Afghanistan: Troops out now!

The leaking of 75,000 secret US military documents on the Afghanistan war ’endangers lives’, screamed the US Pentagon. British foreign secretary William Hague complained that the leaked documents could “poison the atmosphere in Afghanistan”. This highly hypocritical talk has come from representatives of governments that have been inflicting carnage on Afghan towns and villages, using the latest high-tech deadly weaponry, without even bothering to count the civilian casualties – likely to number tens of thousands. These governments have also been presiding over the deaths of US, British and other coalition troops every week. Nearly 2,000 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan over the last nine years.

The leaked reports have made a huge impact, as they are sweeping in their scope and reflect the divisions and despair existing within the US state machine. As the media pointed out, they contain nothing substantially surprising or new. They are ’low level’ intelligence reports rather than being policy documents from the top military officials, as the leaked Pentagon Papers were in 1971, and some of the content is unreliable.

But being able to read these reports in their uncensored state has shed more light on the horror of the war, particularly on the incidences of slaughter of Afghan children and adult civilians – much of which was kept secret. This information was brought home forcefully as it came just shortly after news of the killing of over 50 civilians by a Nato rocket in Helmand on 23 July.

It is no surprise that these atrocities are driving more and more Afghan youth into fighting alongside the Taliban and are leading the occupying forces further into a quagmire. Nearly twice as many UK troops have now died in Afghanistan as died in Iraq. At the present death rate, 2010 will be the worst year for coalition troop deaths in Afghanistan.

The US plan of ousting the Taliban from areas it controls and handing these areas over to newly trained Afghan forces is not succeeding. And ongoing terror is being inflicted on the populations of towns and villages in the process. Military operation after operation, with altered tactics each time, have only led further down the pathway of failure and bloodshed. From increased air power, to more troops on the ground; from ’winning’ hearts and minds, to destroying them.

When the Taliban are cleared from one area, they can regroup elsewhere and later return, with many of their forces being drawn from the communities that the commanders of the occupying troops claim to be defending.

The British troops should be brought home immediately and all other foreign troops removed from Afghanistan too. Then the Afghan people can begin to determine their own future. In particular, the task of building independent organisations of workers and the poor is urgent. Such bodies can act to stop future bloodshed and prepare the way for a socialist society with democratic rights and decent living standards for everyone.

-Build a mass movement in Britain to bring home the troops! Spend government money on jobs and public services not on war and weapons.

-Let the Afghan people decide their own future. For democratic rights in Afghanistan, and the building of independent organisations of workers and the poor.

-For a socialist world, free from terror, exploitation and war.

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