Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Afghanistan war: Global opposition grows

Trent Hawkins, Green Left Online, Sep 12, 2009

In the wake of the bombing of two oil tankers by the occupying NATO forces, and farcical elections controlled by warlords, international public opinion is turning against the US-led war in Afghanistan.

The September 4 oil tanker bombings in Kunduz province, in which the September 5 Pajhwok Afghan News said as many as 150 civilians were killed, is just the latest in a constant stream of atrocities against civilians committed by the occupying forces.

This, combined with the increasingly blatant fact that the forces kept in power by the occupation troops are just as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban, which the US and NATO ousted, means the true nature of the Afghan war as an imperial power play is increasingly obvious.

A CNN Opinion Research poll conducted between August 28 and 31 found that 57% of US people were opposed to the war, and 40% believe it can’t be won.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 51% of US people thought the war was not worth fighting for., the Post said on August 20.

The poll of 1000 people, found that only 24% supported sending more troops to Afghanistan.

A September 4 Melbourne Age article said recent Gallup polls showed 42% of US people now think it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan in the first place.

Similar figures have been registered in Australia and other countries with soldiers in Afghanistan.

An March Age/Nielson poll found that 51% of Australians oppose our involvement in the war and two thirds opposed an increase in troops.

An Independent Newspaper poll in August found that 52% of people in Britain want troops out and 58% think “the offensive is a lost cause”.

An Ifop/Le Figaro poll conducted between August 10-18 found that 64% in France oppose their country’s military intervention in Afghanistan, an August 24 Angus-reid.org article said.

One country likely to feel immediate ramifications from its involvement in Afghanistan is Germany, which has parliamentary elections in September.

In July, a poll by the German public broadcaster ARD found that 69% wanted troops to leave as soon as possible.

Chancellor Angela Merkell has been forced to admit the air strike on the two oil tankers, called in by a German commander, had killed civilians.

Initially, defence minister Franz Josef Jung refused to admit any civilians were killed, but Merkell later called for a “quick, complete and open” inquiry by NATO, the September 8 Age said.

The left-wing party, Die Linke, has seen its support increase by four points to 14% in the latest poll from Forsa for Stern magazine, Reuters said on September 9.

Die Linke is the only party to call for the withdrawal of Germany’s contingent of 4200 troops from Afghanistan.

Die Linke also called for Jung’s resignation after his comments and have called rallies in Berlin in response to the recent bombings.

The failure of troop increases this year to have any impact is also generating significant opposition in Britain.

In July, Britain launched Operation Panther’s Claw in order to provide “security” to allow the 80,000 people in the Babaji area the “freedom” to vote in the elections. In a sign of broader military failures in the country, only 150 people turned up to vote, equalling the number of British troops killed or wounded in that period, the September 8 Age said.

In response, Eric Joyce, the parliamentary aid to the British defence secretary, resigned on September 3.

In his resignation letter, Joyce said: “I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets.”

Similar fractures are appearing in the US, with many questioning why Obama, who was elected on a seemingly anti-war platform, is extending Bush’s war.

Democrat congressperson Jim McGovern moved a motion in July demanding an exit strategy from the war, which was supported by a majority of Democrats, despite opposition from the White House.

McGovern has indicated that he will introduce legislation to congress to block any further troop increases, the September 6 Age said.

An August 31 Yahoo News article reported that former CIA official and advisor to Bill Clinton, Bruce Riedel, said: “If the Government of Afghanistan goes into free fall — something like the South Vietnamese Government of the 1960s — then all the troops in the world aren’t going to matter.”

With increasing public opposition to the war, British Stop the War Coalition has called a national march to demand troops out of Afghanistan on October 24.

In the US, a national day of action, themed “Change ≠ War!” to protest Obama’s war policies has been called by United for Peace and Justice for October 7 and mark the eight anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.

A number of US anti-war organisations are also supporting national anti-war actions on October 17, calling for “Troops Home Now”.

This date also marks the date when Congress passed the “Iraq War Resolution” allowing Bush to invade Iraq.

In Australia activists are organising actions to commemorate the anniversary and call for troops out.

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition is organising a demonstration for October 8. The rally already has support from the NSW Greens, the Fire Brigade Employees, the Maritime Union of Australia (NSW Branch) and the Socialist Alliance. The rally will start at 5.30pm and march to the defence department.

In Melbourne, anti-war activists are planning a rally for October 10. The rally will start at noon at City Square and march to Victoria Army Barracks.

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