealth, the conflict in Afghanistan has proven profitable to arms manufacturers and contracting companies, “contracting” being a civilized term for mercenaries. It is no secret that arms manufacturers, such as St. Louis’ own Boeing, contribute a great deal of money to politicians and gain power as a consequence. Endless American wars have also enriched monstrous organizations such as Academi, formerly known as Blackwater, a mercenary service that is infamous for its massacre of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2007. Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the American reliance on war profiteering in his farewell address, calling it the “Military-Industrial Complex.” That was 60 years ago and those words are more relevant now more than ever. 

Will the United States actually honor its agreement with the Taliban come May 1? Absolutely not. No country has a worse track record when it comes to honoring treaties than the United States and this will be no exception. Even if the American people’s support is in favor of withdrawal, there will be none. The American government is in no way responsible to its citizens and expecting it to change now is naive, to say the least. America will stay in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, for many more years to come; and no amount of protesting, petitions, or calls to representatives will change that. America’s endless wars are the new norm, and they are here to stay.