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Afghanistan: the rhetoric « Previous | |Next »
July 17, 2009

There is growing anger and bewilderment, and a developing political row, in Britain over the ongoing deaths of British servicemen in Afghanistan. The British military death toll in the country since October 2001 is now 184, five more than the lives lost by British forces in Iraq. In most cases, the deaths have been the result of improvised explosive devices and remote-controlled bombs, rather than guerrilla attacks. Britain's military presence in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly unpopular.

BrookesPAfghanistanlost.jpg Peter Brookes

The Taliban appear to be less interested in talking or negotiating and more interested in disrupting NATO's counter-insurgency efforts. If the guerrillas are facing a decent army, they are not going to stay and fight. They flee (melt away) and come back once the army has left.

For Gordon Brown, the British PM, the reason for the Afghan campaign is that it is a "patriotic duty" to keep the streets of Britain safe from the threat of terrorist attack.

This is a patriotic duty. Of course people want to know if the action we are taking is the right action. It comes back to terrorism on the streets of Britain. If we were to allow the Taliban to be back in power in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda then to have the freedom of manoeuvre it had before 2001, then we would be less safe as a country.There is a line of terror - what you might call a chain of terror - that links what's happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the streets of Britain.

He says that British troops are making progress as they attempt to make the area safe--Brown is referring to Operation Panther's Claw offensive to drive the Taliban from central Helmand province.

I guess that things have improved somewhat because the old imperial Bitish rhetoric ---the white man's burden --is not longer being used as justification.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:35 PM | | Comments (16)


Stay the course....

"There is a line of terror - what you might call a chain of terror - that links what's happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the streets of Britain."

What on earth is happening on "the streets of Britain"??? Are the Taliban clogging the dole queue? Are the Taliban gutting the economy?

Or is young Gordon just having a pitiful go at playing the fear card... again...

I reckon the biggest danger faced by the vast majority of Brits was born in the canyons of Wall Street.

The average Londoner is still relatively safe despite what's happening in Afghanistan, not BECAUSE of it.

Like just about every country that ever sent its armies off to war, it never occurred to the gung-ho champions of their self-styled 'war on terror' that they might, like, lose. Or at least not win, and have events take on a terrible life of their own.

Bush, Blair and Howard all walked scot-free from the catastrophe they unleashed on the Middle East. At least there is some justice in Brown having to reap the whirlwind his party helped to sow.

Obama has voluntarily joined the fight because Americans just cannot rid themselves of this notion that they rule the world.

Rudd's reasons for doubling down on Australia's commitment to a cause that should never have been our concern remain an utter mystery. For the sake of our ADF people in Afghanistan I hope events never force him to have to account for his poor judgement.

Has this ridiculously-named "War on Terror" made the streets of Riyadh, Bali, Jakarta, Istanbul, Algiers, Baghdad or Casablanca any safer?

Or is it just western lives we are worried about?

As for "our ADF people"... it's been over six years, Ken. Our volunteers have been going at it for a long time with very few losses. I wouldn't worry too much.

What do you think our ADF boys are doing in Afghanistan.. giving candy to kids? I am very cynical about the role our soldiers are playing in this entire enterprise, and to be honest their welfare isn't very high on my list of priorities.

The previous commenters have it dead right, as far as I am concerned.
Additional to this, the Brits appear to be trying to run a "neo liberal" war, if the report about their dire lack of helicopters on the news last night is correct.
To think this ideological obsessionary idiocy has even permeated the real world of warfare!

Anyway... we have the Predator and Reaper drones on our side. What could possibly go wrong?

Pakistan could collapse, that's what

There are lots of illusions and lies wrapped around Afghanistan, which has become a quagmire for the US and the British

Tariq Ali in the London Review of Books says:

This is now Obama’s war. He campaigned to send more troops into Afghanistan and to extend the war, if necessary, into Pakistan. These pledges are now being fulfilled. On the day he publicly expressed his sadness at the death of a young Iranian woman caught up in the repression in Tehran, US drones killed 60 people in Pakistan. The dead included women and children, whom even the BBC would find it difficult to describe as ‘militants’. Their names mean nothing to the world; their images will not be seen on TV networks. Their deaths are in a ‘good cause’.

More than two million refugees (‘internally displaced persons’ – IDPs in NGO jargon) have been driven out of the areas of the North-West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan by the army, and from the Swat Valley both by the brutalities of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the military response to them.

The official rhetoric around the recent Jakarta bombing (the finger is pointed at
Jemaah Islamiyah) sees anti-terrorism as one interconnected battle. Australia is fighting international terrorism in Afghanistan says Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. Malcolm Turnbull says that Afghanistan is the front line against terrorism.

The implication by the military talking heads is that there is a chain of command from Afghanistan (Taliiban and Al Qaeda) to Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia; even though JI is no longer a cohesive organisation with a clear, unified leadership structure. The newly forming splinter factions are divided over strategy and tactics, and some have directly target Westerners and Western interests and who hold that that the use of violence against the ‘enemies of Islam’ is justified under any circumstances.

Nonsense. The Afghanistan conflict and the Jakarta bombings, are and should be seen, quite separately. The Indonesian authorities have been battling Islamic militants for 60 years, ever since Darul Islam ("the abode of Islam"), launched its push for an Islamic state in Indonesia

It is deception for the Government--and the Liberals--- to claim that Australian soldiers in Afghanistan are dying to save us from terrorism in Indonesia.

It's those sneaky Chechen muslims, I tells ya!

The Anti-Comintern Pact of 1936 was so damn effective in identifying the troublemakers. Maybe it's time for 21st Century version.


Defence Force chief Angus Houston has warned that if foreign troops pulled out of Afghanistan now, the likely result would be a civil war that the Taliban would probably win---ie., the Karzai government in Afghanistan will collapse if US-led Western forces withdraw.

So? It's their country not ours. Let the Afghan's choose their own government.

Paul Kelly is banging the war drum in The Australian:

Australia, on Indonesia's doorstep, lives in an Islamic geography. The struggles within Pakistan and Afghanistan will be pivotal to Islam's future and vital to Western and Australian security. In Australia, along with most Western nations, there is a moral, emotional and intellectual reluctance to admit and confront the true nature of Islamist violence. Indeed, this is a theme in the culture war that demoralises Western societies...The idea that the fall of Afghanistan has no strategic downside for Australia is ludicrous.

For Kelly the failure of allied forces in Afghanistan means that there is a grave risk that the world will see a return to the intensity of terrorist activity emanating from that country.

For Kelly all the diverse terrorist organizations belong to one Big Terrorist organization--terrorism central.

yep, the neo-cons, security talking heads, and war party are out and about endeavouring to contain what Paul Kelly calls the public backlash against the war in Afghanistan. Rudd must become a war leader--just like Howard--is what Kelly advises.

They'll be talking about needing to strengthen the anti-terrorism laws next.

"The struggles within Pakistan and Afghanistan will be pivotal to Islam's future..."

What on earth is he jabbering about? Are developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan really going to influence EVERY Muslim on the planet? Or are the neocon chickenhawks just engaging in wishful thinking?

The "war on terror" was the fanciful invention of George Bush who thought that the US was invincible and would come untarnished out of any and every conflict. John Howard thought to ride on US's coattails to go down in Australian history as a great "war leader" It isn't the first time that millions have been suffered because of the vanity of men.
The Taliban are religious fundamentalists and believe that their God is on their side - how can they lose? Violence has never succeeded against the blind ignorance of religion. Only education, of women in particular, will peace and prosperity come to the Middle East - or anywhere else for that matter. Bring the troops home and send books.