Socialist Unity reports:
Stop the War Coalition have just produced a brilliant and timely pamphlet on the war in Afghanistan, written by Steve Bell, and with an introduction from Paul Flynn MP.
I’ll have to take their word on “brilliant and timely” because the pamphlet– entitled “10 Reasons why the Troops should come home”– is only available for £2.50.
The introduction by Paul Flynn MP is online, however. It quotes Vietnam veteran and future US Senator John Kerry asking during the Vietnam war in 1971: “How do you ask a man to be last one to die for a mistake?”
Here’s what Kerry himself had to say in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations last year:
David Sanger mentioned that in 1971 I asked the Foreign Relations Committee “how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Thirty-eight years later chairing the Committee, I keep that question very much in mind. This journey, however, begins in a different place.
In September 2001, mass murder was plotted against us from Afghan soil, and we needed to remove the threat. With certainty, we all know why we invaded Afghanistan. It was not a mistake to go in. We now have to choose a smart way forward so that no one is compelled to ask whether we’ve made a mistake in staying.
The easiest way to make a mistake is to tolerate a debate that sells our country short. In recent weeks, politics has reduced an extraordinarily complex country in an extraordinarily complex region and a difficult mission to a simple, headline-ready “yes or no” on troop numbers. That debate is completely at odds with reality. What we need, above all, what our troops deserve– and what we haven’t had– is a comprehensive strategy, military and civilian combined.
So while Kerry is highly critical of the way the US has pursued the war in Afghanistan, he is clearly capable of distinguishing between wars that were “mistakes” and wars that were not.
As for the 10 reasons why the troops should come home– I’m sure some of them are quite compelling. It’s hard to disagree that Afghanistan would be much better off with a more effective, less corrupt central government.
But allow me to offer one compelling reason why NATO forces should not all come home quite yet.
Update: In the comments, Hugh has a report on a recent Stop the War Coalition meeting which actually featured opponents as well as supporters of an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan.