The reasons are simple:
- The occupation is not working to secure peace.
- The occupation is causing horrible and unacceptable numbers of civilian deaths. It is a racist occupation. I do not deploy the word lightly, and before rejecting my description, I ask you to consider how you would react if the UK army, intent on routing out a terrorist in a British village, decided that the deaths of 18 civilians was an acceptable level of “collateral damage”. I think it fair to suggest that you would be outraged and horrified. Yet no-one, least of all the US/UK forces, appears to be very concerned when those who die are not English-speaking soccer mums, but central Asian peasants.
Clearly, then, the US and British forces give very little value to the lives of those – Afghan (and Iraqi) civilians for whom they are supposedly securing peace and democracy.
You might be even more concerned at 18 deaths in a British village if it turned out that they were killed by a remote-controlled drone, and the forces concerned were not even so worried by the possibility of civilian casualties as to take the precaution of deploying a human-piloted aircraft so as to allow for more precise on-the-spot judgements.
I have not selected the number 18 at random: it is the number of people killed in just one incident, in Pakistan actually, by a US Predator drone based in Afghanistan, and piloted remotely from Nevada. See Foreign Policy in Focus for the horrific details.
Of course, many will argue that withdrawal from Afghanistan will leave even greater chaos behind.
I challenge these people to find me just one example from history where a determined guerilla campaign, much less overlapping campaigns, has been defeated by conventional military forces.
There is no such example. These situations are only ever resolved by fully inclusive political settlements that include even the nastiest and least salubrious parties to the conflict. South Africa and Ireland are clear recent examples.
So long as they reject negotiations with insurgents and Talibans, no-one should be fooled into thinking that the US and UK are in Afghanistan or Iraq for the sake of peace or democracy, or even the security of those countries’ people. These occupations serve only very narrow, selfish national interests; the arguments advanced for them publicly are pure spin.