Afghan war

Afghan anti-war activist and feminist Malalai Joya sent the solidarity message below to a protest organised by Sydney Stop the War Coalition against the visit of US Vice President Mike Pence to Australia on April 29.

Joya was elected to Afghanistan’s National Assembly of Afghanistan from 2005 until early 2007. She was dismissed from her seat for denouncing the presence of warlords and war criminals in the Afghan Parliament.

President Barack Obama, calling Afghanistan's security situation precarious, said on July 6 he would keep US soldier levels in the country at 8400 through the end of his administration. He had pledged to cut soldier numbers to 5500 by the year's end.

Obama's plan still calls for a cut in US soldier levels from the current roughly 9800.

On the eve of US President Barack Obama’s visit to mark 60 years of the ANZUS military alliance, PM Julia Gillard is not convincing people that Australia must “stay the course” in Afghanistan.

A November 4 Roy Morgan poll, taken six days after an Afghan army trainee killed three Australian soldiers and wounded seven, said 72% of people want troops out, the biggest opposition since the war began 10 years ago.

Supporters of the pro-war parties polled closely: 69% of ALP voters and 67% of Liberal-National Party voters want troops out. Among Greens supporters, the figure is 80%.

On August 19, a Taliban suicide squad attacked the Kabul offices of the British Council, a government-funded institution that “promotes educational and cultural relations” between Britain and other countries.

The August 20 Guardian said at least 12 people were killed, including a New Zealand SAS soldier and three “security contractors” working for multinational security outfit G4S.

The company was contracted to guard the offices.

Six G4S employees were wounded, including three Nepalese, veterans of the British Army’s Gurkha regiments.

In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a “war of perception... conducted continuously using the news media”. What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where “the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences”.

Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. “We had a secret weapon,” he boasted. “We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media.”

Afghan feminist and anti-war activist Malalai Joya urged 400 people at the University of Technology Sydney to get the Australian government to pull the troops out of her country. The Afghan people were capable of winning against the fundamentalist warlords, but not while Western occupying troops rehabilitated the Taliban, she said.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a report on the Christmas Island detention centre on October 29, and again called for an end to mandatory detention and offshore processing.

The 75-page report detailed the hostile conditions faced by asylum seekers, including the island’s remote location and limited access to essential services such as legal help, health care, torture and trauma counselling and religious support.

The report said Australia’s detention system breaches fundamental human rights.

Republicans are trumpeting their big gains in the November 2 midterm elections as a mandate to turn the country sharply to the right. Don’t buy it.

Mainstream media commentary on the election was largely set before a single vote was cast. Voters would correct President Barack Obama’s supposed leftward course in his first two years in office by sending a cabal of right-wingers to Congress.

The scale of the Republican victories — especially in House of Representative races, where the party now holds a comfortable majority — cemented the media’s impressions.

Six fighters from the private army of Afghan warlord, drug trafficker and highway robber Matiullah Khan were recently in Australia for training with the Australian Defence Forces, the October 29 Sydney Morning Herald said.

Khan’s power base is in Oruzgan province, where most Australian forces in Afghanistan are stationed.

Such is Khan’s reputation for criminality and violence that Dutch forces, who before their withdrawal in August were the largest foreign contingent in Oruzgan, refused to work with him.

WOLLONGONG — The Illawarra's peak union body, the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC), has called on the Australian government to pull troops out of Afghanistan and pursue an independent foreign policy.

“In recent decades Australia has been dragged into quagmire after quagmire — blindly following the United States into military disasters that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of military and civilian casualties”, Arthur Rorris, SCLC secretary, said on October 22.

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