The war in Afghanistan isn’t going well. Not for the forces battling there and certainly not for the civilian population. The people of Afghanistan need bread, not bombs. If the plans of the US government to increase the numbers of troops fighting go ahead, casualties on both sides will increase – meanwhile reconstruction work will be further sidelined and aid agencies will be unable to operate inside the country.
This must be the last Christmas that our armed forces spend in the Middle East. They are owed an apology by those who sent them, and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan deserve to see a war crimes trial take place as soon as possible.
From the Morning Star:
Medics reveal massive cost of Afghan war
(Tuesday 23 December 2008)
by PAUL HASTE
ANTI-WAR campaigners urged the Prime Minister on Tuesday to make a new year’s resolution to bring home in 2009 all British troops involved in the “colonial” Afghanistan war.
The call came as British army medics revealed the mounting cost of the war, now in its eighth year, on young soldiers sent to prop up an occupation that is increasingly beset with problems.
Never-ending massacres of civilians by Western warplanes, rising casualties among the US-led military forces and insurgent attacks that reach deep into neighbouring Pakistan to destroy vital weapons supply lines confirm the increasingly intractable nature of the war.
Working at a British military base in eastern Afghanistan, Royal Army Nursing Core medic Lee Collins admitted that “we’ve got a constant flow of casualties on a daily basis here.”
Mr Collins explained that he works 12-hour shifts, while his “day off” has to be spent on call in case of emergencies.
Navy Commando squadron medical assistant Kate Parkman added that she expected Christmas Day to be “a normal working day,” describing her work as a Quick Response Force medic loading wounded soldiers into helicopters.
“A soldier had stepped on a mine. He lost his left leg and some of his fingers and he suffered severe facial wounds, but, by the time he had left us, we had controlled his pain,” Ms Parkman related.
“You get all this training on dolls with make-up, but it’s different here.”
Some 135 British troops have been killed so far during the occupation of Afghanistan. Almost 1,000 other Western soldiers have also died, but the number of Afghan civilians that have lost their lives is literally uncountable.
US military commanders refuse to count the casualties that their air strikes and “counterinsurgency” tactics cause among the Afghan people, but independent researchers estimate that the occupation has caused almost 28,000 deaths.
This toll, plus the British medics’ experience in dealing with their comrades’ injuries, prompted Stop the War Coalition spokesman David Wilson to call for an end to “this bloody colonial war.
“We have finally admitted its time to leave Iraq, but Gordon Brown should go one step further and make it his new year’s resolution to leave Afghanistan,” he declared.
“There will be no end in sight for this intractable and dangerously unstable occupation unless all the troops are brought home in 2009.