“Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy,” Henry Kissinger once said, and any objective reader of Signal, the magazine of the Irish Commissioned Officers Association, might find it hard to disagree.
The winter 2020 edition contains an interview with an Army Ranger Wing officer just back from fighting “terrorists” in Mali. It reflects how the Irish officer class is now embedded with the macho armies of the former colonial powers. The EU propaganda fed to them by the politicians is unthinkingly regurgitated onto its pages.
Even worse, on the cover a heavily armed Special Forces soldier is pictured with a red headline - “The Elite''. It is all a far cry from the Irish Defence Forces’ proud tradition of peacekeeping.
The ‘good war’
Then there is the political naiveté of a retired Defence Forces’ lieutenant colonel, who was stationed with NATO forces in Afghanistan. He had received a US medal of service and wants to return it due to the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The Irish Times quoted him as saying: “We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago to help the people of Afghanistan, to give them a stable environment, to allow children and women to go to school, to give people a chance of a fair crack, that’s why we went in.”
John Pilger calls that the myth of the “good war”. He argues that the US and British had no interest in the treatment of women or the education of children. If they had, they would not have funded and armed the forerunners to the Taliban, the jihadist Mujahadeen, from 1979.
Known as Operation Cyclone its aim was to topple the then progressive Kabul government, which had granted equal rights to women, opened schools to boys and girls, alike and was determined to eradicate poverty.
The WikiLeaks Afghan warlogs released in 2010 expose the US killing machine in this “good war”. US troops going on shooting sprees murdering all in their path, from teenage girls to old men in the fields. The widespread and reckless use of killer drones that wiped out innocent villagers; the setting-up of local death squads - a tactic used by the empires of old and new in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Ireland.
The fact the US army does not register civilian deaths in Afghanistan highlights the indifference of the invaders.
Our role in Mali
In 2011, Julian Assange spelt out the real reason for the invasion of Afghanistan: “The goal is not to completely subjugate Afghanistan. The goal is to use it to wash money out of the tax bases of the United States….and the European countries through Afghanistan and back into the hands of the transnational security elites. The goal is to have an endless war, not a successful war.”
Irish troops should never have been stationed in Afghanistan. This was not a peacekeeping mission on the lines of UNIFIL in the Lebanon. Our troops were part of an illegal foreign occupation. That the unlawful invasion of Afghanistan was to receive UN approval retrospectively is no justification.
Our role in Mali – dubbed the “next Afghanistan” – is not peacekeeping. We are seeking to protect France’s colonial interests, and in particular its sources for uranium in neighbouring Niger. It is also a re-run of Europe’s “scramble for Africa” under the auspices of the EU. Mali and the neighbouring countries, which make up the Sahel region, are rich in natural resources.
There are jihadists and non-Islamic forces opposed to the Malian regime. The former is a direct result of the West’s invasion and destruction of Libya. The present intervention has UN approval, but so did the Libyan disaster, which turned the richest country in Africa into a failed state. So the UN’s imprimatur is no reason for us to be there.
There are two Irish military missions in Mali. The Army Rangers Wing are attached to a German battalion under UN auspices. The second is an EU training mission of Malian soldiers. A recent investigation, the New Humanitarian Study, into the conflict has raised serious questions about Irish involvement.
The Malian army is accused of killing more civilians last year than the jihadist insurgents it is supposed to be battling. The EU, including Ireland, continues to provide the army with training and equipment support worth millions of euros each year. It has been revealed that EU trained elite troops had a history of abuse against civilians.
One specific report dealt with an area within a 100-kilometre radius of the village Boulkessi, where, since 2018, the EU-backed army has been stationed and has been responsible for the deaths of 153 civilians. Tidiani Diallo, an 18-year-old from the village, told investigators how on May 19 2018, when Malian soldiers executed 12 villagers in revenge for the death of one of their comrades. He remembers the soldiers saying: “We told you that if one of ours dies, we’ll kill 20 of you. You were lucky it was only 12 this time.”
An EU army?
There have been examples of mass killings by drones. Just like in Afghanistan wedding parties “mistaken” for “terrorists”. No surprise the jihadists are expanding their area of control.
Employing the old motto “never waste a crisis,” Brussels is using the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan as the perfect opportunity to establish an EU army.
Josep Borrell, EU Foreign Affairs chief, wants to create “a 50,000-strong expeditionary force, capable of acting in circumstances like we’re seeing in Afghanistan.” The EU needs “more European defence...The next crisis will be in Iraq and the Sahel...The moment has come to give [the EU] a military force capable of fighting if necessary.”
Insider is very concerned about the attitude of Foregin Minister Simon Coveney to all this. In May, at a meeting of EU defence ministers, he co-sponsored a proposal calling for a rapid military response force that could intervene early in international crises.
Military men may be “used as pawns”, but their puppet-masters, the politicians, are both duplicitous and deadly dangerous.