Source: Stop the War Coalition
Lindsey German is National Convenor of the UK's Stop the War Coalition
The message from the Kabul Conference on 20 July, attended by the US and its allies waging war in Afghanistan, was clear. This war is going nowhere, we have to find a way of declaring victory and getting out by 2014. Even in the unlikely event that this will happen, we are faced with four more years of Afghan civilians and invading soldiers dying in a war which has no other purpose than to save the face of the warmongers.
The Kabul conference that discussed the war in Afghanistan only served to demonstrate the impasse which the war has now reached.
Even the US administration has conceded that talks with the Taliban – so far resisted by Obama - are going to happen. The recognition that the war is losing contradicts the statements, still reiterated by foreign secretary William Hague, that there is a gradual improvement in the situation in Afghanistan.
The much-touted date for withdrawal in 2014 shows the desperation of the Nato governments, faced with defeat in Afghanistan and growing unpopularity of the war domestically.
The fact that they are talking about a withdrawal date reflects the growing costs of the war, in human life and in billions of dollars.
The death rate of British soldiers now stands at similar levels to those of Russian soldiers just before their withdrawal 20 years ago. The death rate of Afghans has increased over the past year.
The Afghan army, supposedly being trained to take over the war from the Nato forces, has a 25% desertion rate.
But the conference answered none of this.
Why is fighting continuing in Helmand and the south when a likely outcome of negotiations to end the war will be to hand over that area to the Taliban?
How can western governments claim the war is about human rights when it backs a government ranking among the most corrupt in the world? Why are these same governments ignoring public opinion, which is for rapid withdrawal of troops and an end to the war?
The role of the British government in this war has been shameful, from John Reid’s claim four years ago that the troops might be able to leave Helmand without a shot being fired in anger, to Hague’s current increasingly desperate justifications for the war.
How many more people will die before the proposed withdrawal date? How many billions will be spent on an unjustifiable war while the welfare state is slashed by the Con-Lib government.
And which government minister will have to tell the families of the dead what exactly they were fighting for?
In the coming months, Stop the War will be intensifying its campaign to bring the troops home, as most people in Britain want. We believe that the anti-war movement can make a difference, if it can mobilise this overwhelming majority into active opposition to the government's war policies.
We are planning events and activities, both nationally and across the country, involving military families, trade unions, school and college students, faith groups and anti-war campaigners.
On November 20, to coincide with the next Nato summit, which will have Afghanistan top of its agenda, we have called a national demonstration in London, to reflect the majority view in this country, that it's time to go - time to bring the troops home.
Everyone who opposes the pointless war in Afghanistan can help build the campaign to bring the troops home:
- Lobby your local MP
You can lobby your MP both face to face at their weekly surgeries and by writing to them using our online lobbying resource, which enables you to send an email in under two minutes. By law, MPs are required to reply to all communications from their constituents. Lobby your local MP online now...
Leaflet your friends, work colleagues, fellow students, trade union branch, mosque, church etc, publicising the November 20 national demonstration. Leaflets are available from the Stop the War national office.
- Join a local Stop the War group
There are many local Stop the War groups around the country, including in schools and colleges. In the coming months they will be organising meetings, debates, street stalls, lobbies of local MPs, etc.
- Start a local Stop the War group
If there is no Stop the War group in your locality, school or college, think about starting one up yourself. For help and advice, contact the national office, which can also give you contact details of other individual Stop the War supporters in your area who may want to get involved.
- Write to your local newspaper
Write to the local press, making a connection between bringing and an issue of local interest. For example, in response to a story about a soldier in the locality who has been tragically killed or wounded in a futile and unjustified war. Or link the cost of the war, now running at around £6 billion a year, to cuts in local public services now being implemented by the government.
- Kabul conference cheat sheet - report from Aljazeera, 20 July 2010
- Petraeus's first act is to establish militias to fight the Taliban - The Independent, 16 July