Kandahar massacre means troops must leave Afghanistan

Photo: Peter Boyle.

The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on March 13.

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The 1968 My Lai massacre of at least 500 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam was a turning point in the US war on Vietnam. Most of the victims of the US platoon outrage were women, children (including babies) and elderly people.

It was not until the following year when investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the news of this atrocity that it became one of the tipping points in finally ending the US-led war on the Vietnamese people.

Fast forward to the March 11, 2012, massacre in the Alkozai village of Panjwayi district in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. At least 16 people — mainly women and children — were shot and burned in their beds by a US special forces soldier assigned to “village stability operation”.

News breaks faster these days — but will this massacre be the tipping point in the war on Afghanistan?

Most people want the troops out, but widespread confusion over the “war on terror” has helped contribute to inertia on the issue — at least in this country. This has to be overcome if the widespread disgust and opposition is to be transformed into something more potent.

This latest massacre in Afghanistan is not an aberration: it continues from the near 11-year history of the US-NATO occupation. No one knows how many Afghans and Pakistanis have been killed in the conflict.

Afghans want the troops to leave — a fact confirmed whenever polls are taken. When petitions, statements and protests are ignored, Afghans understandably resort to taking up arms against their army trainers, or joining a local militia.

How many more atrocities do the Afghan people have to suffer before the US-NATO forces withdraw?

Those who oppose this war have a responsibility to help make the Kandahar massacre a tipping point and demand the Gillard Labor government remove the Australian troops immediately.

Just as the My Lai massacre showed more than 40 years ago, shooting sprees by demoralised and crazed soldiers in Afghanistan reveal a deep disquiet within the occupying armies about the purpose and outcomes in this war.

The views of the Afghan people — the unknown, unnamed victims of this senseless carnage — must be heard, respected and heeded. Getting the occupation forces out is the necessary first step. The second is war reparations from the West to assist in an Afghan-led reconstruction of their war-ravaged country.

This is the job that needs to be done — not “training” Afghan people to kill each other, not propping up a corrupt government, not maintaining huge military bases that double as torture centres, not terrorising a whole generation of youth, and not helping install fundamentalists and reactionaries to supposedly bring peace to Afghanistan.

Socialist Alliance says: No more excuses. No more deaths. The Australian government must pull the troops out now.