Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/601/8340
End the war in Afghanistan: Bring the troops back now!
THE WAR in Afghanistan is bringing more and more bloodshed. About 1,500 Afghan civilians were killed between January and August this year and the numbers are still rising. The 110,000 Nato-led troops sent by Western governments to Afghanistan also face growing numbers of deaths and injuries.
Two more British soldiers were killed on 7 and 8 November, bringing the number of British troops killed there to 232 since the war started in 2001. According to a new poll, two-thirds of people in Britain now believe that the conflict is unwinnable.
America's ruling class is acutely aware of people's fears of the war escalating like that in Vietnam in the 1960s. The US is thought to have lost more troops in Afghanistan than in its first nine years of involvement in Vietnam.
Nonetheless US President Obama, who has been trying to put off a decision, may now be on the verge of committing up to 40,000 more US troops. The US ruling class will also try to persuade other Nato members to increase their forces.
However, Afghanistan is politically less stable than ever. There was widespread fraud in the elections in August but Hamid Karzai, whose regime is widely despised in the country for its corruption, has nonetheless been appointed president.
Much of the country outside Kabul is under the control of reactionary regional warlords and tribal chiefs. The equally reactionary and repressive Taliban forces are recruiting freely, mainly from Afghans who oppose the occupation and the government's corrupt policies.
The Socialist Party has always warned that the war in Afghanistan will not defeat terrorism; its main aim is to bolster the power and prestige of Western imperialist states, particularly the US, and the profits of their capitalists.
US energy giant ExxonMobil has gained from the invasion of Iraq, having been given a free hand to exploit 80% of one of the world's biggest untapped oil reserves near Basra.
In Afghanistan, too, capitalist governments will give far higher priority to defending profits, prestige and power than to meeting the people's needs. This war is being fought for the interests of the rich not for Afghanistan's working class and poor.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are thought to have already cost the USA more than any war in history apart from world war two. However, the rising death toll and spiralling cost is making people ask how this war can be ended. If Obama, dutifully followed by Gordon Brown, decides to escalate the war even further, the anti-war movement should call massive protests with clear demands to end the conflict.
The Socialist Party says:
- Build a mass movement against the war! Bring the troops out immediately. Stop the slaughter of civilians. Let Afghanistan's people determine their own future.
- For UK and US government spending on jobs and public services, not war and nuclear weapons.
- For a massive reconstruction programme in Afghanistan under the control of the Afghan masses. For public ownership of gas, oil, and other key industries.
- For democratically organised, multi-ethnic workers' defence forces in Afghanistan. For workers' solidarity internationally.
- For genuine democratic rights. No support for Karzai's corrupt Afghan government; support mass struggle to remove his regime and other reactionary regimes in the Middle East, Asia and worldwide.
- For a democratic, socialist gov-ernment in Afghanistan of the working people and poor, as part of a socialist confederation of the South Asia region, including Pakistan.
- No to all imperialist wars and occupations! For a socialist world without poverty, terror or war.
See also 'Afghanistan: an inescapable quagmire' on www.socialistworld.net
In The Socialist 11 November 2009:
War and occupation
Postal workers strike
Defend the four campaign
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party review