5 Dec 2009

Afghanistan: extra troops a mistake

Gordon Brown's "mini-surge", taking the number of British troops fighting the Afghan war to over 10,000, plus Obama's surge taking the US deployment to over 100,000, is deeply concerning. More than 200 British MOD personnel have died in the conflict since 2001 and the UN Mission to Afghanistan recorded over 1,000 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year alone.

At our monthly meeting this last Wednesday the Stroud District Green Party unanimously passed a motion to renew our call for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

Despite high levels of corruption and election fraud within the Afghan Government, the NATO forces are propping up the current regime. The costs of keeping forces in Afghanistan are astronomical. White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, has stated that one million dollars is needed per year to keep just one soldier in the country.

Martin Whiteside, the Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for the Stroud District, who has worked in Afghanistan five times advising on aid programmes, says: “The people who are suffering the most from this terrible war are ordinary Afghan children, women and men and also our own soldiers. Who really believes that having our troops in Afghanistan makes our streets safer? When the war started, Greens with massive public support from people in Stroud, warned that it was wrong. The war is reaching the end of its ninth year and the only solution is a complete and immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.”

The three major political parties all support the military efforts in Afghanistan. Gordon Brown argues that these efforts are securing the streets in the UK from terrorist attack. In contrast to the main political parties, The Green Party calls for this bloody conflict to end and for British troops to withdraw now. What is needed is a peace agreement involving the UN and lead by Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. See our Green party news release this week here.

History shows that the people of Afghanistan never accept occupation by foreign powers. Many had voted for Obama as the "peace president" and will be disappointed with this move. The excuse that this is a "war of necessity" waged to keep us secure from terrorist attack is utterly discredited. Al-Qaeda is 'an international jihadist organisation' which, according to Obama’s own advisors, has less than 100 operatives in Afghanistan. We are also told that the Taliban and other forces opposing the US have no aspirations beyond their country’s borders - they simply want Afghanistan to be free of occupation by foreign powers.

We have already seen the result of Obama’s first surge has been to make 2009 the bloodiest year of the war - both for Afghan civilians and for Nato soldiers - it has not improved security - indeed it is thought that more Afghans have joined the resistance as a result.

The Afghan army of 95,000 is a vast overstatement of the number of soldiers who can actually be deployed. The US admits that one in four recruits deserts within one year of enlisting - no doubt partly as there are so many deaths amongst their fellow soldiers. The story is the same in the police which are feared by most Afghans for their corruption and brutality.

Yet Obama and Brown want to see this army and police as the cornerstone of their "exit strategy". Even if this "exit strategy" worked as described,
US and British military advisors have said that many more years of war are envisaged - David Miliband earlier in the year said British forces would be in Afghanistan for at least five more years. Obama’s officials and the Pentagon are talking about at least seven more years. The talk of troop withdrawals beginning within 18 months, is surely a way to try and sell a war to electorates who increasing opposing the war.

Anyway to nearly finish this post see here Green party articles re the war and why opium needs to be grown legally there.

There is new online petition at: http://bit.ly/8jLhRk (If you signed one of the previous online Afghanistan petitions, there is no need to sign again). The deadline for the petition is 17 December.

No comments: