|Historical Briefs, October, 2012
|Bruce G. Richardson
In modern political society, it is probably a fact that national leadership can heighten crises to the point where war becomes inevitable and public approval, at least for a time, automatic.
Arthur A. Elkerich Jr.
Proxy-War Policy and Proxy Warriors:
A proxy war is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have often used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, and other third-parties are more often employed.
During the Cold War, proxy wars were common, because the two nuclear armed superpowers, the USSR and the USA did not wish to fight each other directly, since that would run the risk of escalation to a nuclear exchange. Proxies were and are used in Afghanistan, Angola, Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East and Latin America.
Afghanistan: Afghanistan is again a scene of proxy-wars, caught in the middle are once again Afghan civilians, especially the people of the south and east who happen to be Pashtuns, just like the Taliban. Needless to say, not all Pashtuns are Taliban and a distinction has to be drawn between civilian and combatants. The United States strategy has been to enlist minority elements of the Northern Alliance to wage war against their brothers and sisters in the south and east of the country. Can it be any wonder then why ethnic tensions continue to tear the country apart?
Libya: Global Research and the Nation reported on 4 September that 1500 CIA-trained Uzbek and Hazara soldiers were sent to fight alongside the anti-government rebels in Libya under Commander Abdel Hakim Belhaj. Since Libya has moved to nationalize the oil industry and refused American overtures for military basing rights, they are as a result, now in the proverbial cross-hairs of the U.S. military war-machine and destined for certain destruction.
Most of the CIA-trained Afghans have been recruited from among the minority Uzbek and Hazara ethnic groups, members of the so-called Northern Alliance faction. Previously, these same CIA trained troops were enlisted to fight as proxy-warriors in the U.S.-led war against the Taliban. Afghans will not as well forget that these same men were once proxy-warriors for the USSR.
Contemporary Afghan Resistance: As any student of Afghan history will attest, Afghanistan has long been as the epithet suggests, “the graveyard of empires.” Resistance to foreign occupation has long been the hallmark of national resistance. The U.S.-led war is seen as a colonial venture, determined to exploit the countries resources and strategic advantages of geography.
Who are the Taliban? The time-honored aversion to occupation is but one dimension. A majority of Afghans see the war as unjust, confident that Afghanistan had no role in 9/11. Furthermore, a disregard for the well-being of the civilian population by NATO is not only evident but indefensible, contrary to celebrated international law and convention. Therefore, new recruits are often driven by the desire to avenge family members killed in NATO airstrikes and deadly night-time incursions against civilian habitat which regularly result in non-combatant casualties. NATO, with a demonstrative- disregard for civilian casualties, has become the single most powerful motive-force that has expanded the ranks of the national resistance.
Foreign manipulation of ethnic tensions: Against the backdrop of proxy wars, profound ethnic divisions have manifest as a result of foreign intelligence strategies employed which seek to weaken and or divide any resistance to their control. This has developed as one of the most damaging consequences of the Soviet War…the ethnocentrism of Afghan politics. Drawing on the ‘divide and conquer’ experiences and the recruiting of minorities as strategized or employed by 19th century Czarist Russia, the 19th century British Raj, and 20th century USSR incursion, the United States, blind to the lessons of history, has recruited a proxy-militia from the ranks of the Northern Alliance, an organization that has more recently served as a proxy-militia for the USSR and now serves the colonial-interests of the U.S.A.
Northern Alliance Strategy: As a result of their combat-support role for the occupational NATO forces, the Northern Alliance, utilizing biased, false, and or bogus intelligence presented to the U.S. military as bona fide Taliban targeting opportunities, the Northern Alliance minority factions now in the service of their contemporary American paymasters have marshaled the might of the military forces of the United States directing them to destroy their traditional adversaries…the Pashtun majority in the hopes of achieving total power and rule.
Outside Influences exacerbate Ethnic tensions: In the wake of the withdrawal of the Soviet Fortieth Army, an escalation of the ethnic divide, clearly a foreign financed tactic has eroded any meaningful and or conciliatory intra-Afghan dialogue seeking an end to ethnic-based hostilities. Currently, the U.S. is seeking permanent military basing facilities in Afghanistan from which to encircle Iran, remain proximate to China and monitor Pakistan’s nuclear facilities. To facilitate this long-term strategy, the U.S. has recruited from the minority Northern Alliance to counter Pashtun resistance to permanent foreign occupation in the form of ‘rental basing agreements.’ Though cast as fighting terrorism, U.S. strategy has clear security and commercial implications: the encirclement of Iran, and the exploitation of Caspian Basin and Central Asian hydro-carbon and fossil fuel energy reserves, reported to be the largest in the world, eclipsing that of the legendary Middle East fields.
The True Cost of War by Proxy: Among human rights activists and organizations, the question of accountability for war crimes committed by proxy-militia under payment from foreign entities has been the subject of heated debate. When serial human rights violations occur, committed by foreign-sponsored proxy-militia, who is accountable?
Accountability for War Crimes: Is, for example, the United States accountable for the serial war crimes committed under Abdul Rashid Dostum’s direction, who while in the service of the United States during their invasion of Afghanistan, slaughtered several thousand Taliban prisoners of war in Dasht-i-Laili?
And, can the U.S. be held to account for their utilizing the ethnic divide as a strategy by which they hope to defeat national resistance in the country, the result of which has exacerbated ethnic tensions and resultant, interminable loss of life? While war crime indictments are often levied against smaller nations like Iraq, Libya or Somalia by the super powers, human rights organizations are reluctant to charge and or indict the U.S., the largest contributor to the myriad institutions that monitor human rights violations during a time for war for breach of human rights. Though innumerable human rights protections and conventions have been ratified between most of the world’s nations, to include the U.S., many of the wars prosecuted by the U.S. which have witnessed serial infractions and violations of numerous statutes of international law remain unsanctioned.
Conclusion: Peace cannot return to Afghanistan failing reconciliation between the Pashtuns and ethnic minorities. The United States as facilitator rather than colonial overlord should cease and desist from energizing the ethnic divide for parochial gains. Afghanistan is not a nation of terrorists. Afghanistan played no role in 9/11. Afghanistan represents absolutely no threat to the international community of nations, and Afghanistan is not, contrary to the self-serving political rhetoric of Congressman Peter King and President Obama, ‘the hub for international terrorism.’
If the United States honestly seeks security in the world and the end of fighting in Afghanistan, it is time to act as a full and equal partner of Afghanistan, and to the world community of nations…and to cease mimicking the self-serving, inhuman modus operandi of former colonial overlords…Great Britain and the USSR.
For additional reading:
See: American Raj, Liberation or Domination, Resolving the Conflict between the West and the Muslim World, by Eric S. Margolis, 2008.
Afghanistan: Political Frailty and External Interference, by Dr. Nabi Misdaq, 2006.
The Deaths of Others: the Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars, by John Tirman, 2011.
Afghanistan: Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror, by Bruce G. Richardson, 1996-98.