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Afghan Youth

Afghan Youth

An excerpt from a conversation between the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers (in Kabul) and Noam Chomsky (in the US) on 17 December 2010:
Abdulai: My name is Abdulai. Obama announced in his diagnostic December review that the US is making significant progress in Afghanistan. Could you please comment on this review being a “diagnostic” review rather than a real, evaluative review of facts on the ground?
Chomsky: Well of course you know vastly more about what's happening in Afghanistan than I do. I only know from secondary sources but it’s worth noting that a few days ago the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies] released a report, which is extremely unusual for them – they rarely do it – in which they said that the situation on the ground has deteriorated radically. They gave particulars and said it's now far worse than it's been in the past. They're actually working there and have experience. Plainly that's not consistent with the picture of progress.
Lala (a young farmer): The US is constructing a narrative of success. Are they doing this so they can eventually leave gracefully or do you think they are constructing a narrative of success so that they can stay permanently?
Chomsky: Well, the United States – we have to bear in mind that the US government like other governments and other states is not dedicated to serving the interests of the people of the countries where it intervenes or attacks or interferes.
In fact, it’s not even dedicated to the welfare of its own population. It’s dedicated to the policies of the states, and this has been understood for centuries, states are controlled by concentrations of power within the domestic society and those are the interests that are pursued. In the case of Afghanistan, the US government and other sectors of concentrated power and capital in the United States – they do have interests, for example they are very interested and have been for decades in their TAPI pipeline plan, a plan to get natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India which would go through Afghanistan and which would undercut reliance of the South Asian states on Iran.
The United States is trying to isolate and change the regime in Iran. So that’s a longstanding interest. Nevertheless I think that at this point when the US government defines success it means not success for the people of Afghanistan or Vietnam or Nicaragua or whatever but success for the interest that it is pursuing.
At this point, I think it’s not unlikely that even just for domestic, political reasons, the US will try to find a way to withdraw most of its forces and try to portray it as some kind a victory. That’s for domestic reasons.