The war in Afghanistan has now entered its 6th full year of fighting. Both the Liberal and Conservative parties have declared their commitment to keep Canadian troops in that country, even past the current 2009 deadline. This is despite the fact that a clear majority of Canadians want an end to the mission.

The war has reached a point where it is un-winnable. In recent days, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for negotiations with the Taliban, even offering them a place in the government. This will come as no surprise to the people of Afghanistan as 60% of their National Assembly is already made up of former pro-Taliban warlords who simply decided to become pro-NATO warlords after the 2001 invasion. However, it has come as quite a surprise to the Canadian people who, for 6 years, have been fed the rationale that this was a war to establish democracy and to destroy the Taliban. In seems that Karzai and NATO, Canada included, are quite willing to forget both of these so-called objectives in exchange for a friendly regime in Kabul.

Why? Because this war has never been about democracy. From the beginning, the NATO occupation simply replaced one set of tyrants with another. In many cases warlords were left untouched by coalition forces so long as they simply switched allegiances. As a reward, these thugs were given high-placed government appointments and seats in the National Assembly. Abdul Rasul Sayyat is one such case. In 1991, Sayyat commanded the slaughter of over 1,000 Afghan civilians in a suburb of Kabul; today, he is a sitting member of parliament and a staunch supporter of President Karzai.

In light of this, it is completely hypocritical for the imperialists to try and justify this war as a fight for women’s rights. To prop up a government such as the one in Kabul is to suppress any real hope for women’s emancipation in Afghanistan. Military support for the Karzai government is precisely the same as military suppression of women’s rights. The Western powers do not care about women’s rights any more than they care about creating a democratic Afghanistan. They are all too happy to hand power to corrupt warlords, even to bring back the Taliban, in exchange for stability. Of course this is a stability where women continue to be oppressed and women MPs like Malaila Joya are silenced.

This war is, and has always been, about profit and power. The Western alliance has been seeking a stable regime in Afghanistan not because George Bush, Stephen Harper, and their ilk are noble democrats, but because they have mutual friends in big oil.

Afghanistan is the only safe corridor through which oil can be pumped from the Caspian Sea to ports in Pakistan. With Iran to the east, China to the west and Russia to the north, Western interests desperately need a pipeline that could connect the Caspian to the Indian Ocean. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the West had absolutely no qualms about doing business with the Taliban regime. In fact, construction was already underway the morning the planes hit the twin towers. However, to continue trading with the Taliban after the attack would have caused a massive backlash. And so a regime change was launched.

With the failure of the West to improve the lives of the average Afghani and with the subsequent revival of the Taliban in the south of the country, the Karzai government is now being forced to offer concessions to the elements that were forced out. The Afghan people yearn to be free, but they will never achieve their emancipation while under the domination of NATO and their puppets. Only through an anti-imperialist alliance with the workers of Iran and Pakistan will the people of Afghanistan be able to throw off the Taliban, the reactionary Karzai regime, and the western oil corporations that oversee the whole mess.

Afghanistan has now become a make-or-break issue for every political party in Canada. The question that now arises is, what is the next step? Having a protest movement that can raise an issue and put pressure on politicians is one thing. Creating a mass movement that can directly intervene in the running of the country is another. With the growing importance of the war in Afghanistan in the eyes of Canadians, the anti-war movement has the potential to be that mass movement, but first we have to figure out how to get there.

Last year, at the New Democratic Party’s national convention, the party membership passed a resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. This resolution passed with an overwhelming 95% majority. This position makes the NDP the only anti-war party in Parliament.

To date, the anti-war movement has been largely apolitical. This is a serious mistake as there is nothing more political than the fight to end war. The question of war is, in the final analysis, the question of power. Clausewitz said that war was the continuation of politics by other means. The Afghan war is an imperialist war. The struggle against the Afghan war is irrevocably linked with the broader struggle against the capitalist system. As such, a protest movement against the war is not enough to bring an end to these conflicts once and for all. What is needed is a broader political struggle against capitalism itself.

On one side the NDP needs to adopt a socialist, anti-imperialist, platform against war and the capitalist system that creates war. On the other side, the anti-war movement needs to enter the NDP to make sure that this happens. It is time we broadened our struggle and combined direct action with political action. In doing so, we can create a whole even greater than the sum of its parts. It is only through a mass movement such as this that we can end this war, bring the troops home, and create a society which has no need for war.

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