What happened to the “war on terror”?
Some in the US ruling class are denouncing president Barack Obama’s recent prisoner swap deal because it treats the Taliban as an enemy in a conventional war.
The Taliban freed US soldier Bowe Bergdahl after five years captivity in return for five prisoners from Guantanamo, a prison camp Obama promised to close. It still holds 149 prisoners.
One White House official was explicit about their hopes for “expanding the dialogue” with the Taliban after the deal.
This is a far cry from the warmongers’ rhetoric that accompanied the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 and then Iraq in 2003.
Then we were told by George Bush and Tony Blair that the war on terror was different from past “conventional” wars. It was spun as a moral crusade.
They claimed the West was fighting for freedom and “our way of life” against the terrorists who were behind the 9/11 attacks.
Their fight to keep their communications with each other during the build-up to the Iraq invasion secret show they have much to hide.
Bush said that other countries were either with the US or “with the terrorists”.
He declared that the war on terror would not end “until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated”.
But the war on terror was always a veil for the US imperialist agenda mapped out before 9/11.
As the richest nation in the world the US has led a 12-year occupation of one of the poorest countries in the name of the war on terror. What is there to show for it?
Afghanistan is now even more impoverished and its infrastructure is devastated.
Thousands of its poorest inhabitants were killed by US air strikes and drones using the most sophisticated and expensive technology available.
The Taliban is now stronger than at any time since the war began.
The fact that the US is in negotiations with it is an admission that their imperialist project has failed.
The people of Afghanistan have paid the heaviest price.
Not only did Western powers face defeat within the countries they invaded, they also faced mass opposition at home for the war drive.
This anti-war sentiment remains. David Cameron and Obama had to back off from their plans to bomb Syria last year.
This was even though they claimed it was to support those fighting the dictator Bashar al Assad.
The experience of the bloody legacy of Afghanistan and Iraq means in the future it will be harder for our rulers to win a mandate for new wars.