Friday, 16 October 2009

Afghanistan: why are more troops being sent?

Seumas Milne has contributed a superb comment piece to the Guardian, 'In a war for democracy, why worry about public opinion?', that manages to make most of the vital points that need to be stressed about US/UK escalation in Afghanistan. He notes the growing gap between public attitudes - citing a new poll indicating a 7% rise in support for immediate troop withdrawal compared to a month ago - and the course being pursued by the government. He also mentions the growing interest in Stop the War and its demonstration next Saturday among soldiers and their relatives. Milne suggests the case of Joe Glenton (see the video of his speech during the summer) illustrates wider sentiment in the armed forces.

But the most valuable aspect of Milne's article is his exposing of the real motives behind the increases in troop deployments (with Obama expected to pour even more soldiers into this futile war). Milne observes how 'one after another, the official aims and justifications of the war in Afghanistan have failed or been discredited.' Where they claim it is to 'bring stability' the reality we're witnessing is instability and chaos.

Milne concludes: 'The last remaining argument, that withdrawal from Afghanistan would risk "undermining the credibility of Nato" and the "international community", used by Brown last month, is the closest to the truth. In the wake of its strategic defeat in Iraq, it would certainly signal that the US and its allies can no longer impose military solutions on recalcitrant states at will, as they have done since the end of the cold war.'

Indeed, at a time of economic precariousness for the world's superpower it is more necessary than ever to impose military might. Dominance has to be maintained somehow, whatever the costs and the risks. More than ever the imperialist nature of the whole 'war on terror' is exposed. Only the mass mobilising force of the 'other superpower' - public opinion and its expression in a movement against war - can offer hope of challenging this imperial project. That means taking to the streets on 24 October.

Picture: Guy Smallman
Video: Ady Cousins

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