Two Wars

An intriguing little passage from a Galloway article in the Morning Star:

We in the Morning Star, however, have always despised Osama bin Laden — even when the very same neocons were feeding him not carrots but guns, money and journalistic panegyrics.

His medieval obscurantism was spotted first by us and what a pity that we were not able to persuade Hari and Hitchens’s new best friends that, though the “holy warriors” were the enemy of their enemy, they were better off with the enemy they knew.

For those of you who might need that decoding from the hints and suggestions of a Morning Star article here it is in plain English: the “enemy they knew” refers to the Soviet Union and the passage as a whole refers to the fact that Stalinists such as Galloway and the Morning Star supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan while the ‘neo-cons’ backed Bin Laden against the Red Army.

I’m rather surprised that Galloway has brought this up and perhaps the coded language is aimed at ensuring the quotes don’t get circulated to his new Islamist backers as evidence that Galloway was a supporter of the Red Army’s brutality against their brothers in Afghanistan.

Politically this is no different to Galloway’s line that he opposed Saddam when Donald Rumsfeld was shaking his hand, a position which always raised the question “Fair enough, but why did you change sides George?”

Of course we know why he changed sides over Iraq. When Saddam was a US backed tryant he was to be opposed. When he became a foe of the US then he was supported. It is a perfect example of the crudeness of anti-imperialist reductionism and the same thinking is on display in his attitude to Afghanistan.

When armed Islamists were fighting the Red Army they were religious fanatics who were to be militarily opposed in defence of the secular regime in Kabul. When those same fanatics murdered 3,000 in an attack on America on September 11 they were to be saved from any response from the US and its allies. Bin Laden changed sides – so Galloway and the Morning Star followed suit.

But let’s just take this latest brag in – Galloway, a vocal opponent of the multinational force which liberated Afghanistan from Taleban-Bin Laden rule in 2001, is praising the Morning Star (and presumably himself) for the stance they took in support of the Soviet intervention (to use their language) in Afghanistan.

As we all know the Soviets lost the disastrous war in Afghanistan and here is the cost of that war which was supported by the Morning Star and the peace-loving Galloway:

More than 5 million anti-personnel mines were dropped by the Soviet Union.
Russian costs (in 1986 dollars) were approximately US$20 Billion / yr.
These tactics, among other things, resulted in some of the following:

Approximately 90,000 Afghan combatants killed (mujahadeen and government), and 90,000 wounded. Including civilian casualities, estimates are that 10% of the total population and 13.5% of the male population was killed, 1.5 million killed overall.

Approximately 15,000 Soviets were killed and over 53,000 wounded.
Approximately 6 million refugees were driven into surrounding countries.
Damages of approximately $50 Billion US to Afghanistan, about 1/3 to 1/2 the net worth of the country.
Agricultural production reduced by 50%, livestock losses of 50%.
70% of paved roads destroyed.
Of 15,000 villages in the country, 5,000 were destroyed outright or made economically unsupportable by destruction of all economic resources such as fields, wells or roads.

(Figures from Wikipedia)

There is no agreed figure for the numbers killed in the US-led invasion of Afghanistan but it is the the least bloody war in modern Afghan history and the numbers killed were a tiny fraction of those who died in the Soviet war.

The result of the 2001 war was the liberation of the country and the first free elections in its history – Galloway and the Morning Star opposed that war.