No Return Invasion of Afghanistan

According to mad right-wing internet radio host, Alex Belfield, parliament has been recalled to discuss the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan. Belfield made it very clear that we should not go back there. This was a country whose culture and way of life we would never understand. Four hundred British squaddies have already died during the invasion and occupation, and besides, we’ve too much on our plate here at home with domestic crises like the Plymouth mass shooting, rampant knife crime in London and the surge of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Channel in dinghies and other flimsy craft. I agree with him, but partly for reasons that are very different from his.

Firstly, like the invasion of Iraq, the British and American public were deliberately deceived about the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, the invasion was an appropriate response to al-Qaeda’s attack on America in 9/11, although it was planned and executed by the Saudis. And there is very strong evidence that the responsibility for the atrocity goes all the way up to the highest levels of the Saudi state. But the American neo-Cons had been planning the invasion years before. They’d been in talks with the Taliban over the construction of a new oil pipeline to run through the country, allowing them to get around the Russian affiliated pipelines in the region. These talks stalled and eventually failed. So George Dubya Bush and his friends in big business got together and planned an invasion, waiting for a suitable opportunity to arrive when they could launch it. The liberation of the local people from a deeply repressive, bloodthirsty Islamist regime was never the real, primary objective.

As for Afghan society, this is a deeply conservative, tribal culture. The Taliban have their roots in their traditional way of life and particularly the very traditional Daobandi movement in Islam that stretches across into Pakistan and India. Hence, although extreme, the Taliban will appear to many Afghans to be fighting for their traditional values and society against those imposed upon them by force by the western invader. They have also been given support, supposedly, by elements within the Pakistani military. The Pathan tribe, I believe, form the core supporters of the Taliban, and their tribal territory extends across the border into Pakistan. They thus receive cross-border support from their fellow tribesmen over there.

Besides which, I don’t believe that the western occupation has done much to win hearts and minds. Hamid Karzai’s government was massively corrupt, and this corruption extended all the way down to the local level, where the police and government officials tried to find every way they could extort more money out of the ordinary citizens. The drone operations in the region have also done much to generate discontent. I recall reading cases where wedding parties were slaughtered in anti-terrorist drone strikes. However, instead of only killing the terrorist targeted, they also killed innocent people who just happened to be present.

A second invasion of Afghanistan would also be extremely expensive. And as this is a Conservative government which is already protesting about the expenses of dealing with the Covid pandemic, the funding for it would be through further cuts in welfare spending and the privatisation of whatever’s left of the state infrastructure. Which means the NHS. This will mean more poverty, starvation and misery for Britain’s great working people, and poor health as more services are given to private healthcare providers. Who will start cutting their provision so they can make a profit.

The Taliban are a deeply unpleasant organisation and their attitude towards women is particularly misogynistic. There have been reports that wherever they have taken over an area, they have gone to the local mosques to compile lists of the unmarried girls. These are then forcibly married, even though they may be barely into their teens. They do, however, have an age limit of 12. When the Taliban were in power, women were not expected to leave their homes except when they had. If they were out of the house, they had to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. This meant that they had to be silent. I’ve read reports in the papers of Afghan women, who’d lost limbs during previous fighting, being beaten because their artificial legs made a noise. And this is apart from the ban on art, music and television, the restrictions on non-Muslim religions, the closure of football stadiums and their conversion into arenas for mass public executions.

Our invasion and attempts at nation-building have failed, and there are dangers in this. Al-Qaeda were encouraged to launch their attack from Afghanistan on 9/11 because of the success the Mujahideen had achieved fighting the Soviet occupation, although much of that was due to covert funding from the West and Saudi Arabia. I am very much afraid that with the withdrawal of western troops and the fall of the democratic Afghan government, the Taliban or some other Islamist terror group will similarly feel empowered and that they can launch another attack to destroy the west.

But Afghanistan is the proverbial ‘graveyard of empires’. We found it impossible to occupy the country in the 19th century, as did the Russians a hundred years later. Any further invasion is likely to fail again. As repulsive and dangerous as the Taliban are, we should not go back. We would not be helping its people, only the oil industry and big business who seek to exploit it. And the costs of the occupation would be borne in the lives and limbs of the servicewomen and men sent out to fight, and by Britain’s working people as the government slashes more services.

We should not go back to invading countries simply to make massive multinational corporations even more obscenely rich.

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6 Responses to “No Return Invasion of Afghanistan”

  1. trev Says:

    The whole situation is one big mess. It would have taken long-term help from the West to establish a functioning democracy and government in Afghanistan free from Islam-fascist extremists, maybe a Century of help not just a couple of decades.
    Opinion is that the withdrawal is a catastrophic failure;

    Afghanistan: US and UK withdrawal a catastrophic miscalculation, says Nandy

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-58220904

    But a Taliban spokesman has contacted the BBC to say that the Taliban wants a peaceful transfer of power…presumably before they impose Sharia law, ban female education, and resume the beheadings;

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-58223530

    Meanwhile, chaotic scenes at Kabul airport as Afghan people flee the Taliban;

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-58226712

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for all of that, Trev. It’s a terrible situation, and one can only feel for those trying to flee. And I think you’re right – it would take something like a century of nation-building to construct any kind of western-style democratic society there.

      • trev Says:

        I think the least we can do now is quickly try get as many people out of there as we can and accept as many asylum seekers as possible into the UK. Preparations are being made in my town with two hotels being used to temporarily accommodate Afghani refugees, I think the foodbank may be involved to some extent too.

      • beastrabban Says:

        Absolutely, Trev. We’ve a duty to take in the people who worked with British and western forces and administrators. I’m glad your community’s doing so much for them.

      • trev Says:

        I doubt the likes of Belfield will agree with that.

      • beastrabban Says:

        No, not at all with his constant denunciations of the ‘dinghy divers’. But the moral point remains. I heartily despise Black Lives Matter, but its British head, Barbara Barnaby, is right when she said that Britain has to accept refugees from the wars we’ve started.

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