Giving an extra £1,000 pounds a year to all the 800,000 British nurses and teachers would cost as much as two months of war in Afghanistan. Brian Eno presented this stunning figure in a speech at the Anti-war Mass Assembly, held in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, October 8th, the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.
In his speech at Trafalgar Square, Eno points out that the bill that British people are forced to pay by their government for the war amounts to £12m a day. Believe it or not, this means that the overall annual budget of BBC online is equivalent to no more than 24 minutes of war in Afghanistan—a war that is evidenly turning into a bloody, hopeless debacle, as is discussed in The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan. Thus, one cannot but feel compelled to ask, as Eno does, whether the money spent to wage war could be used in better ways:
What about youth centres? In the wake of the recent riots you might think that it would be a good idea to invest in anything that would help young people find their feet. For the cost of the war, you could build at least two a day - and those would be top-of-the-line places. Build a bit more modestly, and you could probably manage five or 10 a day.
On Saturday, October the 8th 2011, the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, Trafalgar Square will turn into the meeting point for an "Anti-War Mass Assembly." The event will start at noon, and will be opened by Joe Glenton, an ex-soldier who was jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, and Grace McCann, who in 2009 attempted a citizen's arrest on Tony Blair. Speeches and live performances will follow. A "Naming the Dead Ceremony" will be led by Joan Humphries, who lost her grandson in Afghanistan, and Rose Gentle, who lost her son in Iraq.
In September 2010, Verso published an anthology of writings on The Case fror Withdrawal from Afghanistan, edited by Nick Turse, and including contributions by Tariq Ali and Tom Engelhardt. The book is a must read for all those who oppose the deadly conflict that Barack Obama calls "just war."
Visit the Antiwar assembly website for more info on the demonstration, and to sign the "I will be there" pledge.
The latest issue of the London Review of Books features an edited version of an essay by Tariq Ali that finds a warning for the current occupiers in two new books on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Afgansty is by Rodric Braithwaite, a contributor to Verso's The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan. A Long Goodbye is by Artemy Kalinovsky.
Rodric Braithwaite, British ambassador to Moscow between 1988 and 1992, was in Russia when Soviet troops crossed the Oxus into Afghanistan in 1979. His fascinating account of the Soviet intervention is based almost entirely on Russian sources: interviews with participants, information from veterans' websites and from archives, although those of the GRU and the KGB remain mostly sealed. Each page reads like a warning to Afghanistan's current occupiers. Braithwaite wrote two devastating articles in the Financial Times opposing the Iraq War and the atmosphere of fear created by New Labour propaganda but Afgantsy is written in a very different register. The Soviet intervention is seen as a tragedy for both the Russians and the Afghans.