US imperialism in Afghanistan Term Paper

December 15, 2020 by Essay Writer


Differences in economic growth and technological levels among nations have led to domination of underdeveloped countries by the industrialized ones. Such developments have subjected the industrialized nations to pressure for expansion of their markets through a variety of means including political and military acquisition.

This is typified in the current wars in Afghanistan where the U.S launched military intervention citing presence of terrorist groups in the country. Such an intervention may be perceived as an act of imperialism by the U.S on Afghanistan. The present research deals with the causes and consequences of the current wars in Afghanistan in terms of Imperialism and post-colonial theories.

Thus, U.S is currently facing challenges in managing its heightened technological innovations and exploration of international market for its products may be the only option of offsetting the economic pressure. A variety of imperialism theories have explained the reasons behind expansion pressure facing the industrialized nations in different ways but the failure by such nations to internally cope with the effects of such technological innovations is predominant.

Causes of the Afghanistan wars

Following the 11th September attacks of the U.S twin towers, the country launched a manhunt for the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as well as his group for being responsible for the attacks. United States accused both Al-Qaeda of terrorist attacks on western countries especially U.S and its allies and Taliban for inhabiting the terrorists.

The U.S administration therefore launched attacks on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow it from governance in Afghanistan. However, there is one thing that is not clarified in the U.S-Afghanistan war; the cause of the Al-Qaida attacks on the U.S and its allies and motive of the subsequent military intervention by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Different theories attempt to explain the causes of the aforementioned wars.

To begin with, the invasion by U.S on Afghanistan may be attributed to the sudden demand for market for its excess products as well as investments. According to Hobson industrialized nations have adopted a political policy of imperialism to find foreign market for their products and investment due to their excessive production that has exceeded consumption rates in those countries (35). In a nutshell, the invasion of Afghanistan may have been done to pursue economic gains and not fighting terrorism as claimed by the U.S.

On the other hand, U.S invasion of Afghanistan may also be perceived as a method of colonialism. According to Fanon, colonialism is violence in itself and not the attempt by the oppressed to resist such invasion. He states that the oppressed can not relate well with the metropolitan class and should therefore resist any kind of colonialism through violence (McCulloch 7).

In the recent times, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have resorted to suicide attacks as well as use of improvised bombs against the U.S and its allies in Afghanistan. This is a response to attacks by the foreign forces on Afghanistan. The U.S’s strategy of using terror to hit Afghanistan is a new mode of colonialism which according to Fanon will be resisted by the Afghans through war as currently witnessed.

Afghanistan wars in terms ethnical frame

The U.S invaded Afghanistan and overthrew Taliban replacing it with the pro-U.S government led by Karzai. The U.S intention to completely wipe out Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan as well as strengthen the Karzai government is doomed to fail. To begin with, the Taliban have launched a strong resistance against the western forces in the recent past to regain its authority of the country.

It has renewed the Islamic Jihad against all foreign troops in Afghanistan as well as the pro-western forces including the Afghanistan government. This movement is characterized by precise following to all Muslim laws and establishing ethnical unity. Very often the troops of Afghanistan resistance are constituted by people from one tribe or even family which makes it deeply devoted to their aim.

Of course, the resistance is revealed not only by military actions of Taliban troops. As an extreme example of resistance on every level it is possible to consider the period of time (1996-2001) when Taliban controlled the state. At that time conventional rules and laws of Muslim religion were state laws. Taliban denied anything which could be associated with Western culture.

However, such devotion to ethnical traditions sometimes had very negative effects causing numerous deaths. In fact, the non-military resistance of Taliban requires a bit more attention. Many condemn the extreme ways of Taliban rule and its fanatic following some Muslim laws. For instance, that particular period of Taliban rule was especially characterized by the violence over women: females were deprived from almost all rights and the cases of immediate execution of women in the streets were quite common.

Some explain these acts by the peculiarities of traditions, but there is a deeper implication. The resistance of Afghanistan people was aimed at creating new ethnical identity which could resist any invasion. This newborn ethnic identity should have helped to unite all the people in the state which could be the end of imperialistic suppression.

Admittedly, many Taliban methods were not accepted even by the people of Afghanistan so the rule of this power was doomed. However, there were also positive consequences since people started thinking about their ethnic identity; they started realizing that their culture has its right to develop. According to Memmi colonized soon come to understanding that they need to unite and keep to their traditions and religion (177).

However, at the moment, Afghanistan resistance is mainly revealed on the military level: troops implement various attempts to banish invaders resorting to suicide bombers or other similar acts. Thus, the stability of Afghanistan will only be realized when the foreign troops are removed from the Afghan land and the government backed by the people is reinstated (Marx 3).

Fanon posits that the Taliban’s quest of using violence against the west is destined to become successful as they regroup and get strong day by day. The U.S‘s expansion strategy aimed at gaining economically in Afghanistan is futile as the Taliban’s comeback to power is imminent. However, it is noteworthy that a lot of lives have been lost in the violence and will continue to do so as long as the foreign troops are still present in Afghanistan.

Relevance of Imperialism and post-colonial theories in the Afghanistan wars

Hobson theory

The invasion of Afghanistan by the U.S can be attributed to a variety of reasons. For instance, Hobson argues that such invasion may be aimed at achieving economic gains. He explains that the desire by the industrialized nations to expand their market for their excessive products as well as investments contributed to such an offensive in Afghanistan. Hobson says “It is this economic condition of affairs that forms the taproot of Imperialism” (35).

There has been an intensive economic growth in the U.S in the recent past against the low consumption rate in the country. According to Hobson such a nation may be subjected by the internal pressure hence opt to pursue an oversee expansion of market to offset the pressure (Hobson 35). U.S. might have invaded Afghanistan to achieve the aforementioned objective with an excuse of human rights abuse by the Taliban.

However, Hobson also states that such expansion can be avoided by the wealthy nations (31). Due to the fact that the non-industrialized country such as Afghanistan has little power or knowledge to direct the capital flow, such investments by the wealthy nation is a mere colonization strategy as local companies are destroyed thereby culminating into pressures that threatens the world’s unity (Hobson 31).

Hobson attributes the U.S invasion of Afghanistan to its eagerness to sell its products than the consumers’ willingness to buy. He cites militarism as the bad side of imperialism (31).

Schumpeter’s theory

According to Schumpeter’s theory, imperialism is in no way related to capitalism and that the former is an important aspect in any social situation having been borrowed from the earlier ages. He believes that imperialism would soon disappear as a result of continued rationalization of mind and life. Schumpeter cites free trade as the basis of international peace (3).

He disputes claims of socialist imperialism and asserts that “The type of industrial worker created by capitalism is always vigorously anti-imperialist”, and that the conscious will of the workers is manifested in the socialist movement. In essence, Schumpeter’s theory defends the presence of US in Afghanistan by opposing any form of imperialism by the socialists. He reiterates the need for expansion by industrialized states not because there is a genuine reason but because they desire to expand.

Basically, Schumpeter argues that powerful states may opt to expand their control and conquer other sovereign states not because they are interested in the benefits associated with such conquest but because of the conquest. No wonder he defines imperialism as “the object-less disposition of a state to expansion by force without assigned limits” (Schumpeter 4).

The US aggressiveness towards Afghanistan may therefore be attributed to its desire to expand internationally without genuine reasons. For instance, the U.S claim of fighting terrorism is unfounded given the fact that it engages in other activities such as supply of building materials as well as foodstuffs to the Afghan people after toppling the controversial Taliban government. Such a scenario was witnessed in its invasion of Iraq where no genuine reason was given for the attacks.

Fanon and Memmi’s theories

Memmi detests colonialism as a means which powerful states use to achieve economic gains and not pursue civilization or religious ambitions (Memmi 47). He argues that the colonizers use terror and racism as tools to inflict fear among the colonized so that they can be easily submissive. He further states that the reaction of the colonized to the oppression is quelled with terror (63).

This is witnessed in the Afghanistan wars which are precipitated by the neocolonialism of the country by the U.S. and its allies. To begin with, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have formed strong resistance against the western powers and vowed to protect their religion and culture. According to the Taliban the U.S is imposing its beliefs as well as values on the Muslim world.

In the recent past, Al-Qaeda as well as Taliban has reacted to such colonialism with great fury as witnessed in the 11th September attacks where Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. Since then, the U.S government has launched attacks on the Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan as well as enhancing security measures in and out of U.S. It is unfortunate that Muslims have been harassed in many western states following the U.S attacks.

The use of racism as well as terror in quelling such reactions is viewed as imperialism by the capitalistic state. However, the collapse of the capitalist is imminent (Memmi 63). The Taliban forces were just scattered and not completely wiped out hence are regrouping to make a comeback to power.

Fanon, on the other hand, lobbies for violence to counter the oppression by the capitalists (McCulloch 7). His argument finds a rightful place in the Afghanistan wars. First of all, the U.S government has accused Taliban and Al-Qaeda of human rights abuse and has therefore resorted to military intervention to oust Taliban as well as wipe away Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Moreover, the U.S intervention is targeting other areas it suspects of harboring terrorist groups.

Al-Qaeda and Taliban have reacted sharply to the U.S invasion of Afghanistan as well as imposition of a pro-U.S government of Karzai on the people of Afghanistan. In the recent past, there have been a lot of attacks on the foreign troops as well as the U.S-backed government. According to Fanon such violence is necessary in responding to the oppression by capitalists (McCulloch 8). Generally, both philosophers argue that the capitalism witnessed in Afghanistan is doomed to fail.

Evaluation of Schumpeter’s and Fanon’s theories in regard to the Afghanistan wars

The Afghanistan invasion by the US may be attributed to the desire for settlement as well as direct rule by the U.S over Afghanistan. According to Schumpeter industrialized nations always opt to pursue a forceful expansion of their jurisdiction without genuine reasons (3). This is attributed to lack of free trade that has therefore enhanced the class antagonism.

It can also be attributed to the use of protection by the US as a weapon of invading Afghanistan. Consequently, nationalism as well as militarism has been highly encouraged in the US invasion of Afghanistan. The US is war-driven and manipulates reasons for its offensive acts. This is witnessed in the U.S attacks on Afghanistan where the former cite abuse of human rights by the Taliban as well as the presence of Al-Qaeda in the country as the main reasons for the aggressiveness.

Fanon’s arguments, on the other hand, are right in respect to the U.S-led Afghanistan wars (7). The U.S’s strategy of using terror to hit Afghanistan is a new mode of colonialism which according to Fanon will be resisted by the Afghans through war and therefore doomed to fail.


The Afghanistan wars are deeply rooted in the imperial and colonial past and not the fight against terrorism as suggested. The west has always used their power to colonize other nations in an attempt to gain control of their resources as well as conquer and rule the world.

According to Marx such form of capitalism has caused historical and present class struggles between the oppressed and the oppressor (Brewer 26). The oppressor due to its superiority has attempted to impose its beliefs and culture on the oppressed through a variety of ways. Some nations have succumbed to the colonialism but others such as the Taliban have resisted oppression by the west thereby culminating into wars currently witnessed in Afghanistan.

Such resistance by the Taliban is gaining grounds as the U.S backed forces are subjected to constant attacks by the Taliban in an attempt to regain power. According to Marx, the oppressed shall reclaim power after the collapse of capitalism (Brewer 26). Consequently, equality among the people shall be reinforced.

Work Cited

Brewer, Antony. Marxist Theories of Imperialism: A Critical Survey. 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge. 2002. Print.

Hobson, John. Imperialism: a study. Washington: Nisbet, 1902. Print.

Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich. The Communist Manifesto. Charleston: BiblioBazaar, LLC. 2007. Print.

McCulloch, Jock. In the twilight of revolution: the political theory of Amilcar Cabral. New York: Routledge. 1983. Print.

Memmi, Albert. The colonizer and the colonized. 3rd Ed. London: Earthscan. 2003. Print.

Schumpeter, Joseph. The Sociology of Imperialism. London: READ BOOKS.1919. Print.

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