Catholic peace campaigner Bruce Kent has called for British troops to be withdrawn immediately from Afghanistan. A vice-chair of both Pax Christi and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Kent told around 10,000 people at a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square on Saturday that he was joining his voice “to the tens of thousands who are calling for the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan and a negotiated end the that war which seems to be without end”.
The 'Time To Go; demonstration, which involved a march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square before the rally, was organised by CND, British Muslim Initiative and Stop the War Coalition. The demonstrators insisted that the UK's war in Afghanistan is counter-productive and a huge waste of resources.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that UK combat troops will be withdrawn, but not until 2015. The demonstration marked the bloodiest year of war in Afghanistan since it began in 2001 - 100 British troops and countless Afghan civilians have been killed in 2010. Demonstrators were led by Military Families Against the War and soldier-turned-refusenik Joe Glenton.
Bruce Kent said the following at the rally on 20 November at Trafalgar Square:
“It is of course an honour to be with you today to join my voice to the tens of thousands who are calling for the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan and a negotiated end to that war which seems to be without end.
The war in Afghanistan is expensive, nonsensical and stupid. Our governments past and present do seem to be incredibly stupid when it come to matters of defence. Amazingly, we are in due course to have, at vast expense, two new aircraft carriers. One we will at once sell. Are we now the world's aircraft carrier suppliers? The other will join the Royal Navy, but for between 5 and 10 years it will have no planes. 'Yes Minister' could not think up a more absurd scenario for comic TV.
I am old enough to remember the British empire. Those days are gone. We are not the world's policeman. If we want a real war to sort out then how about the Congo where millions have died in the last ten years and a UN Peace keeping force seems to be overwhelmed by the problem.
We are meant to be defeating terrorists, but we are manufacturing them by the thousands. We began this enterprise without the authority of the UN on the coat tails of the United States. It is time to end it. If the Afghan Government - as corrupt as any today - wants outside help then it should come from a Muslim state. We in the so called 'Christian' West have so wrecked the Middle East for well over 100 years that there is no credit left on our card. It is time to go.
I say this in front of the families and friends of many who have been wounded or killed in this conflict. Those young lives should never have been wasted. Of course they need every help from voluntary and public donations. But the best help we can give to their comrades is to say NO.
A word to generals, admirals and the like. Don’t wait until you retire to say that wars are illegal or unwinnable. Don’t keep silent when politicians act unlawfully. Say NO at the start and do not leave it to those much, much further down the military pecking order to have the courage to refuse. Some of those are with us today. I salute them.
Congratulations on all your efforts. One day we will learn that real peace is only built on justice and the operation of law.”