Good item from NZ ISO:
The Crossroads of Asia
Since the earliest times, Afghanistan has been the crossroads of the world – for trade and for war. In the 1800s, Britain and Russia clashed here for control of Asia, and the Afghan people were the pawns. From the earliest days of New Zealand’s existence, troops have been sent from here to fight for imperialism – in Afghanistan in 1842.
In modern times too, Afghanistan has been used as political football. A precarious independence, balanced between the US and the USSR, ended in 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded, killing between 700,000 and 2 million civilians.The invasion brought 10 years of war upon the country. This ravaged everything Afghanistan had built up: tourism, agriculture and education. The US funded and armed Islamist warlords, including Osama Bin Laden to bleed the USSR dry. The Afghan people were the pawns in this so-called “great game”. In ‘The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives’ former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote: “Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.” The key to controlling this vast area of the world is Central Asia. “What is most important to the history of the world?” asked Brzezinski. “The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet Empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of central Europe …?” Afghanistan, the graveyard of the Soviet empire, was abandoned to savage warlord rule. So awful were the warlords that the medievalist Taliban appeared to offer progress to many Afghans.
But it is impossible in this interconnected world to tear a country apart and expect to walk away. On September 11, 2001, former US allies flew planes into the World Trade Center and offered the US the chance to play the great game again. The US invaded Afghanistan easily by playing off the smaller northern tribes against the Pashtun. The US installed Hamid Karzai as a president without support or any hope of surviving a US withdrawal. The US has not invaded Afghanistan to develop it but to stop the emergence of a competitor power in Eurasia. Impoverished, wartorn Afghanistan offers them the key to control. New Zealanders, to our shame, are playing a part in crushing again a crippled people.
For a brighter future
Afghanistan is not a basket case. There is much that can be done to reverse its poverty, desperation, and dominance by warlords.
1) Make Afghan opium production legal: Opiates are essential to modern medicine and are in short supply in the third world. The UK and Australia are licensed to produce opium for the pharmaceutical companies. Their licences should be revoked and given to Afghan farmers.
2) War reparations: All countries that have invaded or promoted war through arms supply – notably Russia and the USA, but including bit-players like Saudi Arabia – should pay reparations. These should be used to fund Western-level medical care for war victims and to rebuild infrastructure destroyed.
3) Open borders: Afghanistan’s future is as a trading hub and borders must be opened to allow this.
4) For refugees too: Afghans must be granted the right to settle, study and work in all western countries, so they can develop their potential to the full to contribute to national reconstruction.
5) Foreign troops out! The precondition for Afghan development is Afghan liberty. The only force that can guarantee this is the international working class. By protesting the war we are playing our own, very small part, in forcing our government to pursue the path of development, not destruction. There is much more we can do if we organise. If you agree with this, then join the International Socialists.