A war that was never justified, continues to be waged after ten years, with ever escalating loss of life among the Afghan people and the invading forces, despite everyone knowing it is unwinnable.
Stop the War Coalition
20 July 2011
Dismantling the Afghanistan "progress" spin
The truth is, the handover is only for the centre of the town, British troops will still control the rest, and even for the centre, they will be on hand to "assist" the Afghan forces.
The US and Nato admit that corruption is endemic among the Afghan police, 50% of whom are thought to be extorting bribes from the communities they are meant to serve. It is also admitted that around 20% of police officers are "ghosts", only existing on paper, their wages pocketed by Afghan commanders.
Nevertheless, Brigadier Ed Davis, commander of the British troops in Helmand, insists progress is "irreversible". And the ever gung-ho Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the BBC that the transition of power would "upset" the Taliban as they "will be attacking their own countrymen in the future because Afghan security forces will do the combat".
Just two days before the handover ceremony, "militants" -- now used as a shorthand for all the forces resisting foreign occupation -- killed seven policemen just outside Lashkar Gah, showing how they viewed Afghan forces who are effectively Nato proxies for propping up the regime of puppet president Hamid Karzai.
And two days before that, a British soldier was killed in the same area, the fifteenth to die in Helmand since April.
All the talk of "progress" had already been cruelly exposed a week earlier, with the assassination of Karzai's own half-brother, the brutal and corrupt "King of Khandahar", and his key advisor, Jan Mohammad Khan, killed, the Taliban said, because "he was cooperating and helping the American forces" carrying our night raids against Afghans.
As for "progress" in the eyes of the Afghan people, the United Nations report showing a 15% increase in conflict-related civilian deaths over the first six months of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010, and widespread anger over the US tactics of drone strikes and night raids by special forces on civilian homes -- of which there were 3000 from April to July 2011 alone -- is hardly conducive to winning hearts and minds.
The outgoing US commander in Afghanistan, General Petraeus, off to be CIA chief , was also talking up "progress" in his departing comments -- not for the first time, as the video on this page shows. You would think the deaths of US soldiers, with this year likely to be the worst since the invasion in 2001, the audacious prison breakout on 25 April, which released 480 Taliban prisoners, and the strike on Kabul's prestigeous Intercontinental Hotel in June, would have given him some food for tempering his claims.
At least a senior Afghan army officer had some connection with reality when he said at the Lashkar Gah ceremony that the 2014 exit target is "too short". He also inicated how easy it will be for this commitment by both Obama and David Cameron to slip beyond 2014: "If we face any problems we will ask international forces to help us," he said.
In truth, a war that was never justified, continues to be waged after ten years, with ever escalating loss of life among the Afghan people and the invading forces alike, despite everyone knowing it is unwinnable, even if the US and Nato knew what "winning" would look like. It is opposed by the majority of people in the US, Britain and the other Nato countries. It is being fought in the forlorn hope that the credibility of the western powers can somehow be salvaged with a withdrawal of invading armies that can be dressed up as a "victory".
The major protests in Britain and the US in October 2011, to mark ten years of the Afghanistan disaster and the "war on terror", are of crucial importance in telling our political leaders: not one more death in our name, bring the troops home now.
We will be there.
Anti-War Mass Assembly Afghanistan 10 Years On Trafalgar Square London Saturday 8 October Sign the pledge...