Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/590/7631
Afghanistan: 40 years of failure?
FACED WITH a mounting death toll of civilians and military forces and Nato's failure to build a democratic state, the incoming head of the British Army says that British troops may have to stay in Afghanistan for 40 years.
General David Richards envisages that the UK government will scale back troop numbers and instead rely on building up the Afghan police and army for security while Britain's involvement will concentrate on 'nation building'. However, the Afghan police (who are paid less than what Taliban fighters receive) are notoriously corrupt, extorting bribes and ransoms from kidnappings.
The invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 by US-led forces, ostensibly to fight terrorism, has been a disaster for ordinary Afghans and has increased rather than diminished the terrorist threat in the West.
The country remains racked by corruption, civil war and warlordism coupled with the current Taliban and al-Qa'ida insurgency. Thousands have been killed and maimed. Over half of Afghans live below the poverty line, 40% officially remain unemployed, and violent incidents have risen by 60% in Helmand province this year alone.
Faced with a lifetime of unemployment, many young Afghan men are drawn into the opium trade or join the Taliban militias, thus perpetuating the cycle of violence.
Clearly, the attempt by the US and British governments to exert greater imperialist control over the region has wrecked the lives of millions of people.
An opinion poll in the Independent last month showed that a majority of the British public believes that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and British troops should be pulled out immediately.
In The Socialist 12 August 2009:
International socialist news
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Labour history comment