Afghanistan: a decade of disaster

stanley-mcchrystalThis week marks ten years of the military adventure in Afghanistan.  While its architects George Bush and Tony Blair have long since left office, the killing and the waste continue.

Now retired American general Stanley McChrystal, who was in charge of the Obama administration’s Afghan operations until last year, has revealed some of the truth.

McChrystal admits that after ten years of fighting in Afghanistan, the Anglo-American forces are still only “50% of the way” towards achieving their goals.  He adds:
“We didn’t know enough and we still don’t know enough. Most of us, me included, had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years.”

The Afghan war has killed between 14,000 and 18,000 civilians, as well as more than 2,750 troops, including 1,801 Americans and 382 Britons.  Meanwhile the war continues to cost us £5 billion each year.

An Anglo-American military adventure in Afghanistan never made sense.  If a failed Afghan state has to be made secure, the right policy is to reach agreement with the major regional powers bordering Afghanistan (Russia and Iran) to stabilise the situation.  This could have been achieved at minimum cost and with maximum effectiveness.

Instead the neocons in Washington and London were allowed to set the agenda, as they had been itching to do ever since the 1970s.  Far worse than Afghanistan was the blatantly illegal invasion of Iraq, which stirred the enmity of the entire Muslim world and made what was already a difficult Afghan mission into an impossible one.

The Iraq invasion served neither the interests of the Iraqi people, nor the strategic interests of the UK or USA.  The only benefit was to the nation commanding the neocons’ ultimate loyalty – Israel.

If we are to rebuild our economy we must take back control of our foreign and defence policy.  Otherwise the decade of disaster since 2001 will be extended indefinitely.

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