Afghanistan Withdrawal – the Conspiracy Theories Start

For some the catastrophic departure of the western armed forces from Afghanistan has been almost unimaginable. This is not surprising, as successive governments have been telling us for years that the Taliban had been successfully contained and victory was only a few months away. They find it particularly incomprehensible that the US and western armed forces were so unprepared for the Taliban’s reconquest of the country, that President Biden has left 73 military planes and $80 billion worth of kit behind in the scramble to get out. One of these is the mad right-wing YouTuber and internet radio host, Alex Belfield. In the video below, Belfield wonders if all that military equipment has been deliberately left behind to be taken and used by the Taliban, in order to provide the pretext for more wars. He sees this as part of an overall strategy by out governments to keep us afraid. One of these ruses has been, so he argues, the Coronavirus. He seems to follow here the line of some of the sceptics that Covid doesn’t present a real threat, but has just been used by the government in order to justify a totalitarian seizure of power through the lockdown.

Belfield’s been sceptical about the Coronavirus and the lockdown almost from the beginning. His argument is usually that the lockdown is doing more harm than good to the economy and to the health, mental and physical, of the British people. He’s right in that clearly people’s businesses and wellbeing is suffering, but is completely and utterly wrong about lifting the lockdown and letting the disease take its course and carry off whoever it may.

But I can’t say that his paranoia about the US leaving behind so much military equipment is unwarranted. The American and British public were miss-sold the wars in the Middle East. We were told we were freeing Afghanistan from a brutal theocratic tyranny and defending America and ourselves from future terrorist attacks. We weren’t. The troops were sent in to secure the country so that an oil pipeline could be built, one which Bush’s administration had been in talks with the Taliban to build. The Taliban had pulled out, and so the NeoCons were looking for an excuse to invade. This came along in the shape of 9/11.

Ditto Iraq. We were informed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was in league with Osama bin Laden. He wasn’t. Hussein had led a largely secular regime, which was cordially hated by bin Laden and his Islamist fanatics. We were told that the invasion would liberate the Iraqi people from Hussein, who really was a tyrant. But the invasion wasn’t about granting a grateful Iraqi people democracy. It was about Aramco, the joint Saudi-American oil company seizing the country’s oil reserves and the western oil companies grabbing its oil industry. Other multinationals, such as Haliburton, which employed various members of Bush’s family and cabinet colleagues, seized its state industries. Meanwhile the country descended into sectarian violence and chaos, the secular state and the feminism it promoted vanished, and the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – hired as part of the peacekeeping forces ran amok with drug and prostitution rings. They also amused themselves by shooting ordinary Iraqis for sport.

It’s been said that America is a ‘warfare state’. That is, its military-industrial complex is so pervasive and powerful that its entire economy is geared to and depends on war. It was suggested years ago in one of the publications of the old Left Book Club, as I recall, that this is deliberate. American political ideology rejects Keynsianism, the economic doctrine that maintains that the state should interfere in the economy through welfare spending, public works and so on to stimulate it. American political culture, on the other hand, rejects this in favour of laissez-faire. But the American economy still needs government intervention, and the only way the American state can do this is through war and military spending. Hence the continual need to find new wars to fight. First it was the Cold War, then the War on Terror.

I tend to believe in ‘cock-up’ rather than conspiracy – that the world is the way it is because of the incompetence of the authorities, rather than that there is some overwhelming and all-pervasive conspiracy against us. This does not rule out the fact that real conspiracies by the intelligence agencies, big business and various covert political groups really do occur. My guess is that the armaments left behind in Afghanistan are there as a result of incompetence rather than a deliberate plot to produce more war and international instability for the benefit of the war profiteers.

But after the lies that have sustained two decades and more of war and occupation in the Middle East, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was true.


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4 Responses to “Afghanistan Withdrawal – the Conspiracy Theories Start”

  1. Brian Burden Says:

    Don’t entirely agree. There are clearly powerful interests in USA which are jostling for control. The difficulty is in identifying them. I noticed that all the political assassinations of the 1960s related to the Vietnam war. In 1963, JFK realised that the Vietnam war was unwinnable, and had Macnamara announce from the steps of the White House that all US troops would be out by 1965. Privately, he told his aide and friend Kenny O’Donnell that he intended to effect the US withdrawal from S. Vietnam by “installing a government which will ask us to leave”. Such a government was the one led by General Minh, who supplanted Diem. Not many months after JFK’s assassination, Minh in turn was overhtrown, with US approval, by, to quote the Guardian, “generals who fear neutralism”. Shortly before Nixon’s headlong withdrawal from S.Vietnam, Minh was briefly re-installed as leader, as the person best qualified to negotiate with the N.Vietnamese insurgents. In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated after turning away from the inward-looking Nation Of Islam and speaking out against the war. It was Malcolm who converted Cassius Clay to Islam and persuaded him to resist the draft: “The Vietcong never called me Nigger!” In 1968, Martin Luther King came out against the war and was assassinated, and later that year, Robert Kennedy campaigned for the Democrat ticket on an anti-war platform and was assassinated… Well, I suppose those assassinations could all be coincidences!

    • beastrabban Says:

      Interesting. I’d never heard that about JFK and Ho Chi Minh. I did know that Lyndon Johnson removed Martin Luther King’s bodyguards after he spoke out against the Vietnam War, thus effectively sentencing him to death. I didn’t realise that Malcolm x had also denounced the Vietnam War, although it doesn’t surprise me either. The explanation of his assassination I heard was that exposed Elijah Mohammed’s adultery, but this suggests something deeper and more sinister.

      • Brian Burden Says:

        Yes indeed, Malcolm’s assassination grew out of his feud with Elijah Mohammed. The theory I’ve heard is that the FBI or CIA deliberately exacerbated the quarrel and possibly facilitated the final hit. There had earlier been an attempt to poison him during a visit to the Middle East, which would have been a bit beyond the resources of the Nation of Islam. No, not Ho, but one of Diem’s generals, known as “Big” Minh. I, in turn, didn’t know that LBJ had cold-bloodedly withdrawn Martin’s protection. (Indeed, I didn’t know that Martin ever had official protection.)

      • beastrabban Says:

        Thanks, Brian. I really didn’t know any of this, but then, I really don’t know much about Malcolm X at all. It does seem very suspicious that he was poisoned while visiting the Middle East. You’re right – that would seem to be beyond the ability of the Nation of Islam.

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