Socialist Worker

Afghanistan: get the troops out

Issue No. 2009

Tony Blair has ordered 900 more troops to Afghanistan, bringing the deployment in the country to 4,500. Six British troops, and untold and uncounted hundreds of Afghans, have died there in the past three weeks.

British forces currently in Helmand province are not involved in “peacekeeping operations” they are fighting a full scale war of occupation. Defence secretary Des Browne admitted last Saturday that “the very act of deployment in the south has energised opposition”.

British intervention is creating a spiral of death, resistance and increased repression - sucking in more occupying troops and fuelling a rebellion that goes well beyond the remnants of the Taliban. The insurgency is now raging across 21 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan.

The reality is in stark contrast to former defence secretary John Reid’s prediction that British forces could achieve their goals “without a shot fired”.

Four and a half years ago, Blair said, “The war in Afghanistan has been prosecuted very successfully... We will be able to offer Afghanistan the security to reconstruct the country... to turn Afghanistan from a failed state into a stable partner in the region.”

Instead the country is in chaos. Some 60 percent of Afghans still have no access to electricity and 40 percent do not have ready access to clean water. Half of households have incomes of less than 70p a day and seven out of ten people are unemployed.

Britain’s presence in Afghanistan is compounding rather than alleviating the horror. But all three mainstream parties welcomed the troops deployment.

The additional troops being ordered to Afghanistan adds urgency to the Time to Go demonstration at Labour’s conference on 23 September.

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