NATO under the hammer – as Tories refuse to serve in Kandahar

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THE surge organised by President Obama and General Petraeus in Afghanistan has been turned into its opposite by the Taleban.

The Taleban have now organised a counter surge and are inflicting heavy casualties on the imperialist forces. Their co-thinkers in Pakistan have also surged forward and are now initiating military operations on the outskirts of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

In fact the relations between the major imperialist allies, the US and the UK are being broken down under the strain of the Taleban counter-attack.

In the last days of the Brown government it was an article of faith that the UK forces would be shifting out of Helmand as part of the surge to retake Kandahar from the Taleban, a major operation that would see house to house fighting and heavy casualties.

The British military have refused to go and under the Tory led coalition this policy has been dropped, with Defence Minister Fox stressing that Britain can no longer operate as the world’s policeman or even as the provider of cannon fodder for the US. In fact the UK army has suffered badly in Afghanistan – witness the slaughter of its very expensively trained bomb disposal experts!

The reality is that the Tories know that the war is lost and do not want to get deeper and deeper into the quagmire that is Afghanistan. However they are discovering that it is much harder to get out in good order, with the US’ agreement, than it was to get involved in the first place.

In fact, the NATO corpses are beginning to pile up. Yesterday four US Nato soldiers were killed when their helicopter was shot down in Sangin market in Helmand province.

The Taleban claimed its fighters had shot down the aircraft with a rocket-propelled grenade. Earlier on Wednesday, a British soldier was killed, also in Helmand province.

More than 20 Nato soldiers have now died, including 10 last Monday, when US-led forces were counter attacked by a powerful Taleban formation.

Speaking in London yesterday, US Defence Secretary Gates said that he had ‘no illusions’ about quick victories and warned it would be a ‘tough summer’.

He must be wondering whether his British allies have the necessary determination and resources to stay the course, taking into account that they have just formed a Star Chamber to start the war against the working class at home, and presumably will need their troops back at home, as part of a life insurance policy for capitalism.

Meanwhile, Pakistani fighters attacked an Afghan-bound Nato convoy overnight near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, killing at least seven people and setting several vehicles on fire.

Some three-quarters of the supplies needed by the 130,000 US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan are transported by land from the Pakistani port of Karachi. Now they cannot even guarantee getting their supplies through.

With casualties mounting there is now very little public support, either in the UK or the US, for pursuing the imperialist war in central Asia. There are currently around 94,000 US troops in Afghanistan, almost the full surge force while Nato allies contribute another 47,000 soldiers.

Meanwhile President Karzai is showing his understanding of the situation. Looking to save his own skin, his plan to enter into peace talks with the Taleban received the backing of tribal leaders at a three-day meeting in Kabul last week.

The Taleban responded that they would negotiate when foreign troops were all withdrawn.

On Tuesday, UK Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said British troops would stay until Afghanistan was ‘stable enough’ to ensure internal and foreign security. He added that it was highly unlikely that British troops would be going to Kandahar. The ageing Lion will continue to limp on for a little bit longer.

The TUC and the British trade unions must demand the immediate withdrawal of all UK troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The defeat of the British ruling class in Afghanistan will be a prelude to their historic defeat at home and the ending of their capitalist system with the introduction of socialism.