The eight year war in Afghanistan is proving to be as unpopular as the occupation of Iraq – both inside and outside the country. As the tenth Australian soldier was killed in late March, a Newspoll survey found that two thirds of Australians are opposed to sending more troops into the conflict.
At the same time however the Rudd Government is in discussions with the US about doing just that. Rudd is keen to stick by US imperialism just as the Howard Government did before it. Any decision to send more troops to Afghanistan will only lead to more causalities as the situation becomes more unstable by the day.
The United Nations backed intervention has done little for the people of Afghanistan or the region as a whole. Even top US army officials state that they are ‘not sure’ if they are winning the war. Taliban insurgents again control significant parts of the country. The occupation, far from bringing peace or stability, has actually strengthened the Taliban. Ordinary Afghans look to the Taliban in desperation because of the poverty and the continued presence of foreign troops.
In the last year there has been a dramatic escalation in violence. In 2008 the number of insurgent attacks increased by 50 per cent and there were 294 troops killed – the highest number in the history of the war. Civilian casualties have increased by 30 per cent since 2007. Raids carried out by pro-government forces, supported by international troops, are a daily event. Aid agencies report that these frequently involve excessive force if not loss of life to civilians.
There is limited, if any, access to health care facilities as many have closed as a result of violence. In some areas education is impossible – only half of all school aged children go to school. More than half of the population lives in poverty. Women particularly have been a target in this war. Touted to the western world as one of the reasons for the invasion in the first place, the lives of women are far from improved.
Laws just passed by the Afghan government give an example of what it is like for women to live in this so-called ‘liberated society’. These laws, also applicable to the Shia minority, make it illegal for a woman to refuse to have sex with her husband – effectively these laws make it legal for a husband to rape his wife.
The occupation is a living hell for ordinary Afghans. The Rudd Government has no answers as to how to address these problems. In a desperate attempt to please the US, Rudd is following Obama’s lead and supporting a ‘troop surge’.
Obama and Rudd have learnt nothing from Iraq. An occupation to prop up a powerless puppet government only breeds instability. Any troop surge may give temporary results but as Iraq shows, military force will not bring lasting peace. It is certain that more foreign troops will only compound the problems on the ground.
We call for the immediate withdrawal of all troops. The horrendous situation in Afghanistan can only be made worse by the continued occupation. Resolving the conflict has to be the task of the Afghan people. While it is the working class and poor in Afghanistan that are suffering the most from this brutal occupation, it is also theses forces that will play the biggest part in ending the war.
A united struggle against the occupation and for a decent standard of living can cut across ethnic divisions. The building of workers organisations with socialist policies will strengthen this struggle and offer a real solution for the Afghan people. The task of the labour movement in Australia is support the establishment of independent working class organisations in Afghanistan and to organise resistance to Rudd’s continued support for US imperialism.
By SP reporters