Imperialism’s rotten legacy in Afghanistan

War and imperialism in Afghanistan never freed women, despite what our rulers will tell us. Instead it led to more brutality

Tuesday 15 August 2023 by

US imperialism women

US troops invaded Afghanistan over 20 years ago

Two years since the Taliban seized Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, the country’s people—particularly women—face appalling conditions.

But that should not be used to whitewash the crimes of Britain and the United States.  Their intervention smashed Afghan society and created the conditions for the Taliban to grow.

The 2001 invasion and 20-year occupation destroyed Afghanistan’s economy and plunged the population into deep poverty. 

The country was ranked as the world’s 169th poorest country out of 189 on the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Index as the defeated British left in 2021.

Imperialism didn’t free women. It slaughtered thousands as part of a wider war.  The Predator drones, Special Forces, detention camps and foreign occupiers were hostile to any real progress.

Eight years after the invasion, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported, “The current reality is that the lives of Afghan women were seriously compromised by violence, and women were denied their most fundamental human rights”.  A female Afghani diplomat told the paper, “Supporting women is ­something people from pay lip service to, but money and aid never get to them. It’s eaten by corruption, and the monster of war.”

The US and its allies habitually talk of the Taliban as drug overlords. In fact, over the last two years, opium poppy production has fallen 99 percent in Helmand Province—where the British were based during the invasion— according to recent satellite analysis. 

The region previously grew more than half of the country’s opium.  The brutality towards Afghans didn’t end when the beaten Western troops left after humiliating defeats. Aid freezes and an economic squeeze mean more than 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

And there’s deep hostility towards Afghans who try to reach Europe. The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme pledged to allow 20,000 people to come to Britain over five years. By March 2023 just 281 had been admitted. 

That’s a major reason why Afghans make up many of those who try to cross the Channel in small boats—including the six who died last Saturday. 

Imperialist manoeuvres mean the US is now considering closer relations with the Taliban.  Anxious to blunt the spread of Chinese influence in the region, US officials have recently held talks with their Afghan counterparts. The US shelved its talk of “human rights” in order to open the way towards re-engagement.

Both the US and China want access to Afghanistan’s resources, particularly copper and lithium, as well as political influence.  

Britain and the US are the biggest criminals in Afghanistan. They will never bring justice or peace to people anywhere.