Sunday, 18 April 2010

Afghanistan: 10 reasons the troops should come home

Stop the War have produced a new pamphlet about the war in Afghanistan. Leading Respect member Andy Newman, who I am proud to say was campaigning with me today in Sparkbrook, has written a succinct summary.

‘The pamphlet explains how the war has not liberated women, how opium production has flourished, how the “democracy” in Afghanistan is corrupt and shallow, and how the military action is an obstacle to economic reconstruction.

There is no positive outcome that can come from continuation of the war. It has revived the political-economy of warlordism, where the national government only has partial control of much of Afghanistan, and is required to mediate with warlords who depend upon constant conflict, and are parasitic on the economy.

The prognosis for “Afghanistanisation” of the conflict assumes that the Afghan police, army and civic government are capable of taking on the task, or are even on the road to building that capability. They are not.

Afghanistan is completely awash with graft, corruption, crime and extortion, and The UN Report on Drugs and Crime Prevention estimates that $2.3 billion in bribes paid per year amounts to 23% of the entire GDP. 54% of Afghans beeive that international organisations and NGOs are “corrupt and in the country just to get rich”.

NATO even sets aside money itself to give to the insurgents. The Times reported in October 2009 that the Italian government pays the Taliban not to attack their troops. On 28th January this year at the International Conference on Afghanistan a regular fund of $100 million a year was proposed to pay warlords to stop fighting.This is a disastrous strategy that cannot bring enduring peace as it structurally consolidates the system of warlordism which is incompatible with the objective of building a stable national state and a civic society with a productive economy. Yet before the NATO invasion, warlordism was in decline.

Afghanistan cannot move forward unless the war stops, and Western troops withdraw. But while that is a necessary condition for peace, it is not a sufficient one. The cycle of warlordism needs to be broken; this requires international cooperation especially from the countries bordering Afghanistan, and it may be a long process.

But sadly, despite the terrible sacrifices of the war; NATO’s presence is actually perpetuating the problems, and indeed reinforcing the warlords.’