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July 14, 2009


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I understand that we're not doing much good there at the moment, but I live in hope that this can be changed if we drastically redefine our terms of operation. If we pull out, with the best will in the world, we can't really go ahead and send bucketloads of aid to the Taleban.


Our best to help them is to get out and stop exacerbating the situation.

Nobody is talking about us cutting a deal with the current regime, the deals being talked about are with the Taleban.
From last year Karzai attempted to increase his stature in Afghanistan by speaking out about civilian deaths caused by the US and trying to cut deals with elements of the Taleban himself.

No regime will survive without the support of the Taleban and of course we cannot remain in support of a government that has the support of the Taleban, that is effectively the Taleban.

That we will withdraw is a certainty, what we can do about it is make it soon and make it swift, that is our best option in as far as there being any action we can make with our troops to help the people of Afghanistan.

When we leave, we can if people do really wish to help, send bucketloads of aid to develop infrastructure and hope the people of Afghanistan at some point might consider forgiving if not forgetting what we have done to them.
Mind you, they aren't known for being big on forgiveness and I can't say I would blame them for being slow about it.


Huw, my only view is that we owe it the people of Afghanistan to do our best to help them.

If the current regime will fall as soon as we leave, then there's no point in cutting a deal with them and then leaving. We should cut a deal with them on human rights and stay (stepping up our efforts on reconstruction and education in the meantime) - and threaten to pull out if they break it. It seems to be the only leverage we have.

ED Carlisle

Eights years DC, no problem has been solved. A little progress on girls' education and reconstruction. But failure in everything else. Drusg - worse, human rights, worse than under the Taliban, deaths of Afghans and Nato soldiers spiralling upwards. Afghan Police and warlords are more oppressive than the Taliban.


Without wishing to draw anyone into an argument, as you've made your view quite clear DG, but if we leave Afghanistan the current regime will fall there is no question about that much at least.


Thank you for that Adam, I haven't read the article but the points you make are very thought-provoking.

A question though - can't we just stop bombing civilians and either back someone else or threaten to withdraw our support for the current regime unless they start to play nice? And if we were to improve our performance on delivering aid and regeneration, could this change hearts and minds?

My concern is that if we leave, the current regime will have no incentive whatsoever to address human rights issues. We will have caused an almighty mess, caused many deaths and achieved nothing. It seems to me that we have a responsibility to at least try to fulfill some of our promised to the Afghan people. Maybe micro-projects would be more productive than large-scale constructions that make a tempting target for destruction?

Adam J

Rather than replying myself, might I flag up a very good article by a friend of mine who was an anthropologist in Afghanistan at one time? It was written in the autumn of last year, though from a far left perspective, I think it sets out some of the issues and historical background quite well

By Jonathan Neale


several quick points:

1. It is clear that the West can't win in Afghanistan. The USSR was defeated and poured way more troops in.
2. The people the West are supporting in Afghanistan are not particularly progressive or particularly nice, and are becoming increasingly unpopular. The endemic corruption, poverty and failure of the Western backed government to deliver the promise goods has fueled growing opposition.
3. The West's bombing of Afghan civilians means that even the people they back - the Karzai regime - are being forced to speak out against them, just as more and more ordinary people are turning against them.
4. The West have already lost in Afghanistan, they can't win, they will be forced to leave - either soon, or if longer - more and more people will die, I think and the outcome will be worse. I think better they leave very soon.

so why do they stay?

As Neale writes:

"A negotiated settlement and withdrawal, however, would effectively mean the end of the “war on terror”, marked by an American defeat. The consequences for American power around the world would be shattering. For a generation after Vietnam ordinary Americans were able to refuse to fight overseas. After Afghanistan it would be the same. That would mean the end of American global dominance."

There is no good solution in Afghanistan - 30 years of foreign intervention there - have made that impossible, but it is clear that given that Britain and America's intervention is not structured around liberation for the Afghan people but other interests that they are part of the problem not the solution.

'But I don't yet see how pulling out secures a better outcome for the Afghan people. I'm open to persuasion, but I'm not there yet.'

What outcome do you think staying will secure for the Afghan people?

It is clear as Paul Flynn's EDM lay out quite starkly that the West and the people the West back are not delivering on women's rights, development or human rights and in many cases - if it were possible - openly attackign them.


Thanks Paul, appreciate it.

"DG, women's rights are not formost on the mind of the Western backed regime."

Agreed, and nor are children's rights or men's rights come to that. But I don't yet see how pulling out secures a better outcome for the Afghan people. I'm open to persuasion, but I'm not there yet.

Adam J

Excellent Early Day Motions that probe & expose the seedy and unpleasant underside of the Western backed regime. The role of the media fawning and whipping up of a hysteria for more military spending has been pretty unbelievable, I even recently saw interviewers on TV addressing a General as 'sir'?!?! And then the Guardian frontpage that managed to present an opinion poll that showed more people opposing the war than supporting it as public support remaining firm . . .

As you are probably aware (but just in case not!) the inspirational Malalai Joya MP will be in London in a few days time.

She will also be doing a book launch at a public meeting in London organised by Stop the War Coalition, details here:

I found her testimony on the massacre in Farah province & women's rights in the 'new Afghanistan' quite powerful:

This was truly the bloodiest day in this war of occupation when early in May, the US launched an airstrike on a village in the Farah provice of Afghanistan. Local accounts from villagers, International Red Cross reports and an official Afghan government inquiry have all agreed that 140 civilians, including 93 children, were killed and only 22 of the victims were adult males.
The US military has "apologised" for the attack but continually lied about what happened & who the victims were, still claiming that "only" 26 civilians were killed and the rest were Taliban "insurgents".

DG, women's rights are not formost on the mind of the Western backed regime. This is one that (until international outcry forced backtracking) passed a law that effectively legalised rape within marriage, that made it illegal for women to say 'no' to their husbands. Since the West have occupied Afghanistan forced marriages have actually risen, honour killings as high, and less than a third of girls go to school, and few boys either, because 'we' haven't built schools and there are no proper buildings. Corruption is rife with the reconstruction money promised never materialising, and what did pillaged by politicians, Western charities and NGOs hated by ordinary Afghan people. Opium production has soared with more heroin hitting the streets of Britain, I know people who work in homeless shelters in S.Wales on the frontline who have seen this surge since Britain went into Afghanistan.

Paul Flynn

I'm sorry DC. I had replied to your points but I did not put it on the site. I have answered your questions in today's blog.


Obviously a commitment from the west to stop lying to ourselves and the rest of the world about our motives and intentions would be something worthwhile doing.

The first step in dealing honestly is to accept the truth of the situation.


If you feel that strongly about it, then obviously the countries that caused them to be in an untenable position should offer them sanctuary.

Because that is the only possible way of securing the lifestyle we promised them.

In the meantime we have killed many of their relatives ourselves,
and Afghans continue to die at our hands as well as in strife which we are causing and all we are doing is keeping that country on hold until we finally slope off and leave them to start back at day one, all the more harsh and unforgiving because of it.


So, we pull out and let them get on with it.

What happens then to those little girls we encouraged into education, the women who've removed their burkas and any local tribesmen who've assisted us? It's all very well looking at the long term, but those people - y'know, the ones who believed us when we said that the elections meant the dawning of a new age - they won't have a long term, or a medium term, will they? And I can't imagine their short-term being very pleasant.


We are the mess.

Afghanistan was approaching the end of 30 years of wars, that against occupation and civil.
They were finally approaching the time when they would have stability from which to develop. We helped put a stop to that.
Any solution in Afghanistan is going to start with occupiers leaving.

I vehemently dislike the Taliban but the choice in Afghanistan was never, the Taliban or western style democracy and freedoms. The choice was, warlords and their whims, instability and despair or the Taliban.
Not a brilliant choice, not a wonderful choice but the actual choice.

We are the problem, Afghanistan has others but those cannot be addressed until the western powers stop being the biggest of them.


If public support collapses, won't that mean we'll have to pull out? That'll mean failing in our previously discussed moral obligation to stay put, protect the Afghan people from the twin evils and sort out the mess we stirred up.

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