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Afghanistan debacle shows the horrendous cost of imperialism

CAMPAIGNERS are calling for Britain to curtail its total military spending, which, according to the International institute of Strategic Studies, will this year exceed that of Russia.

We have 24,000 US military personnel inside our borders, plus an unknown number of intelligence officers but, unlike Russia, Britain has no military force assembling on its borders.

The Nato operation Defender Europe 2021 currently under way entails 28,000 military personnel from 27 countries, including from the US and Britain, carrying out operations on Russia’s western borders and on the territory of several former Soviet states.

So that is why British military spending is going up by near 3 per cent!

The British Establishment — the ruling class in its multilayered institutional form — exercises its power and influence with some subtlety. 

While on the left there is a comfortable illusion that it is somehow more benign, less atavistic than its nominally senior partner in the North Atlantic alliance, British big business and British banks have extensive and distinct interests, both commercial and strategic.

This might explain the statement by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, that Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the remaining 2,500 US troops from Afghanistan was “not a decision we hoped for.”

Part of his reasoning will be the loss of face for the British military entailed in leaving Afghanistan with its tail between its legs, having failed to achieve its military objectives in Helmand province, coupled with the political price it pays for the terrible human costs that this imperial adventure entailed. 

The first of Britain’s three wars on Afghanistan, from 1839-42, resulted in the total annihilation of the British military force. This one its humiliation.

The constitutional question raised by Carter’s intervention is who does this character think he is? Foreign policy and military deployment should be the prerogative of a civilian government able to command a majority in Parliament not the utterances of a privately educated upper-class colonialist with an extensive career in territories burdened with British colonial power. 

Carter soldiered in Ireland, Cyprus and was blooded in Nato operations in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

His intervention has all the arrogance that comes as standard for bourgeois bully boys. 

On the other hand he may just be retaliating to criticisms made by the US military that he displayed a “gross lack of concern for subordinates.”

Certainly our ruling class has little regard for its military rank and file either in combat or civilian life.

Between 400 and 500 British troops and civilians died in this latest Afghan war and getting on for 10,000 casualties are recorded. The human cost to the people whose land this is are, of course, in their uncounted thousands.

But, as we live in a capitalist market economy, let’s look at the financial balance sheet. 

This hopeless operation cost upwards of £40 billion. That adds up to more than £2,000 for each household in Britain.

It cost £15 million a day to sustain the hopeless Helmand operation. If each of that benighted province’s 1.5 million people had received their portion of that sum in a basic income supplement they would have been £25,000 better off.

And nothing like that sum is available to help the 6,000 former soldiers now homeless in Britain.

The consensus is that, with occupation troops gone, Afghanistan will fall under the fractious rule of competing warlords and drug barons.

Biden has picked the September anniversary of the Twin Towers attack by Saudi jihadists as the date for the withdrawal of US troops.

Time to reflect on the horrendous cost of imperialism to all nations.


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