AS THE dust clears on the “mother of all bombs” dropped on Afghanistan we might reflect on the senseless horror caused by 16 years of the “war on terror.”
The long-suffering country was the first to fall victim to the “new American century” as the United States, with Britain trotting along obediently at its side, began Operation Enduring Freedom.
Coming less than a month after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York, the invasion was officially aimed at capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, “dismantling” his al-Qaida terror network and removing the Taliban from power.
We can leave aside the point that the Taliban would never have been in power had the US not armed and backed the medievalist mojahedin rebels — including bin Laden — in its long war to overthrow Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed socialist government in the 1980s, and simply measure the success of those war aims.
Bin Laden is dead — but in the end turned out to be in Pakistan, not Afghanistan.
Al-Qaida is far, far stronger than it was in 2001, most notably because of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which prompted an explosion of sectarian violence which continues to this day.
Its Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, is one of the two main forces fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad — the other being Islamic State (Isis), which was once part of al-Qaida and is no less brutal.
Its adherents fight on in the Sahara, Somalia, Yemen and across the Middle East. Al-Qaida has not been “dismantled.”
As for the Taliban, they may have been driven from Kabul, but their war against the Afghan government that replaced them has never ceased.
Thursday’s bombing is actually likely to help them, since their forces were fighting Isis in the area that was targeted.
The most powerful bomb dropped since Washington incinerated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killed “dozens” of Isis fighters, apparently, and conveniently no civilians.
Since Isis was known to hold prisoners in the tunnel complex that was hit, this might seem surprising — although it is slightly easier to erase civilian deaths when you count every man between 18 and 49 who falls victim to an air or drone strike as an “enemy combatant,” which the Pentagon has admitted to doing.
There is no doubt that Isis is a murderous organisation, and one which must be defeated by force — a cult that massacres women, men and children at the drop of a hat and glorifies the “martyrdom” of the deaths of its own fighters is never going to be party to a negotiated peace.
But US President Donald Trump is showing a dangerous recklessness and an apparently random willingness to deploy force.
Following the illegal assault on a Syrian air base after the Khan Sheikhoun chemical weapons attack (which Washington has refused to countenance an independent investigation into) he let slip on US television that he couldn’t even remember which country he’d lashed out against — saying “Iraq” until corrected by the interviewer.
Now we find that he hasn’t just dropped another bomb on a country the US has been bombing for 16 years — he has dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb there is, with little in the way of a military explanation for why that was thought necessary.
Trump is giving a worrying impression of a child who has found his dad’s gun. And Britain does nothing but egg the president on.
This Easter we must take a stand for peace — and commit to building a movement so strong we can rein back the frenetic aggression of our rulers.