Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
By Jakob Stein
Since the fall of the Afghan puppet government and the expulsion of US troops by the Taliban last August, the people of Afghanistan have been subjected to widespread misery as the economic situation continues to rapidly deteriorate. Now the Biden administration has issued an executive order to seize funds from Afghanistan in yet another act of imperialist plunder as nearly 23 million people in Afghanistan, more than half the population, face starvation and many more are already experiencing absolute destitution.
After the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, the US Federal Reserve swiftly froze $7 billion in assets originally held by Afghanistan’s central bank under the guise of preventing ‘terrorists’ from having access. As the Afghan economy falls deeper into crisis after months without these funds, Biden now claims that half of the money will go towards ‘humanitarian aid,’ while the other half will be used to settle lawsuits brought by family members of those who were killed in the 9/11 attacks.
Today the economic situation in Afghanistan is dire. Without access to the central bank’s assets and under economic sanctions from the US and its allies, many workers are going without paychecks and are unable to withdraw money from banks—people are literally burning their furniture for warmth and selling it for food. The Afghan capitalists have little to no access to capital, which is compounded by the fact that the Afghan economy was built on a dependence on imperialist capital and ‘aid.’ All of this means that Afghan currency is rapidly losing value and the costs of basic goods are soaring at an even faster rate than they are for the rest of the world.
The ‘humanitarian aid’ that the US government plans to send to Afghanistan is without a doubt meant to serve the interests of US imperialism. While nothing specific has been laid out by the Biden administration, these humanitarian organizations generally function as arms of US imperialism in its ongoing low-intensity warfare in the Middle East. These organizations serve to paint the US and its allies as the ‘good guys,’ an attempt to secure the trust of the people they wish to dominate and turn them against the Taliban in favor of US imperialism.
On the other hand, the $3.5 billion earmarked to go to the families of those killed in the 9/11 attack is a strikingly clear illustration of imperialist plunder, with US imperialism seizing Afghan assets and dispensing them directly to US citizens. The rationale for the legal rulings is that the Taliban, which overthrew the puppet government and its US imperialist masters with the support of the people, is responsible for al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center 20 years ago because al-Qaeda’s leadership was based in a Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan—therefore the people of Afghanistan must be robbed.
The Taliban are in no position to solve the problems that plague the people of Afghanistan. They heroically expelled the US military, but are now in a position where they must still contend with the international influence of US imperialism and its ability to cripple the Afghan economy. They are guided by a reactionary, feudal ideology which can only reproduce the exploitation and oppression of Afghan workers and peasants rather than overthrow it. In all likelihood, they will either need to make some sort of arrangement with the US imperialists or seek an alliance with another imperialist like China or Russia.
The judgments awarding billions of dollars in damages to the families of those killed in 9/11 and the ‘humanitarian aid’ from seized Afghan central bank funds are both acts of imperialist propaganda. They serve to bolster the image of US imperialism in the face of a humiliating military defeat at the hands of the Taliban as well as the crumbling of the puppet government that the US spent 20 years trying to prop up. After all that time of military operations and low-intensity warfare in the form of ‘nation-building’ and ‘reform,’ the US failed to secure any lasting legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people.
The truth is that US imperialism is willing to let the people starve in an effort to secure a place for its interests within Afghanistan. The Biden administration has repeatedly said that it requires an ‘inclusive’ government—that is, one that includes representatives of US imperialism—in order to have a working relationship with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The billions of dollars in seized funds as well as the crippling economic sanctions are just another bargaining chip in securing their interests in the country. US imperialism has already inflicted massive suffering, destruction, and death over 20 years of military occupation, and now they are willing to risk the death by starvation and deprivation of more civilians than were ever killed in the war.
US imperialism does not fight for the ‘rights’ or ‘needs’ of people—it fights for its own survival and advancement. The invasion of Afghanistan was never for the Afghan people, and the actions of the Biden administration demonstrate this clearly.
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