Socialist Worker

A bloody war in Afghanistan, thousands of lives lost, what have we gained?

Issue No. 2250

The war in Afghanistan is in its tenth year. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have died, and 2,375 foreign troops have been killed, including 1,509 US and 360 British soldiers.

Last year was the bloodiest of this long war and saw the highest number of military deaths—711.

After 9/11, US president George Bush, Tony Blair, and other Western leaders, claimed the Taliban in Afghanistan were giving Al Qaida a safe haven and so must be attacked.

The Taliban, previously US allies, became the enemy.

The Taliban’s treatment of women was spun as another reason we were at war. Laura Bush, George Bush’s wife, and Cherie Blair took to wearing a piece of fabric torn from a burka to symbolise the fight for women’s freedom in Afghanistan.

But the liberation of women was never the aim of this war.

After ten years, 140,000 Nato troops, the vast majority of them from the US, are still in occupation.

Different commanders-in-chief and imperialist strategies—from troops surge to counter-insurgency—have come and gone.

The puppet regime led by President Hamid Karzai is widely acknowledged to be deeply corrupt—and the Taliban now controls more of the country than it did five years ago.

The stability of neighbouring Pakistan has been undermined by the desperation of the US to dominate the region.

The much-vaunted aim of women’s liberation is rarely mentioned today. Violence against women is rife—20 girls’ schools were firebombed or destroyed in just six months last year.

Karzai attempted to push through laws in 2009 to legalise rape in marriage and would have meant women could not leave their homes without their husband’s permission.

So many lives lost, billions of pounds spent on death and destruction, and for what?

The only achievement is the destruction of one of the poorest countries in the world because it has the misfortune to find itself on a strategic faultline of imperialism.

Today the US and its Western allies no longer pretend to care about democracy for the Afghan people. Most have made it clear that they want to get out.

Barack Obama has said US troops will start leaving this summer.

The US ruling class now has only one concern. After the fiasco of Iraq they do not want to appear to be defeated.

They hope that killing off Bin Laden will provide cover for the fact that people are still dying in a war that has reached a bloody stalemate and has long been unwinnable.

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