Translated by Scott Campbell
This past August 20th, in the middle of vacation season, while the good people of France meandered worry-free between replete beaches and TV screens to follow the heroic deeds of the athletes in Beijing, making it possible to forget the stress of the impending return to the routine of "working more and earning less", the news exploded like a thunderclap in a serene sky: ten young and brave French soldiers just died in remote Afghanistan, in an ambush by the horrible Taliban 50 kilometers from Kabul, which elevated to twenty-two the number of dead French soldiers since 2002, a trifling amount in relation to the 100 British who have lost their lives, and even more so when compared to the thousands of murdered Afghans. And when I say Afghans, I am referring to armed men, unarmed men, women, children, and the elderly.
And, unexpectedly, the good people of France discovered that their army was involved in the war in Afghanistan. Six years had to pass before the French realized that they were physically engaged in a war.
A world war? No. A local war? Not that either. It is treated more as a "war of the worlds". Two worlds that face off in the mountains and plains of Afghanistan: on one side, the good guys, the "coalition" that is made up of 70,000 soldiers from some 40 countries. Officially, they are not there to make war but peace, to reconstruct the country and, especially, to liberate the women, these poor Afghan women confined in their veils like cages. On the other side, the "bad guys", the long-beards, the "terrorists", the Taliban, al-Qaeda. In this manner, those soldiers are there also to fight against terrorism, the fight George Bush calls "the world war against terror". Except that, it seems, the Afghan "terrorists" enjoy the support of a large part of the population.
During the six years that have passed since the beginning of the conflict, French public opinion hasn't cared at all about this war that officially is not one. Neither the bland left nor the extreme left have organized a single demonstration. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Silence on the radio and complete consensus. It hasn't been different in Spain nor in Italy where the institutional left removed their troops from Iraq to become more involved in Afghanistan. There was more agitation in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and in Canada, although without much of an impact on events: "Here I am and here I'll stay", is the slogan of the coalition forces, christened with the acronym ISAF.
In fact, the allies of the US, the invader, were assigned the job of logistical and civil support, in service to "the boys", who are the ones supposedly doing the dirty work, that is to say, the war crimes and the bombings of the civilian populations with depleted uranium. For their part, the French and Europeans try to keep their hands clean, dig some wells and help some women to deliver.
But, what where the French soldiers doing in this mess, suddenly asks the citizen of the French Republic. An "essential service", responds the president, while Jean-Marie Bockel, his “Secretary at War”, appeals to "national unity" and advises that now is not a good time for criticism.
Because it appears that the bland left, like the extreme left, has been shaken awake: the French Communist Party and the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR, Trotskyites) are demanding the withdrawal of troops, while the Socialist Party is content to say that there is a need to reexamine "the mission of French soldiers in Afghanistan". For its part, the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen is the most virulent in denouncing this war that conceals its warlike nature.
On August 21, 1968, exactly forty years ago, the tanks of the Warsaw Pact entered Prague and put an end to a Spring that was far too short. Young Czechs then wrote the following on the walls of the city, "Lenin, wake up, they've gone crazy", and sang for the Soviet soldiers a spontaneously composed song, whose lyrics said: "Ivan, go home, Natacha is waiting for you".
The Afghan resisters, in their turn, should write "Jaurès, wake up, they've gone crazy" on the walls of the French barracks in Kabul.
Jean Jaurès was the French socialist leader that dared to say NO to the sacred union for the war in 1914 and who paid for it with his life. Yes, Jean Jaurès, the same person presidential candidate Sarkozy cited in his pre-election speeches.
As well, the Afghan resisters could sing this song to the French soldiers: "Kevin, return to your home, Jessica is waiting for you".
 Kevin and Jessica are amongst the most popular names used by the new French generations. Kevin was the name of one of the ten paratroopers killed and Jessica is the name of the fiancée of Jean, the son of Nicolas Sarkozy.
August 24, 2008 Source: Basta - Journal de marche zapatiste and Tlaxcala. Scott Campbell is the editor of http://angrywhitekid.blogs.com/weblog and a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, translator and reviser are cited. URL of this article on Tlaxcala: http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=5753&lg=en