BBC dishonours armed forces – fails to report majority opinion against Afghan war

Talk about state television…

Each week, more young men are coming home from the Middle East in coffins or with missing limbs and mental scars.

The BBC’s idea of a debate on the role of UK forces in occupied Afghanistan is a feeble one-sided radio “debate”.

This is the most readable part of the story on Auntie’s website:

More than two-thirds of Britons think UK troops should leave Afghanistan within a year, a BBC poll has found.

Of 1,013 people polled, 68% said troops should withdraw within 12 months, with 59% of men agreeing and 75% of women.

One assumes that the Stop the War Coalition were not even asked to put someone up, as the only panelist expressing doubts is Simon Jenkins:

“I think the government should always pay attention to public opinion, particularly in matters of war and peace. It has never received a popular mandate for this war in any realistic sense.

“It was done at the bidding of the Americans – there’s a new American president we might be able to capture something from that but he’s equally in favour of it. I just think we should pull out.”

The rest of the article is just lies about the threat of international terrorism increasing. If anything, I imagine it would decrease.

As far as I see it, only good can come of troop withdrawals.

If it were not for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (and the occupation of six counties in Ireland):

* There would be a quicker response to floods and other natural disasters as the armed forces could be deployed for civil defence. More people would be saved, fewer homes would be damaged.

* Muslim people would be more willing to give information to the police on terrorist activities.

* The corporate newspapers would be less inclined to print Islamophobic drivel. Although, the capitalists would still use religious and ethnic differences in an attempt to divide working people…

* In both Iraq and Afghanistan, reconstruction and development could start in earnest.

It’s typical of the BBC to deny an open debate on the merits of the Afghan war – it’s the state broadcaster and was given something of a punishment beating over the Kelly affair.

The survey it conducted delivered no surprise verdict. The poll result was similar to others that have already been taken.

What’s galling is that the BBC has been through days of Remembrance broadcasting and a special season of programmes on the First World War, but has kept quiet about the pro-peace majority.

If only it would keep quiet about John fucking Hutton.

Afghanistan: a war for dictatorship

Before I forget to blog on this…

First the leaked message:

A coded French diplomatic cable leaked to a French newspaper quotes the British ambassador in Afghanistan as predicting that the NATO-led military campaign against the Taliban will fail. That was not all. The best solution for the country, the ambassador said, would be installing an “acceptable dictator,” according to the newspaper.

“The current situation is bad, the security situation is getting worse, so is corruption, and the government has lost all trust,” the British envoy, Sherard Cowper-Coles, was quoted as saying by the author of the cable, François Fitou, the French deputy ambassador to Kabul.

The two-page cable – which was sent to the Élysée Palace and the French Foreign Ministry on Sept. 2, and was leaked to the investigative and satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné, which printed excerpts in its Wednesday issue – said that the NATO-led military presence was making it harder to stabilize the country.

“The presence of the coalition, in particular its military presence, is part of the problem, not part of its solution,” Sir Sherard was quoted as saying. “Foreign forces are the lifeline of a regime that would rapidly collapse without them. As such, they slow down and complicate a possible emergence from the crisis.”

Within 5 to 10 years, the only “realistic” way to unite Afghanistan would be for it to be “governed by an acceptable dictator,” the cable said, adding, “We should think of preparing our public opinion” for such an outcome.

Sir Sherard, as quoted, was critical of both American presidential candidates, who have vowed, if elected, to substantially increase American military support for Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.

In the short run, “It is the American presidential candidates who must be dissuaded from getting further bogged down in Afghanistan,” he is quoted as saying.

Then the admission from the outgoing commander of British operations in Afghanistan that the war can’t be won:

Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, whose troops have suffered severe casualties after six months of tough fighting, will hand over to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines this month.

He told The Times that in his opinion, a military victory over the Taleban was “neither feasible nor supportable”.

“What we need is sufficient troops to contain the insurgency to a level where it is not a strategic threat to the longevity of the elected Government,” he said.

The brigadier said that his troops had “taken the sting out of the Taleban” during clashes in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, but at a heavy cost. His brigade suffered 32 killed and 170 injured during its six-month tour of duty. The 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment alone lost 11 soldiers, most of them killed by roadside bombs or other explosive devices.

America’s war in Pakistan threatens our security

UK PM Gordon Brown has said he is “permanently on guard” against the threat of terrorism. (If only the security services had been in 2005 when Saudi intelligence warned of a terrorist attack which killed 52 people.)

Today’s Guardian reveals that Bush is planning a war in Pakistan, something which is sure to increase the chances of another 7/7 occurring here. Secret orders have been signed by the president allowing special forces to operate within Pakistan – even though they do not have permission from Pakistan’s government.

Brown will be compounding the terror threat, which is to a large extent caused by the UK’s involvement in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, by backing this terror campaign in Pakistan and perhaps sending UK forces across the border from Afghanistan to assist. UK forces in Afghanistan are likely to come under increase attacks as the conflict esculates – leading to more fatalities and injuries amongst service personnel and Afghan civilians.

On Tuesday a US drone killed 23 people in North Waziristan and injured 20 others. Ironically, this was an attack on a school set up by Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the mujahideen fighters the US backed in the 80s – you know, the foreign fighters who used the porous border to enter Afghanistan…

Pakistan’s armed forces aren’t pleased about US plans to enter the country and wage war on the population – already attacks carried out by drones have prompted the army to cut off Nato supplies. And it is unlikely that Nato forces will be used in these operations – something which is sure to increase the tensions between Nato member states.

Cold Wars and kettles

The roots of the recent events in Georgia (the nicest possible way to describe what was a hot war) lie in Kosovo’s declaration of independence earlier this year being recognised by several European powers & the US, of course – the Russian bear didn’t growl at the time. When Georgia began an attempt to recapture South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia responded with a massive assault on Georgia’s US-sponsored military infrastructure, and shortly after, a ground invasion.

It’s not my business to take sides in a war between two capitalist states, but it’s worth noting that Georgia initiated the fight (lesson: don’t poke bears if you don’t want to be mauled) at a time when its Western-backed US-educated President has faced massive demonstrations from the opposition.

Russia is now recognising the independence of the two break-away states, something which is infuriating the UK and US governments, and other big players within the EU.

Now, I can’t see a quick entry into the Russian Federation for either Abkhazia or South Ossetia – it would be too obvious – but it’s clear that this recognition of independence is self-serving. A few years down the line, there could possibly be the integration of the two new states within the Russian Federation – which has waited seventeen years to recognise their independence, note well. It’s also worth noting that Georgia, etc., were part of the Russian Empire, which pre-dated the Soviet Union. (So, can the anti-communist sloganeering please stop? Oh, thought not.) Within the Soviet union Ossetia and Georgia were administratively separate and the Russian govt argues Georgia annexed S. Ossetia on declaring independence. All very complicated.

So, One might ask what the fuck has all this got to do with us in Little England, or as the Brown government prefers to call it, Big Britain? Foreign Secretary David Milibliar is trying to cobble together an anti-Russian alliance with a trip to the Ukraine. Georgia and the Ukraine should be allowed to join Nato, says he, echoing the rhetoric of his clone David Cameron who has visited Georgia already. (Word is that wee David has hired “Ian Hargreaves, one-time editor of The Independent, policy wonk at Ofcom and PR man for BAA” to assist with his leadership bid debate on New Labour’s future.)

Aside from the oil factor, I wonder, are they lying when they say it’d be easy to get an alternative route to Afghanistan if the Russians cut of access through their airspace? I wonder, because that particular conflict isn’t going well – mass civilian casualties, a stream of military deaths and injuries, etc.

Bliar wanted short war in Afghanistan?

Seems the ruling classes of Britain and America were so eager to get into Iraq, they thought there’d be no trouble occupying Afghanistan

(And notice how Ashdown confuses the Taliban with Al Qaeda – accidental or what?)

Tony Blair said privately that he wanted the UK to get out of Afghanistan “very quickly” after the 2001 invasion, ex-Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown claims.

Lord Ashdown said the then prime minister was anxious not to become entangled in a lengthy conflict.

Britain deployed troops to Afghanistan shortly after the 11 September attacks.

Since then 108 British troops have been killed in fierce fighting as part of Nato’s International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF).

The government has not officially said how long it believes British troops will have to stay in Afghanistan.

But in confidential government papers leaked to The Daily Telegraph earlier this month, Foreign Secretary David Miliband warns cabinet colleagues of a “long hard struggle” against the Taleban and opium trade that could last many years.

[…]

“I just happened to be looking through – actually this morning – the notes of a meeting I had with the prime minister on the 6th December 2001, and what he says to me is, ‘Paddy, we are going to have to go in and do this’. And I said of course he’d have our support.”

Lord Ashdown says Mr Blair went on: “But it’s going to be in and out very quickly. We’re going to go into Kabul, we’ll take Kabul and then we’ll leave straight away.”

The peer, who was recently blocked from being UN envoy to Afghanistan by President Hamid Karzai, recalls telling Mr Blair that avoiding becoming entangled in a conflict there was a “good idea”.

He goes on: “There’s no doubt that we started off actually wanting to go in, remove Al-Qaeda and get out quickly, and that plan changed.

“I guess it changed because somebody said, if you get out, Al-Qaeda will take over again. But there’s no doubt that it has become bigger than we thought it was.”

More die in unwinnable Afghan war

Two UK soldiers have died within the space of twenty-four hours. God knows how many Afghans have been died in the same period due to the occupation of their country.

From this week’s Socialist Worker:

Afghanistan: a war that won’t be won by Nato’s occupation
by Simon Assaf

According to recent pronouncements by British ministers, US officials and Nato generals, the war in Afghanistan is almost over. All that is required is one final surge of troops and the Taliban will surrender, they say.

They brush aside all the bad news about the rise in the number of casualties, roadside ambushes, suicide bombings and fighting spilling over into Pakistan. These, according to them, are all signs that the insurgency is “failing”.

Yet all the indicators point in the opposite direction – towards that fact that it is the Nato-led occupation of the country that is in serious trouble.

Last year the Afghan resistance targeted Nato convoys with 1,469 roadside bombs, almost five times as many as in 2004.

They launched 8,950 attacks on troops, ten times higher than three years ago. And while there were three suicide attacks in 2004, last year this reached 130. The Afghan resistance now regularly fires rockets and mortars into US and Nato bases.

Meanwhile the United Nations (UN) has admitted that the resistance seized 40 convoys of food aid this year, while the US military regularly “loses” arms shipments on their way to their headquarters at Bagram air base. In the latest incident three helicopter engines “went missing” on route from a port in Pakistan.

According to Nato it would need over 400,000 troops to pacify Afghanistan in the “long term”. This has sent George Bush and his defence secretary Robert Gates scuttling around Europe begging for more troops and equipment.

Gordon Brown promised Bush another 230 soldiers, Germany a further 1,000, while Italy, Poland and France pledged to strengthen their presence on the ground. Each announcement was matched by promises of victory.

Conscripts

Nato currently has 60,000 troops in the country. Even if you add in the conscript army of poorly paid Afghan soldiers, the alliance still has a shortfall of a quarter of a million soldiers.

Now more soldiers are dying in Afghanistan than in Iraq. Here in Britain, the images of flag-draped coffins being unloaded from transport planes is feeding a growing popular dissatisfaction with the war.

A recent poll found that 54 percent of the British people want the troops home from Afghanistan now. Only 34 percent think that British troops should battle on.

Meanwhile Britain’s ministry of defence announced this week that 10,000 troops were not fit for frontline duty.

The problems of the occupation reaches into the heart of the puppet Afghan government. Two weeks ago the Afghan president Hamid Karzai narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as he reviewed his troops. It transpired that Afghan military commanders helped smuggle weapons for the attack.

Karzai’s writ does not extend beyond the walls of his palace in the capital Kabul. Corruption has wrecked his government, while warlords control ministries as if they were personal fiefdoms.

The country he is supposed to rule now produces 95 percent of the world’s heroin. And all these problems have led the occupation to sideline the man they once paraded as the country’s saviour.

Shrill

But the deeper Afghanistan sinks into crisis, the more shrill the statements become. One Nato general recently told German radio that the only way to pull out of the country is for Nato to send in more troops.

Then British foreign secretary David Miliband sunk to a new low when he declared that “to defend Britain we have got to be in the toughest areas of the world like Afghanistan”.

The gung-ho messages of victory gloss over an important principle of guerilla war – never confront the enemy head on.

An example of this principle was revealed by the recent deployment of British paratroopers in the south of the country.

A journalist with Germany’s Der Spiegel news magazine reported that when 500 British paratroopers marched into Hutal district the resistance fighters simply went to ground.

The soldiers marched around, peered at the desert and cursed the “invisible enemy”. Meanwhile one in four of the soldiers contracted severe stomach problems from drinking polluted water.

Their only Afghan casualties were two young boys on a motorbike gunned down by accident.

Frustrated, the paratrooper’s commander marched into nearby villages in an attempt to goad insurgents into a battle. But they did not appear.

The paratroopers declared victory instead and marched out. The Taliban then reappeared.

This pattern is repeating itself across the country. The Taliban recently launched a bold attack on Kandahar prison, freeing thousands of captives. They then took control of nearby villages.

Nato rushed in troops, bombed the area, counted the dead and declared victory. But there were no battles – the resistance simply melted away, taking the freed prisoners with them.

Kandahar was suppose to have been “pacified” a year ago, and the villages were to be used as an example of progress in a “hearts and minds” campaign by Canadian troops.

This war is now spilling over into Pakistan. In the latest incident Nato troops fired volleys of artillery shells over the border. Last week warplanes mistakenly bombed a Pakistani military outpost, killing 11 soldiers.

For Pakistanis, the Afghan war is quickly turning into the “Pakistan war” in the same way that the US war in Vietnam became a US war in neighbouring Cambodia and Laos.

Those who will pay are the thousands of young soldiers sent to kill and die for Bush and Blair’s lies – and the war’s tens of thousands of Afghan and Pakistani victims.

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>