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Bush and Brown's Afghan strategy lies in tatters
"MAKE NO mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan." These are the words, not of an anti-war group but of the opening line of a report by think-tank The Atlantic Council of the United States. This report, which goes on to warn of Afghanistan becoming a "failed state," is just one of three released last week showing the US and UK strategy is in tatters.
Another by the US-based Afghanistan Study Group states the need to "rethink our economic and military strategies" while Oxfam warns of humanitarian disaster without a "major change of direction."
These reports make uncomfortable reading for George Bush whose 2001 invasion was part of the 'neo-con' plan for American dominance of the region.
Since then the position has become no better for ordinary Afghans, the majority of whom live in grinding poverty. Life expectancy in the country is just 46 years. Farmers have turned to opium production to try and support themselves and last year was estimated to be a record drug crop. Despite changes to the law the repression of women is still an everyday reality.
Attempts to rebuild the country under NATO occupation are doomed to failure and Oxfam describe how "aid is wasted on very expensive consultants or on contractors who make quite significant profits."
Under these conditions the support for the Taliban and other insurgents has been increasing. 2007 saw the highest number of Taliban attacks since 2002 and the deputy governor of the southern Helmand province (where most British troops are based) was killed in a recent bomb attack.
The corruption and repression of the Karzai regime, along with the killings of civilians by western forces and the failure to bring about reconstruction, has provided fertile soil for the re-emergence of the Taliban. However the repressive forces of the Taliban offer no real answers to the needs of the Afghan people.
The US and UK have now been calling for their NATO allies to devote more troops to the country but other governments are unwilling to commit more forces to an unpopular and unwinnable war. Germany has recently refused to redeploy troops and Canada has even pledged to withdraw its 2,500 soldiers next year if Nato doesn't send more support for them.
However, even if more soldiers are sent, as in Iraq they will not be able to significantly improve security. Even the US-installed president Hamid Karzai recently criticised the inability of British forces to 'secure' Helmand province.
Apparently, the beleaguered president wasn't even told of British plans to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on buying off Taliban fighters and training them to be local police.
The occupation plays a divisive role; the Western powers are there to support their own interests and are not capable of improving people's lives.
On the basis of continued occupation a 'failed state' and humanitarian disaster seem inevitable. Only the withdrawal of all occupying forces and a government of the working class and the poor, basing itself on a socialist programme, can meet the needs of a majority of Afghans.
A united struggle to improve living standards can overcome division and allow the Afghan people to decide their own future.
- Withdraw the foreign armies
- For a workers' and peasants' government based on a socialist programme
- For workers' unity and socialist internationalism
Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan demo
Called by Stop The War Coalition
Saturday 15 March,
Assemble 12 noon, Trafalgar Square, London.
In The Socialist 6 February 2008:
War and terrorism
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party news and analysis
Young workers and Students
Environment and socialism
Socialist Party debate
International socialist news and analysis