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Year 2009 No. 45, July 10, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Britain Must Get Out of Afghanistan

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Britain Must Get Out of Afghanistan

Protest at Downing Street: Stop the Carnage in Afghanistan

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Britain Must Get Out of Afghanistan

In a week in which seven more British soldiers lost their lives, Bob Ainsworth, the Minister of Defence, delivered his first keynote speech in an attempt to justify the continued occupation of Afghanistan by the Anglo-American military forces and their allies.

It is now eight years since the illegal invasion of Afghanistan that was then given sanction by the UN Security Council, and the government are finding it increasingly difficult to justify the continued military offensive in that country. Senior military figures, including the commander of the British troops, have already admitted that the war is not "winnable", and there is now not only widespread opposition to the occupation amongst workers and democratic people but also even within the big parties there is increasing unease.

At the present time, Britain has committed over 9,000 troops and other military personnel to the occupation, the second largest contingent after the US. According to the Minister of Defence, there are "compelling reasons" why the British army is in Afghanistan. However, his assertion that this has to do with Britain’s "national security" and is in order to keep Britain "safe from the threat of terrorism" is less than compelling, although this is the justification that the government often seeks to use to explain its military intervention around the world. Even commentators in the monopoly media have spoken of the war in Afghanistan becoming "another Vietnam" and of the "credibility gap" that the government has failed to address. They have dismissed the government’s justification, pointing out that organisations such as Al Qaeda, which the government claims are being thwarted by the occupation of Afghanistan, are in fact not mainly based in that country.

What has become evident is that the resistance to the Anglo-American-led invasion is growing despite the size of the occupying force which have now grown to over 60,000. To these may also be added the 90,000 troops of the so-called Afghan National Army. Already the US government has pledged to send another 20,000 troops, many of them re-deployed from Iraq, while Britain and other countries are also promising additional troops, another clear sign that the occupiers are not making headway and suffering major military reverses.

At the present time, as the Minster of Defence admitted, the occupying forces are attempting to create the conditions for elections to take place in Afghanistan in August, even though such elections are illegal under international law and have no validity. This is one of the major reasons for the "surge" conducted by the US and Operation Panther’s Claw by the British forces. The government’s claim that it is merely supporting the "Afghan National Government" is completely hollow, since this government was itself brought to power illegally by the invasion forces. The government’s assertion that it will remain until this "National Government" is able to control Afghanistan merely exposes the weakness of its position since the government in Kabul has little control, nor does it have support, outside of the capital. At the same time, it is clear that the aim is to develop a proxy state that is entirely dependent on the Anglo-Americans and their allies.

The Minister of Defence’s statement that "the entire region in which Afghanistan sits is of vital strategic importance to the UK", points to the fact that the war in Afghanistan remains what it has always been – a means by which to secure control over the "cockpit" of Central Asia, an area that is as vital for the Anglo-Americans and the other big powers now as it was for the imperialists of the 19th century. It is in this context that the Anglo-Americans are also stepping up their military, political and economic intervention in Pakistan.

British casualties and public condemnation are forcing the government to attempt to justify military intervention in Afghanistan, while nothing is said of the estimated tens of thousands of Afghans who have lost their lives. The Minister of Defence openly admitted that many more British soldiers were likely to lose their lives in order to safeguard the interests of Anglo-American imperialism. The speech by the Minster of Defence shows that the British government is fully committed to continue its military aggression in that country alongside the US and the other big powers. What is required is that the people take it upon themselves to establish an anti-war government that will end such aggression abroad and serve the interests of the people both at home and abroad.

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Protest at Downing Street: Stop the Carnage in Afghanistan

Stop the War Coalition, July 7, 2009

176 British soldiers have now died in Afghanistan, only three short of the total number of British fatalities in Iraq. On Monday, US forces had their worst day in Afghanistan since 2001 with seven dead. The US and British troop "surge" in Helmand province was meant to show that "the good war" in Afghanistan war was winnable. Within days, reality knocked the wheels off the propaganda wagon, as the invading armies became bogged down in fierce fighting.

The number of Afghans dead and wounded is not even recorded, but the scale of destruction caused by such open warfare must be immense. The comparison with the Iraq disaster is all too obvious.

Even the usually pro-war Observer newspaper now says "what is needed is a serious debate about what we are doing in Afghanistan", without which, it concludes, "the war in Afghanistan can only drag on, with deaths on all sides".

On the day the British deaths reach 179 – the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq – Stop the War will be assembling at Downing Street at 5pm to demand our politicians end this terrible waste of life and pull the troops out.

If the announcement happens on the weekend, we will protest on Monday at 5pm.



This meeting of experienced journalists and commentators will expose the reality of the war and the propaganda machine that is working to sustain it.

Speakers include Stephen Grey, investigative journalist "embedded" with British army, Guy Smallman, just returned from Afghanistan and Seumas Milne, Guardian columnist.

(Opposite Euston Station)

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