The Significance of the Wikileaks Afghan War Diary for Ireland

The Afghan War Diary released by Wikileaks earlier this week provides startling insights into the war in Afghanistan. Thanks to their release, we now know that coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians, that the CIA’s paramilitary operations are expanding in Afghanistan, and that the Taliban has been able to use the same portable missiles that helped defeat the Soviet occupation in the 1980s against U.S./NATO aircraft.

We also know that neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are probably fuelling the war. Western commanders suspect that Pakistan's military spy service guides the Afghan insurgency that fights U.S./NATO troops, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion in aid from the U.S.

The Afghanistan war is being conducted with a corrupt set of allies who are probably more interested in the handsome pay-offs they receive from the U.S. and in the profits they make from the drug trade. The U.S. and NATO are mired in an escalating stalemate that is depressingly similar to Vietnam. Proposed U.S. troop increases will make no difference to this situation.

The majority of Afghans want a withdrawal of the foreign troops; they know that the ongoing occupation does not serve their best interests. As the Afghan MP and women’s rights activist Malalai Joya put it in July 2009, "your governments have replaced the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban with another fundamentalist regime of warlords". In Ireland the significance of the released log contents should not go without proper public debate. We have troops serving six-month tours of duty with the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Furthermore the movement of troops, war contractors and cargo in and out of the theatre of war is directly facilitated by the Irish government as they make Shannon airport available to the U.S. military on an ongoing daily basis.

It is quite likely that the CIA assassination squads whose actions are described in the war logs use Shannon as a stop-over point. We know that the CIA used the airport for their rendition/torture flights, and since these actions have gone unchallenged by the Irish authorities there is no reason for them to stop using it.

It is time our elected politicians took their heads out of the sand on the issues of Shannon airport and Ireland’s participation in ISAF. If Ireland truly is a friend of the U.S., as they are wont to tell us, they would now question the futile, corrupt, and inhumane war it is conducting with our assistance. Ending our participation is the most effective way to do this. Shannonwatch condemns the brutal attack by the Israeli Defence Forces on the six humanitarian aid ships in the 'Freedom Flotilla' to Gaza, and the murder of between 9 and 20 civilians on board one of the ships. This was a gross violation of international law, and it should be investigated fully and independently with those responsible held accountable.

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