None of the usual suspects – from the Taliban to a ‘rogue’ Afghan soldier – was responsible for the death of Captain Richard Holloway.

Robin Beste

Update : On 26 October 2014, the British army withdrew from Afghanistan after waging war there for 13 years.

The UK government, army generals and most of the media said that while ‘mistakes’ had been made, the war had been ‘worthwhile’ and the ‘sacrifice’ of the 453 British soldiers killed had made Afghanistan more secure and Britain safer from terrorist attacks on its streets.

The truth is, the war was an unmitigated disaster that brought nothing but death and destruction to Afghanistan and its people, destabilised the region and increased the likelihood of terrorist outrages in Britain.

So the question raised in this article remains, Who really killed army captain Richard Holloway on 23 December 2013?

British Army Captain Richard Holloway was killed in Afghanistan on 23 December while on active patrol near Kabul. Who killed him? The answer is: none of the usual suspects.

Although the army report said Captain Holloway “died after coming under enemy fire while on operations east of Kabul,” he wasn’t killed by the Taliban or any of the other Afghan forces that for more than 12 years have been resisting occupation of their country by the US and its allies.

He didn’t die either from a so-called green-on-blue attack, in which foreign soldiers are killed by resistance fighters who have infiltrated Afghan government forces. The Afghan army and police are supposedly the linchpin of the exit strategy for occupying armies, which are due to leave Aghanistan by the end of 2014. The US is spending tens of billions — $11.2 billion in 2013 alone — to train these forces to take over all security responsibilities when the foreign troops have left. The problem is, green-on-blue attacks have increased so dramatically over the past two years — accounting for over 50 deaths, that a policy of “guardian angels” has been introduced to provide security in units working with Afghans. But Captain Holloway wasn’t killed by a green-on-blue attack.

And he wasn’t killed by the drug barons that are the real power behind the Afghan government of president Hamid Karzai. The warlords that control the Afghan poppy production — which accounts for over 90% of the world’s heroin and opium — might at one time have had the motivation for killing invading soldiers, when their mission included stamping out the drug trade. No mention of that today, when Afghan poppy production has reached record levels — not least because — as reported by the New York Times — the CIA is actively funding the drug trade in bribes to warlords and drug barons to keep them acquiescent in the occupation of their own country. Before he was assassinated, Karzai’s own half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, long suspected of being a major drug baron, was being paid “suitcases of cash” by the CIA. But it wasn’t an Afghan drug lord that was responsible for Captain Holloway’s death.

And he didn’t die from a revenge attack by a relative of one of the eleven children killed by a US airstrike on 7 April. The killing of civilians by the occupation armies — and their night raids on Afghan homes — are thought to act as a recruiting sergeant for the Taliban, while spreading support among the Afghan population generally for the insurgent forces. But Captain Holiday wasn’t a victim of ‘blowback’ from ‘collateral damage’.

So who did kill British Army Captain Richard Holloway?

The identity of the killer was in fact revealed by the Daily Express a few days before Holloway died. This newspaper is usually a dutiful supporter of British government foreign policy. But in an editorial titled Bring them home at once, the Express by implication named the killer:

Poppy cultivation is up, girls still cannot go to school in safety, the country’s government is riddled with  corruption and faction-fighting and meanwhile the Taliban are waiting us out before seeking to resume control. It will be very difficult to claim that any British serviceman or woman killed in Afghanistan between now and next year’s withdrawal has made a  worthwhile sacrifice.

All British troops, said the Express, should be withdrawn now, and “it will certainly not be a day too soon”. If the government had taken this advice, Captain Holloway would not have been on active duty the day he was killed.

So who was responsible for his death? Who was it that sent him and ten thousand other British troops to fight a war which for years has clearly been both pointless and unwinnable. Holloway was the 447th soldier to be “sacrificed” in a war waged — it has been claimed at different times — to spread ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, defend human rights, liberate Afghan women, or control the drug trade. Who is it spending £4-5 billion a year — with total costs likely to be over £30 billion by the time all UK troops are withdrawn — on such a fools’ errand, which has left nothing in its wake but mass slaughter and destruction?

The former British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are obviously in the frame, but it is David Cameron who today has the blood of Captain Holloway on his hands. And he seems to wear it as a badge of pride, given his statement on 16 December, when visiting the troops in Afghanistan, just one week before Holloway was killed.

“To me, the absolute driving part of the mission is a basic level of security so it doesn’t become a haven for terror. That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done.”

“Mission accomplished”, said Cameron, to widespread ridicule, as not one of the war-makers’ goals has been achieved in the 12-year war. In the words of Seumas Milne:

Of all the mendacious nonsense that pours out of politicians’ mouths, David Cameron’s claim that British combat troops will be coming home from Afghanistan with their “mission accomplished” is in a class all of its own.

And Milne gives very short shrift to Cameron’s claim that international terrorism has suffered a defeat in the war on Afghanistan, which has made the streets of Britain safer from terrorist attacks:

Al-Qaida has mushroomed and spread throughout the Arab and Muslim world, engulfing first Iraq and now Syria. Far from protecting our streets from attacks, the war has repeatedly been cited as a justification for those carrying them out – most recently by Michael Adebolajo, who killed the Afghan war veteran Lee Rigby on the streets of London in May.

The murderer of British soldier Lee Rigby was very specific about his motives: it was in retaliation for Britain’s occupation and violence in “Muslim lands”, from Iraq to Afghanistan and beyond. “Leave our lands,” he said, “and you can live in peace.”

This is no justification or excuse for the killing of Lee Rigby, but the toxic link between the wars waged in Muslim lands and that atrocity is impossible to deny.

The blood of Captain Holloway and the other 447 British soldiers killed in a war without purpose is on the hands of the politicians who sent them there. Our political leaders have slavishly followed the dictates of United States foreign policy wherever it took the British military, regardless of whether there was any national interest for Britain in wars that have been waged under the “war on terror”. Clearly there is no justification for sending troops to kill and die in a war against Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, which poses no threat whatever to the United Kingdom.

Why, it must be asked, faced with the overwhelming evidence that the war has long been lost, does David Cameron still insist this disastrous war is justified? One obvious reason is that to own up to the calamity will be to remind people that at the outset of the invasion in 2001 there were plenty of voices, not least in the anti-war movement, predicting the very catastrophe that has unfolded since then.

It will be to admit that not just hundreds of UK soldiers and thousands of other occupying troops, but tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, all died in vain.

And it will raise the question of what could have been done with the unimaginably huge sums spent on the war by the US and its allies — some estimates already running into trillions of dollars — at a time when the world faces its worst economic crisis for over half a century, and when our political leaders insist that there is no alternative to the draconian slashing of public and welfare services for the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

The only purpose today for the war in Afghanistan is to find a face-saving exit strategy, in which those responsible can declare “victory” as they scuttle from a country devastated by their warmongering.

This and this alone is why Captain Holloway died. David Cameron will read his name to parliament at the next Prime Minister’s Question Time, as is the custom for British soldiers killed in combat abroad. If Cameron has a shred of integrity, he will then also announce that he is taking the advice of the Daily Express and bringing all British troops home from Afghanistan immediately.

If he does not, then joining the blood of Captain Holloway on David Cameron’s hands will be the blood of every British soldier killed between now and the day that the British army is finally withdrawn from Afghanistan.

In any event, it really is time for the politicians responsible for these calamitous war policies – from Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya — to be held to account.

Source: Stop the War Coalition

28 Oct 2014

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