Why has the British Ministry of Defence Tried to Ban Its Own Book on Afghanistan?
By Matt Carr
Global Research, April 17, 2014
Matt Carr’s Infernal Machine 13 April 2014
Attempts by democratic governments to ban books rarely work out well. If the book is banned on grounds of public morality (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer), then the writer nearly always wins in the end and the government that tried to suppress their work is likely to end up looking puritanical, cloven-footed and often pig-ignorant.
If, like Peter Wright’s Spycatcher, the book is banned on ‘political’ or national security grounds then it is immediately going to attract a great deal more media interest than it might otherwise have done, so that if one publisher drops it another is likely to pick it up. When the Thatcher government tried to ban Spycatcher under the Official Secrets it ended up looking ridiculous and impotent when the book was published abroad – even in Scotland – for three years before the ban was lifted, so that anyone who wanted to know what was in it could find out.
Rather than silencing books, such efforts tend to generate more curiosity about them. And attempts at censorship and prohibition are almost guaranteed to attract attention when a government tries to ban a book that it has commissioned itself, as was the case last week, when the Ministry of Defense attempted to block the publication of An Intimate War – An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict 1978-2013, on the grounds that it breached the Official Secrets Act.
What makes this effort so extraordinary was the fact that the book was written by Dr. Mike Martin, a former captain in the Territorial Army, who was commissioned three years ago by the army to write a study of British military operations in Helmand. That study became a Phd dissertation, which the MoD has had in its possession for 14 months. Yet it is only in February that it raised objections to its content, to the point when Martin resigned his ten-year commission in order to be able to publish the book.
To its credit, Martin’s publisher Hurst & Co has gone ahead with publication, even though it was reduced to handing out flyers instead of hardbacks at the presentation of his book at Kings College London last Thursday. I should confess at this point that I have a dog in this hunt. Hurst is also my publisher, and I am proud to be associated with a company that has refused to buckle in the face of such idiotic and ham-fisted official pressure, which shames the army and the British government.
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The Twitter equivalent of a bickering married couple, Times newspaper columnist David Aaronovitch and Huffington Post Political Editor Mehdi Hasan, recently alighted on a point of agreement during one of their regular Twitter exchanges.
The US/Nato invasion of Afghanistan was “UN-sanctioned,” they both said.
But are they right? With British forces formally handing over the military command of Helmand to US forces, it seems a good point to look at the legal status of the bombing and invasion in October 2001.
Written in 2010, the official House of Commons Library briefing paper on the subject provides interesting reading:
“The military campaign in Afghanistan was not specifically mandated by the UN, but was widely (although not universally) perceived to be a legitimate form of self-defence under the UN Charter.”
The paper goes on to explain that Article 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits the “threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
The accepted exceptions to this are where the security council authorises military action or where it is in self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter.
As the paper alludes, the UN security council did not authorise the military attack on Afghanistan.
Furthermore, there is reason to believe the US and Britain’s citing of Article 51 is suspect too.
Writing a month into the invasion, Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at California’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law and a former president of the US National Lawyers Guild, described the US and
British attack as “a patently illegal use of armed force.”
The bombing was not a legitimate form of self-defence under Article 51 for two reasons, according to Cohn.
First, “the attacks in New York and Washington DC were criminal attacks, not ‘armed attacks’ by another state.” Indeed, as Frank Ledwidge argues in his new book Investment In Blood: The True
Cost Of Britain’s Afghan War, “the Taliban certainly were not aware of the 9/11 plot, and equally certainly would not have approved even if they had been.”
Cohn’s second criticism is that “there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the US after September 11, or the US would not have waited three weeks before initiating its bombing campaign.”
Michael Mandel, professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School, is in agreement on the latter point, arguing: “The right of unilateral self-defence does not include the right to retaliate once an attack has stopped.”
Even if one were to agree the West’s attack was legitimate under Article 51, the House of Commons Library paper notes proportionality is central to the use of force in self-defence.
“It may not be considered proportionate to produce the same amount of damage” as the initial attack, the paper notes.
Writing in November 2001, Brian Foley, professor of law at Florida Coastal School of Law, maintained “these attacks on Afghanistan most likely do not stand up as proportional to the threat of terrorism on US soil.”
Having undertaken a systematic study of press reports and eyewitness accounts, Professor Marc Herold from the University of Hampshire found more civilians were killed during “Operation Enduring Freedom” than died on September 11 2001.
Moreover, the House of Commons Library briefing paper inadvertently highlights the crux of the issue.
“The USA might conceivably have gained specific legal support from the security council for its action in Afghanistan, but in the end did not seek such a resolution.”
With much of the world standing in sympathy alongside the US, why didn’t the US try to get UN security council authorisation for its attack on Afghanistan?
“An immediate need after 9/11 was to recover imperial prestige swiftly and decisively,” argue Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls in their book Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords And The Propaganda Of Silence.
Speaking just after the bombing had started, the anti-Taliban Afghan resistance leader Abdul Haq concurred with this reason for the attack.
“The US is trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world.”
The last thing a nation attempting to “recover imperial prestige” would want to be seen doing is asking the United Nations for permission to act — a sure sign of weakness to the watching world.
The likely illegality of the 2001 attack on Afghanistan remains one of the biggest secrets of the so-called “war on terror.”
No overt censorship is needed, just an intellectual culture and corporate-dominated journalism that has — often heated — discussion within a narrow set of factual and ideological boundaries.
But while it is perhaps right to be forgiving of those who lost their critical faculties during those days of high emotion immediately after September 11 2001, how should we judge the ignorance of two award-winning journalists repeating the official deception 13 years later?
Ian Sinclair is the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History Of 15 February 2003, published by Peace News Press.
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Monday, March 3, 2014 – 17:27
OPINION: Afganistan remains a dismal country after 12 years of Western occupation. A United Nations report finds that it is once again becoming a narco-state, with a huge rise in opium poppy cultivation. Corruption is rampant. The Karzai Government controls only a small part of the country. Torture is widely used. The Western intervention in Afghanistan, in which New Zealand played an important role, comes to a dismal end.
The invasion of the country after September 11 was justified and New Zealand was right to back it. The Taliban Government was sheltering Al Qaeda, the terrorist group which had committed the outrage in New York. The United States and its Western partners were justified in responding.
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Thursday, 19 December 2013, 10:12 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government
Hon Murray McCully
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Defence
19 December 2013
NZ to maintain support as Afghanistan mission transitions
New Zealand will maintain its current level of support for international efforts in Afghanistan until December 2014, the Government says.
Twenty seven New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel are currently deployed in behind-the-wire roles based in Kabul, including at the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters, ISAF Special Operations Forces headquarters, and Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA).
“The Government has reviewed the mandate for these deployments, which is due to expire next April. Our 27 personnel will remain in Afghanistan to December 2014 to support the final stages of the ISAF mission,” Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman says.
The ISAF mission will be replaced by a training, advice and assistance mission.
“As previously announced, a small number of personnel are expected to remain at the UK-led Afghan National Army Officer Academy (ANAOA) in roles focused on training assistance and capacity building beyond 2014,” Dr Coleman says.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says New Zealand’s work in Afghanistan is business as usual.
“New Zealand remains committed to fulfilling our role as part of the ISAF mission to secure the gains made in Afghanistan over the last decade.
“New Zealand will continue to make financial and development contributions to Afghanistan. The nature of those contributions has not been finalised.”
Endless Occupation? Afghanistan To Have US Troops Indefinitely? Security Agreement Draft Leaked
By The Inquisitr
November 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Afghanistan may not be seeing a full withdrawal of US troops soon, as many had expected. A newly obtained US-Afghanistan security agreement draft suggests that US forces will stay for much longer than originally expected, possibly indefinitely. The draft includes an agreement for US military outposts and bases to remain in Afghanistan through 2024. It also shows plans to fund and train a great number of Afghan security forces.
The security agreement draft was obtained by NBC News, as they reported Tuesday. The unsigned 25-page document is dated to July 25, 2013 and appears to be a working draft. Titled the “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between The United States of American and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” its details range from being very specific to rather unclear.
The draft is set for review and discussion between some 2,500 officials, academics, and village representatives in Kabul this week. While the panel, known as Loya Jirga, does not have authority to make an agreement, Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai says he will not sign the treaty without their approval.
News of this security agreement draft comes on the heels of statements made recently by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army General Martin Dempsey, Bloomberg reports. On Monday he said that while a “ubiquitous presence of US military force” is not necessary in Afghanistan post-2014, the country “can’t live without any.” Dempsey says a US and NATO presence will be needed to maintain Afghanistan’s security and to guarantee foreign aid money is not being exploited.
The high ranking military official’s remarks back up indications that the Afghan security agreement draft seeks to allow US troops to remain in country indefinitely. NATO has already said that around 8,000 to 12,000 troops could stay in Afghanistan after 2014, not including security guards or counterterrorism forces.
The newly leaked treaty draft, as it is written, would go into effect in 2015, after the end of the current mission in Afghanistan. It also says the deal would be in effect through 2024 “and beyond.” While there have been concerns over several details in the draft, NBC News says an update circulated among Pentagon staff and Congress on Monday addresses these issues.
Signing of the the Afghanistan security agreement will likely not happen for another two months, as it must be approved by the Afghan parliament and president.
This article was originally published at The Inquisitr
Kiwi soldier wounded by ‘insider attack’
ROB KIDD AND ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 14:10 27/10/2013
Defence Force commander Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones has given more details on the Kiwi soldier shot in the foot in Afghanistan yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference, Lieutenant-General Jones said the Sergeant was with two Australian troops returning from a visit to a neighbouring Afghan army unit around 9am Afghan time yesterday.
Without warning, an Afghan soldier shot at them and hit one of the Australians in the chest.
Lieutenant-General Jones said the Australian’s body armour shattered the bullet and a piece of shrapnel hit the New Zealander in the foot.
The Afghan shot three times in quick succession, then began to advance towards the group. The other Australian soldier shot and critically wounded him.
“We don’t know of that is killed or just critically injured at this stage,” Lieutenant-General Jones said.
The New Zealander was a member of the Afghan National Army Officer Academy support team.
The New Zealander was treated at the scene and then airlifted to Craig Hospital at Bagram Air Force Base, where he received further medical treatment.
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By Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan Global Research, October 08, 2013 Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) – See more at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/afghanistan-12-years-of-occupation-down-with-the-us-invaders-and-their-afghan-stooges/5353471#sthash.vOeViyi9.dpuf
With the aggression of the US and NATO occupiers on October 7, 2001 in our homeland, it has been twelve years now that our country is facing war, destruction, and the killing of thousands of its innocent civilians. The US used the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as a pretext to change the regime in Afghanistan and pave the way for its long-term military presence in the region. For the first time in their history, Afghanistan’s people, who were tired and fed up from the crimes of the Jehadi pigs and the brutalities of the Taliban, did not react to an occupier force.
The US government and its allies promised our people democracy, but imposed upon them the most undemocratic, corrupt, and mafia government of our history; they spoke of ‘war on terror’ but brought the murderers and terrorists of the Northern Alliance, gun-lords and drug kingpins to power, and have now extended their hands in friendship to the Taliban; the US used human rights and women’s rights as an excuse, but Afghanistan still faces the worse kinds of human rights violations and horrifying catastrophes against its women; they promised our people liberation and freedom, but practically turned our country into a narco-state and the center of their longest-running criminal war.
From the very start, the democratic forces of Afghanistan and peace-loving elements of the world had recognized the US’s war in Afghanistan as part of its imperialist policies. They announced that that this superpower was only invading Afghanistan to compete with its emerging contenders and was cementing its military bases in the heart of Asia towards this purpose.
Twelve years of our country’s occupation proves the validity of this prediction. In these years, not only did the justice-seeking people of the US and world protest against the war, but a significant number of soldiers also stood up against their government’s inhumane and hypocritical policies, and started a vast and glorious anti-war movement.
The people of Afghanistan soon noticed the false nature of the US and NATO’s ‘war on terror’, when against their demand, the criminal Taliban terrorists were replaced with the misogynist terrorist gangs of the Northern Alliance. In addition to providing staunch support to the Jehadi and technocrat traitors, the US has taken the service of a group of intellectual sellouts, and have created a band of lackeys out of them by stuffing Dollars down their filthy throats. If in the past, being on the payroll of a foreign country was seen as treachery and disgrace, today this group has become so shameless and devoid of conscience that they proudly flaunt off their servitude to the US and other foreign intelligences. Karzai and those surrounding him, confessed, in an unseen blatant fashion, that they took bags of Dollars from the CIA, Vavak, MI6, RAW, ISI and others, and branded them as ‘useful’ so that their masters would continue pouring in money. The so-called Jehadi leaders have also tied themselves on the leashes of foreign countries and continue to demolish our country at their orders. This way, Afghanistan has practically become the battlefield of the intelligence services of superpowers and neighboring countries. The threat to our sovereignty and national assets grows with each passing day.
After bringing calamity upon Afghanistan and its people, the US informed the world of the withdrawal of its forces in 2014, and started a widespread propaganda that without the US presence, Afghanistan will sink into crisis and a civil war. With this false propaganda through tens of media channels, the US is manipulating and threatening the public sentiment, and trying to get the puppet Karzai government to sign the strategic pact – which would guarantee the US’s long-term presence – as soon as possible. All the reactionary forces and a group of mercenary intellectuals know that their very existence depends upon this pact and are begging for it to go through, so they can escape our people and the claws of justice under the protective wing of their military master.
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A US-led airstrike has killed at least 16 Afghans, including eight women and children, in the eastern province of Kunar, officials say.
According to the provincial governor, 16 people – 12 of them civilians – lost their lives in the strike. Among the victims are four children and four women.
The latest deadly US-led drone attack occurred in the Watapur district of Kunar Province, which lies near the border with Pakistan.
A NATO spokeswoman, however, said that only enemy forces were killed in the operation.
The aerial attack comes one day after at least four people lost their lives in two separate airstrikes by US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan’s central province of Wardak.
Civilian killings at the hands of US-led forces have been a source of tension between Kabul and Washington in recent years. The attacks have also increased anti-American sentiment among Afghans, who hold regular protests to condemn them.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.
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