While officially gaining its independence after the third war that the British imposed on the people of Afghanistan in 1919, the country remained under the British imperialist sphere of influence, prompting a tribal uprising in 1929. Typical of the manner that the British operated throughout their empire when a country tried to gain independence, in 1933 London imposed a puppet ruler King Zahir Shah who remained in power just six years fewer than the Shah of Iran. The coincidence of the Iranian revolution in 1979 and rise of a secular pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan came as a shock to the US that was the world’s self-appointed “policeman’ during the Cold War.
The contemporary history of US-Afghan relations is characterized by attempts on the part of Washington to reduce the Muslim nation into a strategic satellite and use it to counterpoise the USSR in the 1980s and Iran after 2001. Backing the disparate jihadists groups, including Osama bin-Laden’s, the US did its best to bring the secular regime down only to have it replaced by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) thanks to the support from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, behind which was the US. When the US toppled the Taliban in 2001, civil war and chaos ensued because the country lapsed into war-lord rule.
The US would simply inherit the legacy of British imperialism at gunpoint. US military and financial intervention in Afghanistan during the 1980s against the Soviet-backed regime resulted in a strong Mujahedin resistance, along with a strong al-Qaeda that the US had also helped so they could bring down the Moscow-backed regime. All of this backfired because what replaced the secular leftist government was a much more militantly anti-Western regime that repressed human rights and declared America and the West its enemies.
* If the goal is to allay the fears of the American people that the US “will continue to take the war to Al-Qaeda,” the question is whether this has yielded results other than psychological owing to the assassination of Osama bin-Laden. Is Homeland Security taking care of this problem at an immense cost to taxpayers, either that is at $1.6 trillion, as one estimate has it, or $6 trillion when everything is thrown into the mix, from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to funds spent at home?
* If the goal is to appease the substantially vociferous right-wing elements entrenched throughout American society from media and business to politics, intelligence services to military, as well as Israel and Saudi Arabia that link their security to a weak Iran, then the money and cost in every other respect is well worth it as far as the US policymakers are concerned