Between America’s founding and the present time, America has switched from doing war against military occupiers, to doing war as military occupiers, Eric Zuesse writes.
The prominent philosopher Slavoj Zizek stated the question well at RT, on August 17th:
The Taliban’s 80,000 troops have retaken Afghanistan with cities falling like dominos while the 300,000-strong government forces, better equipped and trained, mostly melted and surrendered with no will to fight. Why did it happen?
The Western media tell us there can be several explanations for that. …
However, all these explanations seem to avoid a basic fact that is traumatic for the liberal Western view. That is the Taliban’s disregard for survival and the readiness of its fighters to assume “martyrdom,” to die not just in a battle but even in suicidal acts.
He compared this to the Marxists who were willing to risk their lives in order to conquer the ruling aristocratic regime in Russia a hundred years ago and succeeded against enormous odds. But, then, Zizek said “it is doubtful that traditional Marxism can provide a convincing account of the success of Taliban.” Philosophers (including not only the anti-Marxist philosopher Zizek but Marx himself) always have been and are accustomed to contradicting themselves like that, without even noticing that they are. Even self-contradiction is accepted by them, because — as a profession — they have no consistent epistemological standard that they’re required to meet. Instead, Zizek blithely assumed that Russia’s Revolutionists hadn’t won for the very same reason the Taliban did — they were willing to die for their cause, while the opposing soldiers were not. He simply assumed that because the Taliban fought for a different god, they didn’t win for the same reason that those Marxist ‘atheists’ did.
However, the question still remains open, and must be addressed, in the most general sense:
Why did the Taliban win against the Americans in Afghanistan?
Why did the communists win against the Americans in Vietnam?
Why did the communists win against the capitalists in the Russian Revolution?
Why did the American Revolutionists win against the British Empire?
I shall here propose an answer to all of them, because that answer applies to all such cases, as I shall explain:
When an imperialistic society is as corrupt as Britain has been since the creation of the British East India Company in the year 1600, and as America has been since the end of World War II in 1945, with its takeover and control by the MIC (military-industrial complex), which has inevitably produced the cancerous growth of America’s permanent-warfare state, what, then, is a reason to continue living by remaining merely as a colonist or vassal-regime (or even as the imperialist regime itself), which means — when the imposed regime is so profoundly corrupt as any imperialist power necessarily is — to accept such corruption, as this? There’s something that is worse than dying, and it is to continue living under a regime that one utterly despises. That’s a dragged-out death, instead of a quick death. A regime which is as corrupt as any imperialistic regime inevitably is, will be intolerable for a significant number of the residents in any one of its vassal-nations or “colonies.” Death, for them, isn’t such a bad choice, if it means that they will go down fighting to overthrow it. They are driven by the motivation, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” This is a motivation that few, if any, of the imperialistic regime’s hired soldiers (regardless of whether conscripted or not) can match. And when they are foreigners who are fighting on a foreign soil (instead of locals who are defending their land’s own locally determined rulers), they especially and certainly cannot match such motivation, because only the locals can be fighting with a patriotic spirit. This is an intrinsic weakness in any empire. And imperialist leaders tend to ignore it, because they don’t want to understand how repulsive they are to virtually anyone but their own boot-lickers.
Ultimately, the demoralization of a hired soldier’s continuing to place his very existence in jeopardy so as to continue the war to enslave and control the resisting local subject-population will mount high enough to produce self-contempt, desertion, and sometimes even suicide, in the oppressing power’s forces, especially if that’s a foreign power. No longer will the rationalizations (that “We are protecting the residents here”) be able to continue fooling the invading-force’s soldier, and the imposed stooge-regime’s soldier. They both (the foreign regime, and its imposed local stooge-government or colony) are there really in order to control the local subject-population; and, ultimately, enough of the oppressor’s forces will know this so as to cause the imposed stooge-government to become conquered by the indigenous residents there — people who will be remembered as heroes by the other residents there. This is an advantage which any revolutionists have, against the imposed regime.
This is the real meaning of “martyrs,” in the deeper sense than merely of a religious type — it is instead of the patriotic type; it concerns the land, and not necessarily any religion, such as Christianity, Islam, or Marxism. Their loyalty is to Afghanistan; or it is to Vietnam; or it is to Russia; or it is to China; or (before America became imperialistic) it was to America. And so forth. It is to the local land, not to any dictators. It is to the country that the foreign invader’s forces are occupying. The invader’s forces and their imposed stooge-regimes can’t match this motivation.
Similarly, when the American invaders were conquered by the residents of Vietnam, the winners were the Vietnamese, not really the communists; and, in fact, the Marxist philosophy (or ‘religion’) subsequently has waned there. America, in Vietnam, as in Afghanistan, was the invader, in a land which had not invaded their own. That similar situation exists in Afghanistan. The Sauds had invaded America on 9/11, with the assistance of G.W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and perhaps others in the Administration. And so, the U.S.-imposed soldiers in Afghanistan couldn’t even possibly have been fighting against Afghanistan for any authentically patriotic real (factually true) reason, at all. Therefore, lies were constantly needed by the U.S. regime — not only against Iraq, but even against Afghanistan. (Furthermore, if Bush’s objective had really been to identify whom and how was actually behind the 9/11 attacks, then he would have pursued that at the U.N. Security Council and would have gotten unanimous backing for it, which would quickly have isolated and led to the destruction of Al Qaeda. It could all have been done without any war between nations, and also fully in accord with international law. To the extent that 9/11 was state-sponsored terrorism, it was actually being sponsored by the Governments of U.S. and Saudi Arabia. George W. Bush, who was buddy-close with the Sauds, used 9/11 as an excuse to trash both the U.S. Constitution and international law so as to hoist yet higher his own tyranny, his own power — not only internationally but also within his own nation. An imperialist would, of course, like to trash both, and to hoist his personal power as high as possible. And GWB had the boldness to do it, and — because America has been imperialistic ever since 1945 (i.e., international aggressions have been America’s culture since 1945) — he has been able to enjoy the success of getting away with doing it. However, everyone else, and especially outside America’s MIC, suffers from it.
What have the mere soldiers of invading and occupying imperialist powers actually earned by having placed their own lives at risk? Maybe a tombstone back home, in the country that had invaded and occupied that colony.
By contrast, even if a defending soldier has died as a hero among the locals in a failed revolution against the imperialist power, any tombstone will be unnecessary to be that person’s memorial, because the true memorial is in the heart, and in the mind, of the locals there, not in anything that is in the land of the invading foreign power.
And, so, I propose that the answer, to the question here, is that, whereas America’s Founders were waging war as heroes (because their war was just), today’s Americans are waging war as villains (because our wars are unjust — imperialistic aggressions, instead of heroic defenses against an aggressor). Between America’s founding and the present time, America has switched from doing war against military occupiers, to doing war as military occupiers.
And this, I maintain, is the reason why: “The Taliban’s 80,000 troops have retaken Afghanistan with cities falling like dominos while the 300,000-strong government forces, better equipped and trained, mostly melted and surrendered with no will to fight.”
What today’s Taliban are to today’s Afghanistan is therefore what the 1776 American Revolutionists were to the America of that era. It’s not the ideology; it is the love of that land there, which has motivated the residents’ forces to victory, against the forces of the invading-and-occupying foreign power. This can happen in any land, at any time.
America went into Vietnam focused on the “body counts.” That’s how stupid America’s imperialistic leaders were, back then. The only motivation they really understood was fear: “body counts.” They’ve evidently learned nothing since. That is how corrupt America is.
Right now in America, the ‘debate’ about Afghanistan is about Joe Biden, who is basically irrelevant. He wanted to end America’s military occupation there, just as Trump did, and just as Obama did. He acted on it, whereas they did not — they didn’t want to be accused by their political opponents of having ‘lost Afghanistan on their watch’, but Biden was evidently willing to risk it. His only failure in the matter is that he kept lying to the American people (and probably also to himself) about how chaotic the evacuation would inevitably be, and about how collapsed Afghanistan is and has been ever since the Soviets invaded there in 1979. Throughout America’s imperialistic era, the U.S. Government has routinely been lying to the American people. Imperialism isn’t as bad for the imperialistic nation’s public as it is for the conquered land’s people, but it is very bad, even for them. The only people who benefit from it are the billionaires, who control companies such as Lockheed Martin, and ExxonMobil, and Amazon. Those are the people (the owners) who hire the leading politicians, including the members of Congress, and the Presidents, to spread their empire, and their control. They also hire the ‘journalists’ who shape their nation’s public to support these invasions and military occupations. The Government officials of an imperialistic regime represent not the nation’s public, but its aristocracy, who hire and appoint millions of the rest, the many agents (employees, etc.) of the few billionaires. The billionaires really control their country. After all: America is a thoroughly corrupt country, just as any imperialistic country is. (All imperialistic countries are controlled by their aristocracy. And every aristocracy is corrupt.) The public in Afghanistan have long known this fact about America — that it is corrupt. And this is the main reason why the Taliban now rule that country. They represent that land. Not this land. It’s a different culture, and a different place. To most Afghans, America represents only corruption. There is nothing unique about what is now happening in Afghanistan. It has been happening for thousands of years, and it’s just replaying an ancient script, but in that particular location.
However, instead, the U.S.-and-allied media are focusing on Biden’s bit part (which was always in a supporting role) in America’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. So, probably nothing will be learned from America’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, just as nothing was learned from America’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, and from America’s invasion and occupation of Vietnam, and from the many other such post-WW-II American foreign disasters. For America’s billionaires, these have all been great successes (very profitable); and, so, probably nothing that’s useful to the American people will be learned from history; and, instead, the myths will continue that have caused “The Military” to be either the highest-respected or the second-highest-respected of all of the 19 named institutions in America — the world’s permanent-warfare state. The American military wastes the most money and the most blood of any institution in America, but Americans nonetheless respect it enormously. That, too, is a mark of an imperialistic country. The way to control a public is to sustain the myths. U.S.-and-allied billionaires make sure that it is done — however much it costs.
As regards the future of Afghanistan itself: On August 19th, the most reliable geostrategic reporter and analyst, Alexander Mercouris, headlined at The Duran, “US Freezes Afghanistan Reserves, Threatens Economic Crisis. Russia Works to Establish New Government”, and he explained why the Taliban will either cooperate with Russia, China, and Iran, or else will degenerate yet further into a failed state, especially because the U.S. and its allies will do everything possible to strangle the fully looted Government of Afghanistan — the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. So: even after the U.S. and its allies have all left that land, the war against the people there will continue, in full force, from the same people, though with different methods.
PS: The philosopher Zizek headlined at RT on August 20th, “The true enemy for Islamists is not the West’s neocolonialism or military aggression, but our ‘immoral’ culture”, and he said “it was not neocons who boosted Islamic fundamentalism, this fundamentalism grew up in a reaction to the influence of Western liberal secularism and individualism.” He did not understand that though religious fundamentalists (including the Taliban) focus especially on sexual and gender issues, a person didn’t have to be at all religious in order to consider the financial and economic corruption of the imperialists and of their stooges to be disgusting. Americans didn’t invade and occupy Afghanistan in order to spread “liberal secularism and individualism,” but in order for U.S.-and-allied billionaires to expand their wealth, their empire, and their global control. Even if the Taliban and other religious persons might object only (or even just mainly) to the sexual and gender issues, a broader segment of the Afghan population were repelled by the rampant financial and economic corruption of the imperialists, and of their stooge-rulers. This was not a defeat for “secularism and individualism.” It was a rejection of imperialism — a rejection of it even by people who don’t understand what “imperialism” means.