JULIE BINDEL ON THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

Hundreds of troops die, yes, but thousands of civilians as well.

And what do those soldiers – 404 so far – die for, exactly?

 

[Image courtesy of AghanistanMatters via flickr.com ©©]

Relatives of soldiers who die in Afghanistan hold up banners saying ‘They died to make us safe’. Friends of these soldiers say they want to fight on otherwise their colleagues have died in vain.

But as the number of soldiers killed so far in Afghanistan reaches 404, there is an unpalatable truth to be faced  - in wars, especially unjust ones, soldier do die in vain. So, of course, do civilians – it’s too easily forgotten that between 2007 and 2011 almost 13,000 Afghani civilians have been killed.

And as for the idea that these soldiers are fighting and dying to make us safe – is that really so? It’s an understandable emotion among bereaved relatives – but I think the answer has to be a sad but true. No.

The West invaded Afghanistan with the cry of ‘we bring peace and democracy to the people’.  It has brought anything but, of course.  The presence of the US and its allies has proved to be more of a brutal occupation.

More than 20 years of conflict have left a country devastated and communities broken, creating what is now one of the poorest and most disenfranchised countries in the world.

The West’s occupation of Afghanistan 10 years ago was under the excuse of uprooting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But the US government and NATO misused the troubles and miseries of its citizens, and ever since have been busy playing cat and mouse with the Taliban.  After shedding the blood of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, young and old, they have now set out on another treacherous game of  ‘negotiating’ with the Taliban, disingenuously dividing the Taliban into “moderate“and “extremist”.

How utterly ludicrous.

All compounded by the Afghan government led by President Karzai being totally corrupt. Among its numerous failings, it has never shown any real desire to fight the Taliban or to make changes to benefit the people.

The worsening security situation since 2007 is leaving the population, especially women, without access to basic services - and discrimination in health, education, and economic opportunities is
more unjust than before.

But what should be done? Can we really pull out all troops now without detrimental consequences to the people of Afghanistan? Unfortunately, no.

So the mistake of being there in the first place cannot be put right overnight. Instead, the coalition troops’ departure should be phased slowly and carefully, replaced by a civilian, development presence, such as the United Nations and Non-Governmental organisations.

The priority now for the troops is to make the place secure enough for civilians to take over.

Image courtesy of AghanistanMatters via flickr.com ©©

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