On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we speak with a former veteran and author of a recent piece on CrimethInc. entitled, Afghanistan: The Taliban Victory in a Global Context: An Anti-Imperial Perspective from a Veteran of the US Occupation. We discuss the current situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban’s recent victory, the fall of Kabul, and the devastating impact of twenty years of imperialist occupation. Our guest, who was both a soldier in the army and a contractor, also dives into how massive amounts of lives were bombed, tortured, and destroyed, trillions of dollars were wasted, how counter-insurgency has become privatized through a vast network of corporations, and how the US is simply the latest in a long line of imperial powers to fail against insurgents in Afghanistan.
For 20 years, we propped up local and regional warlords, giving them weapons, money, and arms so they wouldn’t attack our forces. We green-lit their death squads and called them the Afghan Local Police. Working at senior-echelon levels, I watched both ranking officers and junior soldiers scramble to pad their résumés in hopes of becoming mercenaries for the companies and agencies that were actually running the show. Generals made careers and went on to be employed by those companies or the Department of Defense/Intelligence Community. From Syria and Iraq to Yemen and all across Africa, throughout our 800 military bases, I do not know of a single military mission that is chiefly focused on creating peace and stability.
It took the death of one my soldiers to put it all into perspective. Afterwards, I began to suffer from effects of CPTSD [Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder]. The classic characteristics: drinking and drug use, the loss of relationships, depression, suicidal tendencies. I also began to reach out for help. I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War and connected with current and former service members fighting US imperialism. With information from the GI Rights Hotline, I was able to leave the Army Reserves. I began a process of politicization in which I learned about militarism, imperialism, colonialism, and white supremacy.
Now that the occupation has ended, an entire generation of US military veterans will be forced to question what it was all for. All I can do is ask why it took them so long to arrive at that question. It was always evident, all around us.
We also discuss at length the push by the far-Right to attack refugees, the anti-war movement, private counter-insurgency companies at work in the US (such as TigerSwan at Standing Rock), and much more.
photo: Levi Meir Clancy via Unsplash