WITH ten British troops killed in Helmand province so that just hundreds of people could vote – and after five per cent turned out to vote in Southern Afghanistan, while the election in the non-Pashtun areas in the north of the country was completely rigged and known to be rigged – the policy of British and US imperialism in Afghanistan lies in shreds.
The debacle surrounding the elections touched off an explosive row last Thursday between the US government’s representative in Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke (who organised the imperialist dismemberment of Yugoslavia) and President Karzai. Holbrooke demanded that the election be re-run in a ‘second round’. Karzai declined to do anything of the sort.
One of Holbrooke’s ex-comrades in arms, Paddy Ashdown, intervened in the row. Ashdown, who was appointed High Commissioner (dictator) of Bosnia by Holbrooke and NATO, pleaded that a completely rigged election was better than no election at all.
However, Karzai is absolutely discredited, with nobody, except the likes of warlords like General Dostum, available to take his place.
The British government is now trapped in Afghanistan, in a trap of its own making. The troops were sent off to Helmand province from Iraq with the words of then Labour Defence Secretary John Reid ringing in their ears. He maintained that they would not have to fire a single shot.
Twelve million shots later, the Tories and the army commanders are demanding as many as 20,000 more troops and a supply of all of the equipment necessary to win the war. They want a massive increase in military expenditure.
The Afghan war is however completely opposed by the majority of the people in the UK, who see it as a doomed imperialist adventure, which has already been defeated, and in which British troops are dying in order not to offend the US Obama administration.
The majority of the people will become very angry when the next Budget seeks to enlarge military expenditure to try to win this hopeless imperialist adventure, while slashing the Health, Education and Social Security budgets.
In fact, the Afghan war threatens to do for UK capitalism what the defeat at the hands of the Japanese in 1904 did for Russian Tsarism – usher in revolution at home.
Premier Brown, currently on a trip to Afghanistan, is thrashing around in the Afghan swamp, while sinking deeper and deeper into it.
While implying that more British troops will be sent, he has been engaged in talks with the US commander of all NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.
Brown raised with McChrystal the need to hold political talks with the Taleban, and offering an amnesty to insurgents who lay down their arms.
The line of British officials in Kabul is that a large section of the Taleban could be won over by political office or bribes, but that an Afghan has to be found who they will negotiate with.
McChrystal has mobilised Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb, a former British SAS commander with whom he worked in Iraq building the ‘awakening forces’ movement, to make contact with the Taleban.
That this is an admission of defeat is obvious. The Taleban leadership around Mullah Omar is intact. The Taleban will not negotiate anything less than the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Fighting the Taleban and slaughtering Afghan civilians with one hand, and handing them millions of dollars worth of gold bribes with the other, is not a viable policy for holding onto Afghanistan.
British imperialism is simply sinking deeper and deeper into the Afghan quagmire. The TUC Congress in September must decide to mount a national campaign of demonstrations and political strikes to demand that all British troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Middle East!