war is peace

via black agenda report
listening to the news since osama bin laden’s murder by members of the us special operations forces, i’ve realized how little i know or remember about ongoing us wars and foreign policy.  i formulated a list of questions sparked by jeremy schahil’s comments on democracy now:
1.  when/why did the us invade afghanistan?
2.  at the time of the invasion who/what political party ruled afghanistan?
3.  what’s the difference between al qaeda and the taliban?  
4.  why are the two used interchangibly?
5.  what does pakistan have to do with all of this?
after some investigation i was able to answer this list and develop a few non-propaganda-driven conclusions.  here’s my very brief synopsis.

first, the us invaded afghanistan in october 2011 due to the taliban’s refusal to handover bin laden without trial or proof of his involvement in 9/11.  the taliban, despite  being the legally elected government, was seen as hostile to us political, economic, and military interests not only due to this refusal, but also because of its belief in religious fundamentalism and stance against us imperialism.   it didn’t take long for the us-led military invasion to establish a regime change, military occupation, and  puppet government (cue interim-president hamid karzi).  known as “operation enduring freedom,” the war in afghanistan is one of the longest wars in us history and continues under the broad “war on terror.”   many members of the taliban’s leadership and troops, as well as al quaeda members present in afghanistan at the time of the invasion, fled to neighboring pakistan.

next, although al qaeda and the taliban are often used interchangeably in us political rhetoric (cue fox news and cnn) they are not the same.  again, the taliban is a political party that gained power in afghanistan and whose loyalists and troops, along with al qaeda members, continue to battle against the us-led military offensive in afghanistan and parts of pakistan.  al qaeda is a islamic-militant-resistance organization whose forces seek to end western military and political occupation in the middle east and uphold the tenets of fundamental islam.  this group was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the world trade center and pentagon–not the taliban, iraq, or sadam hussein.

in george orwell’s seminal novel 1984, the government, known as big brother, issued propaganda claiming war is peace–a paradoxical idea used to justify worldwide military aggression.  currently, this idea is key to us foreign policy because after bin laden’s capture several political figures called for an upsurge in the war against terror, including operations in afghanistan.

so lemme get this straight, bin laden, the one-time leader of al qaeda, is dead, the taliban is no longer the presiding political party in afghanistan, and forces resisting western invasion and occupation have been mostly relegated to insurgent style tactics–yet, the us plans to continue its war in the region?  clinton’s words were surely orwellian when she stated:

“Continued cooperation will be just as important in the days ahead, because even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Ladin.  Indeed, we must take this opportunity to renew our resolve and redouble our efforts…You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us.”

at first,  i thought she sounded contradictory and ridiculous–how can you justify continuing a war if the initial target is captured? but i’ve listened to similar thoughts by politicians, administration officials, and pundits so many times until for a few fleeting moments this perspective began to make sense.

in a country where we only chose between one of two factions of a ruling elite and the hegemonic order depends on a lack of political analysis and critique by the masses, war is indeed peace. war is peace. war is peace. war is peace…


  1. I think the problem is two-fold. Intuitively, this should prompt the removal of US troops in Afganistan but because their will be backlash and retaliation…they need to be measured in their approach. On the other hand their sheer presence in Afghanistan is what propels the insurgents (gives them Russian flash backs, even though the U.S. actually supplied weapons for them against the Russians but that's beside the point) Who's to say that if they leave Afghanistan, those seeking refuge in Pakistan will not return to Afghanistan? Should we now invade Pakistan? Hopefully, the short answer is no. But the "battle to stop al-Qaida" will have to continue regardless of the tactic.


  2. you know, i didn't address this in the piece because i didn't want to risk sounding conspiratorial, but eff it. this propaganda around "muslim insurgents" is really disturbing. an insurgent is someone who revolts against an established government. when the us first invaded afghanistan, taliban troops were government soldiers. labeling them as terrorists and later insurgents allowed the bush administration to circumvent the laws of war and violate the protections enemy combatants should receive under the geneva convention. a careful choice of words and labels allows history to be rewritten right before our eyes. you remember when orwell called this newspeak? and you're right in order for the current order to continue the "battle to stop al-qaida" must continue.


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