Obama’s chief ambassador to Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, ties with Kosovan forces that harvested body parts
Obama’s Afghanistan Policy
Announcing the sending of some four thousand additional troops to Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama commented, “we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.” The additional troops, itself, was something of a compromise as one wing of Obama’s administration, reportedly headed by Vice President Biden, argued against sending any more troops at all, while Obama’s top military officers in Afghanistan reportedly asked for many more than the four thousand.
At the same time, it appears that Obama has some more modest goals than the “nation building” that Bush espoused. What Bush meant by this in practice was developing regimes in such chaotic nations as Afghanistan (or Iraq) that would be relatively stable, and would observe at least some of the trappings of bourgeois democracy. Bush and the forces behind him assumed that such regimes would be obedient to US’s dictates and would open up their economies to US capitalism. Obama evidently recognizes that such goals are not attainable and, instead, simply focuses on militarily defeating the Taliban and like forces.
Both al Qaeda and the Taliban were formed under the wing of the Pakistani ISI and their US equivalent and handler – the CIA. A wing of the Arab capitalist class also played a role in this, as they apparently felt that their massive oil wealth meant that they merited a greater degree of independence than the major sectors of their class brothers were taking at the time. Initially formed to fight Russian influence, they have since morphed into a more independent force. Despite this, however, they are still totally reactionary, encouraging the most backwards prejudices, brutally oppressing women as well as non-Muslims. They have only achieved a degree of popular support due to the equally brutal methods of US imperialism and the failure of the great majority of the leadership of the workers’ organizations to develop any sort of independent working class alternative.
Richard Holbrooke and the KLA
One can get a glimpse of the methods that the US will continue to use in Afghanistan and Pakistan when one considers the background of Obama’s special ambassador there – Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke first achieved notoriety as president Bill Clinton’s representative in the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia. There, Holbrooke made a close alliance with the Kosovo Liberation Army – KLA. This group of murderers financed themselves by developing the drug trade as well as the sale of young women for sex slaves throughout Europe. However, this was just child’s play compared to their other source of finances: When they took Serbs prisoners, they reportedly set the younger ones aside, didn’t beat them and gave them special food and better treatment. They were literally fattening them up for the kill, as they then killed them and removed their body parts (not necessarily in that order), which they sold for transplants in Western Europe. (As reported by Carla del Ponte, UN special prosecutor for the war crimes in the Yugoslavian civil wars.)
It is impossible that Holbrooke was unaware of these activities. In effect he sanctioned them in order to advance the strategic interests of US capitalism.
Gul Agha Shirzai
Now, the same brutal and corrupt methods are being encouraged in Afghanistan. When Obama visited there before his election to the presidency, one of the Afghani leaders he met with was Gul Agha Shirzai. Shirzai was installed as governor of Nangahar province by US forces several years earlier and is presently being promoted as the possible next president of Afghanistan. Who is this individual?
In the early 1990s, Shirzai was governor of Kandahar province. There, he rested on the local warlords to loot the economy and enrich themselves primarily through the opium trade. After the Taliban seized power, Shirzai fled to Pakistan where he worked closely with the ISI (Pakistani equivalent of the CIA), until his return in 2001 where he was once again installed as Kandahar’s governor, only to be removed a few years later because he allowed his forces to get into shootouts with the local police.
He was subsequently installed as governor of Nangahar province, where some local residents say of him: “Every politician in Afghanistan is a thief, but our governor doesn’t take all the money for himself” (in other words, he shares with his underlings, thus maintaining their loyalty). Shirzai has become a multi-millionaire in recent years, despite his relatively small governor’s salary. He has claimed to have eradicated the poppy fields in much of the province, but the opium/heroin laboratories are reportedly flourishing under his protection. Shirzai has also continued his methods of murdering his political opponents.
Nor is Shirzai some exception. As the New York Times wrote on 1/6/02: “…After the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is in the callused hands of men like Gul Agha -- veteran warlords who know and care more about power and money than about human rights or civil society. Abdul Rashid Dostum, a warlord who switched sides so many times in the past decades that he gave betrayal a bad name, is back in power in Mazar-i-Sharif and has shown little regard for Karzai. Ismail Khan, another pre-Taliban leader, has returned to Herat and does not wake up in the morning waiting for orders from Kabul. Other regions are divvied up among smaller warlords, and most are doing what Gul Agha is doing -- mouthing politically correct words of fealty to Karzai but treating him as little more than a delivery boy for aid checks the United States and its allies have pledged to write.”
As for “President” Karzai, he is seen as nothing more than the puppet that he is, whisked into the country by the US military to act as the Afghan face of US imperialism. This is why the US military reportedly favors his replacement by Shirzai, who at least has a local base amongst his own, personal gangsters as well as some local warlords.
What are the chances of US success in the region? It cannot be ruled out that a massive build-up of US military could temporarily suppress the local opponents, but at what cost? Stepped up attacks will only exacerbate the situation. In addition, many billions of dollars and many thousands of troops more would be required. Already, US attacks are further destabilizing Pakistan, and are likely to increase support for the Islamic fundamentalists. Should they ever challenge for power in this nuclear-armed nation, then US capitalism will have an even grater problem on its hands.
Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency with the slogan of “change,” and change there has been. The new foreign policy of US capitalism is to seek to involve a layer of allies in the US’s bloody adventures. At the same time, the goals have been scaled back a little bit – from “nation building” to simple domination under any conditions achievable. Whenever an imperialist force enters a region, it always needs to find a base of support within that region. Inevitably, this base of support is controlled by the most corrupt and degenerate elements in that society. Every capitalist state has imperialist drives or intentions, and inevitably it is this degenerate base upon which it rests. From its adventures in Latin America to the Vietnam War to its involvement in Africa to its allies in the former Yugoslavia, the United States has been no exception. As long as capitalism dominates the planet, this pattern will continue, regardless of which criminal occupies the White House.