Time to end the war in Afghanistan?

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Yesterday was the deadliest day so far for the United States of its 10-year war in Afghanistan, as thirty members of the American special forces were killed when the Taliban shot down a Chinook helicopter.

That brings the US death toll since the start of the conflict to over 1,000. The UK has lost over 300. Afghanistan: countless thousands (ISAF / NATO hasn’t cared to count too closely).

This year, the projected total cost to the US relating to Afghanistan is expected to be $118.6 billion.

As the rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US top-notch AAA rating to AA+, China took the opportunity to say another downgrade would be inevitable unless the US slashed, among other items, its “gigantic military expenditure”, of which Afghanistan is a huge chunk.

Timely, then, to listen to what Rory Stewart has to say on the matter in this TED Talks speech from a couple of weeks ago: ‘Time to end the war in Afghanistan’.

I don’t think Stewart has all the answers, but he certainly has some of them and meanwhile manages to pose some pretty uncomfortable questions for the war leaders in Washington and Whitehall.

 

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  • Toastedpuffin

    “Why are we still in Afghanistan one decade later?”

    Because we invaded Afghanistan.

    We could get out now and say “Well, that’s fixed, if you have any more problems give me a shout” and accept the thanks of a grateful population.

    This would indeed end the war in Afghanistan and we could reflect on a job well done as the Afghans enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future.

  • tacapall

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghanistans-untapped-minerals-worth-3-trillion-2003616.html

    “Afghanistan’s untapped mineral wealth is worth at least $3 trillion – triple a US estimate, according to the government’s top mining official, who is going to Britain next week to attract investors to mine one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits”.

    Bodybags vs moneybags. The latter will always win, those who sponsor this and indeed the wars in Iraq and Lybia care nothing for human life, they will only consider a withdrawal when their investments have come to fruit and move on to another country to exploit. Iran’s turn must be coming up soon.

  • http://WindowsIDHotmail madraj55

    The GW Bush presidency chikens are coming home to roost and with a vengeance. He did most to cause the present credit crisis with his wars of choice in Afghanistan and Iraq, [and the Bismarck verdict on the Balkans applies equally to Afghanistan. 'Not worth a drop of blood of a Pomeranian Guard']. The US will take decades to get this burden off, and by extension, the world will also. There are encouraging signs the US public will lay the blame were it belongs after the Republicans took the country to the edge of the cliff. Standard and Poor laid blame for downgrade on them squarely and fairly.

  • sonofstrongbow

    On the two occasions I met Rory Stewart he struck me as way too pleased with himself. He seems to wish to set himself up as a latter-day TE Lawrence style expert, perhaps because of his limited travel and work experience in the region. He is not such an individual.

    He promotes the advances made during the period when a ‘light footprint’ deployment was possible without acknowledging that the Taliban would have rowed back those advances when the opportunity presented itself. His contention that the Taliban “followed the troops” i.e that larger scale military deployments was the main causal factor for the growth of the Taliban is nonsense.

    Stewart’s mocking of political and military leaders recourse to the use of the hackneyed phrase ‘decisive year’ for each year since ’04 ignores the mirror image comments by the anti-war lobby that each of those years were individually the ‘right’ time to go.

    His jibe at those working in the Region for not being able to speak the language, an interesting benchmark for international intervention, and his pleas for “humility” doesn’t really cut it as a policy on which to move forward.

    His TED lecture seemed little more than a pitch for a job. Perhaps although only having been an MP for a year he is ginning the back-benchers’ life boring and once again wants to feel the desert sand between his toes.

  • oracle

    I met Stewart in London….. man what a prick!

    Loves the sound of his own voice and ideas, can’t stick at anything as he fancies himself Govenor of the world, and we all need to know it so he can get on with the job ASAP.

    He’s all for invasions and bombing women and children from 30,000ft so long as it’s cheap, and like most idiots believes Kosovo was a triumph and not the disaster its nailed on to be in the future.

    As for his walk across Afghanistan well don’t get me started i’d be here all day tearing it to bits.

  • Brian

    ‘Bodybags vs moneybags. The latter will always win, those who sponsor this and indeed the wars in Iraq and Lybia care nothing for human life, they will only consider a withdrawal when their investments have come to fruit and move on to another country to exploit. Iran’s turn must be coming up soon.’

    Typical drivel. There is no infrastructure in Afghanistan anywhere near what is needed to even harvest 1/10 of their supposed mineral wealth. You can continue to believe the US and Allies went in there for their own economic gain, contrary to all evidence. The fact that their mission has turned into a hopeless quagmire, with the people stuck between a predatory government and stone age fanatics, should make you americaphobes happy enough without resorting to lies.

  • http://belfastnightlife.blogspot.com DanielGillen

    I think it’s always worth fighting fascists such as the Taliban and for me the issue is as simple as that.

  • keano10

    Daniel,

    If thats the case why gave ‘fascists’ in other continents (namely Africa) been engaged in genocide for decades without the US giving them even a second glance? Did you ever campaign for intervention in any of those countries Daniel?

    Somehow doubt it…

  • keano10

    ‘have’

  • pauluk

    M55: Standard and Poor laid blame for downgrade on them squarely and fairly.

    What absolute poppycock? If that is the case, why was the White House so quick to condemn S&P and quibble about the numbers? Shooting the messenger isn’t very smart.

    Obama’s 35% increase in the federal debt in 30 months and the Democrats failure to to ‘deal rationally with the entitlement crises are the reason for the decline in confidence in the US’. S&P are already indicating another downgrade if debt isn’t brought under control.

    Obama’s plans to throw more massive amounts of good money after bad, thereby increasing the national debt, is pure idiocy and the cause of this crisis of confidence!

  • monaraba

    Fighting expensive wars and throwing good money after bad are always a recipe for disaster. In this case not just for the US but for the entire free world. I hope the entire free world will not end up paying for US militarism and stupidity.

  • CharlieMcCarthy29

    The war is unwinnable. The withdrawal should be sped up. The Afghani army and police won’t get any better but it’s their country and they should be left to it, with some residual air support perhaps.

  • pauluk

    Some folks just do not get it. The S&P downgrade is a vote of no confidence in Obama’s economic policies and his lack of a plan to deal with the crisis over the massive increase in entitlements during his tenure.

    The war thing is a red herring. It’s small change compared to the vast amounts of debt that Obama has got and is continuing to get the US into with expensive programmes.

    The voters severely punished the Democrats in Nov 2010 with, fortunately for them, only a limited number of seats up for grabs. The next opportunity for voters is in 2012 when the Republicans, if polls are accurate, have a good chance of taking the Senate and maybe even the White House.

  • Neil

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/31/bp-stranglehold-iraq-oilfield-contract

    It would seem that we can now start to see the financial gain for Britain at any rate. 6 million dollars a day for BP, but of course it was truly altruistic intentions that led George to wage wars on these countries.

    The S&P downgrade is a vote of no confidence in Obama’s economic policies and his lack of a plan to deal with the crisis over the massive increase in entitlements during his tenure.

    Catch yourself on. The downgrade is a reaction to a global financial crisis, which I would imagine would be quite tricky to lay at the door of Obama. Certainly the 100 bn fighting in wars halfway round the world didn’t help the US bottom line, and that would be down to George.

    To attempt to suggest that the downgrade isn’t in anyway related to the financial crisis is laughable. To try to blame Obama or for that matter Cameron for the financial crisis is ridiculous.

  • HeinzGuderian

    China buys 90% of the oil coming out of Iraq…………..I know that doesn’t fit in with the *money grabbing,imperialist,West………….but there you have it !!

    Meanwhile,dear aul mother oirland,wonders where the next handout is coming from.