British politicians and media dismiss WikiLeaks details of Afghanistan war crimes

Published on WSWS, by Julie Hyland, July 28, 2010.

Britain’s political elite are attempting to play down the so-called Afghan War Diary—the 92,000 documents published by WikiLeaks, details of which are being serialised in the Guardian newspaper.

For nine years Britain’s ruling circles have presented the intervention in Afghanistan as a fight for the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan people. In the face of widespread public opposition to the occupation, both the Labour government and now the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition have insisted that it is morally and politically justifiable … // 

… Amongst the more revealing comments was that by London Evening Standard defence correspondent Robert Fox.

His column underscored that the Obama administration’s firing of General Stanley McChrystal and his replacement by General David Petraeus in June had nothing to do with restoring “civilian authority” over the military as claimed, but was aimed at brutally escalating the war.

Fox indicated how some now hope to utilise the leaks to back this strategy.

“In a curious way”, he wrote, “these leaks strengthen the position” of Petraeus. The general is opposed to “artificial deadlines for handovers or withdrawals”, Fox explained, and “wants to amend rules of engagement, giving US forces (who have been complaining they are hamstrung) a freer hand to call in air strikes and artillery when under fire”.

Petraeus “looks likely to pursue the expansion of the war into Pakistan’s tribal areas, already subject to an increasing number of drone attacks and the occasional special forces incursion. The numbers of US troops based in Pakistan is small but growing”.

“If we are serious about Afghanistan, and its impact on world peace, we should forget about Obama-Cameron timelines for the big pull-out”, Fox continued.

“Deadlines only make sense if they match the facts on the ground, and the facts of the war can be pretty grim, as Wikileaks reminds us”. (full text).

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