Afghanistan: the irrelevance of terror
Less than 100 days in to his presidency and all indications suggest Barack Obama is as unconcerned as his predecessor about the effect his foreign policy will have on the threat of terrorism. For example, Obama's continuation of the Bush-instituted US drone attacks inside Pakistan have led to entirely predictable reactions, not least the recent terrorist attack on the police academy in Lahore, which the Pakistani Taliban said was in revenge for the remotely-controlled air strikes.
That the drone attacks - which cause scores of civilian deaths and seem to have no basis within international law - increase the terror threat is, of course, well understood by the
The same applies to Obama's much heralded Afghan ‘surge', which Major General John McDonald, the deputy commander of US forces in Afghanistan, argues will lead to more violence this summer. "We're just about to kick a beehive", he candidly explained. This analysis is supported by the courageous anti-Taliban, anti-NATO occupation organization the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, who told me "the very first outcome of the ‘surge' on Afghan people will be an increase in the number of civilian casualties" which will "push more people towards the Taliban and other terrorist groups". According to Nir Rosen, an investigative journalist who spent time with the Taliban last year, Obama "needs to prove, as a Democrat, that he too can kill brown people... that we're not weak; we can kill foreigners, too."
Unwaveringly supporting all of these war-mongering, counterproductive policies is, as ever, Gordon Brown, who will, if press reports are to be believed, soon be sending an additional 2,000 British soldiers to
No doubt this figure would be even higher if more people knew British forces are using White Phosphorus in
And the Israel-Palestine comparisons don't end there. Embedded with British soldiers in Helmand, BBC journalist Ian Pannell recently reported in passing how, after being spotted by the Taliban, British soldiers "waded through a stream before finally taking cover in a small village about 650ft (200m) from Taleban positions." The lack of moral indignation is telling: when Hamas choose to fight among civilians it is an illegal act that merits worldwide condemnation, but when British soldiers take cover in a village this is simply normal war-fighting. Bravo our brave boys.
Understandably, the Government is extremely concerned about the low level of public support for Britain‘s open-ended mission in Afghanistan. And so it should be, because as Brigadier Ed Butler, the British commander in Afghanistan in 2006, notes in James Fergusson‘s book A Million Bullets, "the Taliban know that domestic Western support for this war could well go the same way as Iraq... That‘s what will lose us this campaign".
No doubt it is this fear of public opinion that has driven recent public relations campaigns to increase support for the
Similarly, Ross Kemp's technically impressive Sky One documentary series Return to Afghanistan was MoD-endorsed, with Kemp undertaking military-style training on Salisbury Plain and even learning how to use the British army's weapons systems - in case he and his cameraman were "the last men standing". Kemp told the Times newspaper he didn‘t want to become "a government propagandist", but the MoD surely knew they got the right man for the job when the Eastenders regular actually pointed out the Taliban positions to the British soldiers during one fire-fight he was filming. Back in the
With the number of troops in
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*An edited version of this article recently appeared in the Morning Star. firstname.lastname@example.org