The Stop the War coalition Sydney released the statement below on June 2.
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“We will be there seeing the mission through” — Australian troops will stay in Afghanistan until the “job” is done. This was the response of Prime Minister Julia Gillard to the May 23 death of Sergeant Brett Wood, aged 32.
It is the standard response of Australian governments to casualties in the Afghanistan war.
The same response was given following the deaths seven days later of Lieutenant Marcus Case, 27, and Lance Corporal Andrew Jones, 25.
However, the circumstances of Jones’ death underline that the nature of the mission has never been clear and the “job” is no closer to being done than it was when the US-led multinational occupation of Afghanistan began in 2001.
Jones was a member of the Mentoring Task Force. As its name suggests, its job is to mentor soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) until they are ready to fulfil the role now being played by the occupation forces.
These are the stated aims of the war in Afghanistan.
Jones was shot dead by one of the ANA soldiers he was mentoring. It is unclear why. Afghan and Australian military officials have debated whether the ANA soldier was a Taliban infiltrator. The Herald Sun speculated that he may have been “high on opium”.
What is clear is that this was not an isolated incident. Numerous US, British and other occupation soldiers have been killed by members of the Afghan police and military forces.
How many more times does this have to occur before the occupying nations’ governments recognise that the mission of “mentoring” a loyal Afghan military force has failed?
• German soldiers opened fire on a funeral procession on May 18, killing 12. The funeral was for four civilians killed by US forces.
• NATO-led troops shot dead three civilians in the Lala Khel area of Maidan Wardak province on May 26.
• A NATO airstrike killed 112 people in Nuristan province on May 26. “Twenty-two policemen, 20 civilians and 70 Taliban fighters were among the dead,” provincial governor Jamaluddin Badr told Pajhwok Afghan News.
• A NATO airstrike killed 14 women and children in Helmand on May 29. “Two women, five girls and seven boys were among the dead,” provincial government spokesperson Dawood Ahmadi told the Daily Mail.
If the mission is to bring security to Afghans it has also clearly failed, while the dysfunctional coalition of gangsters, warlords and religious extremists promoted by the occupying powers has brought the country no closer to democracy than it was in 2001.
The termination of Osama bin Laden by US Navy SEALs (in Pakistan, not Afghanistan) has eradicated the other justification for the war.
Stop the War Sydney demands that the Gillard government immediately withdraws all Australian troops from Afghanistan.