Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rifleman, Labour Councillor and Anti-Fascist Blogger in Helmond

I recommend today's latest post from 2 Rifles Reservist and Ipswich Labour Councillor, Alasdair Ross. Alasdair is on active duty in a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Helmond province, Afghanistan.

He describes the sadness over the loss of Rifleman Sheldon as well as continued fire fights with the Taliban who are launching indiscriminate attacks on the local population as well as the security forces.

The British troops (including the Welsh Guards) are very impressed with the bravery of the Afghan National Army “The Warriors” that they are fighting alongside. I am sure that everyone is pleased to read this encouraging report since we all want the Afghans to take responsibility for their defence as soon as they can so NATO troops can return home. Alasdair also mentions the work done by the troops to improve local people’s lives such as the opening of a new clinic.

I must admit that I am surprised (but pleased) that the British Army has allowed Alastair to “blog” from the front line. I would imagine that there is some form of process he has to go through? However, the Army is now dependent on reservists and Territorials to be operational so it is only right that these citizen soldiers can express themselves in a way (he also “Twitters”) that perhaps the Regular Army personnel should not?

Alastair himself is a fantastic role model. He was born into the Labour movement in Ipswich and had a successful career as a senior non-commissioned officer then left the army and became amongst other things a Labour Councillor. Now, while once again serving his country and putting himself in harms way check out his post “Keep the BNP out of Ipswich”. Great stuff.

While some people are genuinely opposed to NATO being in Afghanistan I think that there is no alternative to military intervention. There are legitimate questions to be asked about certain tactics used but if we allow Afghanistan to return to the hands of the Taliban and to once again be a national training camp for terrorists then this will be a disaster for all – especially for the Afghans themselves.

However there is a terrible price that is being paid and I am sure that everyone’s thoughts will be with the comrades and family of Rifleman Sheldon and the other NATO and Afghan personnel killed or injured.


Anonymous said...

good post

Charlie Marks said...

"However there is a terrible price that is being paid and I am sure that everyone’s thoughts will be with the comrades and family of Rifleman Sheldon and the other NATO and Afghan personnel killed or injured."

And the countless Afghan civilians killed by the occupying forces?

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie

Yes, all of them. As well as the the much, much larger number of civilians being deliberately killed by the talaban.

afgan stan said...

Nice one Charlie, lets just ignore the attacks on women and acid attacks on shcool girls by the Taliban and their supporters, eh?

An inconveince to your narrative on the evils of 'imperialism', eh?

But of course in your view the 'occupying forces' are responsible for the throwing of acid in the faces of school girls,because if they werent there then the fluffy buunies of the Taliban and the other reactionaries would just leave them alone, eh?

If the 'occupying forces' just went home then these women would be safe from attack. Just as long as they dont decide to go outside without a man with them, or try to get some education.

But then whats a few scarred school girls so long as you are happy that the Taliban can have access to their right of 'self determination' eh? The joys of being a 'progressive', eh?

Charlie Marks said...

Stan, this is a war we can't afford. Would we really be in Afghanistan if the US wasn't?

There's plenty of other countries in which there are human rights abuses - how exactly can an army stop acid attacks on girls?

Wasn't the war supposed to be about getting Osama Bin Laden? Whatever happened to that excuse?

If the occupying armies cared about human rights they would cease aerial bombardments. The Taliban are growing because of civilian casualties and there's a danger that UK forces are drawn into a wider regional war.

You might be happy to fight it, but I'm not so sure that people in the UK are happy to see the cost in life and money.

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie

This is a bit late but I think you are wrong on this for the right reasons. There needs to be an Afghan solution to their problems but it is wrong to think that there is a “Laissez-faire” solution.

Our modern day Tommy heroes are paying the price of trying to create a breathing space to not only protect us but also let a fragile nation build and eventually defend itself. Nothing more and nothing less.

Let us be clear that we have no selfish colonial interests in remaining in this country – there is no oil or diamonds and everyone wants to get out of there as soon as is wise or possible.

It all may well not result in a typical Westminster model but practically anything is better than a quasi-fascist Taliban regime that glories in the murder and oppression of women, gays and any other minorities.

Our own purely selfish national interests not unreasonablely demands that no other nation states would allow, support and encourage terrorists to train and openly plan mass murder of our innocent citizens.

So we are there until the job is done. Like Iraq it will be a deal at first not a triumphal victory.

Eventually people will twig.

Charlie Marks said...

I think you fail to understand how it works, John.

The old colonialism ended in the 20th century - what we have now is a neo-colonialism, countries subservient to trans-national corporations.

The countries that get targeted for invasion and occupation - the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq - are those that failed to integrate themselves into a global economy dominated by the US.

By following the US invasion, UK companies are now able to invest in Iraq, soon Afghanistan will be another emerging market...

Look at the Megrahi release - these dealings are not based on principle but on profits.

This isn't the first time that the UK has had servicemen in Afghanistan. When Sherlock Holmes first met Doctor Watson he correctly identified him as a veteran of the "second Afghan war" - fictional characters, real wars.