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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  • dreoilin

    An aside to Craig (and any techs involved with the site?):

    Could comments be set up so that when one posts on a thread, one automatically gets an email notification of any further posts on that thread? As happens on other blogs/sites? It would be very useful, and make it easier to respond to people if/when they post something directed at oneself.

    I’ve only known when someone asked me a question because I came back and checked all recent threads.

  • dreoilin

    “The IRA managed it, after all, and they were heavily infiltrated by the security ‘services’, and financed by passing the cap round in friendly pubs.”


    A very large amount of that cash was raised in the USA. And those who were giving that cash (in the USA) are now screaming for the blood of Muslims.

    There is racism in regard to which terrorists one supports. The IRA were white. And for Irish-Americans, shrouded in shamrock and mists.

  • T(echnicolour)

    Dreolin, quite right. I had such a gross email forwarded from a friend of mine, obviously stemming from the States. It was called “A German’s view of fanatics” and it contained insights like:

    “We are told again and again by ‘experts’ and ‘talking heads’ that

    Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims

    just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be

    true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to

    make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of

    fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.”

    It then goes on to compare all Muslims to Nazis.

    Now, this was forwarded by a nice, middle aged, woman, who should – could -might even – know better, in all seriousness. What, hey?

  • Neil Craig

    Tom 4.38 while I am very glad to hear that we were on the same side over Yugoslavia I think you will agree that the journalists, politicians, lib dems & indeed large majority of people now “concerned” about Afghanistan weren’t about us bombinmg hospitals to help Nazis publicly committed to genocide.

    I don’t agree with you about al Quaeda not being responsible for 9/11.

    And to the later writer who asked what evidence there was we could defeat the Taliban I can only repeat that, by assisting the northern alliance with little more than air power we did defeat them. That surely means that local soldiers on the ground, witgh western technological support can certainly do it again. Putting western forces on the ground is fighting to their strengths not ours.

  • anticant


    You say you “don’t agree” about al-Qaeda not being responsible for 9/11, but have looked at the all the very substantial evidence which suggests otherwise?

  • anticant

    Try again –

    have you looked at the very substantial evidence which suggests they weren’t?

  • Anonymous


    I don’t give a humanitarian label if you decide this blog doesn’t welcome anti-militarism. Go throw some cluster bombs at some poor people or whatever it is you usually do. The “soldiers” are engaged in illegal acts. Does Nuremberg mean anything to you? Perhaps not. Perhaps it only applies to Germans and black people.

    As far as I’m concerned your friends “fighting” over there (who of course are not the ones killing families and torturing people – right) are scumbags for taking part in this 21st century barbarism.

  • Anonymous

    Members of the Shittish army who have taken part in ANY of the illegal wars deserve to be spat at when they give their “welcome come” parades, then bundled into a remand cell awaiting trial.

    Those military personnel who DON’T take part in this war have my utmost respect.

    All the Kipling is rather appropriate given the few ‘white mans burdens’ types excusing mass murder here.

  • Anonymous


    They are ‘children’

    They don’t read their official mercenary contracts, they come from deprived areas, and broken homes.

    There’ll be no thicko’s there then!

    Same much go for those people I knew who jointed the ‘army’ who did a great job pretending to be thick.

  • Anonymous

    you know craig you really should have a link to wikileaks on your website.

    I know this is off topic, but newly released documents (suppressed) on the McCanns really do warrant a look at.


  • Clark

    Nameless commenter,

    please use a name, so that people can reply and quote. You seem very angry; have you been affected personally in some way?

  • anticant

    No doubt Craig will be posting about the above. The tone of several comments cheerfully endorsing torture is repugnant. But I liked the one which enquired whether Mr Edwards would still be making the same argument while his finger nails were being pulled out with a pair of pliers!

  • George Dutton

    16 October 2009

    “The politicization of the British military”

    “The turn to colonial wars of conquest is driven by the struggle between the major powers to carve up the planet’s strategic resources, such as oil and gas. This, in turn, is bound up with the drive by a narrow and fabulously wealthy elite to secure ever-greater levels of personal wealth. Under conditions of a global economic slump and a deepening gulf between rich and poor, such an agenda is incompatible with the maintenance of democratic forms of rule?”given that it must be carried out at the direct expense of the vast majority of the population.”…

    “A couple of thousand men in the Horse Guards Parade could do a lot of trouble before troops came – if they came,” Wilson confided to his political secretary Marcia Williams.”…

  • arsalan goldberg

    soldiers die,

    their mothers cry.

    politicians lie,

    Who takes the biggest slice of the pie,

    Craig Murray do you like Curry?

  • SteveK

    I still don’t get the “preventing terrorism on UK streets” reasoning, despite the comments above.

  • Abe Rene

    According to Brown’s speech to the IISS


    “The Director-General of our security service has said that three quarters of the most serious plots against the UK have had links that reach back into these mountains.. The sustained pressure on Al Qaeda in Pakistan combined with military action in Afghanistan is having a suppressive effect on Al Qaeda’s ability to operate effectively in the region..”

    If 75% of terrorist plots originate from Al-Qaeda in the Afghan-Pakistani border region, and if the continued war helps to curtail them, how is the decision to send another 500 men there ‘imbecilic’?

  • Jon

    @Abe: it could be viewed as imbecilic if, as the British public are beginning to suspect:

    (a) the certainty of Afghan civilian deaths at our hands is more morally objectionable than the possibility of deaths in Britain from the continued operations of Al Qaeda abroad;

    (b) it is unjust that we have a climbing death toll amongst young working-class British men, sent to their fate by a class of people who very rarely risk their own sons in the same way;

    (c) the more foreign innocents we kill, and the more countries we force down the neoliberal capitalist path against the wishes of its population, the more people around the world will turn against us, some of whom will turn to terrorism;

    (d) after the lies that led to our disgraceful actions in Iraq, the security services are lying again.

  • dreoilin

    Talking about the “certainty of Afghan civilian deaths”, is anyone, anywhere, attempting to count them?

  • subrosa

    antiwar groups in the UK are hardly inundated with war resisters willing to go public.

    Posted by: Jon at October 15, 2009 12:58 PM

    John, many of the anti-war people are families of the military who consider their family member has been send illegally to fight in wars.

    Just in case you have no experience of having member of your family in the military, it’s not pleasant knowing they’re fighting purely on the basis of lies.

    The Ministry of Defence can be very cruel to personnel if their family speak out against these wars. Of course, they’re not wars because there have been no war cabinets and MPs have gaily tripped off on their 82 day summer holiday while 37 soldiers have been killed.

    “To protect our streets” is one lie which has been spun regularly by the government. That’s rubbish and we know it. Our presence in Iraq and now Afghanistan will create far more danger to these islands in the future.

    Perhaps now you realise why some anti-war protestors cannot ‘go public’. For their nearest and dearest to have a ‘dishonourable discharge’ would ensure they were never considered for a job in civilian life. To tell a prospective employer the dishonourable discharge was because my mother decided to be vocal in a protest through the streets of London would sound fantasy – when it’s the truth.

  • dreoilin

    “The head of MI5 broke cover last night to defend the service’s foreign intelligence links with countries accused of torturing detainees, saying British lives had been saved as a direct result.”

    Echoes of Dick Cheney: “ten of thousands of lives were saved” … or whatever number he plucked out of thin air.

  • anon

    Rob Lewis

    The Crown. After serving Queen and country a great many soldiers fall foul of and get made an example of by the Crown prosecution service when they return unsettled to civilian life.

    We the Brits only knock the shit out of Muslims because it has proven to be effective over a thousand years of punching a whole in the Muslim faith.

    Then a whole lot more Muslim babies get born and they all start believing again. Meanwhile our boys realise what the Crown was really up to, blatant colonialism and anti-truth, and a whole lot more British babies get born who can be sent wet behind the ears to bash Islam and acquire stuff.

    My father in law was a picture restorer and I found him one day working on a picture similar to the above.

    He said, paintbrush in hand, ‘ There’s far too much blood, I’m going to take out some of this blood.’ We are only doing in Afghanistan what we did previously to the whole world for the sake of the Queen and Empire. You must be a very silly man indeed if you still think in the age of the internet that there is honour and glory in fighting for the privelege of remaining a wealthy and powerful country at the expense of others and at the expense of truth.

  • Jon

    @subrosa – thanks for your reply. You are quite right, and I should have reflected that in my comments. I’ve had experience – a couple of years back – of members of the army coming up to anti-war stalls and giving us unqualified, but quiet, support. I saw Peter Brierley talk at a public meeting some years back, and Lynda Holmes of MFAW at another one.

    So I am aware that the situation is more nuanced than was perhaps clear from my post. I guess I am frustrated that we didn’t have a ‘Vietnam moment’ with Iraq, where there were enough resisters willing to condemn the war to make it easier to do so. Still, it may yet happen with Afghanistan, especially since it feels we have a turning point in the public perception, with now over 200 British soldiers having died. I fear we will still be there at 250, and 300, but at that point the patience of the public will really begin to be tested, and hopefully that will increase private discontent amongst soldiers, if not public condemnations.

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