Saturday, 18 July 2009

Media myths about Afghanistan

As the right-wing press and supposedly 'neutral' organisations like the BBC parrot the Ministry of Defence line on Afghanistan, it is vital to get alternative sources of information and analysis. There's clearly a war drive from the bulk of mainstream media, using recent deaths of British soldiers to stir patriotism and argue that such losses illustrate the need for more troops and more money for the armed forces. The truth is that a full withdrawal is the best thing for those troops, as well as being what's right for the Afghan people and the future of their country.

The calls for more cash are especially cynical and revolting. Tory politicans and the armchair generals of the press are attempting to portray this government as insufficiently militarist - quite an audacious challenge. We're supposed to believe that alleged underfunding of the armed forces is yet another example of Labour incompetence. This sudden desire for extra public investment is galling at a time when the same right-wingers demand cuts to public services (and the pay of those providing them).

So, here are a few links to some refreshing alternatives. I recommend reading Seumas Milne's excellent analysis of the current situation from The Guardian. He acknowledges the new right-wing propaganda offensive, but tears its arguments apart. Lindsey German's 'Spinning out of control' also responds to the dubious justifications for the on-going war and occupation.

The Stop the War Coalition has produced a new leaflet 'Ten Reasons to get the troops out of Afghanistan', which is not only worth reading but can be used on stalls by campaigners and distributed widely. Stop the War is organising a public meeting on Thursday with Malalai Joya, a courageous Afghan MP who has championed women's rights and opposed the occupation of her country. She has written about the truth of Afghanistan today in an article on the coalition's website.

The new media and political campaign to whip up 'patriotism' in support of war emphasises the urgent need for a renewing of anti-war activists' efforts. As these articles make clear, the reality on the ground shows up the pro-war myths as ridiculous.


  1. The tendency seems to have been to consider the Iraq the bad war, and Afghanistan the "good war". I was organizing in the US around Iraq, but now very little is being done about Afghanistan. And nobody seems to care about Iraq either. I don't know what the fuck the liberals are doing anymore. My comrades are focusing on other things besides the "issues". Weve channeled our rage into anti-capitalism and we're organizing around that. But the energy against Afghanistan "surge" seems to have died out almost entirely.

  2. Thanks for the insight into what's happening in the States, even if it's hardly very cheerful news for activists. We've had the same rhetoric here, with politicans distancing themselves from Iraq while continuing to champion the 'good war' in Afghanistan. But that's not entirely working with people here, as a majority of the public is opposed to the occupation (according to polls).

    Anti-capitalist activism is vital, but it needs to be linked to anti-war mobilising - such connections strengthen every struggle.