Anti-war coalition: ‘More troops not the answer’

Afghanistan needs war reparations not more troops.
June 2, 2017

On May 30, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was the first of the “coalition of the willing” to declare he would support US President Donald Trump’s request for more occupying troops in Afghanistan. Sydney Stop the War Coalition issued this statement which is abridged below.

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Sydney Stop the War Coalition opposes the Turnbull Coalition government’s decision to take up US President Donald Trump’s request and send more Australian troops to the quagmire in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan was never the “good war” its proponents argued. Australia joined the US-led Coalition in 2001, ostensibly in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on the US. The invaders removed the Taliban from government, amid much human carnage and destruction. They then helped install and maintain puppet governments.

Sixteen years later, and under a new warmongering president, the US is again urging NATO to increase its troop numbers to around 50,000. There are 8400 US troops in Afghanistan now, and 13,450 NATO-led forces, including 270 Australian troops.

The Labor Party agrees with sending 30 more trainers and advisers — a clear statement that it supports the permanent war started in September 2001.

Amin Saikal, head of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies in Canberra, said sending more troops was not the answer.

Andrew Wilkie, the former Special Forces officer and now Independent MP, has criticised the deployment as “reinforcing defeat in Afghanistan” and called for all Australian troops to be withdrawn. He said Afghanistan had to be allowed to “find its natural political level”.

Greens parliamentary leader Richard di Natale has also called for all Australian troops to be withdrawn and for an “independent, non-aligned foreign policy”.

Afghan human rights activists such as Malalai Joya have repeatedly said that Western intervention and occupation is preventing the popular movements from taking up the political fight against the fundamentalists. She says, given the opportunity, Afghans would wholeheartedly reject cronyism and fundamentalism in all its forms, just as the country did in the 1970s when it moved to become a republic.

Afghanistan remains among the top drug producing countries. It remains corrupt. It remains misogynist. It remains war-ravaged. The puppet government controls just 57% of the country.

The United Nations reported in May that close to 600,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their homes so far this year, the highest number since 2008.

Australia should withdraw its support for permanent war and pull all troops out of Afghanistan. The war is fuelling the rise of terrorist groups, not diminishing them. Sending more troops helps the permanent war strategy — a death trap for the poor but a source of mega profits for the weapons industries.

Australia should offer war reparations to Afghanistan: send engineers, doctors, educators, social workers and mental health professionals. It should also allow more asylum seekers to find refuge here.

[Stay in touch with Sydney Stop the War Coalition Facebook page.]

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