The Worker, February 23, 2016
Published by the Workers Party, USA
P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625

There Can Be No Imperialist Plan To Stop The Unbridled Killing And Militarization Of Colombia
Only The Peoples Can Stop the Wars!
We Must, We Can, and We Will!

U.S. imperialism, while hypocritically talking about “peace,” continues to arm the brutally repressive Colombian government to the teeth.

The brutal atrocities of the repressive Santos regime – the bombing of peasant controlled lands, the attacks on the leaders of popular organizations, the persecution of militant trade union activists – have all been authorized and financed by the U.S. government. Especially over the last 15 years, under the notorious “Plan Colombia,” the Colombian armed forces and paramilitaries have carried out war without quarter. Advised and accompanied by U.S Special Forces, armed with U.S. supplied, up-to-date hardware including Blackhawk and Huey helicopters and other notorious anti-personnel weapons, these men under arms are imposing a real reign of terror on the Colombian people.

For the last 70 years up to today, a succession of repressive regimes have maintained a continual state of siege against the Colombian masses. The liberal and conservative political parties of the oligarchy share power, excluding and suppressing the workers and peasants. An extensive legal and military apparatus of repression has been set up by the Colombian oligarchy and capitalists.

Within the last several weeks, in a visit to Washington, Colombian President Santos made it crystal clear that the state of siege would continue until the armed struggle of the Colombian people was crushed. He boasted that the cover of “peace talks” would empower the government to target revolutionary forces who do not give up territory of their own accord.

Also within the last several weeks, Obama announced plans to step up direct U.S. assistance in the country’s 150 year old internal conflict. Under the signboards of “waging peace” and preventing Colombia from becoming a debt-defaulting “failed state,” the U.S. will extend the 15-year old “Plan Colombia” strategy under the title, “Peace Colombia.” “Plan Colombia” is a comprehensive package first passed during the Clinton administration, which calls for the U.S. training of elite battalions to be used to initiate counter-revolutionary offensives aimed at taking back territory controlled by Colombia’s insurgent forces. “Plan Colombia” authorizes the U.S. to dispatch thousands of military “advisers” and mercenaries to Colombia, the equipping of the Colombian army with billions in munitions and the establishment of new U.S. bases. Obama is also calling for a 50% increase in direct military aid, bringing the amount for next year to $450 million. The Obama administration also works to stabilize the Colombian government by getting it billions of dollars in U.S. and international loans.

U.S. “aid” to Colombia is advertised as part of so-called counter-drug policy, but Obama and other government officials have admitted repeatedly that the real target is the revolutionary movement which embraces the urban areas and entire countryside of Colombia.

The high strategic value placed by the U.S. monopoly capitalist class on Colombia accounts for the fact that it is already the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, getting $9 billion in mostly military aid since 2000. In fact, the Colombian armed forces are not only supplied by the U.S. with funds and equipment, but also receiving their training from U.S. military advisers, including the several hundred rotated there today.

In addition to the direct interest that the U.S. monopoly capitalist class has in maintaining the current system in Colombia, it also has regional interests. Colombia is a very important part of the general program of U.S. domination of the Andes region. Furthermore, the struggle that the U.S. is waging to ensure that Colombia pays its debt and accepts the neoliberal program of the international bankers, is a program which it is imposing throughout Latin America. It doesn’t want the example of Colombian workers and Colombian people refusing to pay that debt.

In the world today, U.S. imperialism and the other capitalist states have fought and are fighting to maintain their hegemony in the world, to defend the capitalist and neo-colonialist system, to emerge from the great crisis which has them in its grip, with the fewest possible losses. They have striven and are striving to prevent the peoples and the proletariat from fulfilling their revolutionary aspirations for liberation. U.S. imperialism which dominates its partners politically, economically and militarily, has the main role in the struggle to achieve these aims.

Thus, what’s happening now not only in Colombia but throughout Latin America is that the U.S. is intensifying its struggle for domination, its struggle against European capital, against Japanese capital. The international struggle for who will be the top superpower is stepping up. And in order to strengthen its hand in this struggle, the U.S. wants the most thorough exploitation of Latin America – which the U.S. monopoly capitalist class has always considered the foundation of its world empire.

All the while, the public is being subjected to a continuous stream of propaganda designed to legitimize U.S. military intervention and conceal the real aims of U.S. imperialism in Colombia.

A main theme of the media’s propaganda portrays the war in Colombia as primarily a struggle between “right-wing paramilitary groups” and “leftist guerrillas,” as a war between two groups of “extremists.” According to this propaganda, the great majority of Colombian workers and peasants are “caught in the middle” and victimized by “both sides.” One of the favorite new tricks of the Colombian oligarchy and capitalists themselves is to try to justify their own bestial activities through phony “public opinion” polls, which claim that the masses of Colombian people hold backward ideas and fully accept the political agenda of the Colombian elite. Simultaneously, of course, the media portrays both the U.S. and Colombian governments as proponents of “peace,” seeking a “negotiated solution” to the conflict.

This propaganda seeks to hide the real causes and the motive forces of the struggle in Colombia and especially to cover over the role of U.S. imperialism as the organizer of fascism and war. The struggle in Colombia arises from the real conditions – the actual social relations – existing in the country. It arises from the fact that for more than a century, the mountains of U.S. imperialist domination, of capitalism and of a semi-feudal system of land ownership, have weighed down on the Colombian people. The people have fought and are fighting to throw these mountains off their backs. Today, the struggle of the people against fascism, against imperialist domination, against the landed oligarchy and capitalist exploitation, embraces nearly the entire population. For example, the strike movement of the workers has taken on a general character and repeatedly led to open political battles aimed against the IMF and the program of neo-liberalism. Part and parcel of the popular movement is the armed insurgency, which
has been carried on for several decades as a necessary response to the fascism of the government.

In short, the propaganda which distorts the conflict in Colombia as a “war of extremists” and praises the U.S. and Santos governments for their “commitment of human rights,” is part of the war program of U.S. imperialism. It seeks to put a “humanitarian face” on U.S. military intervention and cover over the real aims of U.S. imperialism. Once again, U.S. chauvinism is trying to disguise itself in the name of “human rights” in order to justify aggression. Precisely because there is so much opposition amongst the peoples to war and colonialism, U.S. imperialism is continually at work trying to disguise its exploiting aims using this tactic of “imperialist pacifism.”

Imperialist pacifism turns truth on its head and tries to portray the imperialist warmakers as advocates of peace while slandering the peoples who resist colonialism and fight for their rights as the source of “violence and terrorism.” Furthermore, the real content of the peace plans and negotiations sponsored by imperialism are to try to get the peoples to give up at the bargaining table what imperialism cannot win on the battlefield – to get people to give up their freedom and independence and to accept neo-colonial arrangements which guarantee the interests of the U.S. monopolies.

The entire policy of imperialist pacifism attempts to 1) cover over the depth of the contradictions between imperialism and the peoples and 2) separate the problems of war and colonialism from their root causes in the imperialist system. Imperialist pacifism presents war only as a “policy” not as the inevitable result of the system of domination and subjugation of classes and nations.

* * *

In order to provide a more in-depth analysis of what is at stake in the current situation, we supply some background material below on U.S. imperialism’s “low intensity” war against the Colombian people.

The first mountain on the backs of the Colombian people is the landed oligarchy (class of big landowners) which is directly linked with U.S. imperialism. The struggle between the landlords and the peasants continues to be one of the main currents of the class struggle in Colombia. We traced this 1st of 3 fundamental contradictions in Colombian society back to its early days in the mid-19th century.

At that time the landlords in Colombia began to develop an export-oriented cash crop agriculture. At first they concentrated on the production of coffee, wheat, bananas and later cattle and beef. In order to develop this agriculture on a broad scale, the landlords needed two things. They needed big plantations, and an even tougher challenge for them came with their need for a stable supply of labor. The problem they had was that in Colombia then as today, the land was very plentiful, and very fertile, and the peasants could quite easily claim their own plots of land and continue to use it to engage in subsistence farming. So the big landlords addressed this systematically and “as needed” by employing force and violence to throw the peasants off their land and take over vast tracts of Colombian countryside. These vast tracts of the land robbed from the peasants went directly to the big estate holders, or merchants, or politicians.

The monopolization of the land by the big landlords meant that the peasant masses were disenfranchised and had to work as semi-feudal peons (tenant farmers) or they were turned into superexploited agricultural workers, or they were left with no livelihood at all.

From the very beginning the peasants organized self-defense units and fought against the enclosure and forcible takeover of their land through all the means at their disposal. They circulated petitions, they appealed to the government, they went to court. The landlords created their own private armies and used them as an even stronger force in order to simply kill the peasants, or throw them off the land. These private armies that emerged in the 19th century are the origins of today’s paramilitary groups which are one of the shock forces in the counter-insurgency war that the U.S. is waging today in Colombia.

Facing this armed counter-revolution, the peasants further developed their resistance, including by organizing peasant leagues and unions of agricultural workers. By the 1930s, under the leadership of the Communist Party as well as a group which split from the Liberal Party, the peasants developed a new tactic that was called “land invasion” – the creation of armed frontier communities. The peasants armed themselves and they went and settled new land. They prepared to defend their land and their rights by arms against the landlords, against the private armies of the landlords, and against government troops.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the situation for the peasants was again deteriorating as the landlords were further pushing the development of commercial agriculture and establishing large estates (latifundias.) At the same time urban impoverishment had become so bad that many workers and people living in the cities went back to the countryside in search of land or a livelihood. It was in this period when the armed peasant leagues and frontier communities developed in some areas into revolutionary regimes called “Independent Republics.”

The Independent Republics based themselves on the traditional vision of the peasant movement for the establishment of the system of land to the tiller (land to those who work it) and also developed a number of measures to restrict the capitalist market in agriculture. Some measures taken in the Independent Republics included cooperative labor, price controls, and guaranteed credit for the small producers. In addition, for the first time ever in the rural areas of Colombia, networks of health clinics, schools, roads, and other public works were developed.

The response of the two traditional parties of the Colombian elite, the Conservatives and Liberals, is known in Colombian history as La Violencia. This refers specifically to the period from 1946-1966. During that time over 200,000 people were killed and 2 million forced off their land by the paramilitary armies of the oligarchy which worked side by side with the regular Colombian army. It was through this genocidal war against the people that the landlords were able to establish their dominance and to establish the widescale commercial export agriculture. Although this in general marked the defeat of the Independent Republics, La Violencia did not in fact succeed in crushing the movement. In fact, the current movement which for more than half a century up until today controlled some 40% of the countryside has its origins in the movement of the Independent Republics. The movement today comes directly out of and has partially carried forward the historical struggle of the Colombian peasants against the fascism of the oligarchy and for the demand, “land to those who work it.”

Today the class of big landowners which utilize the incredibly rich agricultural land of the country for commercial cash crops and for their own profits continues to use force and violence to deprive the vast majority of peasants of the means of a livelihood and of their right to land. This contradiction between the landlords and the peasant masses remains one of the fundamental contradictions of Colombian society and the land question remains one of the great unresolved problems facing the country. This contradiction must be resolved in order for Colombian society to go forward. In fact, the question of a genuine land reform is one of the fundamental points on the agenda of all the popular organizations of the country. The Colombian peasantry especially, as well as the organizations of the Colombian workers and the indigenous peoples and others, are fighting fundamentally for a program of land to the tiller; are fighting for a program which will guarantee the livelihood of the peasant masses.

The Colombian peasants are on the right side of history and nothing is going to make their 150 year old struggle go away.

The second mountain on the backs of the Colombian people is the mountain of U.S. imperialism, that is, the mountain of U.S. monopoly capital and its allies, the local Colombian capitalists. Just as Colombian agriculture is dominated by a few large landowners, so too the urban economy, the manufacturing sectors, are also dominated by a few large capitalist corporations. These are generally foreign and mainly U.S., or at least linked with U.S. banks and U.S. multinational corporations. In the cities 50% of the manufacturing workforce are employed by large foreign or large Colombian firms linked with foreign monopolies.

We traced this second basic contradiction in Colombian society back to 1901 when United Fruit Company took over large tracts of land and established coffee and banana plantations. Other U.S. agribusiness interests also established large plantations in the country. Also in the early 20th century, subsidiaries of Standard and Gulf Oil companies obtained huge concessions.

The penetration of the U.S. multinational corporations into Colombia started to grow in a very big way in the 1920s. This involved not only agribusiness, but also direct manufacturing investment and, especially in later years, increasing penetration by finance capital. Today some 40% of Colombia’s exports and about 40% of its imports are with the U.S. This dominance gives the U.S. monopolies control over the Colombian market including control over prices. Colombia’s principle exports to the U.S. include a variety of low cost agricultural products including coffee, bananas, beef, sugar and raw materials including oil, nickel and gold. There are also commodities such as textile, chemical and pharmaceutical products manufactured at very low wages in U.S. branch plants.

U.S. investment in the country, in mining and manufacturing and oil extraction as well as U.S. finance capital has increased dramatically, especially since the early 1990s when neo-liberal structural adjustment programs were imposed on Colombia by the international bankers. For example, the Colombian government passed a series of new laws which eliminated most restrictions on foreign investments and foreign ownership. Today, more than 100 U.S. companies – including Chevron, Amoco, Exxon, Proctor and Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, Kellogg’s, Dupont – have billions and billions of direct investments and themselves own more than 150 Colombian affiliates.

Another aid to the flow of U.S. capital into Colombia occurred by way of the international bankers’ demands for changes in social legislation and labor laws. Reforms carried out included reductions in the minimum wage laws, the elimination of some of the social legislation guaranteeing various kinds of social insurance. This was accompanied by the creation of a very large informal sector of the workers such as part-time and temporary workers. This has enabled the U.S. multinational corporations to step up their superexploitation of the Colombian workers, as these informal workers are not only outside of the organized trade union movement, but they often do not even enjoy elementary benefits, including such things as pensions.

Of course, the economic role of U.S. imperialism is greater than even the question of its own direct exploitation of the people and plunder of the resources because the U.S monopolies maintain a dominating position in the Colombian economy. Because of this the economy can’t develop except in such a way as is useful (profitable) for U.S. finance capital.

In addition, there’s the issue of debt. Colombia today is $92 billion in debt to European and (mainly) U.S. bankers. Currently 1/4 of the annual government budget goes simply to pay interest on the debt while the debt itself gets bigger and bigger. Of course, this huge tribute which is paid to the U.S. bankers at Chase, Citibank, etc. is bled out of the working masses through tax increases, rising prices, currency devaluations, etc.

Today, millions of the poor live in squatter settlements without permanent housing or other necessities such as running water. Currently over 2.1 million Colombians are unemployed and actively looking for work. Millions more are permanently unemployed. Informal workers already comprise 51% of the workforce.

Despite savage repression, the Colombian working class is not only organizing itself against capitalist exploitation but has also placed itself in the forefront of the revolutionary liberation movement against fascism and imperialism. In the early 20th century the workers, often concentrated in the foreign enclaves owned by United Fruit and other American corporations, struggled against the double yoke of imperialist domination and capitalist exploitation. Inspired by the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, the Colombian working class raised the banner of Marxism-Leninism and socialism and in 1919 came out in the first nation-wide May Day demonstrations. With the formation of the Communist Party of Colombia in 1930, the working class established its own revolutionary political party. Through the Communist Party the working class extended firm support to the revolutionary peasant struggles and during the period of La Violencia, the Communist Party took the lead in organizing the guerrilla struggle and striving to unify all the forces fighting against the oligarchy and for national liberation.

In recent decades the Colombian workers have organized strikes of an increasingly political character, including general political strikes. For example, in 2013 a national strike was organized which included calls for a moratorium on the debt. This was in direct opposition to the budget of the government which demanded cuts in wages for public and private sector workers. These cuts had been made so that 1/4 of the government’s budget could go to interest payments on the debt. These demands were directed squarely against the U.S.-Colombia “Free Trade Agreement” and the strangulation of the country by the U.S. and international bankers.

There is a growing consciousness of the working class and people in Colombia that it is only by eliminating U.S. domination that they can move forward along the path of not only national independence, but also the path of economic sovereignty, that is, the path of progress and emancipation for the working people.

The third mountain on the back of the Colombian people is the mountain of the brutal military regimes which have been imposed on the people by U.S. imperialism and the Colombian oligarchy and capitalists. It has been this succession of military regimes which have maintained the domination of these classes.

We already mentioned that as far back as the 19th century, military and paramilitary bands were used to throw the peasants off the land. We already mentioned how in the period of 1946-1966 the period of La Violencia, some 200,000 peasants and others were killed by the oligarchy. This same type of repression, these same type of atrocities are carried out against the workers movement and other urban movements. For example, in 1999 the government occupied the oil refineries and declared the leaders of the oil workers union “terrorists” and arrested them after they announced the intention to go on strike. In another example, the 2013 national strike, which was carried out at the point of a bayonet, was upset when the state gunned down 5 trade union activists.

For several years, human rights groups have documented the murders of hundreds of trade unionists and others. Just during 1987 and 1988, some 5,000 popular leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists and other democratic personalities were assassinated. In the last 25 years, over 2,900 trade unionists were murdered. The international confederation of trade unions says that Colombia is the worst country in the world to be a trade union activist from the point of view of repression.

Throughout these years of brutal repression the Colombian government has been supplied militarily – armed and advised – by the U.S. government. Fighters for national liberation, progressive opinion throughout the world, including in the U.S. and in Colombia, called for the end of U.S. military aid to Colombia. In fact, the human rights situation in Colombia is so infamous that the U.S. Congress passed various restrictions on military aid to the Colombian government. History has shown, as has been the case time and time again, that these restrictions were only so much eyewash to hide the fact that the U.S. military continues to arm and train and support the Colombian military.

The Colombian government has some 444,000 men directly under arms, including 273,000 in the army and 171,000 police. In addition there are tens of thousands in the paramilitary organizations which are organized, commanded and directed by the army itself.

This entire fascist apparatus is supported, financed, organized and commanded by U.S. imperialism. As a U.S. army Area Handbook for Colombia boasts, “the U.S. is the single most important influence on the Colombian armed forces.” After WWII, Colombia was the first Latin American country to sign a Mutual Defense Agreement (MDAA) with the U.S. under which Colombia agreed “to facilitate the production and transfer...of...strategic material required by the U.S.,” and to limit its trade with the Soviet Bloc in return for U.S. military support.

In 1952, Colombia became the site of the first U.S. training school for counter-insurgency warfare. This training school graduated Colombia’s first official military dictator, Rojas Pinilla, who ruled the country from 1953-1957. It also mapped out the strategy and trained thousands of troops for the all-out counter-insurgency war launched by U.S. imperialism in the mid-1960s against the liberation forces of the Colombian workers and peasants. From 1961-1967 the Colombian military received more than $160 million in U.S. aid and equipment. The U.S. military “advisers” who directed this “preventive” war ordered the aerial bombardment, the napalming and uprooting of entire villages in regions controlled by the liberation forces. These regions included Sumapaz, El Pato, Guayabero and others.

As early as the 1960s, the U.S. army not only undertook organization of counter-insurgency war in the countryside, but also set up special counter-insurgency units in the urban areas, infiltrated the unions and mass organizations, spied on the entire political opposition, and carried out repression and assassinations.

In 1962, a U.S. Army Special Warfare team in Colombia described the U.S. training of paramilitary groups. These “irregular forces” (paramilitaries) are an unofficial part of the army and actually one of the main shock forces in the war against the guerrillas. The head of the U.S. Special Warfare team, William P. Yarborough, said that they called on the Colombian army to “select civilian and military personnel for clandestine training” to be used to “perform counter-agent and counter-propaganda functions and, as necessary, execute paramilitary sabotage and/or terrorist activities against known communist proponents. These should be backed by the United States.”

Since 1984, Colombia has had the largest international military education training program in Latin America. This program is run by the U.S. military to train officers and soldiers and to integrate them with the way of thinking and the command and control structure of the Pentagon. For example, from 1984-1992, some 7,000 troops were trained by the U.S. in this way. These include the notorious “mobile units.” Similar to the “strategic hamlet” program developed in VietNam, the mobile units employ such tactics as encirclement followed by arrest of anyone whose “loyalties” are suspect. They torture, massacre civilians, burn down and destroy entire villages. They often begin by “softening up” civilian population areas through bombing. These atrocities have been documented time and time again by human rights groups and have contributed to the displacement of the hundreds of thousands of Colombians who have become internal refugees.

In addition to arming and training the Colombian military and paramilitaries, the U.S. has its own advisers and trainers there to direct the operations. Several hundred U.S. military advisers and trainers under the direct command of the “Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities” are rotated in Colombia. U.S advisers not only train Colombian soldiers, but they go on the operations with them. According to one senior officer quoted in the Washington Post, “We decide on the ground how far we can go. We can call anything counter-drugs. If you’re going to train to take out a target, it doesn’t make much difference if you call it a drug lab or a guerrilla camp. There’s not much difference between counter-drugs and counter-insurgency, we just don’t use the language ’counter-insurgency’ much anymore because it is politically too sensitive.”

In short, U.S. imperialism’s “low intensity” war in Colombia is a war against the Colombian people. It’s a war that’s motivated by preserving U.S. domination of the country. It is a war that aims at preserving the landed oligarchy which in alliance with the U.S. agribusinesses have converted the whole soil and the vast natural wealth of Colombia into riches for the American capitalists. It is a war which wants to maintain the disenfranchisement and the superexploitation of the peasants. It is a war which wants to leave the peasants without a livelihood or as peons exploited by the landlords and their U.S. allies. It is a war which is motivated by preserving the domination of U.S. monopoly capital; at preserving it’s ownership of the economic infrastructure and its superexploitation of the Colombian people.

As far as the Colombian people are concerned, their struggle is going to continue in one form or another until all of these mountains – the mountain of the oligarchy, the mountain of imperialism and the mountain of the fascist military – are off their backs. The life itself, the life of the people demands that the land question be resolved in a way that guarantees the livelihoods and the rights of the peasants. Life itself demands that the workers are going to come out in struggle until they achieve their emancipation from both local and foreign capital. The struggle of the Colombian people is going to go on until they are able to raise up their head and not only live free of fascism, but create a government that serves their own interests.

The Necessity for Change

The Workers Party says that the social system in the U.S. must be changed.

We say that there really is only one political issue – one irresistible, relentless political task – facing the working class and people. That task is for the workers to develop their own consciousness, organization and political initiative in order to carry through the necessary social transformations.

We do not say these things because of our subjective desires.

The necessity for change arises from the very contradictions of present-day capitalism. What must we conclude about a social system, which boasts of the most productive economy in the world yet denies tens of millions of working people such elementary economic rights as the right to a livelihood, to health care, even to food and shelter? What must we conclude about a social system, which after 200 years and more of popular struggles demanding equal rights, still imposes a system of racial discrimination and national oppression on the minority peoples? What must we conclude about a political system, which advertises itself as the epitome of democracy but in which the vast majority of people are alienated from political life and excluded from power? What must we conclude about a government which, regardless of which party is in power, wages wars against other peoples, and under the doctrine of “Might Makes Right” extends the empire of U.S. capitalism to the four corners of the earth?

We conclude that the capitalist system is suppressing everything which makes us human.

The necessity for change does not arise only from the exploitation and oppression imposed on the people by the capitalist system. The necessity for change arises because, already, new human and social relations are arising, in embryo, in the very womb of society.

It is obvious to anyone that our country has at its disposal all the material conditions necessary to guarantee the economic rights and well-being of the people.

Moreover, for more than 200 years the workers and oppressed people of our country have been coming out in struggle after struggle to assert their rights and bring forward their program for society. From the very beginning, the American people have fought to create a society which guarantees equal rights for all and in which the political power arises from and is controlled by the people themselves. From the very beginning, the American people worked to create a land of refuge and peace and throughout our history we have always sympathized with and supported the liberation struggles of people everywhere.

Today, these profound egalitarian, democratic and internationalist traditions of our people are carried forward in the struggles and aspirations of the modern working class. The social existence of the workers – who stand at the center of economic life and are united as a class by their common role in social production and social life – give rise to the vision and struggle for a society which abolishes the exploitation and oppression of all human beings and which recognizes and nourishes the humanity of all.

Civilian Casualties Mount in 14th Year of the U.S. Air War

February 17, 2016 – Since the start of February, a minimum of 77 Afghan civilians were killed in U.S. airstrikes. Many of the strikes took place in Nangarhar province, while some took place in Baghlan, Chinartoo and other locations in Afghanistan.

In what has become a familiar tribute to the more expensive, superior quality, high-tech firearms at the disposal of U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan, aerial vehicles manned by troops located very far away dropped explosives on the civilian targets from some 10,000-plus feet in the air.

Since U.S. imperialism, following in the footsteps of the former Soviet empire, adopted the plan of establishing a U.S.-installed regime in Afghanistan in 2001, the extrajudicial killing of Afghan civilians has been part and parcel of the U.S. government’s aggressive war.

In barefaced display of the chauvinism of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class, President Obama claims that the killings are justified in the name of bringing U.S.-style “democracy” and “freedom” to the people of Afghanistan.

The demand of the Afghan people is for the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO troops and the complete abrogation of all colonial claims on the people of Afghanistan. (Anti-Imperialist News Service)

General John F. Campbell on Coping with Skyrocketing Military Appropriations

February 17, 2016 – In testimony earlier this month in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the U.S. commander of the U.S.-NATO’s war in Afghanistan proposed funding the war 5 years at a time instead of annually.

When announcing the proposal Campbell stressed that the change would be part of an overall strategy for increasing U.S.-NATO military capabilities in Afghanistan even if forced to temporarily withdraw some U.S. troops.

Speaking about promises to reduce troop levels from 9,800 to 5,500 by January 1, 2017, Campbell said, “I believe the right thing to do is to prepare to go to 5,500 as I am ordered, but at the same time to take a look at conditions on the ground, look at capabilities – not the number – and to provide those adjustments to my military leadership, and then make those adjustments to capabilities. If we don’t have the capabilities, or if the assumptions that we made for the 5,500 plan don’t come out true, then of course, we have to make those adjustments.”

The military “disadvantages” of a temporary and partial drawdown of U.S. troops would be minimized by virtue of the longer-term perspective afforded by only having to seek new appropriations twice a decade. Thus, NATO would have the “ability to plan, to resource,” according to Campbell. Additionally, “It sends a message to Pakistan, it sends a message to the Taliban, and it sends a message to NATO.”

As in Iraq, the alternate increase and decrease of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, along with greater reliance on private military contractors, has been part of the 21st century re-colonization process that was renewed from the very first moments of Obama’s presidency.

Over the last 7 years, Obama’s war program, with the full support of the U.S. congress, has put the country on a permanent war footing and used this to push the entire reactionary agenda of the capitalist class down the people’s throats – to attack democratic rights and civil liberties, to further slash social investments while militarizing the economy, to subject the entire society to unrestrained militarist and chauvinist propaganda.

To oppose the capitalist program, the people need to build up the broadest possible front against war and imperialism.

We must oppose each and every aggressive step taken by U.S. imperialism. We must wholeheartedly support the just liberation movements of the oppressed peoples and support the just stands of governments which defend the sovereignty of countries and the rights of the people. We must demand a genuinely democratic foreign policy which puts an end to all U.S. military intervention and aggression, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad, and ends the militarization of economic and social life.

Just as the U.S. government is intent on pursuing its “international war against terrorism” for decades to come, so too, the American people must politicize themselves and work out their own agenda and tactics for advancing the movement in opposition to the capitalist war program. (Anti-Imperialist News Service)