In late June this year, the New York Times published a sensational exposé; Russian military intelligence, the GRU, paid bounties to Taliban guerrillas so the latter would kill American troops in Afghanistan. This startling revelation began a spiralling process of questioning and counter accusations between the US military and the various intelligence services.
After two weeks, the NY Times published a crucial admission: there is no factual basis for this allegation. Why was this uncorroborated claim published without any critical examination or skepticism, which created a media frenzy and public outrage? Why was no evidence for this claim produced, or any witnesses brought forward, in any of the articles published by the mainstream media?
Perhaps there is a level of incompetence in the corporate media. That explanation, while plausible, is unconvincing. Why? Back in November 2019, the NY Times was fully aware of the systematic and unrelenting deception practiced by the US authorities regarding the Afghanistan war. Dubbed the Afghanistan Papers, documents obtained by the Washington Post detail a scandalous pattern of lying on the part of the Pentagon and associated American authorities.
The US government, worried about the stalemated nature of its Afghan invasion, routinely misrepresented the situation on the ground, waging a concerted misinformation campaign spanning the 18-year (soon to be 19-year) US invasion of that nation. Framing the conflict as one of ‘progress’, the American government deliberately misled the public regarding the ongoing suffering and misery inflicted on the Afghan people.
The US authorities consciously lied about the Afghanistan war, denying that ground was being lost to the Taliban. The Afghan government, propped up by force of American arms, is a near-perfect example of a kleptocracy, impelled by corruption and avarice. Millions of US dollars, earmarked for the purported development of the nation, has disappeared into the pockets of Afghan ministers and officials.
The US war on Afghanistan, launched in 2001 on the purported rationale of responding to the 9/11 terrorist attack, has not brought the lofty ideals of democratic government or human rights to that nation. Extensive investigations by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has revealed that atrocities and war crimes have been perpetrated by the elite Australian SAS soldiers.
Afghan civilians have been murdered with impunity by the SAS troops, and a culture of coverup has allowed the perpetrators of such crimes to continue operating without any consequences or accountability. Major-General Adam Findlay, special forces commander, admitted that Australian troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Australian military forces are operating as allies of the United States.
Human Rights Watch has documented the atrocities and abuses by Afghan soldiers, backed by CIA-supported death squads, killing civilians under the guise of conducting the so-called war on terror. Counterinsurgency is a broad concept, and under that term, CIA-backed paramilitaries working for the Kabul government have committed numerous mass killings. These are not isolated or atypical events, but rather part of a systematic campaign to terrorise the civilian population.
It would be delusional to think that American intervention in Afghanistan only began in 2001 with the commencement of the ostensible and misnamed ‘war on terror’. The United States, under successive administrations, has been intervening in Afghanistan since the late 1970s, when the Democrat President Jimmy Carter, sponsored various Islamist parties and militias to wage a mujahideen anti-Communist insurgency against the socialist regime in Kabul.
Paying Islamist guerrillas to fight in Afghanistan, the United States intended to restore the old landlord class, wealthy mullahs and reverse the social gains of the Kabul socialist regime. After repeated requests, Moscow decided to intervene, and thus began the long-running Soviet involvement in Afghanistan. Withdrawing in 1989, the Soviets were implementing their part in an agreement with the US to de-escalate the conflict.
The US reneged on the arrangement, and continued supplying and paying the numerous Islamist militias to fight the Kabul regime. It is no secret that Saudi Arabia, a solid ally of the United States, strongly supported the Afghan Islamist forces throughout the 1980s. In the 1990s, the various mujahideen factions, having occupied Kabul, then turned on each other, reducing the country to ruins. The Taliban emerged as a ‘purer’, untainted Islamist militia, and took control in 1996.
The purpose of revisiting this relevant historical background is not to elicit reactions of boredom. It is to understand that manufactured outrage about the killing of ‘our troops’ is poisonous venom in the mainstream media. The conduct of the American authorities reeks of hypocrisy. The United States has a long and disturbing history of covertly sponsoring and supporting extremist Islamist groups, using them as a counterweight to secular, socialist and nationalist forces in the Middle East.
The Russian bounties story is yet another attempt to foment pro-war sentiment among the American population, perversely disguised as ‘concern’ for the lives and wellbeing of American soldiers. Rather than a cynical exercise in fabricating ‘outrage’ about the conduct of others, it would be more productive to rethink the trillion-dollar cost of the ‘war on terror’, the latter being the origin rationale for the Afghanistan ordeal.
How many schools, hospitals, medical equipment, public infrastructure could have been built with the trillions of dollars spent on the global war on terror? Our outrage should fuel condemnation of US imperial wars, and the scandalous conduct of that nation’s institutions.