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Why the current UK Government will lose the war in Afghanistan

With the death toll of British forces in Afghanistan now greater than that in Iraq and increasing rapidly, there has been much controversy in the UK about the funding for British forces there. Each political party has accused the other, either of mismanaging the war and underfunding British forces, or else failing to support them. These controversies are irrelevant; they miss the real point, which is not about funding.

Given current setbacks, some have referred to the British invasions of Afghanistan in the past, notably to the First Afghan War. Then, in 1841, a brigade of British troops was wiped out by Afghan forces as they retreated to India. During the Second Afghan War (1878-1881), another military disaster followed at Maiwand. In the Third Afghan War of 1919, British forces held their own, but did not succeed in conquering the country. On the other hand, in all three wars, British forces had military successes. During the First War, in 1842 troops fought their way to Kabul; in the Second War, there was victory in Kandahar and Britain installed a monarch favourable to its imperial interests; in the Third War British troops staved off an Afghan invasion. Why then were all three wars lost wars?

The answer to this question is the same as to why the USA lost its war in Vietnam and why the Soviet Union lost its war in Afghanistan. Simply, no country can win a war if it does not have the political will to follow through military victories and commit itself to winning the war. All the more so if the war is perceived as being unjust or simply not worth the cost. This is the point. This was also the case with the three Afghan Wars fought by Britain in the past. There is little doubt that the UK government could win the war in Afghanistan, provided that it sent the whole army there, left it there for twenty-five years and devoted the whole national budget to it. The war would be won - but in all probability the peace would be lost, hundreds of thousands would die and the UK, hated by most of the world, would go bankrupt.

And that is not what the people of the UK want. Politicians who, from time to time, for example next year in the UK, depend on winning elections, know this. Most British people never wanted a war in Afghanistan or in Iraq. Or in any other country where the minority-elected Mr Blair started wars against nations which presented no threat whatsoever to the UK. It is rumoured that the current unelected Prime Minister of the UK, the financier Mr Brown, never believed in these expensive wars himself. He only went along with Mr Blair’s imperialist policies, so as one day to become Prime Minister.

The Fourth Afghan War, being fought by the current UK government, will be lost, because it does not have and never had popular consent. It is yet another of Mr Blair’s private wars, decided on by him together with a small clique of advisors, many of them unelected and unelectable. The fact is that a government which starts imperialist wars without popular consent cannot win them, however often it refers to ‘the backing of the international community’ (= the support of elitist minorities in selected countries which share its opinions).

Now that news is leaking through to the British people that for every tragic British death, dozens of innocent Afghans die, which results in the recruitment of thousands of ordinary local patriots (so called ‘Taliban’) for the Afghan cause, now that news is leaking out that British forces are underfunded and are far too small ever to win this war, a mythological popular consent for the invasion and occupation of the foothills of the Himalayas by North Atlantic powers is turning to real popular dissent and resentment.

8/21 July 2009
Great Martyr Procopius of Ceasarea

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