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Not worth dying for

So Gordon Brown says that British soldiers are on a “vital mission” in Afghanistan. That mission would appear to be about dying for no good reason, leading some relatives of dead soldiers to accuse the government of “having blood on its hands”. They are right.

It’s election week in Afghanistan, and president Hamid Karzai is relying on the American and British occupiers to allow the polls to take place. But these “elections” are like no others you may recognise. Karzai has a unique way of building support. Take the Shia minority, for example.

A bill allowing a husband to starve his wife if she refuses to have sex has just become law. The law governs family life for Afghanistan's Shias. It allows a man to withhold food from his wife if she refuses his sexual demands; a woman must get her husband's permission to work; and fathers and grandfathers are given exclusive custody of children.

Definitely not worth dying for.

Or the return yesterday evening to Kabul of warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum from exile in Turkey in an apparent attempt by Karzai to attract ethnic Uzbek voters. Dostum was responsible for the deaths of up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners early in the Afghan war. Karzai has now reinstated him as chief of staff of the armed forces,

Dostum's forces placed Taliban prisoners in sealed cargo containers and drove them for two days to Sheberghan Prison, suffocating them then burying them en masse, according to an American State Department report. US special operations troops were working alongside Dostum's troops at the time.

Definitely not worth dying for.

As to the electoral process itself, it is widely believed (just like in Iran) that the electoral commission is in league with Karzai. Reports suggest that as many as three million out of the electorate of 17.5 million have been fraudulently registered.

Definitely not worth dying for.

Then there’s the corruption. Money earmarked for schools and construction projects is usually diverted into the pockets of Karzai’s supporters. David Kilcullen, an incoming advisor to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan, admits contractors collude to rig the bidding process and sometimes murder competitors.

Definitely not worth dying for.

As the number of British dead swept past the 200 mark over the weekend, the father of a serviceman killed in Afghanistan accused the government of “ignoring the blood on its hands”.

Graham Knight, whose 25-year-old son Ben was killed in a Nimrod explosion in 2006, said:
“My son died because of failures by the MoD and yet still we are hearing that their kit is not good enough out there now.” He added: “As far as I can tell, it [the government] is ignoring the blood on its hands.”

Anthony Philippson, whose son James, 29, died after trying to fight the Taliban without night-vision goggles, said all 200 deaths were “effectively pointless”. He said the entire conflict had been based on “falsehoods”.

He is right. The war in Afghanistan is nothing to do with making “Britain’s streets safer”, as Brown claims, but everything to do with delusions of imperial grandeur. The more-or-less bankrupt British state can’t even afford to equip its soldiers properly, or look after them when they are wounded.

The Brown government is refighting the Afghan wars of the 19th century, which were part of the struggle with Russia for control of the region. The first Anglo-Afghan War of 1839-1842 ended with the destruction of the entire force of 20,000 British and Indian soldiers and the Afghans have hated foreign occupiers ever since.

Today, British soldiers are dying for the honour of New Labour and the corrupt Afghan government. It is a price not worth paying.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
17 August 2009

Dave says:

We seem to have a permanent army for only two reasons:

1) To fight in the wars of others, that either promote or protect the capitalist state and corporate interests.

2) To appear on the streets of Britain when there is a challenge to the state, as with the miners' and firefighters' strikes.

The government makes sure those who join the army are under heavy discipline only to obey orders.


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