News / Europe

British Public Growing Weary of Afghan War

Protestors hold up banners as they gather in Trafalgar Square, central London during a Stop The War demonstration on November 20, 2010 against the continued involvement of Britain in the war in Afghanistan.
Protestors hold up banners as they gather in Trafalgar Square, central London during a Stop The War demonstration on November 20, 2010 against the continued involvement of Britain in the war in Afghanistan.
TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell

Britain has just passed the grim milestone of 100 servicemen killed in Afghanistan this year alone.  As NATO leaders meeting in Portugal over the weekend agreed to hand over security to Afghan forces by 2014, protesters back in Britain were calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops.

A stream of around 5,000 people wound its way past London's famous landmarks, demanding that British troops pull out of Afghanistan. There have been many protests against the war in Britain, but what makes this one different is that it was led by Afghan veteran Joe Glenton.

Joe handed back his campaign medal after spending nine months in jail for refusing to return for a second tour. He explains why he led the protest.

"This is again an example of the continued resistance and disgust of people at this war, that's being dragged out as a face-saving measure," he said.

Britain has 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, second only to the U.S.

Since the war began, 347 have been killed; 100 this year alone. The human toll is leading to growing public calls for the troops to withdraw.

Remembrance Services are held every November to honor servicemen and women who've died in combat. This year they were dedicated to those who were killed in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry, who himself served in Afghanistan, attended the opening of this Garden of Remembrance.

Alongside the 346 others, he planted a cross in the ground for his friend, Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan Woodgate, who died earlier this year.  

Jonathan's father Tony recalled the conversations he'd have with his son while he was serving in Afghanistan.

"I'd try to get out of him what he'd been up to," said Woodgate. "He'd say, 'Just stuff Dad, just stuff.' But now that his workmates as he would refer to them have told me what he got up to he was a hero, absolute."

Support among the public for the British armed forces is high.  But polls show over 70 percent of the public believe the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable.

And with Britain facing unprecedented cuts to government spending, many are beginning to question the $8 billion a year cost of the war in Afghanistan.

Conscious of the skeptics back home, British Prime Minister David Cameron, attending the NATO summit in Portugal, offered 2015 as a concrete date for Britain's withdrawal.

"It is if you like a backstop. But let me be clear, it is a deadline and I think the British public deserve a deadline. By 2015 we would have been in Helmand province, the toughest part of Afghanistan, for nine years," the prime minister said.

If British forces do stay that long, there could be many more crosses at the Garden of Remembrance.

Doubts remain over whether the public has the will to go for another five years.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid