Anti-war protestors in the west and below my anti-war article which was banned in Afghanistan for being “too inflammatory”… my answer, “war is inflammatory”!
Ask ten different people on the street “why are we in Afghanistan” and you will likely get 10 different answers. The point is no lives depend on our replies but when you have soldiers and top politicians that can’t give a consistent answer it is deeply disturbing.
If NATO forces are there in retaliation for 9/11 then by invading Afghanistan, they have managed to cull the local population (some of whom had never even heard of 9/11) and sacrifice our own forces. Though it is worth remembering that such is the pride in what has been achieved in Afghanistan that more US soldiers are now dying from suicide than on the battlefield itself.
Well here is the official reason for war in Afghanistan according to the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) website which states it is because Afghanistan is “a source of terrorism” and argues,
“ the Taliban gave safe haven to Al Qaeda, which allowed terrorists to plan and carry out attacks around the world. That is why the United Nations authorised a NATO/ISAF-led military intervention. Getting rid of the Taliban regime and Al Qaeda was only the first part of the job. The second is to make sure they cannot return”
There is monumental hypocrisy here. The attacks on 9/11 should have acted as a wake –up call. Governments ought to have been asking why a group of people hate the US government so much they are willing to take the lives of nearly 3,000 civilians along with their own. The fact is the US has been exploiting and terrorising countries around the globe for decades to serve its own interests. The state defines and prescribes who we must accept as “terrorists” and frankly western foreign policy shows that the US is at war with Islam.
The MOD try to convince us that, “the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strategy involves protecting the civilian population from insurgents, supporting more effective governance at every level, and building up Afghan National Security Forces as rapidly as possible”
Even President Karzai (plied with vast amounts of US dollars over the years) has lost faith now and was refusing to sign a key security agreement with the United States due to his concern at the number of civilians killed during NATO operations.
Protecting the civilian populations has translated to dreaded night raids and drones strikes. The word Bagram has struck fear in the hearts of many. Innocent civilians have suffered torture, degrading and inhumane treatment at the hands of US soldiers with lenient sentences for those responsible. There are alleged and proven war crimes, the Wardak killings, the massacre of 16 civilians at the hands of Sgt Robert Bales, the “Kill Team” case, execution of unarmed civilians, destruction of the Quran leading to violence, mutilated corpses and the murder of an injured Taliban by British “marine A” unveiled as Alexander Blackman, to name but a few. No doubt there are many incidents still to come to light.
Marine A, Alexander Blackman convicted of murder and protestors highlighting human rights abuses at Guantanamo and Bagram.
Drone strikes have exterminated people without them ever having gone through fair judicial process to establish innocence or guilt. No one seems to care that the victim is a young shepherd boy or a two year old girl. Have you ever seen the US target any of its own “alleged terrorists” on US soil. You won’t either because it would be totally unacceptable to the American people.
How would locals act if a family gathering was struck by a missile in Chicago or passengers of a car “taken out” on an LA highway. They would be on the streets demonstrating, championing their “right to bear arms” and probably use them too. At this point it is worth reminding ourselves that you are more likely to be accidently shot by a toddler than killed by a terrorist on US soil… so where is the perspective spending nearly a decade in conflict in Afghanistan.
The following drone report (points below which I support) states;
“These high proportion of civilian casualties in effect ferment a lot of hatred against the US in the affected areas. The affected local populations, traumatized by such attacks, begin to view the Americans as a discriminate and immoral force that is willing to sacrifice the lives of the locals in order to attack a small number of their enemies. This in turn drives a lot of the civilian populace, especially from amongst the young, into the arms of the Mujahideen. Not only that but more importantly, these drone strike work with a double edge because they illustrate that the host government of these areas, often allied with the US, lack full sovereignty and are unable or unwilling to protect their own citizens. Thus the drone strikes unwittingly undermine support for the very same government, whom they intended to shore up support for through these strikes.”
The above was not written by Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch but the Islamic Emirate (Afghan Taliban) report, A Reflection on the American Drone War Strategy. However this is not propaganda, this is fact. Similar findings have already been published by politicians, lawyers, activists, local communities and the UN.
Anti-drone campaigners in UK and US
MOD argues that “whilst our troops are helping provide security to the Afghan people, we are developing the Afghan Army and Police so they can take the lead in providing their own security.”
The military have done such a great job of winning hearts and minds that those they have trained are executing “green on blue” attacks, thus there is huge distrust between foreign and local forces and I predict major defections as NATO trips withdraw. Those in the business of prosthetics must be doing a roaring trade as they fit the next victim of an “insider” attack or an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) with a false leg.
Some so called feminists would argue that British and US soldiers are “saving Afghanistan’s women from the brutal Taliban” but has anyone noticed the increase in cases of sexual abuse on both sexes within the US armed services? There are also plenty of women need “saving” at home any night of the week when their partner comes home after a mammoth drinking session but you don’t see the military intervening in these cases.
Now there will no doubt be increased violence for some families as angry and depressed “returning soldiers” fight what may be their biggest battle yet, Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) and take out frustrations on their nearest and dearest in Amarillo or the suburbs of Surbiton.
Then there is the financial cost of occupation, billions spent to keep a country heavily dependent on foreign aid which according to the Independent accounted for about 97 per cent of GDP in 2010. Yet harsh welfare cutbacks are being placed on the poor back home causing an increase in numbers of homeless living on the streets. Many hard working families and retired pensioners find themselves forced into fuel poverty, relying on food banks and in the cases of the US unable to afford medical care. No wonder there are so many protests in Britain and the US.
There is terrible waste in Afghanistan, in December 2013, a story emerged in the Marine Times alleging the following,
“the U.S. paid $5.4 million for two never-used trash incinerators at Forward Operating Base Sharana in eastern Afghanistan, potentially exposing troops to hazardous fumes from open-air burn pits used to dispose of waste instead.”
It is time for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. Life is set to become even more difficult for the military now that anti-drone demonstrators in Pakistan have vowed to block the NATO supply line until drones cease. The blockade continues into 2014 (43 days now) and tanker drivers are now having to use the dilapidated, dangerous and longer Salang Tunnel route.
Anti-drone protestors block NATO supply line from Pakistan to Afghanistan (43 days ongoing)
The west must break its dependence on creating conflict around the world and start taking more interest in citizens on home territory. Like it or not despite MOD pledge to make sure al Qaeda and Taliban won’t return, a deluded David Cameron who believes “mission accomplished” needs to face the fact that they never actually left and Taliban will probably be part of the next government. Was 446 UK service personal killed since 1991 and many more maimed worth it? Afghanistan should now be left to determine its own future, it will need time to sort out the mess created by the west!
Please note I was asked to write an article on the war in Afghanistan for a new magazine Afghan Zariza in Afghanistan. The person who approached me said he previously worked for Hindustan Times. I waited for publication and was finally told that the “boss” thought it was “too inflammatory, so it was banned from publication!
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.