Check It Out: What the U.S. Did to Women in Afghanistan’s Countryside


September 20, 2021

The defeat of the U.S. in its war against Afghanistan has had a complex effect. On the one hand, it is very good that America was defeated in its attempt to further impose its imperialist domination and plunder in the Middle East and Central Asia. On the other hand, the force which defeated it and has now come to power—the Islamic theocratic Taliban—will impose its own form of reactionary domination, including an extremely oppressive form of patriarchy. This painful dilemma and dynamic is captured in Bob Avakian’s description:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

BAsics 1:28

Note well here BA’s important point that it is the U.S. which “has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity.” The U.S. media has overall focused on what will happen to the women in the main cities, whose aspirations will be brutally suppressed by Taliban domination. And the fact is that the U.S. in general did not target the cities—though there were exceptions (for example, the bombing of a hospital in Kunduz run by Doctors Without Borders in 2015)—and the U.S.-backed regime did open up certain opportunities for women.

October 16, 2015: An employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of the organization’s hospital after it was hit by a U.S. airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan killing 42 Afghans. By August 2016, some 111,000 people had been killed and over 116,000 injured in the war.    Photo: AP

Yet in the countryside—where 70 percent of Afghans live—things have gone down very differently in the past 20 years. With very few exceptions,1 this story has been largely hidden and covered up. But in a recent issue of the New Yorker, Anand Gopal has written a powerful account of one woman’s experience with the U.S. war in the countryside, “The Other Afghan Women.” This article details the truly brutal and absolutely horrific mass murder which the U.S. carried out and/or gave powerful backing to. While there are weaknesses in the way Gopal casts things that could lead to a view that the masses must indeed choose between the two poles of theocratic Jihadism and imperialist brutality, the information he brings forward is important and gives further life to Bob Avakian’s point that, contrary to what the media incessantly hammers at, America most certainly is NOT a “force for good” in the world.

In this context, the Movement of the New Communism of Afghanistan that is for revolution and bringing forward another way against both “outmodeds” (U.S. imperialism and theocratic Islamic jihadism) stands out all the more sharply and is all the more welcome.



1. One notable exception is Jeremy Scahill’s movie and book Dirty Wars, released—and reviewed here—in 2013.