Bring them all back now!
The Socialist Alliance views the February 21 announcement by the Australian government to send 200 more troops to Afghanistan as a regressive development, and calls on it to reverse the decision and to remove all the troops currently stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Canberra's decision comes shortly after Washington's announcement that it will be withdrawing 3000 troops from Afghanistan.
Both the Coalition government and the ALP opposition claim that the new troop deployment, to the Oruzgan province in south-central Afghanistan, which will bring Australia's occupation force in that country to around 500 by mid-year, is aimed at helping to reconstruct the country. However, defence minister Brendan Nelson and Labor's Robert McClelland have also said that the real "target" in Afghanistan are the al Qaeda terrorists.
Neil James from the Australian Defence Association admits the assignment is "likely to be as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than the task group in Southern Iraq".
PM John Howard says his decision is "further evidence of the government's ongoing commitment to assist the people of Afghanistan in consolidating their embrace of democracy". This is an admission that Australian and other invading countries are losing their battle to force their will on the people of Afghanistan.
The Socialist Alliance is also critical of Labor's support for more troops to Afghanistan. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley was quoted as saying on February 22 that the invasion of Afghanistan "was the right thing to do and it is right that it is finished properly", and he affirmed his support for evoking the ANZUS alliance after 9/11.
The Socialist Alliance says that the government must allow the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq to determine their own future, free from the imperialistic pressure of Australia and its allies. To this end, the Socialist Alliance is actively supporting the national "Troops Out" protests on March 17-19, which form part of a global weekend of action on the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
The Socialist Alliance maintains that the only way the peoples of both countries will have a chance to work out how they want to be governed is if the occupying troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan immediately.
From Green Left Weekly, March 1, 2006.
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