Green Left Weekly, November 2, 2011
No more deaths in Afghanistan: bring the troops home
The Stop the War Coalition Sydney, Stand Fast and Peacebus.com released the statement below on November 1
(Photo: Peter Boyle)
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged Australians not to be overly concerned about the incident that left three Australian soldiers dead and five wounded in Afghanistan on October 29.
But dissident veterans and ex-service people say that Gillard is dangerously deluded if she thinks what has happened lacks significance.
“The shootings by a dissident Afghan Army trainee took place on parade, visible, calculated and with a very clear message,” said Graeme Dunstan of Stand Fast — a group of veterans and ex-service people against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“First, after all the kill and capture raids and all the arms dumps seized, Afghanistan is no safer for Australian soldiers now than it was 10 years ago when Australians first arrived as invaders. They remain invaders and are hated as such.
“Second, the much touted training and mentoring program is fundamentally flawed and now dead in the water. How can one train an army to fight if they can't be trust with live ammunition?” Dunstan asked.
The US-NATO “mission” in Afghanistan is a failed counter insurgency strategy that has cost the lives of Australian troops, of whom more than 900 are now on compensation for injuries sustained, and some $9 billion in wasted taxes, said Dunstan.
The cost of the war to Afghans has been much higher: while exact figures are not recorded, estimates are that at least 60,000 have been killed, including many women and children.
Pip Hinman, a spokesperson from Stop the War Coalition, said: “Corruption and poverty is becoming more deeply entrenched — in no small part because the US-NATO-Australian armies are supporting and protecting corrupt and hated war lords — such as Matiullah Khan.
“The PM says being in Afghanistan is in ‘our national interest’. But who benefits exactly?
“Julia Gillard has to listen to the majority of Australians who are no longer convinced that the troops should be. Leading democratic voices in Afghanistan — such as Malalai Joya — also say that they can defeat the fundamentalists politically, but not while a war is raging.
“Australians are increasingly opposed to being involved in wars to ‘maintain’ the US-Australia alliance”, said Hinman.
“Nothing has been gained in 10 years of war and nothing will be gained by Australian soldiers staying another day longer”, said Dunstan.
[Stop the War Coalition and Stand Fast have called a protest against the US-Australia war alliance when US President Obama addresses the Australian parliament on November 17.]
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