President Obama must be the last person to think the Afghan war is winnable. He recently sent another 30,000 US troops to join the 120,000 NATO troops there. Even disgraced US General McChrystal said that US strategy was not working in key parts of the country. In April, US troops withdrew from the Korengal valley, after losing 42 dead since 2006. 1,000 British troops have withdrawn from Sangin district, after losing 99 dead there since 2001.
The leaked war logs show that between 2004 and 2009 NATO forces killed 195 civilians and wounded 174 in 144 incidents, mostly unreported. In 21 incidents, British forces shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children, killing at least 26 and wounding 20. NATO routinely covers up these civilian casualties, falsely alleging that all the dead are Taliban fighters. A secret Task Force 373, drawn from 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, targets alleged Taliban leaders for killing. US forces are still holding 757 people at Bagram, without charge or trial.
2010 has been the worst year since coalition forces topped the Taliban in 2001, and June was the worst month since 2002. 103 NATO troops were killed in June, the highest total for any month of the war. British troops are being killed at twice the rate of US troops, and at twice last year’s rate. British dead numbered 331 by 13 August.
1,074 civilians have been killed so far this year, 212 in June alone. NATO forces killed 210 civilians between 1 January and 30 June, 94 in airstrikes. NATO drones have killed 14 alleged terrorists and 1,140 civilians, 440 this year alone. The Afghan army, supposedly being trained to take over the war from NATO forces, has a 25 per cent desertion rate.
The US has decided to pull out. Obama set a July 2011 deadline for starting to withdraw US troops. Cameron says he will start withdrawing British troops next year and hopes to complete withdrawal by 2015. By setting these dates, they admit the war is unwinnable.
So why not bring the troops home right now? Things cannot improve for the Afghan people while their country is occupied. Across Europe, Britain and the USA, big majorities want the war to end as soon as possible. Withdrawing from Afghanistan would save at least £4 billion a year - more than enough to cover the £11 billion the government is cutting from the social security budget over the next five years. Workers must defend Britain in Britain, not in someone else’s country.