ANOTHER British soldier has died after a shooting in the Iraqi town of Al-Qurna, north of Basra. The soldier was the 118th member of the British armed forces to die while serving in Iraq since the conflict began in March 2003.
Britain is desperate to withdraw from Iraq. However the reality of the ‘security crisis’ in Basra, Iraq’s second city, means that up to 400 extra troops are being sent there.
In Afghanistan the British army has suffered 37 fatalities in as many days, and is set to rapidly catch up and overtake the number of British soldiers that have been killed in Iraq in the three years of conflict since March 18, 2003.
In fact, the British and Nato forces have walked into a death trap in Afghanistan with their eyes wide open.
Before the large mass of British forces was sent out to Helmand, the then Labour Defence Secretary, Reid, insisted that British troops could well spend their entire three year tour of duty without firing a shot.
Now, we are being incessantly told that they are being fired on for 24 hours a day, so that they can get no sleep, that they are being subjected to head-on assault by hundreds of Taleban, and that their weapons are so hot from firing that they are starting to melt.
It is now admitted that they will suffer heavy casualties in this Afghan campaign.
How is it that they believed that they were going to be in a benign area, and even when they began to take casualties they insisted that the Taleban were a pushover and were being wiped out with ease?
The answer is that they were blinded, despite all of the lessons of history concerning previous British defeats in Afghanistan, by dodgy intelligence from the Americans who were desperate to quit Afghanistan, and by their own insufferable British imperialist arrogance.
This was despite the fact that at the press conference where Reid declared his ‘there would not be a shot fired’, the media greeted his remarks with gasps of disbelief.
This was despite the fact that there were ample warnings from the Taleban that they were getting ready to give the British a very hot welcome, and reliable reports that groups of Afghans had gone to Iraq to learn about the construction and use of improvised explosive devices (ieds).
Now the British troops are trapped in Afghanistan, with no way out except in coffins.
Thousands of fighters are flocking to Helmand and Kandahar to take on and defeat the British and Nato forces, so that their deeds will live through the ages, alongside the deeds of their predecessors who inflicted the historic defeats on British imperialism in the 19th century.
In fact, Nato, despite its 18,500 strong force, its US provided air strikes, its fleets of helicopter gunships, its missiles, cluster bombs and artillery, is being defeated. The addition of 2,500 more troops will make no difference, since the Red Army deployed more than 200,000 in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
The strategic line of the US-UK imperialist axis is that the ‘war against terror’ must be won. This means that the imperialists are determined to seize control of the oil and gas resources of the Middle East and Caspian Sea region.
Not only will there be no retreat from Afghanistan and Iraq, there will have to be a very major reinforcement of the imperialist forces, since this war is to be expanded into Iran.
The costs of this extensive military adventure will have to be borne by the working class, and will come out of the health and education budgets, driving forward the complete privatisation of the NHS and state education.
The bloody quagmire that has been created in Iraq and Afghanistan will lead inexorably to revolution in Britain, since the only way to maintain the Welfare State and bring an end to the imperialist wars will be to overthrow the imperialist governments responsible, with socialist revolutions, and go forward to socialism.
The trade union delegates at the TUC Congress must make a start along this road. They must demand that Blair and Brown, the twin architects of British imperialist policy, resign, and decide that they will only finance a Labour government that carries out socialist policies.