Losing Afghanistan 170

The 300th British soldier killed n the Afghan War died today. The poor fellow survived for eight days before giving up in a Birmingham hospital. His injuries must have been appalling and that should remind us of the thousands of British soldiers maimed who did not die, some of whom sometimes wish they had.

Afghan casualties are, of course, very many times higher, with the additional horror that at least six Afghan civilians have been killed for every Afghan fighter.

We immediately have David Cameron and Liam Fox spewing out the standard propaganda about the occupation of Afghanistan making the world a safer place. This is quite simply a ludicrous proposition, and one to which the security, military and diplomatic establishments do not subscribe.

Listen to Richard Barrett, former head of counter-terrorism at MI6 and now UN co-ordinator on international terrorism:

Mr Barrett, who formerly headed counter-terrorism for the Secret Intelligence Service, dismissed the argument advanced by British ministers that the presence of 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan would reduce the threat to the UK.

“That’s complete rubbish. I’ve never heard such nonsense,” he said, warning that the presence of foreign troops risked inflaming anti-western sentiment among British Muslim communities.

“I’m quite sure if there were no foreign toops in Afghanistan, there’d be less agitation in Leeds, or wherever, about Pakistanis extremely upset and suspicious about what Western intentions are in Afghanistan and Pakistan”

Financial Times June 14 2010

That is self-evidently true. The notion that 9/11 could only have been planned from Afghanistan is self-evidently nonsense. Our occupation of Afghanistan did not stop 7/7 or Madrid or Bali. The danger of Kyrgyzstan just to the north becoming another totally failed state is apparently not even worth the expense of a tiny Embassy to see what is happening; compare the incredible sums poured into Afghanistan. And it is plainly and demonstrably true that our occupation of Afghanistan stokes anti-Western feeling in Islamic communities.

At least, with the electoral fraudster and corrupt drug dealer Karzai and his mob being propped up by us as a puppet government, British ministers have stopped even claiming we have brought democracy to Afghanistan.

The key question is whether Cameron and Fox actually believe this nonsense about propping up Karzai to keep us safe at home. It was promonted in Brown’s No 10 as a cynical propaganda line following focus group testing of what argument would best “sell” the war. Has Cameron, like Blair, reached the level of political mountebank where mendacity and self-delusion become indivisible?

We are only one 12 months away from the date Obama set to start drawing down troop numbers. McChrystal’s “surge” has done the opposite of awe the resistance – according to the UN, attacks are up 94% on their 2009 levels. The coming disaster of the attack on Jalalabad – McChrystal’s “strategy” – keeps being postponed as the stupidity of it becomes increasingly clear in the detail.

The Danes and Canadians are both withdrawing troops in 2011. The Polish Prime Minister last week called for NATO withdrawal. Those are the three major fighting contingents apart from the UK and US. The Danes have even worse casualty rates than us. By 2011 defeat will look very close.

This is a tribal war. The laughably named “Afghan National Army” we are supporting is 75% Tajik and Uzbek. The Afghan fighters against us are 75% Pashtun. We simply took sides in the civil war – the losing side. The Pashtun (whom Western commentators almost universally and completely wrongly label as all Taliban – less than25% of Afghan fighters would call themselves Talib) know that they will win again when we are gone.

In at most five years time, we will be gone, Karzai will be gone. Those we made our enemies – the vast majority of whom, including most of the Taliban leadership, had never had wished harm to the UK until we occupied them – will be in power.

If our aim is genuinely to avoid harm to the UK, we should start negotiating with them now our orderly but swift departure from the country, and what peaceful development support we will be able to offer to their government.

170 thoughts on “Losing Afghanistan

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  • Clark

    I have retrieved Chris, Glasgow’s 12:14 comment again:


    I think you are absolutely right. The worst thing about all of this is that most afghan people especially in Helmand want International Support to rebuild but don’t trust the current government, who are just lining their pockets with a severe disregard for the general population.

    We had a construction tema in Helmand that were thrown out of the region because their security killed 9 civilians for no reason. But they will be back because the owner of the firm has a brother in the current government who will make sure he gets back in.

    They are just so corrupt and don’t really care about rebuilding especially in Helmand. There are a lot of good proposals going to the local government that won’t see the light of day because they don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. I would throw them out and a fairer government in but the US have a history of not making particularly good decisions in Afghanistan dating back to the 60’s.

    One point I would say about Pakistan is that the ISI are currently helping the Taliban in Afghanistan with the belief that when NATO troops leave they will move into control the area in the background. I think that is one of the deciding factors why NATO aren’t leaving. We all know that a lot of extremists come from Pakistan.

    Chris, Glasgow at June 21, 2010 12:14 PM

  • Clark

    R4 SDHC,

    the Afghan resistance is probably not structured like a western military, in separate barracks and ‘compounds’. Craig describes this as a civil war, so probably the ‘resistance’ are ordinary Afghanis, living amongst their communities. This makes air strikes and drone attacks completely unacceptable tactics in a ‘war’ that should not be happening anyway.

  • avatar singh

    england has always supported sunni extremist elements and terroris of all sorts-ecept when they attack their masters then tack of british media changes.

    in 80s the british were doing antisoivet propaganda saying that soviets were encouraging woem to read and write which is agasint islam according to then then british mbastard corporation otehtrwise known as BBC.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed a hidden Fact that on July 3, 1979, unknown to the public and American Congress that President Jimmy Carter secretly authorized $500 million to create an international terrorist movement that would spread Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and “de-stabilize” the Soviet Union…

    The CIA called this Operation Cyclone and in the following years poured $4 billion into setting up Islamic training schools in Pakistan (Taliban means “student”).

    These people were sent to the CIA’s spy training camp in Virginia, where future members of al-Qaeda were taught “sabotage skills” – terrorism.

    Others were recruited at an Islamic school in Brooklyn, New York, In Pakistan; they were directed by British MI6 officers and trained by the SAS.

    For years, Hizb-i-Islami fighters have had a reputation for being more educated and worldly than their Taliban counterparts, who are often illiterate farmers. Their leader, Hekmatyar, studied engineering at Kabul University in the 1970s, where he made a name of a sort for himself by hurling acid in the faces of unveiled women.

    He established Hizb-i-Islami to counter growing Soviet influence in the country and, in the 1980s, his organization became one of the most extreme fundamentalist parties as well as the leading group fighting the Soviet occupation. Ruthless, powerful, and anti-communist, Hekmatyar proved a capable ally for Washington, which funneled millions of dollars and tons of weapons through the Pakistani ISI to his forces.

    Blowback abounds in Afghanistan. Erstwhile US Central Intelligence Agency hand Jalaluddin Haqqani heads yet a third insurgent network, this one based in Afghanistan’s eastern border regions. During the anti-Soviet war, the US gave Haqqani, now considered by many to be Washington’s most redoubtable foe, millions of dollars, anti-aircraft missiles, and even tanks. Officials in Washington were so enamored with him that former congressman Charlie Wilson once called him “goodness personified”.

    Haqqani was an early advocate of the “Afghan Arabs”, who, in the 1980s, flocked to Pakistan to join the jihad against the Soviet Union. He ran training camps for them and later developed close ties to al-Qaeda, which developed out of Afghan-Arab networks towards the end of the anti-Soviet war. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US tried desperately to bring him over to its side. However, Haqqani claimed that he couldn’t countenance a foreign presence on Afghan soil and once again took up arms, aided by his longtime benefactors in Pakistan’s ISI. He is said to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan, a tactic unheard of there before 2001. Western intelligence officials pin the blame for most of the spectacular attacks in recent memory – a massive car bomb that ripped apart the Indian embassy in July, for example – on the Haqqani network, not the Taliban.

    The Haqqanis command the lion’s share of foreign fighters operating in the country and tend to be even more extreme than their Taliban counterparts. Unlike most of the Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami, elements of the Haqqani network work closely with al-Qaeda. The network’s leadership is most likely based in Waziristan, in the Pakistani tribal areas, where it enjoys ISI protection.

  • resistor


    KABUL, Afghanistan ?” American and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer, but in no instance did the victims prove to be a danger to troops, according to military officials in Kabul.

    “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” said Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who became the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan last year. His comments came during a recent videoconference to answer questions from troops in the field about civilian casualties.

  • avatar singh

    why Nato exists anyway?-just to prop up third rate power england and no body else.

    During the eighteenth century, the British were making encroachments into the Arabian peninsula, but Mohammed Abdul Wahhab, the founder of the Wahhabi movement, instead declared “Jihad” against the entire Muslim world. Wahhabism is now financed by Saudi wealth delivered by Big Oil (Western Oligarchy).

    The Muslim Brotherhood, which, though it poses as an orthodox Muslim organization, is secretly derived from Egyptian Freemasonry, has long been a tool of Western intelligence agencies. The Muslim Brotherhood received training and support from the Nazis prior to WW2, but after the war, control of the organization was passed to the Americans. However, instead of rounding up former Nazis, the American hired them.

    In the 1980s, the CIA financed and armed the so called Muslim Terrorists Bin Laden and consorts, partly through ISI.

    The divisions between warring religions is engineered and financed.


    There was a point in Afghanistan’s tortured history when the future looked bright, when a determined effort to lift the country and its people out of backward agrarian feudalism almost succeeded.

    It began with the formation of the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) back in the sixties, which opposed the autocratic rule of King Zahir Shar. The growth in popularity of the PDPA eventually led to them taking control of the country in 1978, after a coup removed the former Kings’ cousin, Mohammed Daud, from power.

    The coup enjoyed popular support in the towns and cities, evidenced in reports carried in US newspapers. The Wall Street Journal, no friend of revolutionary movements, reported at the time that ‘150,000 persons marched to honour the new flagthe participants appeared genuinely enthusiastic.’ The Washington Post reported that ‘Afghan loyalty to the government can scarcely be questioned.

    Upon taking power, the new government introduced a program of reforms designed to abolish feudal power in the countryside, guarantee freedom of religion, along with equal rights for women and ethnic minorities. Thousands of prisoners under the old regime were set free and police files burned in a gesture designed to emphasise an end to repression. In the poorest parts of Afghanistan, where life expectancy was 35 years, where infant mortality was one in three, free medical care was provided. In addition, a mass literacy campaign was undertaken, desperately needed in a society in which ninety percent of the population could neither read nor write.

    The resulting rate of progress was staggering. By the late 1980s half of all university students in Afghanistan were women, and women made up 40 percent of the country’s doctors, 70 percent of its teachers, and 30 percent of its civil servants. In John Pilger’s ‘New Rulers Of The World’ (Verso, 2002), he relates the memory of the period through the eyes of an Afghan woman, Saira Noorani, a female surgeon who escaped the Taliban in 2001. She said: “Every girl could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian movies. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. It was sad to think that these were the people the West had supported.”

    Under the pretext that the Afghan government was a Soviet puppet, which was false, the then Carter Administration authorised the covert funding of opposition tribal groups, whose traditional feudal existence had come under attack with these reforms. An initial $500 million was allocated, money used to arm and train the rebels in the art in secret camps set up specifically for the task across the border in Pakistan. This opposition came to be known as the mujaheddin, and so began a campaign of murder and terror which, six months later, resulted in the Afghan government in Kabul requesting the help of the Soviet Union, resulting in an ill-fated military intervention which ended ten years later in an ignominious retreat of Soviet military forces and the descent of Afghanistan into the abyss of religious intolerance, abject poverty, warlordism and violence that has plagued the country ever since.

    Brzezinski confirms: “Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.”

    Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, US oil companies have been vying with Russia, Iran and other energy interests for the massive, untapped oil and natural gas reserves in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. The building and protection of oil and gas pipelines in Afghanistan, to continue farther to Pakistan, India, and elsewhere, has been a key objective of US policy since before the 2001 American invasion and occupation of the country, although the subsequent turmoil there has presented serious obstacles to such plans. A planned Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline has strong support from Washington because, amongst other reasons, the US is eager to block a competing pipeline that would bring gas to Pakistan and India from Iran. But security for such projects remains daunting, and that’s where the US and NATO forces come in to play.

    In the late 1990s, the American oil company, Unocal, met with Taliban officials in Texas to discuss the pipelines.[6] Zalmay Khalilzad, later chosen to be the US ambassador to Afghanistan, worked for Unocal[7]; Hamid Karzai, later chosen by Washington to be the Afghan president, also reportedly worked for Unocal, although the company denies this. Unocal’s talks with the Taliban, conducted with the full knowledge of the Clinton administration, and undeterred by the extreme repression of Taliban society, continued as late as 2000 or 2001.

    As for NATO, it has no reason to be fighting in Afghanistan. Indeed, NATO has no legitimate reason for existence at all. Their biggest fear is that “failure” in Afghanistan would make this thought more present in the world’s mind. If NATO hadn’t begun to intervene outside of Europe it would have highlighted its uselessness and lack of mission. “Out of area or out of business” it was said.

  • Chris, Glasgow

    “the Afghan resistance is probably not structured like a western military, in separate barracks and ‘compounds’. Craig describes this as a civil war, so probably the ‘resistance’ are ordinary Afghanis, living amongst their communities. This makes air strikes and drone attacks completely unacceptable tactics in a ‘war’ that should not be happening anyway.”

    That is right and in fact the afghan resistance is a lot smaller than the media portray. The difficulty in fighting them is that when they are driven out of an area they disappear out of sight and just pop up a few months late in the same place. It is impossible to beat them and most of the troop in Helmand think that.

    Until there is a straight government in power the fighting will not stop. The taliban aren’t the major problem, it’s the poverty of the average afghan and government corruption that are the main concerns. Eliminate them and the taliban will diminish. There isn’t many of them anyway.

  • Clark


    North Atlantic Treaty Organization

    OK, you can get a bit further away from the North Atlantic than Afghanistan without actually leaving the planet; same hemisphere.

  • Mat

    It would appear that we are about to enter arguably the saddest part of any of these modern “police actions”: where the “police” inevitably withdraw and the” victors” celebrate – over the bodies of the “collaborators”…

    This giant mess seems almost unavoidable. Over the years preceding 9/11, the Soviets, various oil companies, the CIA and the Northern Alliance all found the Taliban to be… not exactly prone to negotiations. The recent eight years of conflict would have only served to eliminate any moderates (like Hamid Karzai) from the movement. Furthermore, whatever people may think of their culture, they are astute enough to know that with NATO’s military power rendered irrelevant and its members’ political will largely exhausted, time is very much on their side.

    I shudder to think what future generations will think of this pitiful episode in human history ?” as they watch perfectly preserved, digital footage of civilians exploding in helicopter gunsight cameras and listen to the flight crew chuckle. Some might wonder why, if the goal of the war was truly to “eliminate 9/11 terrorist training arenas”, NATO didn’t simply bomb selected flats in Hamburg and Washington…

  • somebody


    Another tragic landmark has been passed with the 300th British soldier do be

    killed in Afghanistan. They are now dying at a rate of one every two days in a war which is clearly aimless and unwinnable.

    The average age of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan is 22. Two hundred

    soldiers have been killed in their twenties and 31 teenagers are among the

    death toll.

    David Cameron says he wants the troops to return home from Afghanistan “with

    heads held high”. His present war policies means an increasing number will only return in a coffin or with missing limbs.



    Chancellor George Osborne has forewarned of a slash and burn attack on all public services in his budget, with the exception of defence expenditure, which will be “protected”.

    The Afghan War has cost £11 billion so far, and this year will waste another

    £4 billion. Trident renewal will cost an

    astronomical £70 billion, more than the total amount the government wants to

    cut from its budget deficit in the next five years.

    It is the war budget that should be slashed, rather than public services. And all the troops should be brought home to help end the spiral of violence in Afghanistan. The United Nations reported recently that the presence of the British army has only worsened security in the country.

    Join the budget day protest at Parliament, called by Stop the War and CND:


    TUESDAY 22 JUNE 4.30PM – 6.30PM


  • Anonymous

    ‘Call me a cynic, but as soon as I hear of the latest “rogue state”, declared by the US and endorsed, invariably, by UK and Israel – a “rogue”, always far away, invariably either poverty stricken, or embargoed – I reach for a 1993 “Encyclopaedia of Word Geography”, turn to the page on the latest declared “enemy”, and look at the box which lists: “Major resources.”‘

    ‘Further: ” (… added) to this the US proposed gas pipeline ?” Turkmenistan ?” Afghanistan ?” Pakistan ?” India (TAPI) which is worth (inestimable) dollars to the US economy” the central aim of US, UK and NATO forces seems obvious. “I would again ask: why are all the coalition forces directing their fighting in the provinces of Herat, Helmand and Kandahar? (It is) the expected transit route for the TAPI pipeline ..”, comments Eyre.’

    ‘Coincidentally it is also the centre of the Opium trade.’


  • Anonymous

    Nonsense, nonsense, Afghanistan has nothing that we want, we’re doing it for their women and their gays and those Buddhist statues, and anyway, we’d just trade with them, like we always do. Nuke’em, nuke’em! Terrorists!

  • Larry from St. Louis

    Yes! This thread had links to davidicke.com and globalresearch.ca!

    Anyone want to link to infowars.com? A Russia Today video?

  • Malcolm Pryce


    This is a remarkable claim:

    ‘It was promonted in Brown’s No 10 as a cynical propaganda line following focus group testing of what argument would best “sell” the war.’

    Do you have a source for this?

  • Larry from St. Louis

    “Who would you link to Larry, if you knew how?”

    If I knew how? Certainly not to davidicke.com!

    Lizard people!

  • Malcolm Pryce

    I don’t believe Cameron buys the nonsensical rationale either, he’s just paying lip service to it because he doesn’t have any choice. The question is, what does he think it’s really about? What do they tell him when he asks? Do they say, ‘Oh it’s about the pipeline but we can’t say that.’? I’d love to know.

  • Clark

    Malcolm Pryce,

    at a guess, I’d say the official doctrine is to maintain a power base near (1) Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and (2) Iran. It may also be about putting forces between these two.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Avatar Singh, those were great posts – thanks again for providing the long view; this is crucial in such discussions. Of course they were a creation of the US/UK. There are now so many double-games going on, it’s dizzying.

  • Larry from St. Louis

    There’s absolutely no evidence that the CIA funded bin Laden. Likewise, there’s no evidence for pretty much everything else that Avatar Singh claims.

  • MJ

    “There’s absolutely no evidence that the CIA funded bin Laden”.

    Only if you’re not interested in evidence. Who do you think led the CIA-funded Mujahadeen against the Soviets in the 1980s?

    I recently came across a good quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that reminded me of you Larry:

    “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people”.

  • kingfelix

    Straight question for Craig –

    “This is quite simply a ludicrous proposition, and one to which the security, military and diplomatic establishments do not subscribe.”

    So who is keeping this war going? Or were you referring only to UK security, military, diplomats, etc, and Britain will stay for so long as the US sees fit?

  • malcolm Pryce

    Just seen an extended interview on Channel 4 with the widow and daughter of Captain Mark Hale, the 300th soldier to die. Very moving. What an outrage that these families are being devastated on the back of such a bogus rationale. And that goes for all the dead in Afghanistan too. Why do we allow them to get away with it?

  • Tony

    On the button, Craig. I anticipated the old grim milestone headlines which we are all reading today on my own blog yesterday. There will be another one along before long. There is not even a pretence of a strategy in Afghanistan now.

  • Tony


    What is happening with Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles and his extended “leave” and Karen Pierce? Coincidentally the Gulf is full of American, Israeli warships and nuclear submarines.

    Has our Coalition agreed to war with Iran on 23rd? or is this an idle blog-rumour?

    This is itchy trigger-finger-syndrome. The US fancies a new war, Israel is always up for a war. Hague and Fox will be frothing at the mouth at the prospect of a war. Not so sure about the LibDems.

  • Anonymous

    ‘Death rate of UK soldiers in Afghanistan four time higher than US’

    ‘The average age of British soldiers dying in the pointless and unwinnable Afghanistan war is 22. Two hundred soldiers have been killed in their twenties and 31 teenagers are among the death toll.’


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