David Cameron has declared that British troops can leave Afghanistan next year with “heads held high” after 12 years of war and occupation. After the 9/11 attacks in the US we were told the invasion of Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, was to halt the growth of Al Qaida.
As time went on the justification for war was embellished. The claim that we were bombing Afghanistan to bring women’s liberation was popular, as was the talk of eradicating the growth of opium.
But ordinary people in Afghanistan have paid the heaviest price. Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed. Whole families have died after drone airstrikes on weddings and funerals.
Torture, rendition and illegal detention have all become bywords for the “war on terror”. The experience of years of imperialist occupation hasn’t crushed those wanting to fight the West. It has created a new generation of insurgents.
Combat troops will finish pulling out next year. Cameron wants to claim that the mission is “accomplished”. But the strength of the anti-war movement in Britain meant that most people never accepted the lies about the war.
All the West has accomplished is the devastation of the lives of the Afghan people. There is nothing to be proud of in that.