July 22, 2009

Rethink Afghanistan

1242 military dead in Afghanistan. 43,000 – 100,000 estimated civilian deaths

The 12 year old Afghani lad shivering in the rain at Calais has been sent by his family to find a better life. It has taken all their money and more than 10 months of unrelenting travel to get this far. He and others like him will wait for darkness and throw themselves under the chassis of moving trucks to try to get to England. The land of hope and prosperity which has bombed his home, killed his father and removed his chance of an ordinary education simultaneously beckons with the offer of freedom and justice. Legal/illegal? It doesn’t make much difference when you have nothing to lose. Of course he could choose to go to the Taliban.

Peace campaigners have to think about war. At the last count there are 42 wars waging around us. This does not include Iraq and Afghanistan as they are wars which officially ended some time ago.

It is entirely possible that military escalation will not liberate the people of Afghanistan. It is entirely predictable that more of the same will produce more of the same : death, maimings, orphans and destruction of the flimsy environment. Osama Bin Laden has not been found in eight years of fighting. Finding him was the main reason for going to war.

Pavel Grachev , Soviet General said: "I believed as sincerely as US officers do now that we were fighting there (Afghanistan) to help make our country safer. After the war, as a politician, I could see this war had been pointless."

We feed the extremists in nearly everything that we do. Years ago we armed the Mujahideen because we weren’t too keen on the Soviets, now we fight their successors, the Taliban, and do deals with vicious war lords. What we do not seem to have noticed is that the huge economic abyss which has formed between ourselves and the Afghanis makes tensions inevitable. With the infrastructure wrecked and employment scarce, the average Afghani has to spend more than 80% of income on food. An opium cash crop is money on the table. A sure bet when compared with the west’s promise of rebuilding which has so far not materialised, and in any case will cost many billions (which may be less forthcoming given current economic trends). 5 million Afghanis are due to receive food aid this year, and it is getting worse.
The hardships of war take a disproportionate toll on women and their families.

http://rethinkafghanistan.com/ shows a perspective that neither Gordon Brown nor Barak Obama would like to acknowledge.

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