IN the light of President Obama’s determination to quit Afghanistan, and his acknowledgement that the US has been talking to the Taleban, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Hague, has had little alternative but to admit – while on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan – that Britain is also talking to the enemy.
In fact, the rapid retreat from Kabul is to be carried out in the teeth of bitter opposition from the leading UK and US generals, including the US commander in the field General Petraeus and his UK opposite number.
A ruling class that cannot keep the leadership of its armed forces on its side, and rely on them, is in trouble indeed, since it will have to rely on them at home in the near future, as it seeks to impose mass austerity.
Whilst admitting that talking to the enemy has begun, Hague has also been talking to the British forces in Helmand to attempt to convince them that this policy is not one of extreme weakness and an admission of an historic defeat at the hands of the Afghans.
He has told troops in the field: ‘Reconciliation with people who have been in a military conflict can be very distasteful.’
As well as: ‘In all these types of situations, you do have to face up to some distasteful things.
‘There would be no reconciliation possible if we hadn’t had the fantastic military effort of recent years.’
This ‘reconciliation’ with the Taleban is indeed a very bitter pill to swallow, since the Taleban leaders are not giving an inch to the imperialists, and were never friends in any shape or form.
The UK schedule is a busy one, with all combat troops due to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 2015.
Obama has announced the withdrawal of 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012, with all US combat troops out of Afghanistan by 2014.
The Taleban, however, stands fast, saying that: ‘The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan once again wants to make it clear that the solution for the Afghan crisis lies in the full withdrawal of all foreign troops immediately and, while this does not happen, our armed struggle will increase from day to day.’
The US-UK withdrawal is to begin under these conditions.
The US reductions have stirred and shaken the US military leadership. They have told the president that the recent security gains were fragile and reversible, and had urged him to keep troop numbers high until 2013. They envisage an early Taleban take-over of Afghanistan.
Nevertheless the retreat or rout from Kabul is under way and is a victory says Obama.
He is even insisting on the absurd position that the withdrawal is ‘from a position of strength’.
He said: ‘We have put al-Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.’
However, it is the US that is definitely relenting since: ‘After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support.’ The US will be ‘supporting’ a Taleban-led government.
The semi-demoralised forces of the British army, with their mutinous general staff, will be quitting Helmand with their tails between their legs, after quitting Basra in the same fashion.
Their immediate future will be being used as cannon fodder in the Anglo-French North African wars, and/or being used in the UK against the working class as strikebreakers.
However, many of the troops will learn the lessons from the Iraq and Afghan wars that they have fought since 1991. One of the lessons is that they were always nothing more than expendable cannon fodder, and bully boys for imperialism.
Many will be determined to never play that role at home, against the working class and the youth.