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'Politicians keep British soldiers in Afghanistan as human shields for their reputations' – MP

Published time: October 05, 2012 13:15
Edited time: October 05, 2012 17:16
British soldiers of the 1st Batallion of the Royal Welsh before a patrol in the streets of Showal in Nad-e-Ali district, Southern Afghanistan, in Helmand Province (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

British soldiers of the 1st Batallion of the Royal Welsh before a patrol in the streets of Showal in Nad-e-Ali district, Southern Afghanistan, in Helmand Province (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

British MP Paul Flynn, who was suspended from the House of Commons for voicing his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, told RT there is absolutely no reason to keep UK soldiers in the warzone any longer, other than to save ministers’ reputations.

A British Labour Party politician, Flynn was recently suspended from the House of Commons after he accused ministers of lying over military policy in Afghanistan. Below is an extract from his speech:

“The role of our brave soldiers at the moment is to act as human shields for ministers’ reputations. The danger to our soldiers is being prolonged by those on that bench who have the power to stop it. Other countries have removed their soldiers from this dangerous area where they’re not doing what we are doing, which is arming and training our future enemy. Isn’t this very similar to the end of the First World War, when it was said the politicians lied and soldiers died and the reality was as it is now – that our brave soldier lions are being led by ministerial donkeys!”

Speaking with RT, Paul Flynn has said that politicians have been making the wrong decisions concerning the Afghan war for many years. What’s more, the current war has not changed things in Afghanistan. It even made them worse, while Britain has wasted lives and huge sums of money – and continues to do so.

RT: Paul Flynn, after that you were disciplined by the speaker and barred from parliament for five days. Presumably, you knew that would happen, but you thought it was worth it.


Paul Flynn:
Oh, it’s very well worthwhile. It’s a very rare event and the result is being that my words have been seen almost all over the world. There’s been an extraordinary effect. And I believe this may well be a turning point in public opinion. I believe 80 per cent of public opinion would like to see [the] boys home by Christmas, and the government have their heads in the sands, and they are ignoring it.

RT: You’ve been a long-standing critic of the war in Afghanistan. So what brought on this specific outburst?

PF: This one was about the futility of the deaths in the last few days and the utter imbecile lying ministers who come before us and made idiotic excuses for continuing the war. There is only one reason why the war is continuing and that is to protect the reputations of politicians. Our soldiers are there as human shields for ministers’ reputations. What they are trying to do is to keep the war going on to the best moment that would reflect on the reputations of politicians.

Absolutely no reasons why we shouldn’t bring our troops home now. The only reason is that we are tied in with the politics of the United States. We are an independent state. We have to remind us of that. We can take our own decisions and what we are going to see in the future is deepening the trouble. There will be more slaughter. Because of this whole of these fictitious aims of the war we seem to collapse. And what’s happening now there is no possibility that we can train the Afghan people and army and their police that will fight their own people that will kill brother-Afghans, for what? For a corrupt election-rigging depraved president or to defend the interest of a foreign country? It can’t happen.

RT: You say that ministers are keeping soldiers in Afghanistan to protect their own reputation. But how does the death of more soldiers protect anyone’s reputation?

PF: The official attitude is we must protect our reputations against our previous mistakes and in the war so that history will judge the politicians made the right decisions. In fact, we’ve been making the wrong decisions for many years.

RT:
You maintain that what Britain is doing is arming and training its future enemies. And I suppose there is a historical precedent for that.       

PF: There is a very powerful precedent that the Americans trained and armed the Mujahideen. And the Mujahideen are the worst government that Afghanistan has had in a hundred years. And the Taliban were a great reforming improvement in a Mujahideen. But we’ve done this in the past and we are going to do it again. There is no way that a Taliban army or police are going to risk their lives, kill their brother-Afghans in the service of a foreign country when we’ve gone over the service of a corrupt president. They are going back to their tribal loyalties, the Uzbeks and the Pashtuns will be divided as they always have been divided. And the likelihood is that there will be disorder when we leave.  We went there, civil war was going on, and the country was bitterly divided. After we’ve left, a few years, the situation will be very similar. There’ll be more civil war and the likely future rulers will be the Taliban.

RT:What lessons, then, should have been learnt from both Britain’s own colonial past and the Soviet Union’s experience in Afghanistan?  

PF: In 2001 in Strasbourg a very ebullient member of the Duma tapped me on the back and said: “You British have gone into Afghanistan and you captured it in a few days. I’m saying that we Russians did that. And we were there for 10 years. We killed a million Afghans, we spent billions of rubles. And we lost 16,000 of our own soldiers. And when we came out, we left a puppet government there, but there were 300,000 Mujahideen in the hills who eventually took over.” And he said to me: “It will happen to you.” And he was absolutely precisely right.

We deluded ourselves. We told ourselves fairy stories about what was going to happen. But we could change things and we couldn’t. There was a benign cause that the Russians would have been taken up in Afghanistan of taking people at a bottom life, giving them a chance to improve materially. I mean, nothing really happened in the end. And we went in, we were going to get rid of the drugs trade, we were ending corruption, we were going to give women a better deal. And nothing has changed.

The corruption is exactly the same, possibly worse. Drugs’ trade is… 90 per cent of the drugs in Britain come from Afghanistan, Tony Blair told the House. 90 per cent! Twelve years later 90 per cent of the drugs still come from Afghanistan. There is a difference. There is more of them now and they are cheaper on the streets. And more people corrupted.

In 2001 Afghanistan was the second-worst place in the world for a woman to live. Now it’s the second-worst place in the world of a woman to live. But the objectives of the war were hopeless, were utopian. And we’ve wasted lives and huge sums of money and we’ll end up in two or three years’ time with a situation just as bad as the one that was there before we invaded.

RT: Let’s talk a bit about the logistics and message that pulling out now would send. What about the soldiers who are serving in Afghanistan at the moment, those, who’ve already served and the families of the soldiers who’ve died. Wouldn’t pulling out now send the message that everything they’ve done has been essentially for nothing?

PF: It’s certainly a tragedy that those families must go through this trauma, have realized that this was a war in which nothing has been achieved. But certainly they have to face that eventually. What would be immoral and cruel is to tell other people the same lies and that more lives should be lost. In order to comfort the bereaved or to comfort politicians that they made the right decisions, at the moment now there’s no conceivable reason why we shouldn’t start telling the truth to people and say that there isn’t this mythical threat of terrorism in Britain that we somehow are ending by being in Afghanistan. If we say to the Taliban “Why are you killing our soldiers?” would they say “When we’ve killed all your soldiers, we are coming over to Newport and to Cardiff and London and we’re going to blow up your streets?” They’ve got no interest in that.

The reason the Taliban are killing British soldiers is because we are the foreigners, we are the infidels. And we occupy, by force of arms, their country. It’s their sacred religious duty to kill us. If we are not there, they don’t kill us. It’s a fairly simple argument to understand.

RT:
So what you are saying is that pulling out of Afghanistan right now wouldn’t affect the security situation in the rest of the world?

PF:
No, not in the slightest. There are security threats. They come from Pakistan. They come from Yemen. They come from Somalia. They come from Bradford. We had an attack by Al-Qaeda that was from English people brought up in England.

RT: Is it not the better to have the US as friends rather than enemies? What kind of message would leaving now send to America which at the moment is supposedly a trusted friend and ally?

PF: We have a claim that we are an independent country and we spend billions on an independent nuclear weapon. We should be independent as far as Afghanistan is concerned. We’ve already seen countries that we greatly respect and admire assembling themselves pulling out of the conflict. Quite rightly, honorably they’ve given huge contributions in blood and treasure. We should take our own decision. We know that at least 80 per cent of the population is saying: “For Goodness sake, bring our boys home by Christmas!”

RT:
Paul Flynn, thank you.

PF:
My pleasure.

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