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The Spectre of Revenge from the Empire in its Death Throes


Forty-eight hours before the date set by Commander-in-Chief of the United States armed forces Joe Biden for the total military withdrawal from Kabul in defeat, that is to say on Thursday 29 August, the US launched a drone strike, a parting shot, targeting 10 Afghan civilians as they gathered around their family’s car.

One victim was Zemari Ahmadi, a long-time employee of an American NGO, two others were adults from his family circle. Seven were children, including toddlers. 

Yet another whole family of Afghanis wiped out by the USA armed forces by means of their huge drones and their bombs.

What was this cruelty supposed to represent, anyway? 

It was revenge.

That is what.

In the year 2021, yes, we are obliged to accuse the USA of this hideous patriarchal Medieval practice: revenge.

Revenge for what? It was revenge for the death of 13 U.S. soldiers. They were killed by suicide bombing three days earlier. As the Commander in Chief Biden said in a speech following this attack, “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” Note the word “hunt”, meaning “you” are “animals”.

But the dead were all soldiers. Their work is war. They were 13 of those amongst the working class people sent to the front lines in the US illegal occupation of Afghanistan, over the course of 20 years. Their job: to fight, to kill.

In passing, we note that U.S. sources are a bit vague, as is their supercilious tradition, on exactly how many Afghanis were killed in the same blast. Sources say “dozens”, others “over 170”. Dead American soldiers, professional warriors, are individual human beings, that come in exact numbers. The dead of other nationalities, even those who are not soldiers – even civilians, even little children – are counted, like goods, by the dozen. Killing civilians is against all principles. Even a dying empire cannot just “not forgive, not forget, hunt people down and make them pay” this way. It is called “collective punishment”, and it is outlawed by all civilized people.

At first, the USA announced proudly that they had killed two ISIS-K suicide bombers. It was announced with the certainty that only an empire can muster. To quote from the New York Times, “The Pentagon said that two Islamic State militants were killed and one was wounded in Friday night’s drone strike in Nangarhar Province as part of the American retaliation for the suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that killed scores of people, including 13 American service members.” The word “retaliation” sounds less barbaric than “revenge”.

But, strangely, to those who follow U.S. announcements, this one sounded like a lie, a whopper, right from the word go.

Sure enough, it was.

After a few weeks had passed, when the world of television had moved on to other “stories”, and more to the point, after it had become impossible to maintain the lie in the face of vocal eye-witnesses and thorough, honest journalists’ investigations, the USA sent a high-up employee in the military (not the Commander-in-Chief, of course) to come and announce that the strike was “a mistake”. The deaths were a mistake. A mistake. But, the little children will never come back. Nor will the adult civilians killed alongside them ever return.

But, what kind of a mistake is that?

And the weird thing, is that this cruel parting shot sums up the totality of the 20-year occupation. It comes like a cameo in one second of the entire US enterprise in Afghanistan that spans two decades, almost a generation.  As experienced journalist John Pilger, puts it in answer to a question from the Indian newspaper The Hindu on 9 September:

“Q.  Twenty years ago, the U.S. entered Afghanistan with the promise of overthrowing the Taliban, establishing democracy and ending terrorism. But today the Taliban are back. How do you look at the situation?

“A.  President George W. Bush’s ‘promise’ to establish democracy in Afghanistan was a rhetoric for domestic consumption. The invasion of Afghanistan was a fraud; the Taliban were a convenient target to satisfy a political lust for revenge for 9/11. An authentic military response to 9/11 might have seen U.S. bombs falling on the palaces of Saudi Arabia — most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, not least Osama bin Laden himself; not one was an Afghan. … bin Laden had already left Afghanistan …”

So, it was revenge on literally any-old-one – both over the 20 year occupation and in the parting shot. Imperial blood-lust knows no bounds.