Too much blood has already been spilled in fuelling conflict that the west cannot win, says Guardian columnist Owen Jones
The test of any professed opposition to Donald Trump is what answer is forthcoming when he starts plummeting bombs or mailing soldiers to die. There were those who spoke in grave tones about Trump’s threat to world peace- even connoting he was an American Hitler- but got teary-eyed as soon as he mailed missiles lunging towards a Syrian airfield. Now he has unveiled programs to mail more American soldiers to the graveyard of Afghanistan- and he craves Britain to follow suit. His latest military escapade is necessary resisted.
The war in Afghanistan is a monumental and- in comparison to the more notorious Iraqi quagmire- little-discussed calamity. More than 2, 400 US soldiers have died there; the British death toll is over 450. As Joan Humphreys- who lost her 24 -year-old grandson private Keith Elliott to the disaster- throws it, the campaign represents a” total trash of British lives, Afghan lives, American lives “. All families were proud of their sons, but many felt they had” succumbed for nothing “, she said in 2014.” It has been a senseless conflict ,” says Ann McLaren, who lost her 20 -year-old son Scott.” What did we achieve? Nothing. It was all a waste of time .”
Donald Trump may not heed these voices, but we must. Pressure is necessary exerted on our own government. There is already the danger of being subjected to mission crawling: defence secretary Michael Fallon responded to Trump’s announcement by boasting that Britain had hiked the number of its military advisers. The danger of being subjected to Britain being embroiled again in the Afghan morass is real. Our government has made a strategic decision to toady up to the bigoted reality star currently filling the White House. Britain’s own failed conflict in Helmand district was part of the” blood cost”, as Tony Blair infamously describing him. After mortification in southern Iraq, the British government was determined to prove its worth to the US administration. That must not happen again.
Consider the outcome of 16 years of direct western military participation in Afghanistan. The Kabul government has control of simply 57% of the two countries. Four in 10 Afghans are unemployed. Opium production has soared since the western intrusion. A 2014 report found that both Iraq and Afghanistan had expenditure British taxpayers more than PS29bn, with the British offensive in Helmand stirring up both violence and opium production.
Remember how a quick, easy victory was promised in 2001, portending the second largest and more notorious massacre in Iraq? Merely a total sucker would trust Trump to succeed where others have failed, and at such a high human expenditure. Here was a man who some naively belief was a dove in contrast to the militarist Hillary Clinton: he is, in truth, a more naked and honest exponent of American imperialism. He is undoubtedly keen to deflect attention from his imploding ratings with bloody military ventures.
An unforgivable number of Afghans, Britons and Americans have already died needless fatalities. We cannot, sadly, travel back in time to stop the disastrous military escapades of the past. We can, nonetheless, learn lessons from its own history, and requirement no further return of British soldiers to the bloody battlefields of Afghanistan.
* Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist