Defeat of US imperialism in Afghanistan marks a turning point in the international situation which have wide repercussions on the region and the world influencing all the major contradictions of the imperialist system. Inter-imperialist contradictions will obviously be sharpened further while the other contradictions like that between imperialism and oppressed nations and that between labour and capital in developed countries are also sharpening. This sharpening is occurring in a number of ways.
Defeat of US imperialism has occurred at a time of decline of US imperialism not only in strategic sense but also in immediate sense. It is locked in confrontation and conflict in almost all the regions of the world and is facing un-surmountable obstacles. It is a decline of a hegemonic superpower, being challenged by the rivals on the one hand and facing relatively increasing burden of is military expenditure as compared to its economic strength, the factors that had led to fall of another superpower, erstwhile Soviet Union.
US military occupation of Afghanistan was part of its hegemonic drive to control all regions of world, major areas of the resources and trade routes to contain rise of any rival. This was an effort of an economically declining superpower to secure and perpetuate its world hegemony. Its economic decline also related to the greed of monopoly capitalism to maximize its profits and shifting relatively labour intensive operations to third world countries. Real reason for this was relatively high wages at home, availability of cheaper labour power abroad and controlling the world markets by shifting production to other countries. This shift i.e. global reorganization of capital facilitated by WTO which concentrated different parts of production in different countries and regions, resulted in accruing of parts of generated surplus value to those countries participating in global value chain. Accumulation of surplus value in some of these countries led to investment in other areas of production reducing dependence on US and other developed imperialist countries for high technology goods and services thereby reducing their market share. While monopoly groups from US and other countries earned huge profits, a large part of profits of these companies came from production centres and markets abroad, the overall number of well paid jobs declined. As a result social expenditure increased. This along with growing military expenditure was sought to be sustained through bubble economy but bursting of bubble led to explosion of world financial economic crisis from 2008 onwards. Failure of wars of aggression and deepening economic crisis 2008 onwards have led to rise of multi-polar world which have been analyzed at length.
Afghanistan has a reputation of being graveyard of empires. Defeat here has historically led to decline or at least readjustment of the aims of invading empires. It will not be otherwise for US imperialism. Effects of defeat in Afghanistan will not be limited to Afghanistan alone. Due to this defeat there will be even less support in America for military aggressions abroad. This may however result in even greater recourse to economic sanctions. US hegemonic drive had consolidated Shanghai group (SCO), especially brought China and Russia closer which is a formidable force. Withdrawal in military defeat from Afghanistan has also placed question marks on the reliability of US for the reactionary rulers. Inter-imperialist contradictions set to intensify on this new basis.
China will be the main gainer being the only power in the region capable of exploiting resources of Afghanistan. With big resources of rare metals and natural gas, China may invest more here for their exploitation. These resources are estimated to be worth one trillion US$. Afghanistan is surrounded by countries aligned with Russia and China which are part of Belt and Road Initiative of China. Afghanistan will be an important part of this new Silk Road as it was of the old Silk Road. China and Taliban have discussed Chinese investments in Afghanistan. Western countries’ threat of economic sanctions hence will be counterproductive.
Countries of South East Asia will also be cautious to act on the prompting of US against China. Even Japan which has been a strong supporter of and participant in Contain China policy of US imperialism, has issued statements diluting that stand. In the Europe, US allies will readjust their hostility towards Russia, another big gainer of Afghanistan developments. While Afghan people’s willingness to fight and sacrifice against foreign occupying power was the main factor in the victory of Taliban (they being the only force fighting against US imperialism), inter-imperialist contradiction also played its role, especially in rehabilitating Taliban as a legitimate political force in world forums. China’s proximity with Pakistan and Pakistan’s apprehension over growing proximity of US with India also helped SCO powers in influencing developments in Afghanistan.
The international role of US post-Afghanistan will have big influence on Middle-east. Turkey will try to expand its influence. This will be resisted by Arab monarchs as they to draw even closer to Israel but would also tone down their conflict with Iran. Arab monarchs and military dictators have subtly shifted centre of their opposition from Iran to Turkey. US defeat will increase opportunities for Russia and China to increase their influence in Middle-east. While Russia has Army stationed in Syria, it also has close relations with Egypt’s military rulers. China has entered into big economic agreement with Iran worth US$ 400 billion, it is the biggest buyer of crude oil from Middle-east including Saudi Arabia. An important effect may be seen in the region that Israel’s aggressive acts will not be disproportionate. While both Israel and Arab monarchs remain hostile to Palestinians, their struggles will draw increasingly wider support from Arab masses and democratic public opinion in the US. Hence, US and Israel as well Arab monarchs will move to bolster Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Abbas to counter growing influence of Hamas.
Africa has emerged as one of the main arena of contention between imperialist powers and the scramble for resources and zones of investment is set to intensify in the continent. There are a score of hotspots in Africa where wars are actively going on. Imperialist powers are utilizing tribal and religious differences to foment and abet wars. The epicenter of so-called “War on Terror” is set to move to Africa as this war is another name for undeclared wars. The economic investments and military deployment of imperialist powers is increasing in African countries. USA, China, France, UK and Russia are main contenders for influence in this continent.
Defeat of US imperialism will further boost the forces in Latin American countries who are fighting against neo-liberalism and domination of US imperialism and pro-US elite in their own countries. These sections are not revolutionary communists but wish to implement redistributive reformist agenda. Specifically they stand for increasing expenditure on social sectors of the income from natural resources. While US imperialism continues to conspire for the overthrow of such govts. and imposes sanctions besides helping pro-US elite, succeeding in Honduras and Paraguay where recently pro-US forces have come to power. In Venezuela US conspiracy to topple Maduro govt. have collapsed while US orchestrated coup against FSLN (Ortega) Govt. in Nicargua in 2018 was defeated. In Bolivia Evo Morales of Movement toward Socialism (MAS) was ousted from power but MAS came back to power in recent elections. In Brazil pro-US Bolsonaro is getting increasingly isolated. In Chile, the elections to constituent assembly resulted in victory of a large number of reform supporters. In Peru as well Castillo has been elected President with a programme of increasing social spending from mining resources, right to health and education, food and housing. Mexico too has a President who is not pro-US though he has avoided confrontation with US. Importantly there have been sharp struggles in Colombia, the strongest supporter of US imperialism in the continent. These protests are focused against increasing poverty and inequality. Defeat of US imperialism in Afghanistan will embolden forces fighting against US imperialism and its supporters among elite.
In Europe, the position of US imperialism will weaken further and isolation of UK will increase. The trend of European Union adopting a course independent of US imperialist interests will get stronger. Relations with Russia and China may not be seen through US prism alone. Despite Biden terming Russia as main enemy during his campaign to become President, he is being forced to tone down his rhetoric and focus on challenging China. There will be less pressure on Russia in Europe, Middle-east and Central Asia.
One important impact of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan will be intensification of internal contradictions in USA. The contradiction between labour and capital especially against corporate and increasing demands for increase in social expenditure and for domestic investment will rise. There will be intensification of the struggle for racial justice and movement against white supremacists. Progressive section in the Democratic Party may get stronger and support to democratic struggles like struggle of Palestinians will increase while support for armed intervention will decline.
Indian Govt. has painted itself into a corner on this issue. It had supported US occupation of Afghanistan and opposed US withdrawal from there. While main ruling class parties had supported US led and Security Council approved occupation of Afghanistan, RSS-BJP Govt. had ignored the winds of change sweeping the region and firmly anchored itself to US imperialism. This brought it into conflict with SCO powers and specifically lost trust of Russia. Acting against Syria and Iran at the behest of US imperialism, Indian Govt. has isolated itself in the region. Besides pro-US stand, Indian Govt. has opposed struggle of people of Afghanistan against US led occupation also from communal angle and viewing it from anti-Pakistan perspective. US withdrawal from Afghanistan has left Indian govt. cut-off from the whole region. With increasing reliance of US imperialism on Pakistan for its influence in Afghanistan and in the region, there will be US pressure on India not to escalate its conflict with Pakistan. US withdrawal and hence its reduced credibility as reliable military partner will also force Indian Govt. to recalibrate its stance on border stand-off with China.
In all Party meeting held by Modi Govt. on situation in Afghanistan opposition ruling class parties while supporting Union Govt. also questioned the isolation of India on Afghanistan especially estrangement from Russia.
On developments in Afghanistan, ND has published a comment and a statement. We hailed the victory of Afghan people against imperialist occupation forces. We also cautioned against social reactionary character of Taliban, its attacks on the rights of women, minorities including religious minorities and on democratic rights of the people. We support the struggle of Afghan people against such attacks. But some organizations- reformist left, NGOs and also a section of intellectuals take the latter as the main aspect and ignore Afghan people’s struggle against foreign occupation. It is surprising that they came to street even before US has fully departed while they had kept mum over atrocities during imperialist occupation of Afghanistan. Through this they whitewash crimes of imperialism painting the occupation as liberation and discredit anti-imperialist struggle of people of Afghanistan. They deliberately or otherwise undermine history of heroic struggles of women and oppressed minorities in Afghanistan and also ignore the aid & support to fundamentalist forces by imperialists. This narrative also omits the gains made by struggles of women and people in the period before Soviet armed intervention and US led military occupation eight years after withdrawal of Soviet occupation forces. They omit the fact that people of Afghanistan through their struggle had gained recognition for some democratic rights under 1964 Constitution under Zahir Shah and this struggle continued to advance under Daud Govt. It was Soviet military occupation which halted this process and shifted the focus from internal struggle to struggle against foreign occupation. Besides, Soviet military occupation helped reactionary elements within a socially conservative society. US military occupation furthered these i.e. suppression of democratic elements and strengthening of reactionary forces. Hence, it is the imperialism which is mainly responsible for suppressing the growth of democratic forces in Afghanistan. Prettifying imperialist occupation runs counter to the history and interests of democratic movement in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a country of many ethnic groups with no group, not even the largest group Pashtuns being in majority. Attempts to impose centralized control over Afghanistan will breed resistance.
CPI (ML)-New Democracy strongly condemn RSS-BJP and their Govt.’s attempts to use victory of Taliban in Afghanistan to attack Muslims in India. RSS-BJP Govt. is also trying to portray victory of Taliban to justify its blatantly communal and anti-constitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). They are not only trying to use this for their communal fascist designs but their pro-imperialist character is also on open display. Those who kept away from the anti-colonial movement, rather supported the colonial power in their own country, cannot be expected to support anti-imperialist struggles in other countries.
CPI (ML)-New Democracy
August 29, 2021