In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The wheels come off “the good war” in Afghanistan

Posted by seumasach on July 7, 2009

Stop the War Coalition

6th July, 2009

We have had weeks of government and army propaganda selling the “good war” in Afghanistan as being for the benefit of the Afghan people and as necessary to Britain’s interests.


There has been:

  • Uk soldier coffinEndless stories in the tabloid media about “our boys” heroism bringing “stability and security” to Afghanistan;
  • Armed Services Day on 27 June, with army parades and other events up and down the country glorifying mass murder as a career;

  • The sponsoring by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of toys depicting British soldiers as “action heroes“;

  • The rigid control of journalists reporting the war to ensure only the MoD’s version of events gets media coverage.

All of this has been aimed at portraying the war in Afghanistan as an honourable cause on its way to being won. It was meant to culminate in a major British offensive in Helmand Province codenamed Operation Panther’s Claw.

Biggest military operation

The biggest military operation by the British military since the invasion in 2001 was always as much a propaganda exercise to sell the war to the British people, two thirds of whom oppose the war in Afghanistan, as a military exercise with coherent aims. As even the pro-war Observer newspaper commented, “The reality is that the war in Afghanistan is increasingly aimless and lacking in coherent strategy.”

It was utterly predictable that the wheels would come off the propaganda wagon trying to promote the “good war” with a troop “surge” in Helmand, not least because the Taliban were understandably not too keen to hang around to be incinerated by the horrific firepower used by the US and British military. They simply melted away.

Occasional hit and run tactics were still enough to inflict image denting casualties on the British army. Within the space of four days, from 1-4 July, five British soldiers were killed, including the highest ranking army officer to die in battle since the Falklands War in 1982. A number of others were seriously injured, adding to the statistic which we never read about in the mainstream media, that a British soldier has a one in eight chance of being seriously injured or contracting a serious illness when deployed to Afghanistan.

“For the good people of Afghanistan”

The latest British fatality brings the number killed in Afghanistan to 174, only five short of fatalities in Iraq.

According to the army commander of the latest dead soldier, “He laid down his life for his country and for the good people of Afghanistan”. This is simply nonsense. He laid down his life for a war which many senior British officers say privately — and a few publicly — is unwinnable.

He sacrificed his life because Gordon Brown — as much a warmongerer as his predecessor — is determined to hold on to the coat tails of America’s imperial strategy, wherever it takes British foreign policy, whatever the costs in the lives of those sent to kill and be killed in foreign lands, and whatever the financial cost to a British economy now so indebted that essential services such as the NHS, education and social services face draconian cuts.

Perhaps even the pro-war media is realising the game is up. The Observer now says there has to be “a final burying of the ‘war on terror’ rhetoric and the idea that what happens in Afghanistan presents a serious security threat that challenges us in an existential way… What is needed is a serious debate about what we are doing in Afghanistan”.

The Observer concludes that without this debate, “the war in Afghanistan can only drag on, with deaths on all sides”. Such a debate can only reach one conclusion: there is no possibility of stability or security in Afghanistan while a single foreign soldier remains in the country.

It is for this reason that the anti-war movement needs to maintain the highest level of active opposition to a war that is killing Afghan civilians at double the rate of a year ago and bringing endless devastation to country ravaged by the invading armies.

London Public Meeting: Monday 13 July: »The good war? Afghanistan in the Media…

Sign the Troops Out of Afghanistan petition here…

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