US/NATO defeat in Afghanistan

The welcome defeat of US/NATO imperialism by the Afghan Taliban comes as the 20th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York on “9-11” 2001 approaches. During the subsequent few months there were a series of political exchanges involving ourselves, the now terminally-ill Spartacist League (SL, aka International Communist League) and the Internationalist Group (IG) led by Jan Norden which had exited the SL in 1996. The exchange began with our 18 September 2001 statement on the 9-11 attacks in which we noted that John Sweeney, the leader of the corrupt, pro-imperialist US trade union bureaucracy had offered “any and all assistance” to President George W. Bush. We responded that “A class-conscious union leadership would be making preparations to launch political strikes in response to military aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq or any other neo-colony.”

In November 2001, a few weeks after the US attack on Afghanistan commenced, Tom Riley of the BT gave a public talk in which he said:

“The Taliban strategy apparently involves drawing out the conflict long enough and grinding up enough American soldiers, to force the U.S. to withdraw. This is the lesson they have drawn from Reagan’s hasty retreat from Lebanon after the 1983 demolition of the U.S. Marine barracks, and Clinton’s withdrawal from Somalia a decade later when 18 U.S. soldiers were killed in a firefight with the forces of a local warlord.”

The IG shared our defeatist position toward the imperialist intervention, but the SL denounced such a posture as “illusory and the purest hot air and ‘revolutionary’ phrase-mongering” and declared that the “Taliban has no possible military redress” (Workers Vanguard, 9 November 2001). This wildly inaccurate projection resulted in a series of sharp exchanges. In a 2 December 2001 web posting (reprinted in 1917 No. 24 as “Where Is the ICL Going?”), we discussed “Workers Vanguard‘s recent flurry of (sometimes overlapping) polemics against ourselves and the Internationalist Group (IG) concerning the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan.”