The resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, the US/NATO commander of the Afghanistan War, has been accepted by President Obama amidst a controversy of remarks he made in an interview with Rolling Stone. Within 36 hours of the uproar over the magazine article, Obama had dismissed his General. On June 30th, General David Patraeus took control of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and “Operation Enduring Freedom” as well as the wars in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and various parts of Africa. Days after resigning, McChrystal announced his retirement. Obama said that McChrystal’s departure represented a “change in personnel, not a change in policy.”
In the first place it is appalling that a Rolling Stone journalist managed to find out more truth about imperialist wars in the Middle East than the media. This news also comes after the release of the Wikileaks massacre video (which shows US troops machine-gunning civilians and reporters from a helicopter) and the video showing children throwing rocks at a vehicle bearing US soldiers, with the soldiers vocally complaining that they are not allowed to shoot such children who throw rocks. Predictably, there was no upset over these two videos. Instead, there was uproar over an article in a rock music magazine in which the General was critical of Obama.
In the same article, it is mentioned that McChrystal quadrupled the number of Special Forces units on the ground in Afghanistan. He tells one soldier to hit at least “four or five targets tonight.” These units, as we all know, kill civilians indiscriminately. McChrystal also famously said, “We’ve shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat” (1). Yet, there are thousands of freshly-pressed articles in the mainstream media quoting McChrystal insulting the Chiefs of Staff, and none about such atrocities.
Here’s a radical idea: before we talk about how Obama and Biden’s feelings were hurt, let’s talk about the quotes from McChrystal about shooting civilians, or perhaps the videos of his soldiers carrying out such orders.
The news has been filled with praise for Obama in accepting McChrystal’s resignation and appointing Petreaus, the leader of the deadly “troop surge” in Iraq. The two Generals are called experts in “counter-insurgency warfare,” the same type of strategy that has the US slaughtering any local national liberation movements, allying with reactionary warlords and causing more civilian casualties each year. Stanley McChrystal was also the man who urged Obama to add 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and the man who quietly increased drone strikes into Pakistan, killing “insurgents.” McChrystal’s war has resulted in cluster bombing, indefinite detention, torture, widespread opium addiction, the legalization of rape, massive displacement and of course, countless civilian deaths in one of the most occupied and oppressed countries in the world. America recently began training Afghan and Iraqi military and police to help carry out the duties of the imperialists. The military regime of Hamid Karzai, the US comprador puppet imposed on Afghanistan, is highly unpopular and has lead to mass riots in reaction to stolen elections. As if to prove that Afghanistan is now a colony, Hamid Karzai has been one of the most vocal supporters of McChrystal. His opium-dealing crime kingpin brother Ahmed Wali Karzai was next in line to call McChrystal an honest chap in public.
General Petraeus is now being touted as the “savior of Afghanistan,” as if the Iraqi occupation, with over a million dead and displaced, riots, ethnic fighting and little to no remaining infrastructure, is a model to be pursued. A leaked protocol statement by Petraeus’s staff announced on Memorial Day weekend exposed an Executive Order from Obama which allowed Petraeus to commit air strikes with bombs in any country of the world, including the US itself, with no further authorization. Essentially, this gives the new General of the Afghan and Iraqi Wars the power to go to war at will, setting the stage for mass murder in increasing numbers in the global war. Crimes are Crimes No Matter Who Commits Them
No matter who the commanding general or the Commander-in-Chief, the “liberators” are being fought by a movement of the populace. The U.S. and NATO are fighting a losing war of occupation. US soldiers are dying not for “freedom,” but rather as a result of the heroic resistance of the Afghan people to foreign invasion and occupation. The imperialist wars in the Middle East have taken away freedom for the people there by subjecting them to outside rule by force.
Wars under capitalism are for markets and resources. These are reasons for an imperial power like the United States to continue occupying a country, or several. This war is nothing more and nothing less than a conflict over who will control the vast trillion-dollar oil and mineral wealth of Afghanistan, as well as the poppy fields for opium and the exclusive property rights to the oil and gas reserves in the basin of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The only rights being defended are the “rights” of multinational companies to exploit the wealth of these nations and the “rights” of the CIA to fuel itself with the sale of drugs.
The imperial harvesting of Afghanistan’s resources has strong historical parallels in the exploitation of the mineral resources of the Congo by the various world powers, which also resulted in millions of indigenous people dead and displaced. This does not bother the conscience of the imperialists—so long as they turn a profit from endless global war, they do not care how many countries they invade, how many they kill or how many suffer.
This “changing of the guard” attempt to keep the United States of America from falling into the graveyard of empires will fail, as all such attempts will fail.
There are now two roads, and two roads only—socialism and peace, or imperialism and war.