International Department – Communist Party of Australia

20 years of occupation of Afghanistan

Crass imperialism and a humanitarian disaster

The withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan has ended with the same Taliban forces taking over even larger parts of the country than they controlled before the occupation. The swiftness with which the US-installed puppet government of Ashraf Ghani fell discredits any excuse that had been presented to justify this war.

Twenty years of occupation has seen tens of thousands of Afghan civilian deaths and even more displaced, forty-three Australian military force deaths, 500 Australian veteran suicides, and cost the Australian people a war bill of more than $9 bill. The Australian public are left grappling to make sense of what is a classic example of crass and brutal imperialism.

The current US administration has declared that “nation building” in Afghanistan was never the aim. The primary declared motivation to invade and occupy Afghanistan was the US-led “war on terror.” Former Prime Minister John Howard, who led Australia into this illegal war, has also publicly agreed. And yet today we have the Taliban, whose track record has been nothing but terrorism, declaring government in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda, and other linked and like-minded groups, also continue to operate. In fact, the US administration made agreements with the Taliban last year in the Doha talks, which included the release of captured Taliban, lifting of sanctions against them and ultimately has led to the current takeover by them. The Taliban in return has promised to not harbour any forces that might attack the US and its allies or damage their economic interests. How this plays out remains to be seen.

Not only is this fiasco a total foreign policy failure, the damage to entire nations and several generations of humans and the decades-long meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan are another crime against humanity by US-led imperialism.

The “war on terror” has provided an excuse to erode civil and democratic rights across western nations. Internationally agreed war legalities have been bypassed. This has heightened the threat of terrorism rather than reduced it.

The Australian government since 2001 has passed more than 70 bills that override the civil and democratic rights of its citizens. In addition, the very means by which Australia enters US-led wars is completely undemocratic, by-passing the Australian Parliament and hence the Australian people’s aspirations. Both major parties, Labor and Liberal, have opposed any change to this undemocratic decision-making process.

While this is an unimaginable humanitarian disaster, there have been those who have benefitted greatly: the military-industrial complex and multinational corporations. The profits and share-prices of the likes of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman have sky-rocketed in these same years.

The occupation of Afghanistan, supported by Australia, has been twenty years of pillaging and rapacious looting of the minerals and natural resources of the country.

The Communist Party of Australia joined other anti-war and progressive voices since the beginning of the invasion of Afghanistan to oppose it. The CPA opposes any military invasion of sovereign nations on the pretext of “war on terror.” It sees the imperialist intervention by way of creating and funding both the Mujahideen and the Taliban as primary causes of trouble in Afghanistan.

The Communist Party of Australia works with like-minded organisations, groups and individuals to oppose and bring to an end Australia’s participation in the ANZUS treaty. The US-led wars of the 21st century should make this an absolutely necessary demand of any democratic-minded person. Australia should seek peaceful and political ways of engaging with other sovereign countries in the international arena, based on mutual respect, equality, and diplomacy.

The CPA demands of the Australian government:

Immediately end the years-long detention of all asylum seekers in all on-shore and off-shore facilities.

Provide permanent residency and citizenship to asylum seekers and refugees who are currently on temporary protection or bridging visas.

Fast-track applications for asylum and residency to those fleeing the chaos in Afghanistan, especially all those Afghans who worked with Australian Defence Forces and may expect retaliation in the changed scenario.

Properly investigate the war crimes of ADF personnel and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Protect whistle-blowers and journalists who uncover such crimes, like David McBride, ensuring they are not persecuted and dropping the charges against them.

End its cruel lip-service to war veterans with slogans of “freedom” and “democracy”; instead, take meaningful, concrete steps to alleviate the trauma, physical and mental, consequences of military service.

Grant permanent residence or citizenship and access to family reunion to Afghan workers currently on temporary protection visas in Australia.

Australia and other invading partners must now assist in the reconstruction of the country.

In socialism,

International Department
Communist Party of Australia

23rd August 2021