MEDIA ROOTS- This year marked the tenth anniversary of America’s invasion of Afghanistan, officially making it the longest war in US history. Now that Osama Bin Laden is finally confirmed dead, the federal government’s logic of continuing the occupation remains unclear.
Initially, the Bush administration irrationally insisted that any sovereign nation harboring terrorists was itself complicit in “terror” and therefore open for pre-emptive US military action. This rationale is absurd– just because one criminal might be living inside of a particular country doesn’t make that entire country guilty of the criminal’s crimes.
In 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was quick to tell CNN that US forces had successfully pushed the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of the region, and reports reveal that Osama Bin Laden hadn’t even been in Afghanistan since 2001. Additionally, a White House spokesperson recently admitted that there hasn’t been a terrorist threat in the country for the last eight years.
So what has the US been doing in Afghanistan for the last decade?
War has always been about two things: resources and control. Alongside the supposed surprise discovery of Afghanistan’s $1 trillion wealth of untapped minerals, it’s more than coincidental that before the US invasion, the Taliban along with the UN had successfully eradicated the opium crop in the Golden Crescent. Now 90% of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan.
As reported by Global Research:
Heroin is a multibillion dollar business supported by powerful interests, which requires a steady and secure commodity flow. One of the “hidden” objectives of the war was precisely to restore the CIA sponsored drug trade to its historical levels and exert direct control over the drug routes.
Immediately following the October 2001 invasion, opium markets were restored. Opium prices spiraled. By early 2002, the opium price (in dollars/kg) was almost 10 times higher than in 2000.
In 2001, under the Taliban opiate production stood at 185 tons, increasing to 3400 tons in 2002 under the US sponsored puppet regime of President Hamid Karzai.
While highlighting Karzai’s patriotic struggle against the Taliban, the media fails to mention that Karzai collaborated with the Taliban. He had also been on the payroll of a major US oil company, UNOCAL. In fact, since the mid-1990s, Hamid Karzai had acted as a consultant and lobbyist for UNOCAL in negotiations with the Taliban.
In today’s globalized world, one can’t discount the role that multinational corporations play in US foreign policy decisions. Not only have oil companies and private military contractors made a killing off the Afghanistan occupation: big pharmaceutical companies, who collectively lobby over $250 million to Congress annually, need opium latex to manufacture drugs for this pill happy nation.
Another fact worth mentioning is that Karzai, a notable player in Afghanistan’s opium trade, has been receiving regular payments from the CIA since the invasion. Even more infuriating, the US government has been paying Taliban insurgents to protect supply routes and to “switch sides” in a poor attempt to neutralize the insurgency and buy loyalty from the fighters. The fundamental logic of funding both sides of the war to “win” is possibly the most incomprehensible concept to grasp. Clearly, this war is meant to be sustained– not won.
Fast forward to ten years later, and the turmoil within the country still looms heavy. Last Thursday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly attack that killed 27 US soldiers and wounded dozens more. Earlier this month marked the deadliest day for US troops since the war started when a rocket propelled grenade shot down a helicopter and killed 30 US soldiers.
In June of this year, Obama delivered a speech about drawing down in Afghanistan, which corporate media outlets touted as a major step to ending the war (Media Roots cut through the speech rhetoric). Yet, a glaringly under reported factor of the praised “drawdown” is the fact that even if the reductions are carried out as planned, the US will still have far more troops in Afghanistan than at any point during Bush’s administration. Furthermore, the US and Afghanistan are about to sign a strategic pact that will allow thousands of special forces troops to remain in Afghanistan until 2024.
Considering how the US is spending at least $6.7 billion a month in Afghanistan and over 55% of Americans think that the US should immediately withdrawal, this issue should be a constant hot topic in the public dialogue– especially amidst the debate of economic sacrifice. Yet in 2010, the corporate news only allotted a measly 4% of its coverage to the war in Afghanistan.
The unsustainability of America’s endless wars and imperialistic foreign policy is the elephant in the room that not enough people in the public arena seem to want to discuss. Sadly, because Americans are conditioned to not bring up politics and religion with others, many are confined to their own rigid perspective fed by biased corporate media outlets. We must begin to challenge this societal dogma if we ever want to progress our society and evolve our collective human consciousness.
Written by Abby Martin
Photo by flickr user DVIDSHUB