Socialist Worker

Defeated in Iraq

And it’s a lie to say Britain can win in Afghanistan

Issue No. 2065

The cat is finally out of the bag. Military commanders, politicians and newspaper headlines all now admit that Britain has lost the war in the south of Iraq.

“Run Out Of Town” is how the Financial Times described the British army’s decision to pull out of the centre of Basra to a fortress outside the city.

Soldiers are under constant mortar fire and their armoured vehicles are being hit by explosive devices. Foot soldiers now have to accompany the vehicles – and they in turn become vulnerable to small arms fire.

The only reason that British troops remain in Iraq is that Gordon Brown promised George Bush that Britain would not pull out completely before the US did.

Yet the army commanders and politicians who now admit that British troops should be pulled out of Iraq argue that they should be sent into Afghanistan instead.

Afghanistan is a “winnable war”, they say – but this another lie from the warmongers. The conflict in Afghanistan gets bloodier by the day – more than 700 British soldiers serving on Afghanistan’s battlefields have required treatment since April.

More intense

Defence secretary Des Browne claims British forces have reached a “turning point” and are now stabilising Afghanistan. But this assessment simply ignores the fighting that rages throughout the country.

Jon Hill is a soldier with the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters regiment. He served in Iraq three times – but says Afghanistan’s war is “much more intense”.

An army officer told the Daily Mail this week, “The West’s dirty little secret is that we don’t have enough infantry to hold the ground. It’s now very likely that the numbers freed up from Iraq will be soaked up in Afghanistan.”

Six years after the US declared “victory” in Afghanistan, the country remains one of the poorest on earth.Thousands of civilians have been killed by occupying forces, fuelling popular support for the resistance.

Extra troops are not the solution to the chaos. This strategy was tried in Iraq with Bush’s “surge” – and it failed.

War and occupation have brought disaster to both countries. We need to withdraw the troops from Iraq immediately – and withdraw them immediately from Afghanistan too.

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