Must a hundred more troops die in Afghanistan?

The actual number is a hundred and six.

Nine deaths within the last ten days.

On the other side, the death toll is even greater and includes many civilians caught up in fighting or bombed by mistake.

The Morning Star comments:

<blockquote>”THE Taliban are losing in Afghanistan. I know it may not appear like that at the moment, but we are enjoying a degree of success.”

This moronic statement ought to be chiselled on oafish Defence Secretary Des Browne’s head with a bayonet. Another four British soldiers have been killed in an unwinnable war and he greets their deaths with the usual gush of predictable meaningless words – “deepest condolences … deeply mourned … bravery, dedication and professionalism … the noblest of causes.”

These weasel words have been churned out so often that they have lost all meaning.

The Brown government is paralysed over what to do in Iraq, having indicated that it wanted to pull out all troops by the end of this year before bowing to Washington political pressure not to bring them home for fear of encouraging US military families to demand a similar response.

British forces are now bogged down at Basra airbase, with occasional sorties to give the impression of ongoing involvement in the US occupation.

Some British soldiers’ families may prefer this situation, knowing that new Labour’s response to withdrawal from Iraq will be to beef up the presence in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where nine British troops have been killed in the past 10 days.

The government insists that matters are improving in Afghanistan and that good times are just around the corner. Every attempted occupation and pacification campaign in Afghanistan has claimed the same since the 19th century.

When British troops were first dispatched seven years ago, we were told that they were part of a peacekeeping and reconstruction operation.

They were concentrated in Kabul and ventured outside the city for the first time in 2003 when 60 were deployed to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif as “a provincial construction team.”

Then defence secretary Geoff Hoon said that they would “focus on improving dialogue between local warlords and politicians.”

When Tony Blair’s jack of all trades John Reid took over from “Buff” as defence secretary, he fell in line with White House wishes by sending 3,300 British soldiers to Helmand to replace US forces.

And this was just two years ago, when Mr Reid suggested: “We hope we will leave Afghanistan without firing a single shot.”

Since then, our troops have been embroiled in an occupation war in conditions that have defeated every would-be occupier. Earlier this week, former chief of the general staff Gen Sir Mike Jackson declared that British troops must be prepared to match the “strategic endurance” of the Taliban.

No, they must not. British troops are not defending their own homeland and they cannot be expected to match the “strategic endurance” of the Afghan people who are doing precisely this.

They are under strength to carry out a military task that has been falsely justified in anti-terrorism or democracy-building terms.

This US-assigned task is neither. It is part of an imperialist strategy of building permanent military bases in central Asia to dominate the region and control oil and gas resources.

There is nothing to be gained by maintaining or increasing our troop numbers there. They should be brought home without delay.</blockquote>

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