Stop the War Statement:

Prime Minster Johnson’s comments on the British pull out of Afghanistan and most of the debate that followed in parliament had an air of unreality.

The hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan represents a devastating defeat for the US and its allies and for the whole project of the War on Terror. It is a failure that cost the British taxpayer 40 billion pounds and the US over one trillion dollars. 2,312 US and 454 British troops lost their lives in this tragedy.

Johnson claimed that we can be proud of the role Britain has played in rooting out terrorism from the country and that ‘in partnership with the people of Afghanistan’ we have contributed to the countries ‘development and stability’ including making big steps forward for women.

This is a travesty. The truth is, as the anti-war movement predicted in 2001, the twenty year occupation of Afghanistan led by the US and Britain has been a catastrophe for the whole population of Afghanistan, men and women. The official figures put the number of civilian deaths at 50,000, almost certainly a big underestimate. The occupation has destroyed most of what remained of the country’s infrastructure and governance creating a situation in which, in Oxfam’s words ‘Government institutions are weak and unable to deliver basic services’ and ‘Participation of women in decision making and in other spheres of society remains limited. Violence against women is still a major challenge.’

According to the government’s own website Development Tracker:

‘Almost 40 years of conflict has left Afghanistan one of the poorest and most fragile countries in the world…with more than half of all Afghans living below the poverty line and over 2.5 million returning refugees or internally displaced people expected in 2018. High poverty rates reflect the challenges of limited economic growth, an increased population and deteriorating security, alongside decades of poverty, conflict and instability.’

The occupation has involved a range of military strategies from counter insurgency and drone warfare to bunker busting bombs and torture. It has created a situation in which The Taliban, our stated enemy in 2001, is stronger now than it was then and is on the brink of taking over the country. Afghanistan and the wider region have become much more dangerous and unstable since the invasion and terrorist organisation has spread around huge areas of the globe.

Judging by Boris Johnson’s statement, the government and the British establishment are refusing to learn any lessons from it. It is up to the anti-war movement to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.

08 Jul 2021

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