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Dáil Diary no 5- 19 Jan. 15

When you Terrorize People, it does nothing for Peace…

The Irish Government has agreed to continue with the deployment of members of the Irish Defence Forces in Afghanistan and last week in the Dáil, I got an opportunity to challenge the Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, on the issue. Given that the US and NATO are an occupying force, against the will of the people, you have to wonder what possesses the Irish Government to engage in this mindless, destructive occupation. Given all the talk about the terrible episode in Paris, I think it is time that we take an objective look at how the Western powers relate to the Muslim world.

To put things in context, I thought I might just a quote from the United National Anti-War Coalition statement from the US, responding in real solidarity with the victims of violence and extremism for freedom of expression and against racism and imperialism. Our Government’s decision to continue deploying a number of our troops in Afghanistan, is not disconnected from the same issue –

Yes, we are for free speech, freedom of expression and democratic rights for all, including the Muslim and antiwar activists who were banned by the French government from street protests in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, or the Muslim women who are banned from wearing the veil. We are for freedom of expression and the right to exist of Muslim Americans, 700,000 of whom have been investigated or interrogated in the U.S. for being Muslim, or the 1.5 million Latino immigrants in the U.S. who are imprisoned, detained and deported, or the entire world’s people who are victims of the all-pervasive high-tech surveillance of everyone’s personal means of communication by the U.S., France and all other so-called democratic nations.

We will NOT join the Paris parades orchestrated by imperialist French President Francois Holland and the heads of state of the world’s “great powers;” nor will we applaud their call for the worldwide “Anti-terrorist Conference” that President Holland has set for Paris. We are saddened at the participation of French working people in these state-sponsored mobilizations, whose objectives are to further war in the Middle East and Africa and to restrict democracy for Muslim communities in France and around the world. Those who participate believing that they can advance freedom of expression, peace and solidarity are being used for opposite ends.”

Here’s part of my exchange in the Dáil with Minister Coveney-

The illegal invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 led to the longest war in US history. The recent pact with the Afghan Government ensures that the US will be there until 2024 at least. The new security pact puts US troops beyond the reach of Afghan law while they are training the Afghan security forces. I do not see for the life of me how the Minister, who is an intelligent man, can argue that the presence of foreign troops from Ireland, America or any other country can be helpful in this situation, particularly in light of the decimation they have carried out in Afghanistan over the last 13 years.

Deputy Simon Coveney:  The point of moving on from the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, mission is to move away from having large numbers of heavily armed foreign troops in Afghanistan and towards the resolute support mission, which is a training mission to help build Afghanistan's capacity to run its own affairs. We are trying to move away from a wartime situation and to create peace and stability in order that there can be a governance structure as well as the military and policing capacity necessary to protect it and populations. We are a part of this. We have seven Defence Forces personnel there. This is a non-combat mission and it is concerned with training and building capacity in order that Afghanistan can look forward to some kind of normalisation in terms of running its own affairs. This is the only motivation for the countries that are remaining as part of the 12,000-strong mission. I named a number of the countries that are in Afghanistan in partnership with Ireland, including many other neutral countries. They are there for all the right reasons, as is Ireland.

Mick Wallace:  I do not accept for one second that the involvement of the US and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya has contributed one iota to improving the lifestyles and conditions of the ordinary people in those countries. It has done the opposite. The more money the US and its allies spent and threw at the situation, the more problems they caused. The Minister has claimed that they are only training local security forces now. For a long time, they were "only training" security forces in Iraq. Many of those people are now working for ISIS. ISIS has captured a great deal of US equipment that cannot be used by anyone who has not been trained by the US military.

What sort of turmoil are we sowing in Afghanistan? Only last year, the Rolling Stone magazine published a video showing Afghan security forces torturing prisoners. I wonder where they learned that? Afghanistan will be a better place when we move out of it. Actually, it is not just us, as our seven personnel are obviously just a token gesture. It is a small number compared with others. It is a token offering to show the Americans we support them. Some people have even suggested that the beef deal was almost in return for that.

Deputy Simon Coveney:  That is a ridiculous thing to say, with all due respect.

Mick Wallace:  I am just saying what has been suggested.

Deputy Simon Coveney:  We need to put things in perspective. The US launched a military campaign in Afghanistan because of 9-11, when there was considerable proof of terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Mistakes were made subsequently and there are major challenges in Afghanistan to creating a functional, normalised state, but the idea that pulling all of the contributing non-Afghan troops out would somehow be to the betterment of the broader population when all evidence suggests that the country would simply be taken over by the Taliban again is not sound thinking. We are playing a small part in contributing to an effort to create the capacity in Afghanistan to run its own affairs from governance and security points of view. This contribution is welcomed by the Afghanistan Government in its efforts towards same. As long as we can make a positive contribution, we will continue doing so.

Mick Wallace:  The Minister and I will have to differ on why the Americans bombed Afghanistan. Only one person from Afghanistan was proven to be involved in the 9-11 attack. Sixteen were from Saudi Arabia. Did it dawn on the US to bomb Saudi Arabia? Damn right it did not, as the Americans have interests there. The Minister referred to fears about the Taliban concerning the elections. The last elections were rigged. Warlords and all kinds of torturers are involved in the current regime.

Mick Wallace.

 

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