And How Many More Body Bags Are They Sending? 91

The war of invasion in Afghanistan is being sustained on two things: the imbecilic argument that it is preventing terrorism in the UK, and on a feast of cod patriotism. Real deaths on the battlefield are not noble; they involve the smells of blood, sweat, shit and piss, and a lot of fear and tears. But this nation cultivated its Spartan myth for generations, and we mentally convert each terrible waste of young life into a tableau of the death of Nelson.

Or this, one of the most popular paintings of the Victorian era; the Last Stand at Gandamak, showing the sad end of the first British army to foolishly invade Afghanistan.


The ritual of Gordon Brown reading out the names of the latest British soldiers to die, is a key part of the patriotic hokum that sustains this dreadful war. But after MPs came back from their incredibly long holiday, it backfired spectacularly on Brown today as he read the names of the 37 young men who died in the hills of Afghanistan while the MPs spent months swigging Pinot Grigio in the hills of Tuscany.

So now we are sending an extra 500 men. That will finally kill off the fierce historic resistance of the Afghans to foreign occupation, then. How many more body bags are we sending?

91 thoughts on “And How Many More Body Bags Are They Sending?

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  • anticant

    Watching Brown at PMQ today, and his subsequent statement on Afghanistan, I kept asking myself “Does he actually believe this?”

    And the really dreadful thing is, I think he does.

  • brian

    It’s the “preventing terrorism on UK streets” that’s really holding it together.

    This is the argument that needs to be dismantled, and this is where people like me who feel it’s wrong in our gut look to people like you to articulate an opposing argument.

  • Tom Welsh

    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,

    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”

    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,

    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;

    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,

    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,

    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,

    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;

    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,

    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;

    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,

    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,

    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep

    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;

    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit

    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”

    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,

    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,

    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,

    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;

    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,

    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,

    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,

    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,

    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:

    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.

    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”

    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;

    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;

    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

    – Rudyard Kipling

  • Sabretache

    Sorry to plug my blog again but this pulls together several of the themes here. . The ‘Point-Click-Kill Brigade’

    As for Kipling’s “…You bet that Tommy sees!”. I’m not so sure. Granted he sees politicians for what they are and he is quite rightly sensitive to public hypocrisies and their relationships with him. He still NEEDS to believe he’s fighting for something worthwhile though. Which explains the constant drip-feed, about the nobility of his sacrifices from both politicians and General This and Colonel That – how we must ‘stay the course helping the Afghans’ and other such ‘uplifting’ pseudo-patriotic drivel.

    Personally I doubt he fully comprehends the magnitude and extent of the lies he is being told about the real reasons for his presence in Afghanistan. In fact I doubt many people do. There is just too big a psychological need to believe we are the good guys.

  • mary

    Brown so ably supported by Cameron (I can so bigger cuts than you) and Clegg (I want to be Prime Minister), the latter asking for a war cabinet of all parties. That’s the only way he’ll get an entrance into No.10.

    Total cant and hypocrisy following that displayed at last week’s service for the dead military in Iraq at St Paul’s.

    Who will be the last man standing in Afghanistan this time? Remember Dr William Brydon?

    I should imagine that the soil and dust of Afghanistan are very rich in iron from all the blood that has been spilled over the centuries.

  • Neil Craig

    Yet Afghanistan is the one recent defencive war where we, or at least our ally, were attacked. And how many now expressing doubts expressed them when, a month after 9/11 NATO first took over? And how many of them were also against Iraq? And how many of them at the time opposed bombing Yugoslav hospitals to help peoplle known to be gangsters, drug dealers, sex slavers & organ leggers involved in a NATO organised campaign to racial genocide.

    Because not a single person who did not oppose all of the above can claim that current oppositio9n to the Afghan afair involves the slightest trace of concern about principle or human decency. They are simply & purely running scared.

    The fact is that though the Afghan war is being fought very badly & on the enemies terms we know that we are capable of easily defeating them because we did & we know that it is simply impossible for the Taliban to win because even before we were involved they were unable to fully defeat the northern alliance.

  • Frazer

    Interesting posts about Afghanistan and cannot help but throw my oar in here.

    I worked and lived in Afghanistan between 1990.2000, at the time of the Taliban.

    I got to know many Afghans and thier families, and was friendly with the then Foreign Minister, Haji Mutawakhil (excuse spelling)

    The Afghan mentality to what they see as foreign invaders is rooted in thier history..they beat us, they beat the Russians and they will not give up until we and the Americans leave, it is simply a matter of national psyche, they believe they will beat us again and eventually we will go away.

    I agree with Craig and many posters many body bags are we supposed to send over until we realise we simply cannot win ?

    I certainly cannot remember voting as to wether we should go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and if I missed the vote, please someone enlighten me.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Yet Afghanistan is the one recent defencive war where we, or at least our ally, were attacked”.

    Utter crap. The USA was attacked by a handful of individuals, most (if not all, from memory) of Saudi extraction. Osama bin Laden explicitly rejected responsibility for the attack, and the Afghan government had nothing to do with him either – except that he happened to be in their country. As an honoured guest, indeed, as he and the other mujahideen (together with the CIA) had helped the Afghans defeat the Russian invaders not long before.

    The Afghan war is defensive in exactly the same sense that Hitler’s invasion of Poland was defensive.

    “And how many now expressing doubts expressed them when, a month after 9/11 NATO first took over? And how many of them were also against Iraq? And how many of them at the time opposed bombing Yugoslav hospitals to help peoplle known to be gangsters, drug dealers, sex slavers & organ leggers involved in a NATO organised campaign to racial genocide”.

    Well I did every one of those things, loudly and clearly and without a shadow of doubt. Because all those aggressive wars were crap.

    And did I take a verbal beating for saying so at the time!

  • Frazer


    Thanks for the comment,unfortunatly El Tony never dropped by my place to ask me, good point though !

    Tony, as I always enjoy your posts, what are your views on the conspiracy of WMD and the eyball problems of our current PM, I think we should be told !

  • T

    Kipling’s “A Dead Statesman”

    I could not dig

    I dared not rob

    Therefore I lied to please the mob

    Now all my lies are proved untrue

    And I must face the men I slew

    What tale will serve me here, among

    Mine angry and defrauded young

  • dreoilin

    The most idiotic, hypocritical, piece of bombastic nonsense I heard coming out of my TV in recent days was Bob Ainsworth telling some interviewer that “We have to train the Afghan forces to defend their country.”

    (from invasion by, er … )

  • T

    And as for Afghanistan, that poor suffering country, I am amazed that Tom got “verbal bashings” for opposing it. Precisely one person I knew was in favour of it, and his daughters thought he was mad. At the first anti war march 8 years ago this week, everyone really thought the government could be stopped. Even though, looking back, they’d already been bombing Kabul for 6 days. But apart from deluded MP’s and a few bizarre journalists, some of whom have now apologised, most people were not in favour of this wanton, brutal attack on an already devastated country. Generals, bishops, careworkers, the church, economists; they all came out against it. Remember?

  • tony_opmoc


    I am not sure if your question is addressed to me but as regards your question of the “conspiracy of WMD”, well I used a simple search engine – it may even have been Google to find numerous links to US/UK Government and UN websites that proved all parties knew that IRAQ had been disarmed of WMD’s. This was before the Iraq War had started. I posted the results on what was then an exceedingly active website for anyone interested to read. The idea that even a competent journalist couldn’t find the same information is ridiculous, let alone the US/UK Government or their Senior Politicians. I then marched down Whitehall with over 1,000,000 other people – which is the only political demonstration I have participated in – against the Iraq War, but still feel that I failed and should have done more – because over 1,000,000 completely innocent people are dead and many more had their lives ruined.

    As regards Gordon Brown, and the thoughts and feelings and motivations that go through Senior Politician’s brains, well – it is extremely difficult to tell.

    I even got Tony Blair and The Queen completely wrong and thought that Blair was riding the back of the Tiger George Bush, in order to prevent the Iraq War starting. How naive I was. It’s quite embarrassing in retrospect. I even thought The Queen would pull the plug on the UK’s involvement in The Iraq War, which as Head of State, she was legally entitled to do.

    I don’t know if Craig has covered the case of Al Rabiah as featured on Alternet today, but what really additionally pisses me off is the sheer racism of it all.

    I actually know a bloke, who has travelled extensively in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the World, often totally independently, often doing extremely good Charitable things to actually help the poorest of the poor, who could easily have been arrested and slung into some American Torture Camp, except that he is White, does not have am Islamic Name, and looks like he is a member of The SAS. I know he isn’t cos I’ve known him for more than 10 years.

    As regards Gordon Brown’s eyesight, well, obviously he has a few problems in that department, but it is not that which is preventing him from doing his job properly. I think he probably means well, and unlike Blair with Bush/Cheney, hasn’t got Obama’s pole stuck up his arse – but politicians are such good liars its rather hard to tell. Obama too might mean well, but one man can only do so much, and if surrounded by such a bunch of complete arseholes, he is limited with exactly what he can achieve. I thought his Nobel Peace Prize was the biggest Piss Take in Years.


  • glenn

    We had this “we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” crap from Bush and his henchmen when referring to invading and occupying Iraq. It’s unbelievable that someone would even think that rubbish would work in Britain.

    This presupposes these jihadists would all board jumbo jets and – with their AK47s and roadside bombs assembled and ready to plant – queue patiently while going through customs at Heathrow. I suppose we’re preventing this right now by stopping them getting to Kabul International Airport.


    Seriously though, we’ve never had a good reason to attack the Afghans. As Mr Welsh says above, most of the alleged “9/11” hijackers were Saudis, with a couple from Yeman, UAE and Egypt if I recall. And a few more that have since turned up alive and well. None from Iraq. None from Afghanistan.

    The Taliban offered to turn Bin Laden over to a third party, such as the Swiss, and asked for evidence that he was indeed behind ‘9/11’:

    Strangely enough, the FBI lists the most wanted terrorists, and includes Bin Laden:

    – but they don’t mention anything about ‘9/11’. They do mention the bombing of US embassies, but not the Twin Towers.

    So – why exactly are we attacking the Taliban? What have they ever done to us, other than in defense against us invaders?


  • brian

    @Glenn – can you expand? I’d like to hear a couple of succinct points that demolish the “figting them over there…” thing for my own use.

    It’s not countered in the msm and has become the accepted meme, backed by comments like “the 7/7 bombers trained in Afghanistan”, no idea if that is true.

  • Anonymous


    it doesn’t matter. Allow my armchair commander proclamations some licence here…

    The cannon fodder, the Great Shitish Army, fall for all the macho crap some shouty tosser barks at them from day one. They are mentally conditioned to think they will always win, and come out alive. Yeah many go out on the y go out on the battlefield and get scared but the conditioning allows them to put a brave face on it, enough to put doubts into the mind of his colleagues that perhaps these recruits are some kind of comic book warrior. Even if one confides with his peers as to his true feelings, he don’t get listened to for fear of lowering moral amongst others. High moral is vital, we all know this. It’s why politicians will lie their gonads off to make it appear as if what the arm does has no critics ?” and why there is so few prosecutions for the hideous crimes they commit. Haditha anyone?

    The cannon fodder is generally pretty thick. The lads I was at school with who joined the army lusted after what they thought would be ‘respect’ for a soldier, and in most respects they were right, ‘cos the public fall for the con too. Not in my eyes though.

    If this latest batch of cannon fodder haven’t the mental capacity to suss out after what, after almost 9 years now, that the war against Afghanistan is nothing but a monstrous lie (actually most of them want to believe the lie, feeding their innate racism), and what they are doing is just evil, then perhaps the ‘risks’ of their mercenaryship is not unreasonable.

  • tony_opmoc

    Because I trust virtually nothing written in the Mainstream Press or what appears in Mainstream TV News Bulletins, it is extremely difficult to get any information whatsoever with regards to what happenned on 7/7.

    All I know for certain is that a very loud explosion went off in Central London on that day, because it spooked one hell of a lot of birds – and even though I was many miles away, I witnessed the birds being spooked, before I knew anything about “the bombings” – the birds were much faster than the news.

    With regards to 9/11, there is an enormous amount of data to analyse, and I personally knew people who’s very close friends and relations were personally involved.

    With regards to 7/7 I know absolutely no one who knows anyone who was personally involved, though I did know someone at the time who worked for The British Transport Police.

    I have absolutely no real evidence, to contradict a theory I have never ever read, but have seriously considered as a possibility myself. I won’t go into it, because I have had some contact before the event with someone who changed his job to work on anti-terrorism.


  • tony_opmoc

    Perhaps I should clarify my post above a little in case people misinterpret my words before I have another Speckled Hen.

    On the day of 9/11 I was on a Computing Course at Learning Tree International Near Euston Station…

    When I got home and found what had happenned in New York, my Wife was completely distraught, because She was looking after Twin Baby Girls. She had given up her job at a Bank in Central London, to look after our Children, and applied to be a Child Minder – which took nearly a year and lots of Police and Other Checks of both of us to get approval for.

    The Grandmother of The Twin Baby Girls was in one of The Twin Towers in New York when it was attacked. She phoned the Mother of the Twins – whilst she was still in one of the Buildings, after it had been attacked. For nearly 24 hours we all thought she had been killed. She escaped unharmed, but phone communication to New York was impossible.

    I found myself heavily motivated to find out the truth of what had happened, but I have never joined a 9/11 Truth Movement.

    Withe regards to 7/7, I know absolutely nothing, other than what is freely available for anyone to see on the Internet. If you search closely you will see convincing photographic evidence that at least one of the “victims” of 7/7 was an “actor”, and his blood and bandages were fake.


  • glenn


    Regarding “Fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here”… the entire basis of the argument is so ludicrous, it’s hard to even get a proper hold of the concept. Bush started it with his assertion that if we didn’t “fight them over there”, then they would “follow us back home”. Strange that not a single Viet-Cong did this, despite the US giving up on that assault eventually.

    Obviously it’s a simplistic lie, designed to conjure up the notion of blood-thirsty Arabs chasing people up and down the street with their AK47s. Having exactly the same battles that “our boys over there” with these jihadists, but right in our own streets and city centres. And – gasp! – we’re not armed and trained like “our boys”, which makes the concept truly terrifying.

    The notion of “fighting them over there” instead of here relies on an assumption that we’re engaged in a zero-sum game, that there are a specific (and limited) number of “bad guys” who will automatically attack us as their raison d’etre, and if we didn’t have targets over there for them to attack, they’d go to the trouble of coming to the UK/US to do so.

    It also assumes that we have a strict either/or. Either they will _ALL_ be attacking us there, or they will ALL be coming here. A few of “them” breaking off their endless attacks on “our boys over there” is an impossibility – right? They’ve all got to stay right where they are, and fight there. Not one jihadist can be spared anywhere else, as long as “our boys” are over there.

    The most intellectually dishonest part about the “fighting them over there” nostrum is that these people are only interested in killing us wherever in the world we happen to be, doubtless because “they hate our freedom” or some such nonsense. The fact that they might not like us occupying their country, killing their people and so on, must never be considered. No – they’re all evil and have no other purpose in life than killing sweet, innocent westerners (well, Americans, British and Spanish, anyway). So this limited number of terrorists must be rooted out and destroyed.

    If someone puts this nonsense to you, and you don’t have the time for long discussions (or maybe they’re not capable of understanding it), just give them a few brief points:

    – Why would they come here, if we weren’t occupying and blowing up their country?

    – How would they come here, given most insurgents are dirt-poor and have no passport?

    – Why don’t they come here anyway? After all, all our armed forces are over there, so they’d have an easy time of it 🙂

    – Wouldn’t we fight an invading army? Wouldn’t we resist occupation? Why shouldn’t they?

    – How come this has not happened to any of the other numerous armies who lost in Afghanistan? (eg, Russians, British…)


  • anticant

    “Imbecilic” is too kind a word for the “if our brave boys weren’t fighting the cowardly Taliban over there, they’d be causing mayhem in our streets over here” thesis.

    Why should they (even if they had the resources, which they don’t)? Isn’t it more than likely that all “they” want is to be left alone to live in their own country as they see fit?

    If their ways of living aren’t ours, what business have we to impose our notions of “democracy” on them by force? Yes, they may treat their women abominably by our standards, but there are plenty of women – not all of them Muslims – who are being treated abominably in the UK and not nearly enough is being done about it.

    We cannot force other people to be free. We need to reinforce our own freedoms.

    Talk about motes and beams!

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