Afghanistan: a masterclass in political misdirection?

Ok, I’ve just spent the last couple of days in meetings in London. One of the things I noticed was the amount of people wearing poppies this year. I cannot say for certain (mostly because I cannot swear I am always in the UK capital that regularly at this time of year), but it seems to me there has been a radical increase in numbers this year over previous years. The reason is clear enough: Afghanistan.

The killing of five troops by a policeman they had both trained and had trusted probably put an extra twist into those who customarily wear it. And it causing a fair amount of people to question why the troops are there in the first place.

Towards the end of last week, I spoke with an old friend whose son is with the British army in Afghanistan. The story he relayed from his son will hardly bolster the confidence of those optimists who still think Bush/Blair democracy-building project there is worth persisting with.

The young man in question noted two things.

One, that every time the British take on a new batch of troops for the Afghan Army (ie the guys who will old the line for ‘democracy’ when the British withdraw) they make recommendations as to who should be given commissions as officers.

Invariably, he says, once submitted to senior Afghani officials, the lists come back with the names scored out and the names of sons and other relatives of said officials put in. Invariably, the worst of the bunch, he says.

And two, the most outstanding recruits often turn out to be rebels milking the system for the training and intelligence. That’s a theme familiar with many of the IRA’s Northern Irish campaigns over the centuries.
As Alex Evans notes from Matthew Hoh’s resignation letter of 10th September:

“Our presence in Afghanistan has only increased destabilization and insurgency in Pakistan where we rightly fear a toppled or weakened Pakistani government may lose control of its nuclear weapons. However, again, to follow the logic of our stated goals we should garrison Pakistan, not Afghanistan. More so, the September 11th attacks, as well as the Madrid and London bombings, were primarily planned and organized in Western Europe; a point that highlights the threat is not one tied to traditional geographic or political boundaries.”

And, Hamid Karzai, the questionably elected President of the country is known amongst the British troops out there as the Mayor of Kabul…

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  • Junior Apparatchik

    Just back from England too and would agree on the poppies, Mick.

    Afghanistan will be much trickier for Cameron than Europe, as I think he realises.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “That’s a theme familiar with many of the IRA’s Northern Irish campaigns over the centuries.”

    Mick
    I think you’ll find the IRA can only lay claim to campaigns in the past century.

    And before that,republican campaigns certainly did not have an exclusively ‘Northern Irish’ scope….

    Regarding the main thrust of your piece, it is entirely understantable that British people would wish to empathise with their soldiers at this time.

    The observations of soldiers on the ground are hardly surprising. Given the history of British involvement in Afghanistan (and rarely to do with preserving democracy) it should come as no surprise that the current policy seems to be one which turns a blind eye to corruption.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    re. “Our presence in Afghanistan has only increased destabilization and insurgency in Pakistan where we rightly fear a toppled or weakened Pakistani government may lose control of its nuclear weapons.”

    It is also plausible that the invasion of Iraq and the presense of so many Western troops in the middle east was also a massive propaganda boost to the Taliban. Given that most British people didnt even trust their own government’s motives in invading in Iraq we can only ponder on the strength of feeling in muslim countries that must have resulted from such a controlversail war. It is also quite clear that the suicide attacks and other unsavoury tactics so sucessfully deployed in Iraq are now also being sucessfully deployed in Afghanistan and Tony Blair is a very lucky man that he has his new found faith to help him hold it together as it becomes clearer that his handiwork and that of the British government(supported by the Tories) have helped realise the West’s worsts fears – an increasingly destabilsied Pakistan.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    After the defeat of the Taliban and before the current upsurge in the insurgency some minister or other stood up in the British Parliament and made the unbelievably disingenuous claim that British troops were being sent to Helmand province for training, or bridge building or general housework but nothing that indicated they were going to get the shit blown out of them. There was not even a dissenting voice in the house or a sceptical one that I can remember even though the same yes-men had only recently swallowed the jibber-jabbber about weapons of mass destruction.

    There was no proper debate in the house of commons that I heard that discussed the objectives, strategy or war aims just a plan to get the troops in there and then worry about such details later.

  • Rory Carr

    A war going badly abroad with poorly equipped troops demoralised by a lack of clear strategy, a government uncaring of their welfare and increased casualties as a result of poor political decisions…meanwhile at home, recession, unemployment, the banking system in disarray, the Bank of England throwing £25billion at speculators to play with by buying up their treasury bonds, and a total collapse of public trust in their elected representatives… but no British Lenin, no storming of Buckingham Palace…instead we have Simon Cowell and a Jedward fan base storming of Facebook.

    Is this yet another of those strange lands whose shores Gulliver found himself landed upon ?

  • Fabianus

    Rory

    Give them time. I hear those knitting needles a’clicking and the tumbrils approaching.

    Not.

    We live in different times I’m afraid. The only time you’ll get a mob together is when your fav team is playing a home match.

  • bogexile

    ‘but no British Lenin, no storming of Buckingham Palace…instead we have Simon Cowell and a Jedward fan base storming of Facebook’

    A depressing vista but fortunately not entirely true.

    I’m frequently in London on business and I’ve noticed a huge increase in Poppy wearing as well – particularly by the young.

    I think people can distinguish between support for our troops in harms way and support for a Government ‘policy’ which places them there without the mandate, resources or even the basic security necessary to make any meaningful difference to the lives of ordinary Afghanis.

    The ‘war’ is reduced to such an abstraction by spin and distance that the only way it becomes personal is through the experience of the bereaved. This consituency is sadly set to increase. The clamour for change won’t come from the barricades, it will come from the funeral parlours.

  • fin

    The Guardian had a disturbing piece around how the football league is bullying teams into making/having their players wear poppies on the pitch, some teams are dissenting, quite rightly claiming they support armed forces charities already, I was surprised to see the Birmingham team wearing poppies last weekend before I had read the story, I believe at least one team is asking permission to have sown on cloth poppies for ease of use.

    This coupled with the drive this year for homecoming parades through town centres and at football games, makes me wonder how the marketing people behind this campaign are reacting to the unfortunate upsurge in deaths and injuries – in my head I hear Mr Burns saying ‘excellent’.

    To be fair Fab Rememberance Sunday always draws decent crowds in London and further a field, I understand the UVF are even going to attend one in NI.

  • 6countyprod

    The war in Afghanistan is a direct result of the horrors of 9/11. Iraq was a distraction that, for some people, somehow negated the justification of the Afghan operation.

    Now that the Iraq war has basically been won and Bush is no longer in charge, people are again focussing more clearly on the sacrifices of our armed forces as they battle Islamic extremists on their home turf.

    Many of the freedoms that we enjoy in our liberal society would have been lost if fascism had taken over, and, by the same token, many would be lost if Islam, with its Sharia law took over.

    We honour those who have fought and died to protect our free and open society.

  • fin

    6countyprod, Islam and Sharia law is been implemented in Iraqat at the moment, the prewar ‘western’ society is been removed, christian churches, bars etc are been shutdown, women are been forced to cover their bodies, and christians are fleeing to the Kurdish north.

    In Afganistan the government recently legalised rape as an entitlement in marriage.

    Pakistan and Saud are the UK’s and USA’s best allies in the region, 9/11 was committed by Saudis and the UK attacked by Pakistanis.

    Regarding Fascism, dig out a history book, the West was a lot more concerned about communism, Hitlers imprisonment of communists, socialists and union leaders in concentration camps was well received, Time magazine thought it such a good idea they put him on the cover, Britain and France aided Franco, stopping British and Irish socialists for reaching Spain to fight for the republic.

    Unfortunately 6county, foreign policy is not all that black and white and neither is war.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    The reality is that apart from a tiny part of Afghanistans population, made up from what is left of the middle-classes, they generally don’t like foreigners and certainly don’t want them there regardless of intentions. I would suspect that the vast majority couldn’t differentiate one foreigner from another, never mind the wherefores. How in hell could anyone change that even in several generations?

    It is a mess! And watching the families of the bereaved over the last week, instead of feeling sorry for them I find myself fighting the urge to shout at them for their stupidity for allowing their husbands/brothers/sons to go there. After many years struggling to fill the ranks of the infantry, I believe they now have a surfeit following Ross Kemp’s gung ho dramatisation of the ‘boys own’ soldiers stories there. Although there was one real gritty moment of poingancy and perhaps unintended balance. It was when he came across young guys who Kemp had trained with in England. Six months later a fresh faced 18/19 yr old looked like a 50 a day 2 whisky bottle. The fear shone out the kid who along with his comrades readily admitted that they had bitten more than they could chew.

    The legitimacy that the British government has clung onto regarding Karzai cannot be regained, even if it was only a mirage in the first place. We need not even mention the implementing of laws discriminating against wimmen, the whole scenario is a farce and not worth the lives of any of the poor bastards who it is too late for.

  • Panic, These Ones Likes It Up Them.

    I suppose the vile corrupt immoral politicians that send the young men and women to die wear the biggest poppies while claimimg the biggest expenses that they can lay their grubby hands on.

    I bet most of them spend much more time creatively fiddling their expenses than they did on sending young men and women to be killed or maimed.

    The MPs that inhabit Westminister are so rotten it must be a sturdy building not to collapse in on such putrification

  • Todd

    I think the Brits are wearing more poppies this year because of the popularity of X Factor!

  • Brit

    As a mere Londoner I dont recognise the story of massive increases in wearing of the poppy. At most a marginal increase.

    As usual it appears to be widespread irrespective of class, age, race/ethnicity, gender and (mainstream) political views.

  • Brit

    On Afghanistan

    1. The original invasion was unquestionably a just war of defence / response against 9.11. The primary objective of destroying AQ s base and sponsor regime was achieved.

    2. The mission having been achieved the troops are not fighting a conventional war but engaged in counter-terrorism training and policing activities. Its not a winnable “war” as you cannot completely defeat terrorism by military means but you can maintain a stable safe state and limit the capabilities of the terrorists.

    3. Whilst the people of Afghanistan and its government want the forces to remain in place it is the right thing to do – both for their interests and the wider interests of the war against Islamism. A war against the most dangerous totalitarian and potentially genocidal movement on the planet.

    4. The number of deaths of British soliders is, in relative terms, very low. How long do you think the British would have stayed in WW2 if the level of deaths in Afghanistan is to be considered too high.

    5. As for PE’s comments about soliders and their families I am puzzled. If you join an army you are there to fight and risk your life in any conflict that the government decides to become engaged in – whether right or wrong and whatever your personal views. If like me you find the prospect of armed conbat terrifying you should not join up.

    6. Those who opposed the invasion need to consider what would have happened had the Taliban regime and its AQ guests been left alone without military challenge – both to the people of Afghanistan and the wider region.

    7. Those who call for an immediate withdrawal now need to consider the impact of withdrawal in the same context.

    8. The war may well have upset Muslims most of whom oppose it but I don’t see any correlation between that and suicide terrorism. Don’t forget islamist violence and terrorism (including most signficantly but not means limited to 9.11) preceded the Afghanistan invasion so the nutters didn’t need any pretext. The non-nutters don’t support suicide terrorism in any event. Either way appeasement and allowing fascists to shape your foreign policy is neither moral nor in the medium to long term self-interests of anyone.

  • exile

    [i]As a mere Londoner I dont recognise the story of massive increases in wearing of the poppy. At most a marginal increase.[/i]

    Maybe that’s because, if I recall correctly, you live in Tottenham: not exactly the most patriotic or British of areas, is it?

    As a resident of London I’ve definitely noticed an increase in the number of people choosing to wear the poppy when compared with previous years: a trend especially discernible among young people.

  • Dave

    Do you think that the poppy has become an anti-war emblem among that age group, exile?

  • Greenflag

    From the Beeb ,

    ‘Gordon Brown has told Afghan President Hamid Karzai he will not put UK troops “in harm’s way for a government that does not stand up against corruption”.

    But they HAVE been in ‘harms way ‘ for the past 7 years and the corrupt government has not changed it’s ways in that time . I’m sure most British people do not approve of their soldiers lives being sacrificed to keep a ‘corrupt ‘ regime in place ? They also do not want to see the Taliban return to power with all that that would imply .

    ‘In a speech, Mr Brown said the UK “cannot, must not and will not walk away” from its mission in Afghanistan.’

    Laudable words and intentions . The USA used the same words for years before it left Vietnam to the communists .

    ‘But he said continued coalition support would depend on the delivery of reform.’

    Given that Karzai is basically the Mayor of Kabul and his writ covers only those areas where there is an allied military presence how can Karzai deliver ‘reform ‘. His brother after all is reputedly at the top of the ‘heroin ‘ supply chain . The ethnic ‘divisions ‘ in Afghanistan are complex and the majority Pushtuns (48% of the total ) are divided 50/50 between those who support Karzai and those who see him as a ‘ferengi ‘ puppet . The Army is 70% officered by the Tadjiks who make up 25% of the population and who are hereditary tribal opponents of the Pushtuns . What the British (and Americans ) are trying to do in Afghanistan is a bit like what would have happened had the British Army in Northern Ireland in the troubles been officered by 70% Irish Republicans.

    ‘Mr Brown said the Afghan government had become a “by-word for corruption” and he called for the creation of a new commission to investigate abuses, warning President Karzai that “cronies and warlords should have no place in the future of Afghanistan”.’

    Again laudable words but without a massive input of Allied troops perhaps 500,000 , plus a committment to stay for the next several decades plus hundreds of billions in structural investment in the country , it’s a mission that will end in failure. Commissions are not going to work . Afghanistan is not Britain or the USA . Reports are not perused by the chattering classes and acted upon or shelved . Those ‘defeated’ by commission reports tend to head for the mountains and reply to criticisms of ‘corruption ‘ with gunfire .

    It’s a horror story no matter how one looks at it . How the Allies can extricate themselves from it with political credibility never mind ‘consciences’ intact, is a problem that’s exercising the strategists .

    Expecting Karzai to deliver is probably no longer possible and applied pressure by Brown and Obama on the man at the moment is a bit like flogging a dead horse . Past performance is a better guarantee of future results in human affairs than it is in glossy financial brochures and on that basis Karzai does not seem to be the leader that Afghans will have confidence in for the longer term future .

  • Greenflag

    Brit ,

    ‘The original invasion was unquestionably a just war of defence / response against 9.11.’

    I see you use the word ‘just’ and I would’nt disagree . ‘Just’ does not mean ‘intelligent ‘ or ‘politically opportune ‘ or ‘revenge ‘ or a whole host of other words that could be used instead to describe the ‘mission’.

    ‘ The primary objective of destroying AQ s base and sponsor regime was achieved.”

    No it was’nt .Osama the bastard – still lives 🙁
    The AQ base merely moved elsewhere.
    The USA forgot Afghanistan as it focused on the big ‘prize’ in the region -Iraq.

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Brit

    >>As for PE’s comments about soliders and their families I am puzzled.<

  • exile

    To a limited extent onlye Dave. To be honest, being a young’n myself I think it’s more simple than that: a display of solidarity with the troops that is divorced from the actual reasons for their deployment in Afghanistan. Remember, the majority of British troops being killed and maimed in Afghanistan are teenagers / those in their early 20s.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brit,

    Your Point 1.
    Agree entirely with that.

    Point 2.

    Couple of problems here – calling people in their own country terrorists when many of them are defending (ie trying to repel a foreign army) illustrates a lack of understanding of the problem. When they were fighting the Ruskies (the same people with the same weapons) we were being told they were freedom fighters. The Iraqis are an extemely durable and tough bunch of insurgents their personal bravery in resisting all the west can throw at them is something I’m sure the army top brass must secretly be marvelling at. The Ruskies must be smiling to themselves.

    It is a complete nonsense to think that a safe and stable state can be established by foreign troops – they are making the situation worse.

    3. Pakistan should be protected becuase of the nuclear issue (a genuine case of weapons of mass desctruction)- troops should secure the border and only attack inside Afghanistan on a case-by-case basis.

    4. The number of deaths hould be quoted since they went to Helmand on their ‘retraining’ programme – this was a seperate military operation from the invasion and should have been subjected to proper discussion of war objecvtives.

    5. Civilians and army families should speak out against any war which is leading straight up a dead-end instead of simply trotting out the usual ‘brave boys’ arguements. The use of aircraft to drop bombs on civilain areas with far more regard for soldiers lives than the local population should be something the British population should reflect on. I dont think, as in Iraq they bother to count the people they kill – mainly because the people back home are only interested in their boys.

    6. I agree.

    7. They should cut a deal with the Taliban and tell them they can run their country as they see fit – but warn them the West will monitor proceeeding and launch militarty strikes if required.

    8. This is standard British ideological position in not taking responsibiltiy for helping to create the problem. Britian and US need to admit they called the Iraq invasion wrong and make it clear they have learned the lessons of recent history. This will help in the noegotiations in 7 above.

  • Brit

    “Maybe that’s because, if I recall correctly, you live in Tottenham: not exactly the most patriotic or British of areas, is it?”

    I go to Tottenham regularly to watch my football team (most recently losing to the footballing giants Stoke City), but I live in Kilburn and work in central London (and have done both for over 10 years)

  • Brit

    “No it was’nt .Osama the bastard – still lives 🙁
    The AQ base merely moved elsewhere.”

    Violent jihadi Islamism is a global movement and even if all of AQ in Afghanistan had been taken out there is no way that it would have meant an end to Islamist terrorism in places ranging from Israel to Indonesia to India.

    And yes the AQ base did move. But there is a lot of difference between having a safe haven and large client state, and having to hide and run, constantly harried. Both the progaganda strength and the military and operational capability was severely decreased.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brit,

    point 2. should have read “The Afghanis are an extemely durable etc rather than “Iraqis”

  • Brit

    Sammy,

    Not sure a huge amount between us here. But I didn’t agree with this.

    “Couple of problems here – calling people in their own country terrorists when many of them are defending (ie trying to repel a foreign army) illustrates a lack of understanding of the problem. When they were fighting the Ruskies (the same people with the same weapons) we were being told they were freedom fighters. The Iraqis [presume should read Afghans] are an extemely durable and tough bunch of insurgents their personal bravery in resisting all the west can throw at them is something I’m sure the army top brass must secretly be marvelling at. The Ruskies must be smiling to themselves.”

    Yes but it’s a foreign army there with the support of the majority of the populace and at the invitiation of the government. They are terrorists because of their tactics as well as their objectives. Now I never supported the Mujahadeen back in the day but the Russian occupation was different (installing a man and regime which was completely hated by all Afghans including leftists and those who were Islamic but not Islamists. Second the Mujahadeen were fighting to expel the Russians but were not (or certainly not all) Islamists bent ton taking power over the country and imposing their fundamentalist and extreme version of Islamic government on the population – a combination of modern totalitarianism with medieval fundamentalist religion.

    At the risk of sounding a bit racist I agree that the Afghans are tough and good fighters, particularly in the mountainous regions. But the Wehmacht were amongst the best and bravest fighters in WW2 (as the French could no doubt testify to) but it doesn’t mean you don’t fight.

  • Brit

    PE – You havent really addressed my point.

    If the army is underfunded then the solution is not for soldiers to desert or refuse to fight but for further investment in the armed forces.

    I say all of this with a member of my extended family having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan (and always half listening to the name of the dead to ‘make sure’ its not him).

    Wheres Gerry Mander today I wonder – maybe celebrating down the pub at another 11 “imperialists” being killed. Or maybe its only the death of British soliders that excites him.

  • Greenflag

    Brit ,

    ‘Violent jihadi Islamism is a global movement ‘

    That it is -but it will be Islamic States that defeat it from within -not Western powers from without . All the latter does is exacerbate the disease by it’s physical presence on the ground in those countries

    As Sammy says above

    ‘ warn them the West will monitor proceeeding and launch military strikes if required.’

    I’d go a little further than Sammy and suggest that any Islamic State that is seen to support Al Quaida or any other organisation in direct attacks on ANY western democracy will see it’s major cities erased one by one from the face of the earth – with advance warning to allow civilians to vacate targets .

    ‘Both the progaganda strength and the military and operational capability was severely decreased. ‘

    True . But at what cost and more importantly at what future cost ? .What has already been spent has ended up in the pockets of the warlords and Karzai’s tribal cronies .? The Afghan economy produces ‘heroin’ and nothing else except perhaps a training ground for future wars .

    ‘there is no way that it would have meant an end to Islamist terrorism in places ranging from Israel to Indonesia to India’

    The latter countries are capable of defending themselves . The Israelis appear to have few qualms about doing so , and neither do the Indians nor the Indonesians . The USA & UK cannot afford to police the world or ‘impose ‘ democracy where it’s not wanted or can’t work for cultural or religious or developmental reasons .

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    brit

    >>If the army is underfunded then the solution is not for soldiers to desert or refuse to fight but for further investment in the armed forces.< >Yes but it’s a foreign army there with the support of the majority of the populace and at the invitiation of the government.< >They are terrorists because of their tactics as well as their objectives.<

  • Brit

    “but no British Lenin, no storming of Buckingham Palace” Rory Carr

    Lenin was a murderous dictator so no great shame there. Remind me Rory of the mass socialist movements in the Republic, or even a succesful Social Democractic/Labour party?

    “Remember it is their country, not ours.” PE

    Yes the Afghan’s country but not the Taliban’s.

    “any Islamic State that is seen to support Al Quaida or any other organisation in direct attacks on ANY western democracy will see it’s major cities erased one by one from the face of the earth – with advance warning to allow civilians to vacate targets .” GF

    You make the IDF sound a bunch of peacniks!

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    >>Yes the Afghan’s country but not the Taliban’s.< >You make the IDF sound a bunch of peacniks!< http://tinyurl.com/yatyalc for sure ;¬)

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    As the West was pretending it was looking for the pretend WMD in Iraq the cute hoors were actaully planning on how to get their hands on the actual WMD in Pakistan.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    …also does anyone agree with the suggestion that the way the troops were re-deployed to Helmand province was disingenuously concealed behind some jibber-jabber about training and without it being properly debated or thought out?

  • Well, those who tout the poppy dipped in other peoples blood have had a little help you know, one could almost call it an advertising campaign. The mirror, the sun and the mail have had page after page about ‘our boys’ and the heroic dead. (by the way, how patronising it is to call people who are engaged in a life and death struggle boys and how sexist)

    Of course none of these jingoistic rags will analyse just why there are so many dead squadies being repatriated, as both the main UK parties are behind these newspapers campaigns full stop, and there is not a cigarette paper between them as far as support for this hopeless and criminal war is concerned.

    As things go from bad to worse, with Karsi, who was to be Nato’s rabbet out of the hat, mired in corruption and an electoral fix. The Afghan police exposed as totally unreliable, with Karsi’s army not far behind; and a US army officer murdering GI’s due to his opposition to the Afghan/Iraq war.

    Two weeks ago in London I marched through the cities streets demanding troops out of Afghanistan with serving British army solders alongside me, something I have never in my lifetime experienced before. More to the point, one of them reported on returning to his base the following week, he received a round of applause from his comrades, not as he had expected looks of withering contempt.

    The more this wicked and futile war is proved to be a charade the more jingoistic the media, Blue Labour and the Tories become. Perhaps Mick, instead of making judgments on surface impressions as to how many poppies are worn in London, you would do better to ask those waring them and their fellow countrymen what they really think about this war? For UK opinion polls do not support the implication you are clearly attempting to make. As Joe C made clear on another thread, people wear the red poppy for a host of differing and often complex personal reasons.

    Or have you to joined this obscene jingoistic media stampede which applauds the deaths of other peoples sons and daughters and does not give a thought to the wishes of the majority of the Afghan people.

    Just a final point on this, the US and British government openly admitted Karsi’s election as President could not stand, as it was fraudulent and there would have to be an election rerun. When Karsi’s opponent refused to play ball, due to the lack of checks and balances if a second round was held, instead of dissolving the government and placing into power a temporary administration made up of a cross section of Afghan society, including the Talaban, until fresh elections could be held in the spring.

    Our gallant politicians, Obama, Brown and Cameron, etc,etc, shrugged their shoulders and said problem solved. They then picked up the phone and said, President Karsi, good luck for your second term in office.

    Could more contempt possibly be shown towards the Afghan people than this. I cannot see how.

    Shame on all who support the sending of young squadies to die in support of an incompetent, reactionary crook who brought power with our tax dollars and pounds and maintains the support of our politicians for no better reason than, like the Soviets before them, they are unprepared to think outside the box and take the only logical decision.

    Until they do we all have blood on our hands and make no mistake in time Nato will withdraw from Afghanistan in much the same way as the Soviets did. But by then, the Sun, Mirror and the rest of these rags will no longer have use for dead squadies.

  • Gerry Mander

    So what should we wear to commemorate the Afghans killed by SAS/2nd Para/Royal Marine terrorists? They remind me of the SS peace keepers in France in 1942 wqho were also trying to establish law and order.

    And what is this about the IRA’s “Northern Irish” campaign? If you mean the Occupied Six counties, you should say so. This assumes the IRA activities in Monaghan, Cavan, Donegal and the belly of the beast (the mainland you would call it) are of no consequence.

  • Martin

    Two points only:

    1. Tolstoy on occasions of state sponsored remeberance:

    “that is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason and conscience.”

    2. Me on charity emblem buying :

    “Today I bought a pink ribbon, for the admirable cause of breast cancer research. I pinned it on my shirt. Tomorrow I will wear wear a new shirt; I will not seek out the breast cancer research people, for I have made my donation and purchased my emblem. I choose not to wear my emblem for 5% of the calendar year. I wonder if in thirty years time others will wear their emblem so proudly for what their forebears did in the Mau Mau campaign; if they will stand by the cenotaph with the remnants of the veterans and remember the victories :
    [BBC,2002]
    “Kenyan Mau Mau veterans’ groups are cataloguing a potentially damaging dossier on alleged human rights abuses in the 1950s.

    This could lead to a huge legal action for compensation against the UK Government. BBC Two’s Correspondent programme reveals some of the new evidence that lies behind the veterans’ claims.

    Suspects being checked for the mark of the Mau Mau
    Suspects would be checked for the mark of the Mau Mau
    The Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s was a murky part of the British military’s past.

    The ruthless, clandestine Mau Mau movement found its roots in the Kenyan Kikuyu tribe.

    Their aim was to win back their land and personal freedoms denied them by the British colonial power at the time.

    Lawyers, working with Kenyan Mau Mau veterans’ groups, have taken over 6,000 depositions alleging numerous major human rights abuses, including rape, torture, indiscriminate killing and theft of property.

    Mwangi Kanyari
    Mwangi Kanyari reflects the thousands now looking for justice
    Mwangi Kanyari is one of the Mau Mau veterans – he feels bitterly aggrieved.

    He gave six years of loyal service in the Kings African Rifles and was wounded in action.

    After retiring from the regiment in 1946, he was left with nothing. It was then he joined the Mau Mau.

    New evidence has been unearthed alleging British atrocities, on such a scale that it will require the rewriting of British imperial history.

    Professor Caroline Elkins
    Prof Caroline Elkins – the figure of 50,000 deaths is a conservative estimate
    Professor Caroline Elkins of Harvard University has been investigating the claims.

    She says that in excess of 50,000 people could have been killed by British security forces. A significantly higher figure than was previously admitted.

    Human rights abused

    The Correspondent programme reports a number of human rights abuses:

    * Horrific tortures and murders committed by white officials and local soldiers under their command
    * Castration and blinding for defying captors
    * Fatal whipping
    * Rape by British soldiers

    There were also tales of daily killings at a British-run slave labour camp called Embakasi.

    It was here that Mau Mau convicts were made to build the foundations for what is now Kenya’s main airport.

    These stories are typical of a widespread and systematic attack by British forces against the Kikuyu people who were sympathetic to the Mau Mau campaign.”

  • Bruma Grill

    Maybe there is a more practical rationale for the increase in poppy wearing this year which has an Afghanistan connection.

    Could it be that there simply are more poppies around due to increased opium output there?

  • Wilde Rover

    Bruma Grill,

    “Could it be that there simply are more poppies around due to increased opium output there?“

    It is my understanding that all the crops in Afghanistan are processed there, but maybe the Karzai clan might also be acting as florists.

    It is clear that anyone who is serious about fighting the good fight when it comes to the War on Terror should be encouraging more young people to show their solidarity with the troops by shooting up the sweet smack produced in Afghanistan.

    Remember kiddies, ask Santa for smack this Christmas or the terrorists win.

  • Martin

    Very strongly made point that, thanks. For me it highlights no good ever comes from these imperialist type military interventions. I realise my tone on this subject may seem a bit harsh to some, but I passionately believe if we civilians do not speak out and oppose our military being sent to Afghanistan, then there will be no one speaking up for the squadies bar the cheer leaders for war, let alone the Afghan people who bare the brunt of western military intervention.

    I have just read a review in the Daily Telegraph about a new biog of the late Harry Patch and this old soldiers take on war; especially WW1 which he regarded as a totally obscene and unnecessary slaughter, and I have no doubt many of today’s NATO troops feel much the same about Afghanistan.

    To my mind the best way of supporting the young men and women who are currently serving in Afghanistan, is to demand the UK government brings them home.

  • Greenflag

    mickhall,

    ‘As things go from bad to worse, with Karsi, who was to be Nato’s rabbit out of the hat, mired in corruption and an electoral fix. The Afghan police exposed as totally unreliable, with Karsi’s army not far behind; and a US army officer murdering GI’s due to his opposition to the Afghan/Iraq war. ‘

    Good post and that’s about the sum of it . The ‘slaughter’ in Texas may also have other repercussions within US army ranks in the field and in US society . The mood of American voters re the Afghan war is as negative as that of British voters . As President Obama is still ‘deciding ‘ the proper ‘strategy’ to follow and this 8 years after the US invasion one wonders if he’s finally listening to what his gut instinct should be telling him . In an economy with 17 -20% real unemployment , a dollar in decline and mid term elections next year – I think we all know how this one will end . We’re into face saving time and putting a gloss on what has been probably the most inept military sally into another country since the charge of the light brigade .

    Have the British soldiers ‘died’ for nothing in Afghanistan .

    Yes . But not for the first or the last time in Britain’s long history of foreign wars or colonial misadventures . The very worst being WW1.

    But then your British soldier just follows the orders of his generals like soldiers everywhere (well perhaps not everywhere ) .The general follow the policies handed down by their political superiors and hope that the ‘politicians ‘ have made the right decision .

    As we know from history – the latter ‘make ‘ mistakes sometimes ‘deliberately’ and sometimes through ‘stupidity ‘ and sometimes through both as we see in afghanistan .

  • Brit

    “For me it highlights no good ever comes from these imperialist type military interventions.”

    Leaving aside your inappropriate use of the term ‘imperialist’ (which you no doubt chuck in without understanding what it means) where do you stand? Its very easy to criticise actual policies and actions from the sidelines because actual policies go wrong and are subject to Sods law.

    1. How would you have dealt with Saddam’s Iraq and non-cooperation with weapons inspectors?

    2. How would you have (if at all) aided those elements in Iraq which wanted to overthrow the Ba’ath regime?

    3. How would you have had the US and its allies respond to 9/11 and what would you have done to respond to the threat of the Taliban regime and the AQ friendly parasites?

    4. Do you consider any military action not undertaken in immediate and direct self-defence to be wrong? If so please confirm that you thought the British participation in WW2 was wrong as well as the Nato action in Kosovo and the British invervention in Sierra Leonne.

    5. Please confirm that you would rather allow a genocide of millions to take place rather than support a military intervention which was the only way to end it.

    6. Please confirm that you would rather allow a mass famine and death by starvation of millions in a failed/gangster state that support a military intervention to depose the regime if that was the only way to feed the people.

    7. Please confirm you would rather allow a dictator who was known to be about to develop nuclear capability and use it in a genocidal attack to start a nuclear holocaust then intervene to prevent it happening?

  • “Leaving aside your inappropriate use of the term ‘imperialist'”

    Brit

    As soon as I read the above line, I new it was from you, as once again you have deliberately misinterpreted what I wrote, in your childlike wish to wind me up. What I actually wrote was “imperialist ‘type’ [mh] military interventions” which is something completely different, although it for the locals the differences matter little as the military still engage in a low density warfare strategy. Which in a country like Afghanistan quickly turns a large section of the population against the foreign armies.

    It matters not a jot to many Afghan locals what reason lays behind Nato being in Afghanistan, as the Soviets learnt to their cost, it is they’re very presence which pisses them off and makes them join the Talaban.

  • Brit

    No answers to my questions then?

    Its not an attempt to wind you up but to get you off your morally “pure” high horse of condemning others without actually setting out your position.

    In my view the case for military inverventions in the kinds of cases identified in points 5. to 7. of my post above is unanswerable. If you agree then our dispute is a much more limited one about the relevant tests and thresholds and the broader platitudes against war, invasion, occupation and imperialism (sic) and interference become unsustainable.

    If you dont agree that your position is in my view morally unsustainable.

  • 1/ I would have dealt with the problems the Weapons inspectors faced in the manner Scott Ritter, the United Nations Weapons Inspector In Iraq and his former boss suggested, through negotiation and not as Bush and Blair did by lying about WMD and talking up the threat Saddam posed.

    2/ Unlike you in all probability and the US and British governments I was never a cheer leader for Saddam and I actually did support those who opposed Saddam’s rule; and if I had any political power, I certainly would not have put all my eggs in one basket and only supported individuals who were willing to become CIA tools. The consequences of which became tragically obvious to all, when the USA first occupied Iraq and gave these people an element of power.

    3/ I do not believe in itself the Talaban was ever been a threat to the west, although I agree they were gravely mistaken to give refuge to Bin laden’s crackpot outfit. Having said that, if the US administration had not been in such a rush to war, using Afghanistan to up the fear level so they would be able to target Iraq. Bin laden could have been left to believe he was safe, and then US special forces/who-ever could have done the job they were set up to carry out.

    I also believe given the massive influence of the Saudi regime in Afghanistan back then, [due to having funded greatly the war against the Soviets, if the US had so wished they could have put pressure on their Saudi allies to get the Talaban or its allies to set up Bin Laden.

    Instead 8 years on Bin Laden is still roaming the world free, having, with US and British help and stupidity, inflamed a large area of Pakistan.

    4/ Of course the Hitlerite Nazis were a threat to Europe’s peace long before they invaded Poland and many working class socialist (my lot as you call them) volunteered to fight Hitlers surrogates in Spain, so this part of the question is not relevant.

    What I will say about military intervention overseas is this, firstly a nation like the UK, with its history of bloody imperialism is not the best option to invade other peoples countries, what ever the reason.

    Having said that I can see the sense in some situations of using a short term military intervention, and I stress the words short term. However what is an impossibility is to successfully export democracy or socialism come to that, on the end of Bayonets. The Russian occupation of Eastern Europe proved this, and in case you need reminding so does Iraq and Afghanistan.

    By the way if there was the will, it would still be possible to replace the NATO front line troops in Afghanistan with a UN peace keeping force made up of solders from nations in which Islam is the main religion. If this was suggested I would need to consider a fresh all the options available.

    On this, I would just add to send a former colonial power and the armorer and financier of Israel into any Muslim nation is about a dim whited and arrogant as any politician could be. Unless chaos and a bloodbath was on their agenda.

    As to Sierra Leonne I know very little about that situation and thus am unable to comment on it.

    5/ I find this question insulting and unworthy of a reply.

    6/ Same with this question and coming from someone whose nation sat back and allowed millions of Irish people to starve and used its military to protect exports of food from a land suffering from famine, I wonder if you are even in a position to ask it.

    7/Not sure who you mean here, if it was Saddam, I have already answered this question although I have never believed he has ever been in a position to develop a nuclear capability and use it in a genocidal attack and bar Israel nor is any other nation in the middle east.

    Perhaps if the US, UK Russia and France were to set a better example when arguing to abolish and control nuclear weapons, we would all find ourselves on more solid ground. Instead countries like India, Pakistan and others see our demands as gross hypocrisy, and sadly they are correct to do so.

    If you are against the UK having such weapons great, but if you support them, I place you in the camp of the hypocrites and bullies. All those like the UK, USA, Iran, Russia NK, Israel and the two Indian sub continent nations, etc and those why waste great sums of money trying to create a nuclear capability and all of whom cry do what we say, not what we do or what our peoples want.

  • Brit

    “I would have dealt with the problems the Weapons inspectors faced in the manner Scott Ritter, the United Nations Weapons Inspector In Iraq and his former boss suggested, through negotiation and not as Bush and Blair did by lying about WMD and talking up the threat Saddam posed.”

    They didnt lie and proposing negotiation with Saddam is simply not real world politics.

    “2/ Unlike you in all probability and the US and British governments I was never a cheer leader for Saddam and I actually did support those who opposed Saddam’s rule; and if I had any political power, I certainly would not have put all my eggs in one basket and only supported individuals who were willing to become CIA tools. The consequences of which became tragically obvious to all, when the USA first occupied Iraq and gave these people an element of power.”

    You dont really believe I was a cheerleader for Saddaam so catch yourself on as they say round here. I read Republic of Fear before the first Gulf War so I am well aware of the nature of Saddam’s regime in graphic disturbing detail. The point was that the regime was never going to be removed without foreign intervention.

    “3/ I do not believe in itself the Talaban was ever been a threat to the west, although I agree they were gravely mistaken to give refuge to Bin laden’s crackpot outfit. Having said that, if the US administration had not been in such a rush to war, using Afghanistan to up the fear level so they would be able to target Iraq. Bin laden could have been left to believe he was safe, and then US special forces/who-ever could have done the job they were set up to carry out.”

    Some special forces attack could have taken out OBL (maybe) but not the whole of AQ let alone the Taliban state which protected them. Again this is dream world politics like your negotiation with Saddam suggestion.

    “I also believe given the massive influence of the Saudi regime in Afghanistan back then, [due to having funded greatly the war against the Soviets, if the US had so wished they could have put pressure on their Saudi allies to get the Talaban or its allies to set up Bin Laden.”

    So what the US could have sorted it all but they just loved wars so much they didnt bother??

    “Instead 8 years on Bin Laden is still roaming the world free, having, with US and British help and stupidity, inflamed a large area of Pakistan.”

    God knows what an unmolested AQ and Taliban have done by now.

    “4/ Of course the Hitlerite Nazis were a threat to Europe’s peace long before they invaded Poland and many working class socialist (my lot as you call them) volunteered to fight Hitlers surrogates in Spain, so this part of the question is not relevant.”

    So you do believe in wars which are not in self-defence (I’m sure many of your Republican friends on here would be surprised as they would argue that such wars are illegal esp. without UN support). So wars to preserve the peace of Europe are OK but not the peace of the middle east?

    “What I will say about military intervention overseas is this, firstly a nation like the UK, with its history of bloody imperialism is not the best option to invade other peoples countries, what ever the reason.”

    Like it or not the US is the world superpower so if you are going to have a military intervention they are going to be involved. the UKs support or non-support would not have made fundamental differences to the outcome. The problem is that many nations are willing or prepared to act so it falls to the Brits to help out.

    “Having said that I can see the sense in some situations of using a short term military intervention, and I stress the words short term. However what is an impossibility is to successfully export democracy or socialism come to that, on the end of Bayonets. The Russian occupation of Eastern Europe proved this, and in case you need reminding so does Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Good we both support humanitarian intervention (though no doubt with differences as to the justificatory criteria and its application to certain facts). I never mentioned the export of democracy or socialism

  • Brit

    “By the way if there was the will, it would still be possible to replace the NATO front line troops in Afghanistan with a UN peace keeping force made up of solders from nations in which Islam is the main religion. If this was suggested I would need to consider a fresh all the options available.”

    But in the real world there isnt a will so the perfect option is not there.

    “On this, I would just add to send a former colonial power and the armorer and financier of Israel into any Muslim nation is about a dim whited and arrogant as any politician could be. Unless chaos and a bloodbath was on their agenda.”

    See above. In any event the US is a huge funder of Palestinian refugees and all sorts of people so the characterisation of armorer and financier of Israel is misleading.

    “5/ I find this question insulting and unworthy of a reply.”

    Don’t be so sensitive. Sounds like you agree with me. So presumably you would have supported in invasion of Iraq whilst he was murdering 200,000 of this own people? Or if we had waited until the next genocide you would also have supported it but just not in between genocides?

    “6/ Same with this question and coming from someone whose nation sat back and allowed millions of Irish people to starve and used its military to protect exports of food from a land suffering from famine, I wonder if you are even in a position to ask it. ”

    I’m not doing to get into the Famine now but I am no more responsible for the famine than you and in every position to ask such a question.

    “7/Not sure who you mean here, if it was Saddam, I have already answered this question although I have never believed he has ever been in a position to develop a nuclear capability and use it in a genocidal attack and bar Israel nor is any other nation in the middle east.”

    I was giving an extreme abstract example to find out what your basic principles are here. I assume that you would agree with an intervention in the extreme case. And where does Iran fit into your anwer?

    “Perhaps if the US, UK Russia and France were to set a better example when arguing to abolish and control nuclear weapons, we would all find ourselves on more solid ground. Instead countries like India, Pakistan and others see our demands as gross hypocrisy, and sadly they are correct to do so.”

    Nukes are not going to be uninvented and the liberal democracies need to keep them given the risks posed by rogue states, dictatorships and islamist terrorists. I see India in a completely different light to Pakistan. In any event I’m not sure what the direct relevance of this is to the issues in hand.

    “If you are against the UK having such weapons great, but if you support them, I place you in the camp of the hypocrites and bullies. All those like the UK, USA, Iran, Russia NK, Israel and the two Indian sub continent nations, etc and those why waste great sums of money trying to create a nuclear capability and all of whom cry do what we say, not what we do or what our peoples want.”

    Of course I’m not against the UK having such weapons. Democratic nations who subscribe to liberal values and human rights form the bulwark against the worst human impulses and its absolutey vital for the West to retain its military power.

  • “So wars to preserve the peace of Europe are OK but not the peace of the middle east?”

    Brit

    You remind me of those neo-con groupies who used to come on Slugger back when GW was in power, you seem oblivious to the fact that the wars you support have not brought peace to the middle east but inflamed it even more.

    Even if the US government funded Palestinian refugees as you claim, which is news to me, it is of little importance when they also support Israel’s denial of a right of return for Palestinians who were driven from their land in 1948 and 67. The more so as the US government supports the right of Jews to live in Israel and the occupied territories, even though most have never lived within 5000 miles of that place.

    For example if they wished, any Jew could gain citizenship of Israel along with a government subsidy, courtesy of US tax payers, when a Palestinian in Gaza or on the west-bank, if an Israeli officials wills it, cannot even cross the street or visit his old mum in the next village if it entails crossing a ‘border’ the UN rejects, or falls under the old chestnut Israel’s national security.

    When you disagree with what I write, instead of saying why and arguing it through, you come out with cliches like “Nukes are not going to be uninvented ” and prattle on about rogue states, without giving a thought to how your own country has in the past; and still does behave at times. In my judgement invading Iraq without a UN resolution or the support of its EU partners is acting like a rogue State.

    Plus you seem ignorant of the truth that in Iraq and Afghanistan, the UK government has not been a bulwark against the worst human impulses, they have been party to them as a recent case in London’s high court proved.

    By the way your being uneconomical with the truth when you say you were making an abstract example over nuclear weapons and dictators, etc. You were deliberately targeting Iran, at least have the courage to tell the truth.

    As to the sound of your stamping feet, when you wrote, ‘I’m not going to get into the famine.” well that is alright then, you can call people barbarians, their nations rogue states, you can claim for yourself and nation liberal values, but you are to afraid to even concede an injustice your nation committed over a hundred plus years ago and against its nearest neighbours at that.

    I’m not blaming you for the famine, but it happened, and the English have never come to terms with the shabby, mean spirited and heartless way there’re government and military treated their neighbours in their hour of need.

    That you fail to address this issue, is the main reason why all my criticism is a totally mystery to you and your only answer is cold war crap about lefties, pacifist and the like.

    You will may feel I am diverting this thread, but your take on this explains why you feel your governments still have the right to interfere overseas in other peoples lands and why you have no real understanding of why when they do, those you oppress oppose you arms in hand. As far as your victims are concerned, they see through all your nonsense about liberal or democratic intervention, or what ever dogooder terminology is the latest fad to come out of a big business funded think tank.
    to come out of

    Unlike the Germans who have done all in their power to make amends to those who were murdered and abused during the Nazi period and in the process they have created a first class democracy which has no need of WMD to make it feel important on the world stage. The English State clings to the past and refuses to come clean about the full horrors of the British empire and still teaches its children to honour people who were oppressing others whilst stealing their lands and possessions.

  • Brit

    “Brit

    You remind me of those neo-con groupies who used to come on Slugger back when GW was in power, you seem oblivious to the fact that the wars you support have not brought peace to the middle east but inflamed it even more.”

    Well I am a social democrat and member of the Labour Party rather than a neo-con.

    “Even if the US government funded Palestinian refugees as you claim, which is news to me, it is of little importance when they also support Israel’s denial of a right of return for Palestinians who were driven from their land in 1948 and 67. The more so as the US government supports the right of Jews to live in Israel and the occupied territories, even though most have never lived within 5000 miles of that place.

    For example if they wished, any Jew could gain citizenship of Israel along with a government subsidy, courtesy of US tax payers, when a Palestinian in Gaza or on the west-bank, if an Israeli officials wills it, cannot even cross the street or visit his old mum in the next village if it entails crossing a ‘border’ the UN rejects, or falls under the old chestnut Israel’s national security.”

    Most of those who would want to exercise any right “return” are the children or grandchildren of those who came from what is now Israel or the occupied territories – they would not be ‘returning’ anywhere. Any such right of return would be a unique deviation from the norm for refugees, particularly those from agressor nations. The reality of war of independence is far complex that you suggest and of course huge numbers of Jews were driven from their native lands in 48 to settle in Israel and no one would suggest that they have any right to return.

    “When you disagree with what I write, instead of saying why and arguing it through, you come out with cliches like “Nukes are not going to be uninvented ” and prattle on about rogue states, without giving a thought to how your own country has in the past; and still does behave at times. In my judgement invading Iraq without a UN resolution or the support of its EU partners is acting like a rogue State.”

    This is a blog and I don’t always have the time to spell everything out in detail. But calls for nuclear disarmament are political wishful thinking in the extreme. They are here to stay which means that it is essential that democracies and respecters of human rights have them and that all other states are prevented from having them. Whatever the historical or other crimes of the UK and US you would presumably rather the UK have nuclear weapons that Iran?

    “Plus you seem ignorant of the truth that in Iraq and Afghanistan, the UK government has not been a bulwark against the worst human impulses, they have been party to them as a recent case in London’s high court proved.”

    Wars are not fun, gallant or easy, but just wars are the least worst option.

    “By the way your being uneconomical with the truth when you say you were making an abstract example over nuclear weapons and dictators, etc. You were deliberately targeting Iran, at least have the courage to tell the truth.”

    Irritating accusation of dishonesty here. I gave three extreme examples of scenarios in which there would be a strong case for humanitarian intervention (which you have now accepted you do not oppose on principle). I wasn’t thinking about Iran at all, I think they quite a long way from operational capability and think the realistic prospect of a nuclear strike against Israel to be relatively low.

    cont…

  • Brit

    “As to the sound of your stamping feet, when you wrote, ‘I’m not going to get into the famine.” well that is alright then, you can call people barbarians, their nations rogue states, you can claim for yourself and nation liberal values, but you are to afraid to even concede an injustice your nation committed over a hundred plus years ago and against its nearest neighbours at that.

    I’m not blaming you for the famine, but it happened, and the English have never come to terms with the shabby, mean spirited and heartless way there’re government and military treated their neighbours in their hour of need.

    That you fail to address this issue, is the main reason why all my criticism is a totally mystery to you and your only answer is cold war crap about lefties, pacifist and the like.

    You will may feel I am diverting this thread, but your take on this explains why you feel your governments still have the right to interfere overseas in other peoples lands and why you have no real understanding of why when they do, those you oppress oppose you arms in hand. As far as your victims are concerned, they see through all your nonsense about liberal or democratic intervention, or what ever dogooder terminology is the latest fad to come out of a big business funded think tank.”

    You have accepted that you would support military interventions in certain circumstances so you agree with me that democratic states and possibly others ”
    still have the right to interfere overseas in other peoples lands”.

    The famine is totally irrelevant to the issue we were discussing and your attempt to say that because I happen to be born in a state which previously had failed to do all it could to assist those starving somehow precluded from making comments was gross whataboutery and man playing on the basis of my nationality. I think the English and British, at least those on the left, admit and accept the many wrongs of the British state against Ireland and the Irish, including but not limited to the Famine. That said it was no deliberate policy of murder or starvation on a par with Hitler, Stalin or Mao. The British state also commit grave crimes further afield in the empire (which Scots, Irish and Welsh people were involved in together with the evil English) and indeed against the British working class.

    “Unlike the Germans who have done all in their power to make amends to those who were murdered and abused during the Nazi period and in the process they have created a first class democracy which has no need of WMD to make it feel important on the world stage. The English State clings to the past and refuses to come clean about the full horrors of the British empire and still teaches its children to honour people who were oppressing others whilst stealing their lands and possessions.”

    The Nazi crimes were unique and of a different scope and order to any of the crimes of the British empire (or the US empire or the many other European empires) and called for a de-Nazification and full break with the past far.

    I went to a school maintained by the English State (sic) and as a child and young adult was taught in my History classes about British imperialism in India and Ireland, in a way which was very critical of the empire and in no way honoured those involved in its crimes. Your ignorant assuptions as to what children are taught appears to derive from a knee jerk anti British / English bigotry and chauvanism which is no better than other forms of ignorant prejudice but which is built into the DNA of much Irish Republicanism.

  • Brit

    Just a few quick points as we are beginning to go in circles, every war that which has ever been fought has been regarded by its perpetrators as a just war, going back centuries and including Hitlers murderous attacks on Germanys European neighbours, and the raping and pillaging the British empire went in for, so please, no more talk of a just war.

    I would also add the type of campaigns you support are probably the best example of the massive failings of US and UK politicians, not least because there were often viable alternatives to war.

    Your ignorant assertions about what motivates Irish Republicans, shows you are totally unwilling to place yourselves in another man’s shoes, whose tiny country suffered 800 years plus of often violent and humiliating occupation. You prefer to see Ireland through English eyes, I find this sad as you are clearly an intelligent fellow.

    Your quote about the victims of the British empire reminded me of Hitler when he said, “Who remembers the Armenians?” or the butcher Stalin, “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”

    Of course the Hitlerite holocaust was on an industrial scale and the Germans post war chancellor Konrad Adenauer* and the SPD opposition were quite correct to make a break with the past, my point was the British have never done this as far as the Empire was concerned thus they have never dealt with its victims, nor more importantly made any attempt to understand how they and their heirs feel. Thus you had UK politicians of both Parties believing the Iraqi’s would line the streets and cheer the arrival of British troops.

    Life is just not like that, and if there had been a clean break with the Empire years the English may have been more able to understand this. It was also important to make a clean break with the empire and draw a line of understanding under it, not least because ‘thankfully’ England has not been occupied in a thousand years, thus there is no cultural memory of what it might be like to have experienced other peoples solders boots on English streets. Which is yet another reason why the English often lack empathy with those who suffer the yoke of occupation and appear bemused when people oppose there presence with arms in hand.

    Finally on Palestine you make my point for me, yet you draw all the wrong conclusions. You say even though many Palestinian refugees have parents and grand parents who lived in occupied Palestine and what is now Israel, this does not give them the right of return. The basic requirement for citizenship in most EU nations, Ireland included, is to have a grandparent who is Irish. Surly if you consider the UK the hight of liberal democracy why do you set the bar higher for Palestinians but not Isrealis.

    For you show double standards here, as by your silence you clearly support the right of Jews to return to that land, despite the last time many of there forbears set foot on it was hundreds if not a thousand or so years ago.

    You say you’re a social democrat and good for you if this is true, whilst I am to the left of SD, it has a noble political tradition, but I have to say Blairism, with it military interventions and continuos use of the law to solve societal problems, has in my view bastardised that fine tradition and I am certain, if the Tories win the next UK election, many of these people will move to their true home which is on the political right, indeed this is already happening with many of Blue Labours camp followers. I sincerely hope you do not follow them.

    Best regards

    Mick

  • Brit

    “you are clearly an intelligent fellow”

    We agree on one thing at least ;o)

    I also agree we’re at the circles stage here so just two points.

    1. Just War is the accepted terminology dating back from Christian medieval theology and not mine. But given that neither you nor I are pacifists we both think *some* wars are justified.

    2. I am a Labour man (as is my family) and there is no question of me ever voting Tory.