Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Natalie Bennett

GET UPDATES FROM Natalie Bennett
 

We Need to Bring Our Troops Home

Posted: 22/11/2012 00:00

Paddy Ashdown is right to call for the troops to come home from Afghanistan. The ongoing occupation of the country is a running sore that can only be healed after we've shown a commitment to allow the Afghan people to choose their own destiny. Currently we are pinning in place a corrupt regime and many of our allies that our governments hope will inherit the country after we leave are as indifferent to human rights and the rights of women as the Taliban ever were.

Ashdown describes us as "the tainted partners of a corrupt government whose writ, along with ours, has progressively collapsed". We cannot talk of promoting democracy while we're backing a crooked regime. We must not pretend to ourselves that we are a force for democracy when we help close down meaningful dissent against that government.

Years ago, in 1997, Robin Cook was right to argue for an ethical foreign policy, saying that there has to be "an ethical content to foreign policy [which] recognises that the national interest cannot be defined only by narrow realpolitik."

The mission in Afghanistan has lost sight of any progressive ideals it may have once held and we remain from a simple desire to maintain our international prestige and ensure 'our' Kabul government stays in place after withdrawal. However, our standing in the international community is harmed not enhanced by the failed mission in Afghanistan.

Ashdown said that "we should have engaged Afghanistan's neighbours, instead of going out of our way to make them enemies" referring to the fact that far from eradicating the Taliban we have spread their influence into Pakistan while drone and artillery attacks across the border raise tensions, deepen divisions and most importantly kill the innocent.

Malala Yousafzai, the brave school girl activist in Pakistan, was shot down by members of the Pakistan Taliban, an organisation that did not even exit before the invasion. Far from protecting girls like Malala we have been the unwitting cause of spreading the hold of murderous misogyny across the region and our drone strikes and military arrogance deepen the problem rather than solve it.

Al Qaeda may no longer have much influence in Afghanistan but their brand of terror touches more nations on Earth than it ever has. Their seeds of hatred have been sown across the world blown by an ill-wind we helped create. The world is a more dangerous place than it was at the start of the century as a direct result of the US foreign policy that the UK has been so complicit in.

We have lost sight of any meaningful objectives and are now desperate to find a way out without losing face. We should not continue to award ourselves the moral right to occupy other nations.

Our most recent occupation of Afghanistan has been marked, much like the others, by a directionless war that turns Afghans into enemies while getting bogged down in mud and blood. The growing occurrence of so called 'green on blue' attacks on allied forces are not simply a failure of security checks but a deeper sign that more Afghan's than ever are unconvinced that the 11 year occupation has been for their benefit.

We should bring home the 9,000 British service men and women still stationed in Afghanistan, taking them out of harm's way. We should learn the lessons of the last decade of war by becoming genuine advocates of peace, scrapping our arms deals and targeted strikes. Being an advocate and supporter of peace should be Britain's place in the world.

 
FOLLOW UK POLITICS