YESTERDAY the Dutch parliament delayed its decision to send more than 1,000 Dutch troops to Afghanistan, as part of a NATO force, under British command, that is to take over the south from the US military.
They were helped to take their decision by the US envoy to NATO. She has made it crystal clear that the NATO force will have to do battle with the Taleban led insurgency, which now has massive support, following large numbers of attacks on the local population by US forces engaged in capture and kill operations.
The NATO force in the south is to be commanded by the British military and, as of now, up to 4,000 British troops are pencilled in for the operation.
The United States envoy to NATO, Victoria Nuland warned that the British-led military force will have to fight it out with the resurgent Taleban forces.
British troops are to go from the frying pan of Iraq, where they are no longer tolerated in the cities and towns of the south, into the fires of Afghanistan, where the writ of the puppet president does not run outside his palace in Kabul, where US troops have been involved in heavy fighting in the east and south of the country, suffering heavy casualties, and where the intensity of the fighting is increasing on a daily basis.
Nuland added that Nato must provide ‘a strong and robust fighting force’ in the region.
She continued that there should be no illusions about the ‘rigorous environment’ in the south.
‘Nato forces, in providing security and stability throughout the country except to the east, will be prepared to perform missions up to and including what we call counter-insurgency, which obviously will require a strong and robust fighting force.’
The result of her warning has been that the Dutch, and no doubt, a number of the other NATO ‘partners’, are now frightened that suffering heavy casualties in Afghanistan will see their governments come under heavy attack by angry masses at home, under conditions where, once they are committed to the south, it will become very difficult to pull out of Afghanistan and thus concede victory to the Taleban.
Instead, they fear that they will be asked to reinforce any troops that they send, and so will get sucked deeper and deeper into an Afghan quagmire, into which many foreign armies, before them, have disappeared.
No wonder they are hesitating and postponing decisions.
In the last few weeks scores have died in a spate of attacks in the south, a growing number of them in Iraq style suicide bombings.
One blast on Monday killed 20 Afghans in Spin Boldak near the Pakistan border. A day earlier a senior Canadian diplomat was among three killed in another bombing in the city of Kandahar itself.
Once again Bush is relying on the British government. This will, as we know, do anything that is required of it by American capitalism, reasoning, as it did over Iraq, that Britain has to pay a blood price for its alleged strategic relationship with US capitalism.
Workers in Britain must make it clear through their trade union organisations that all British troops must be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan at once.
The Blair government will not do this. It must be brought down and replaced by a workers’ government that will withdraw all the troops and carry out socialist policies.