AFTER the initial declarations of the British and other NATO forces that they were going to Afghanistan to win ‘hearts and minds’ through engaging in reconstruction works, the truth is now well and truly out.
In fact, in the last two months up to a million rounds of ammunition have been used up, by Dutch, Canadian, British and other NATO forces, along with thousands of mortar bombs and hundreds of missiles discharged from US and British war planes, as well as missiles fired from ‘drones’.
As well, up to 40 British soldiers have been killed, as well as hundreds wounded in fierce fighting with the Taleban and its allies.
The fact that many of the British wounded have ended up in NHS hospitals in Britain or even on NHS waiting lists, has shown just how unprepared the British government was for the conflict that it initiated in Helmand province.
Now the British army is withdrawing from its advanced outposts in Helmand province under a flag of truce, after negotiations with the Taleban, using tribal leaders for that purpose.
Their commanders have admitted that it was either retreat under a flag of truce or do so under fire with the prospect of losing one or more helicopters, laden with troops.
The first course equals humiliation, with an attempt to cover it over with spin, the second course would mean disaster, and a strategic military defeat leading to the withdrawal of British forces.
The British army has taken the first course.
What can now be seen is that far from seeking to win hearts and minds, the NATO forces used their firepower and US air force firepower to destroy many Afghan villages, killing thousands of Afghans and turning between 80,000 and 90,000 people into refugees.
This was confirmed by the UN agency for refugees yesterday which stated that between 80,000 and 90,000 people have been displaced by the conflict in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan, where the NATO forces have been allegedly winning hearts and minds but actually slaughtering hundreds and perhaps thousands of people.
The UNHCR said that it had distributed jerry cans, plastic sheeting, floor mats, lanterns, family kits and blankets to 3,200 families in Kandahar province, but that the fighting had added ‘renewed hardship’ to a population already hard-hit by drought and earlier conflicts.
‘We expect further displacement may take place until conditions are safe for the population to return to their homes,’ said Jennifer Pagonis, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
‘People have lost everything – their vineyards, orchards, schools and clinics,’ said the statement released by the UNHCR.
Lt Gen David Richards, the commander of Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), said last week that improvements were just around the corner.
‘I am very confident that you will find that all the money out there will start to be put to a very good effect and the people will see visible improvements in their lives,’ he told the media returning to the ‘winning hearts and minds’ line.
However, the British bourgeois media was yesterday full of senior military officers talking about the need for more helicopters, and many tanks and Warrior armoured vehicles in order to take the fight to the Taleban in the next round of the war, when they will be coming up against the ieds (improvised explosive devices), and other weapons that have caused havoc to the US forces in Iraq.
They are talking about switching the British forces in southern Iraq to Afghanistan and getting deeper and deeper into the Afghan quagmire, into which whole British imperialist armies have disappeared without trace in the past.
The British ruling class is heading for disaster in Afghanistan and revolution at home.
The British workers must ally themselves with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and put an end to British imperialism with a socialist revolution.