[News] Afghanistan: US 'war on terror' really began in 1945

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 1 11:37:22 EDT 2021

US 'war on terror' really began in 1945
Joseph Massad - August 30, 2021

The recent US <https://www.middleeasteye.net/topics/us-politics> admission
of defeat in Afghanistan <https://www.middleeasteye.net/tags/afghanistan>
has mobilised the liberal western press
to demand more imperial resolve
from President Joe Biden
and US policy makers and increased the western Islamophobic press coverage.

Absent from such considerations is the counter-revolutionary history of the
US and the wars that it launched across the globe since World War II to
assert its imperial control, costing millions of lives.

The history of US involvement in Afghanistan is also part of the particular
history of US imperial efforts to dominate Arab and Muslim-majority

In the 1970s, 14 anti-colonial and anti-dictatorial revolutions in Africa,
Asia, and Latin America overthrew western and pro-western regimes to
achieve a measure of social and economic democracy that had been suppressed
with the major help of the US and European colonial powers. This led to
major wars that the US and its allies unleashed on the new revolutionary

In Ethiopia, revolutionary coup leaders overthrew
<https://www.jstor.org/stable/45071379> Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974 and
ended Ethiopian-US military ties in 1977. The US and some of its Arab
regime clients supported a Somali invasion
of Ethiopia the same year, hoping to restore US control.

It was to help secure the new revolutionary government in Ethiopia
that the Soviets
sent arms and Cuban troops were deployed
<https://www.jstor.org/stable/24356896>. Meanwhile, Somalia was converted
into a US military base and was plunged in interminable wars from which it
has never recovered.

Revolution was also hitting southern Europe at the same time as the
Portuguese overthrew their western-supported fascist Salazar regime, which
led to the triumph of the ongoing liberation struggles in Portugal’s
African colonies. Revolutionaries liberated Angola, Mozambique,
Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome.

The fall of the Portuguese regime and the liberation of its African
settler-colonies, especially Mozambique and Angola, would also weaken the
neighbouring white supremacist English settler-colony of Rhodesia, leading
to the revolutionary guerrillas' triumph in 1980 and the establishment of
US propaganda

As these revolutions also gave a push to the liberation struggle against
white-supremacist rule in Namibia, occupied and colonised by apartheid
South Africa, the US, South Africa, and Zaire’s western-backed
president, Mobutu
Sese Seko
military interventions in Angola to destroy its revolution and liberation
struggle and safeguard Namibia and South Africa for white supremacy.


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This led to the arrival of Cuban troops to defend the Angolan revolution
while the Soviets and the German Democratic Republic provided training for
the anti-colonial freedom fighters resisting the US-backed South African

Soon, the South Africans with US help sponsored the counter-revolution in
Mozambique <https://www.jstor.org/stable/722294>to also destroy that

In Indochina, despite the genocidal scale of its killing machine, the US
was unable to defeat revolutionary struggles, which finally won in Vietnam,
Cambodia and Laos by 1975.

In 1979, a massive revolution in Iran overthrew a major US-backed dictator
while a coup in neighbouring Afghanistan brought to power a new communist
government in April 1978.

Despite US propaganda, the Soviets
had no hand in either revolution, and the US produced no evidence that they
ever did. The US hastily sponsored a counter-revolution in Iran and
Afghanistan and subcontracted neighbouring Pakistan to help with the
latter. In Central America and the Caribbean, a liberation struggle
defeated the US-supported dictator in Nicaragua in July 1979 and the New
Jewel Movement came to power in Grenada in an armed uprising.

This would lead to intensified US-sponsored repression against
revolutionary struggles in neighbouring El Salvador and Guatemala, the
sponsorship of counterrevolution and invasion of Nicaragua, and the direct
US invasion of Grenada in 1983 to unseat the new government.
A crusade against the Soviets

As the US unleashed its military invasions and subcontracted its allies to
do the same, one particular country became the focus of its efforts, namely
Afghanistan, especially so as it bordered the USSR. Whereas the US had
client states bordering the southern Soviet border, including Turkey, a
Nato member, and Iran, it was unable to change India’s neutrality.

The story begins with the Truman administration who first showed interest
in “Islam” and began searching for a Muslim leader to spearhead a crusade
against the Soviets

China had become an enemy of the Soviets years earlier. All that remained
was Afghanistan, which remained neutral during the Cold War. But when
idealist Afghan communists staged a coup and rushed into ill-considered and
hasty reforms in a country suffering from massive poverty, illiteracy, and
oppression, the US was quick to take in disgruntled Afghans who opposed the
reforms and subcontracted its local clients to unseat the regime.

This led the Afghan government to invite Soviet military forces in December
1979 to safeguard the revolutionary regime.

The history of US involvement in Afghanistan is also part of the particular
history of US imperial efforts to dominate Arab and Muslim-majority
countries. The story begins with the Truman administration who first showed
interest in "Islam"
began searching for a Muslim leader to spearhead a crusade against the
Islam: A natural barrier

Truman’s Psychological Strategy Board
<https://www.jstor.org/stable/40107707> adopted a programme in February
1953, soon after Eisenhower took office. The programme
that "contrary to received wisdom in the West…Islam was not a natural
barrier to communism. Many reformers who took power in these countries put
economics before religion; that weakened the role of faith and made the
region vulnerable to communism."


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Edward P Lilly, chief psychological warfare strategist for Eisenhower, drew
up a memorandum titled: "The Religious Factor"
1953. It called on the US to use religion more explicitly in its fight
against the Soviet Union and recognised that using Islam as a vehicle to
reach the tens of millions of Soviet Muslims would be to US advantage.

The memorandum
reached the National Security Council in 1954. In the same spirit, the
state department hosted in September 1953 a major delegation of
"distinguished Muslim scholars" for a colloquium
on "Islamic culture" held at Princeton University, and invited the
delegates to the White House.

In 1954, the CIA dispatched spy agitators to Mecca during the Muslim
pilgrimage to foment anti-Soviet sentiments among Soviet pilgrims. The CIA
agents were Soviet Muslim collaborators
with the Nazis who had previously worked with the Nazi regime to mobilise
Soviet Muslims against their government during World War II.

The US inherited and utilised a whole Nazi team of spies and their handlers
who used to work for the Reich Ministry of the Occupied Eastern Territories
(Ostministerium). Indeed, one of the same Nazi collaborator
sent to Mecca by the CIA would be dispatched the following year to
Indonesia, to the Bandung Conference, to propagandise against the Soviet
Union and its alleged maltreatment of Soviet Muslims, in an attempt to
undermine Soviet standing among the non-aligned nations.

[image: US President General Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (1890-1969)
poses for a photographer in 1951 at NATO Paris headquarters. In 1950]
Future US President General Eisenhower poses for a photographer in 1951 at
Nato Paris headquarters (AFP)

Another important mission was supporting right-wing Indonesian Muslim
religious organisations against the Indonesian Communist Party. The
right-wing Indonesian Islamists were led by a former government minister
who financed their anti-communist sabotage operations from a Swiss bank
account. The minister’s overseas contact was the same CIA agent
sent to Bandung.
The Eisenhower Doctrine

In January 1957, President Eisenhower announced the Eisenhower Doctrine and
declared <http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3360>
that the US would come to the aid of any country in the Middle East
threatened by communism. In private meetings with the CIA’s Frank Wisner
<https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-two-frank-wisners> and the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, Eisenhower insisted
that the Arabs should obtain inspiration from their religion to fight
communism and that "we should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy
war’ aspect".

Whereas US and CIA involvement in Afghanistan goes back to the 1960s, the
Western press began after 1978 to report in most sympathetic terms
about 'fiercely anti-communist Moslem insurgents'

Eisenhower was keen on propping up the Saudis as a counterweight to then
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Eisenhower’s plan
was that the Saudi king "could be built up, possibly, as a spiritual
leader. Once this were accomplished we might begin to urge his right to
political leadership."

To that end, Saudi Crown Prince Faisal organised
international Islamic conference in Mecca in 1962 to combat the popularity
of Arab nationalism, socialism, and "secularism", and launched the World
Muslim League. The conference declared
“Those who disavow Islam and distort its call under the guise of
nationalism are actually the most bitter enemies of the Arabs, whose
glories are entwined with the glories of Islam."

In response to Faisal’s attempt to replace Arab unity with Islamic unity,
Nasser accused
the new Islamic alliance of being an “American-British conspiracy aimed at
dividing the Arab world and undermining Arab hopes for unity.”

[image: In the early 80s shows the premier groups of the Afghan anti-Soviet
resistance fighters with their primitive arms in the eastern parts of the
Groups of anti-Soviet Afghan resistance fighters in the eastern parts of
the country in the 1980s (AFP)

The participation of right-wing Indonesian Muslim groups in the massacre of
close to a million communists
and alleged communists in 1965 Indonesia after a US-sponsored and financed
coup was celebrated by an editorial in the Chicago Tribune
“We must say it’s refreshing to read of young Muslims burning down
Communist Party headquarters, for a change and shout ‘Long Live America.’”

Once the counterrevolutionary Suharto consolidated his rule in Jakarta, he
reined in the Islamist groups, though some of the more extreme among them
would be maintained as an anti-communist force. They would join
the anti-Soviet effort in Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s.

By the late 1970s, the US was, in partnership with the Saudis as well
as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and his successor Hosni Mubarak, already
recruiting, financing and training Islamists from Afghanistan to Pakistan,
the Arab world, Europe and the United States readying them for the final
battle against the Soviets.

Whereas US and CIA involvement
in Afghanistan goes back to the 1960s, the western press
began after 1978 to report in most sympathetic terms about "fiercely
anti-communist Moslem insurgents" in Afghanistan and in training camps in
Pakistan in need of more weapons.
Subcontracting allies

It was this US policy, abetted by its subcontracted allies, Saudi Arabia
and Pakistan, which led to the creation
of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State group, from the ranks of
the US-created and trained right-wing Islamists who helped the Afghan
Mujahidin to take over Afghanistan in 1992.

The Taliban and al-Qaeda would come to fight the US once it turned on them
after the fall of the Soviets - although al-Qaeda and IS fighters
be recruited anew for the ongoing US-sponsored wars in Iraq

Rather than revisit the counterrevolutionary terror that the US visited on
Afghanistan and the rest of the world since WWII, the western liberal press
is too busy lamenting the gradual decline of the US empire and attacking
Biden for his lacklustre imperialist leadership.

*The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not
necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.*
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