Ten years ago the worst, dumbest, bound fail war in modern times started as the Bush regime chose not to treat the September 11 attacks as crimes but as a decleration of war. Like the even worse war on Iraq to follow we were lied into it, nobody in charge had any clue on how to go about it, nor felt the need to plan for anything but the world largest and most distasteful firework display. Ten years on and there are still American and British and Dutch troops there and Afghanistan has become something like a rite of loyalty for countries keen to stay on the good side of America. Nothing has been achieved but quite a lot of people have been killed.
It doesn’t matter that Brian Haw was hanging around with D\avid I\cke kooks too much at the end of his life or that his death was posibbly hastened by putting his trust into quackery rather than proper medicine, nor do questions of how effective an anti-war protestor he was. After all, none of us managed to prevent the Wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, while the War on Libya has proved we haven’t even learned anything from those disasters. What mattered was that Brian Haw had the courage of his convictions to camp out in front of Parliament for years, serving as a living reminder to the fuckers who had voted for these wars that no, the people of Britain did not agree with them and thought them wrong.
He did this so well that the then Labour government created and implemented a law designed specifically to stop him demonstrating in Parliament Square. In typical New Labour fashion, they did this so ineptly that the resulting law applied everybody but him, as he was grandfathered in. (The law only allowed demonstrations to take place if at the start of a demo it had police approval, but Brian Haw had started his demonstration years ago, so…)
Somebody who managed to get under the skin of Blair and co to such an extent that they had to change the law to get rid of him (and failed) and who did so for all the right reasons, deserves our deepest respect.
The government today announced that it would propose a new police mission in Afghanistan to parliament, even though it was this exact same issue that caused the previous government to stumble. But with the coalition partner (PvdA/Dutch Labour) that then objected now in opposition and the two parties that form the current minority government both having been firm supporters of the original proposal, it was just a question of time before it would be back on the agenda again.
At first view it looks innocent enough, to get some twohundred or so civilian cops to Afghanistan to help train the locals, but the devil is in the details. With them some 300 odd soldiers would be traveling back into Afghanistan as well, to provide security, support and liason duties with other NATO forces in the area. There would be four F-16 jets coming along as well, again to provide air support for this supposedly civilian mission. I can’t help but see this as the thin end of the wedge — once we have some fivehundred plus soldiers and cops stationed again in northern Afghanistan, it will become that much easier to extend and enlargen their mission and before you know it we’re creeping back into the war again. Which is something the current government parties, who didn’t agree with the end of the original Dutch involvement in the War in the first place, would not mind at all.
Ironically, the opposition against this proposal is likely to contain both Geert Wilders’ party and its fiercest critics, the PvdA and Socialist Party. The latter because it’s opposed in principle to any involvement, the former because it sees no good in letting “our boys” risk their skins for foreigners, especially when the government needs to cut spending on policing anyway and we need those cops on our streets….
If you look at the criticism leveled at Wikileaks in the wake of “Cablegate” as well as the earlier leaks of the Iraq and Afghan warlogs, it usually boils down to two points, often made at the same time: the leaks don’t tell us anything we didn’t know before and at the same time, they endanger (American) lives. Both are of course fairly opportunistic claims, usually made in bad faith but effective enough they’ve been repeated over and over again with each new round of leaks. So it’s good to learn about a counterexample that disproves both, as it turns out the revelations in the leaked Afghan warlords have made several Dutch judges decided to disallow the expulsion of Afghan asylum seekers.
Normally when judges decided whether or not a given country is safe enough to send asylum seekers back there, they depend on statements given by the ministry of foreign affairs. In the case of Afghanistan however no less than five judges found that Wikileaks’ Afghan warlogs proved that the country was not secure enough to force people to return there. When this became known, it lead to questions in parliament today, as government party CDA found it “remarkable” that judges would sooner trust Wikileaks than their own government, while opposition party PvdA wanted the ministry to start using the Wikileaks revelations in their statements, something the minister said was already going to happen…
So there you have it: positive proof Wikileaks is important.