Come clean on Afghanistan

What on earth is Gordon Brown trying to say? On the one hand, “I will not risk British lives if Afghans do not end corruption “ On the other: “ We will not walk away”. Well, are we in or out? All we have in a few sentences of typical boilerplate is more Brown confusion and tetchiness from the near-rebellious chiefs of staff. Of course we know British nerves are stretched, waiting on Obama. So why expose yourself now Gordon, and underscore British impotence? Maybe the 7th cavalry are on the way. If so, let’s hope it’s not to Little Big Horn. The New York Times reports that Obama is about to plump for a middling option of 30,000 extra troops, judiciously less than McCrystal’s bid for 40,000. This smacks of a political compromise. When you see a foreign deployment being discussed in largely domestic political terms as in both London and Washington this week, be very afraid. It suggests they don’t know really what they’re doing; the message that carries is, give him most of what he wants and cross your fingers.. And oh, by the way, that’s all you’re getting. We think.. Meanwhile Alexander Cockburn in the Indy on Sunday persuasively puts the counter strategy of withdrawal, with an impressive display of knowledge of the area. In a Tajik vs Pashtun ethnic struggle, one-sided foreign deployment and conceiving of Afghan governance in terms of the UN Charter seem like big mistakes. I’m bursting to hear what the US reply is. I might just wear the argument for an Iraqi style surge, accompanied by moves to talks to “Taliban” (i.e. Pashtun) factions while ISAF hold the ring on the Afghan side of the border, and the Pakistanis tackle al-Qaida at last. We know from our own little experience that these things take time. A scuttle could throw the whole vast region from Israel to India into worse turmoil. But where is the informed debate?

  • alan56

    Brian,
    Is the situation in Pakistan not now the determining factor. If the taliban were to gain more ground there it could lead to the total breakdown in a country with nuclear weapons. Then what?

  • Fabianus

    I would not like to be in Brown’s shoes—or Obama’s if it comes to that.

    Both are able men who were handed a poisoned chalice by somewhat more jingoistic predecessors.

    On the other hand, good and courageous soldiers are dying almost daily on far-flung battlefields, and they are doing this in our name, that they might defend us against an ever-encroaching evil.

    We should on this of all days be silent and contemplative. We should set aside our respective differences vis-à-vis the [British] Army and spare more than a thought for the boys and girls who stand valiantly between us and darkness.

    I’m afraid we are in blood stepped in so far and must continue until the job is done. I hate it but at the same time appreciate that it is necessary.

  • DC

    You nuke the mountains and nuke Pakistan. It’s like Japan what with their kamikazes, the taliban and their own suicide bombers would soon think twice. Nukes are the only thing that works to truly humble suicide bombers of whatever ilk.

  • exile

    [i]Both are able men who were handed a poisoned chalice by somewhat more jingoistic predecessors. [/i]

    Bloody hell. “Handed”? More like plotted, schemed, bullied and lied their way to the top. A cursory comparison of Brown and Blair in the old ‘jingoistic’ stakes would also produce results that run contrary to your bizarre assertions.

  • jordy

    Listen to “THE OUTLAW GORDON BROWN” on youtube

    http://www.youtube.com/thisisjohnnyblack#play/uploads/7/w66ywNA8Vpc

  • Fabianus

    exile

    More like plotted, schemed, bullied and lied their way to the top.

    You will of course be producing evidence to back up your assertions.

  • exile

    [i]You will of course be producing evidence to back up your assertions. [/i]

    Do you still believe in Santa?

  • Virginia

    Don’t you dare say that there’s no Santa. Your mom should wash out your mouth with soapy water.

  • Fabianus

    exile

    All mouth and trousers then? Thought as much.

  • exile

    Fab, I have better things to do than demonstrate the veracity of the political equivalent of 2+2=4. Now, do run along and make that list.

    Brown is a coward and has the blood of many young men and women on his hands. It’s time to either fund and equip the troops sufficiently or withdraw and face the consequences.

  • It isn’t funding and equipping that is going to do it.The Americans were very well funded and equipped in Vietnam but that didn’t bring them victory.
    There isn’t a military solution to the problems in Afghanistan.Some sort of political settlement has to be reached with the Pashtuns.
    The notion that British domestic security is threatened by withdrawing sounds like the 45 minutes “threat” from Iraq.
    The 9/11 attack was carried out mainly by Saudis
    and effectively planned in Europe.The raison d’etre was the objections to having American troops on Saudi soil.

  • Wilde Rover

    DC,

    “You nuke the mountains and nuke Pakistan. It’s like Japan what with their kamikazes, the taliban and their own suicide bombers would soon think twice. “

    Yes, of course. A good nuking might just be what the doctor ordered.

    “Nukes are the only thing that works to truly humble suicide bombers of whatever ilk.”

    Hmmm. That would involve nuking the south of England too, to be sure you get all of them.

    I find your ideas about nuking half of the UK interesting, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • Dave

    The only folks they ‘nuked’ in those mountain caves were the poor farmers and villagers who scrambed into them for safety.

  • WR
    I thought the 7/7 bombers were from the north of England.

  • News is that considerable progress is being made. Probably why Al Queda are in Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan now.

  • DC

    It’s simple – it’s nihilism versus nihilism.

    The nukes give them a flavour of nihilism as visited by suicide bombers – everyone walks away with their tails between their legs and are grateful for their lives thereafter.

    Listen, they nuked Japan I don’t see why those mountains should be any different.

    This is essentially a religious battle against western values of suicide-bomber proportions.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brian,

    it is difficult to see how there can informed debate when the rationale behind the war appears to be emotional – it doenst matter about the niceities of details like war objectives or strategy – just support our boys.

    I dont remember any proper debate for the deployment in Helmand province – some minister stood up in paliament and stated they were going there to do some trianing work or the like – when they must have know full well what awaited the troops. This decision to go to Helmand on operation “I say lets get those nasty chappies” or whatever it is called should have been subjected to rigorous debate to establish clear objectives – but everybody in Parliament simply agreed Afghanistan was a worthy cause and nodded in agreement.

    alan56,

    Pakistan was always the worry given the tribal links and the porous borders. The ‘west’ invaded Iraq ‘loking’ for WMD they knew were not there as al-Qaida busied themselves acquiring control of a country which did have them.

  • Brit

    “The 9/11 attack was carried out mainly by Saudis
    and effectively planned in Europe.The raison d’etre was the objections to having American troops on Saudi soil.”

    Most of the murderers on the planes were, indeed, Saudis, but the attacks were authorised, approved and financed by AQ who were sponsored and supported and protected by the Taliban regime.

    The justification for the attacks was primarily to do with US troops on “Muslim” soil and indeed similar islamist terrorism and attacks had been taking place in the 90s and before. Which gives the lie to the Islamism was created by American foreign policy attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • And of course Obama is upping aid to Pakistan, we can expect payment by results vs Al Queda and other Islamo-fascists there to be covert in nature I suppose.

    Cuts in military aid to Israel likely in time, even if the US lobbies howl.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brit,

    re. “Which gives the lie to the Islamism was created by American foreign policy attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Whatever about what created it (certainly not helped by the US policy on Israel) there can surely be little doubt that the West’s policy in Iraq which was optional and in Afghanistan (the post invasion bit in Helmand which was also optional) have greatly facilitated its growth.

  • Brit

    Sammy,

    I dont agree that “there can surely be little doubt” that the Wests policy has ‘facilitated’ (which is a bit of a weasal word) its growth.

    If Islamism had the ideological intent and operational ability to carry out an attack of the nature and scale of 9.11 before those wars then it was bad enough before, and the genie was out of the bottle. There were other attacks and attempts like the ’93 World Trade Centre attack which though “unsuccesful” injurend hundreds and killed 6.

    Iraq was a chosen theatre of operations for the Islamists particularly as their ability to engage in spectaculars and actions in the West has been limited by removing their main base. If it had not been Iraq it would have been somewhere else.

    There is a movement out there of the most evil reactionary and totalitarian support and the Islamists agenda is (as shown by the 9.11 and earlier attacks) nothing to do with foreign policy but to do with a desire to establish another caliphate and to remove infidels from the face of it and ultimately the earth. Sure Osama refers to Iraq, Afghanistan and, of course, Israel, to add to the PR message but that is not the core.

    There is something very Chamberlainesqe about blaming Islamist violence on the West.

  • In view of the WMD materials and rockets found & destroyed by the UN, with the assistance of Dr Kelly, and Saddam’s insistence that over 50 “Presidential Palaces” could not be searched, How could anyone be sure there were no further WMD materials?

    While it seemed unlikely that Iraq could mobilise WMDs in a conventional manner then, in view of the facts that they had already used them and that poisonous gasses and biological weapons can be distributed without great sophistication, it was wise to invade Iraq.

    Dr Kelly was right, Saddam would persist in his goal of making Iraq a WMD state, and imho surely the Islamo-fascists would want in on that eventually?

    Worth remembering that Islam is modernising hopefully towards a stage where they will tolerate those who do not threaten them far more quickly than Christians who were burning one another only a few centuries ago.

    Globalisation and the pace of change cut many ways.

  • Brit

    And lets also emphasise that there is Islam the religion and Islamism the political movement/ideology. Islam has been going for hundreds of years, and is practiced in a plurality of ways and Islamic countries have historically treated minorities, including Jews, reasonably well. Islamism is a modern 20th Century phenomenon shaped, in a reactive sense, by nationalism, modern capitalism, social-liberalism and democracy. Also influenced by totalitarianism, fascism and elements of Communism. It is characterised by a militant anti-semitism.

  • My tutors in the ’70s pretty much predicted the rise of islamo-fascism.

    The power of oil and the lack of regard for Islam in any sense in the West were twins in globalisation’s challenge to Islam.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brit,

    Until the West starts facing up to its mistakes I’m afraid they are going to keep repeating them. Having got Iraq badly wrong and whilst continuing to defend it they plunged into the operation in Helmand province without any proper debate.

    Did you hear any debate about operation Helmand?

    Now we are starting to hear mutterings from the military about having to talk to the Taliban when that should have formed part of the stategy in the first place. How many dead soldiers do they need ( as you said elsewhere casualties have been fairly light) before they stop talking only about how great the troops are and start talking about what they have or will achiece. This operation has failure written all over it.

    Other lessons from WW2 and elsewhere (and one which was rightly reflected in Britian’s post colonisation policies) is that countries do not like to have foriegn troops on their soil and that they will often fight more fiercely and more determindely than the occupying army.

  • Wilde Rover

    Manfarang,

    “I thought the 7/7 bombers were from the north of England.”

    I see. Then I guess the whole of England will have to go, just to be sure.

    DC,

    “The nukes give them a flavour of nihilism as visited by suicide bombers – everyone walks away with their tails between their legs and are grateful for their lives thereafter.”

    A flavour of nihilism with just a pinch of justice. Nice.

    Brit,

    “The justification for the attacks was primarily to do with US troops on “Muslim” soil”

    Yes, because all soil belongs to the white man.

    “Iraq was a chosen theatre of operations for the Islamists particularly as their ability to engage in spectaculars and actions in the West has been limited by removing their main base.”

    That is totally true. Like good auld Donald Rumsfeld said, Afghanistan has no decent targets, unlike Iraq. In truth, Iraq is a wonderful place to visit and bomb.

    “There were other attacks and attempts like the ‘93 World Trade Centre attack which though “unsuccesful” injurend hundreds and killed 6.”

    Wasn’t that the one where the FBI had prior knowledge? Ah, who cares, it’s all a bit of a laugh anyway.

    “There is something very Chamberlainesqe about blaming Islamist violence on the West.”

    Oooh, nice subtle Godwin there. Extra points for that.

    “Islamism is a modern 20th Century phenomenon shaped, in a reactive sense, by nationalism, modern capitalism, social-liberalism and democracy. Also influenced by totalitarianism, fascism and elements of Communism. It is characterised by a militant anti-semitism.”

    It sounds like you are making a beautiful cake there.

    Quietzapples,

    “Dr Kelly was right, Saddam would persist in his goal of making Iraq a WMD state, and imho surely the Islamo-fascists would want in on that eventually?”

    This quote is glorious. Reference someone who died under suspect circumstances? Check? Try and use his good name to sell a line? Check. Try and rewrite an Orwellian version of history? Check. Suggest that a secular dictator would start chucking out WMDs to fundamentalists that wanted him dead? Check.

    You take the thread Quietzapples. Well done. Extra marks for the hyphen between Islamo and fascists – it’s the little things that help when getting down and dirty with the fearmongering.

  • Brit

    Hold on to your sides, they might just split its Wilde Rover and cheeky monkey

  • DC

    Wilde Rover – the Al Qaeda suicide bombers are nihilistic in motive.

    Nihilism is the assertion of values plus will.

    Every suicide bomber is a slice of values plus will.

    Ergo, a nice nuke in the mountains is a piece of suicide bomber nihilism coming their way. Something so bleak that it outperforms their own suicide-bomber medicine. These people believes morals are for the masses but not the religious supermen who are driving this nonsense of Islamic terror versus western values of democracy and hedonism.

    Nukes are effective and just like Japan the method was the personnification of nihilism i.e. ditching morality and asserting western democracy as the winner using this concept of: values plus will.

    Fingers crossed no one strikes England or USA in retaliation – but bear in mind I did only propose this after Pakistan had in theory fallen to the Taliban and other rogue nuclear loving Islamic pro-terror elements.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Brit,

    as I aksed you previously – do you think there was a proper debate in parliament before the deployment to Helmand province?

    I am making a distinction betwee the invasion which had clear military objectives and the later open ended ill-thought out subsequent deployment.

  • Brit

    Frankly Sammy I dont know. I am interested in political philosophy and the big issues not the detail. Arguably this was an operational matter and as you know Parliament has no real power to stop the Executive.

    In any event there is clearly an ongoing debate in Parliament and outside as to the legitimacy and value of the occupation.

  • DC

    Me thinks David Cameron’s sovereignty bill should referendum any further going to war type scenarios.

    Now that would be democratic.

    There are two forces in Afghanistan. One is Operation Enduring Freedom (the coalition of the willing) and the other is ISAF there on a UN charter.

    Both of which contradict the other. As one cannot be peace keeping and the other capturing and “rendering inoperative” terrorists. Particularly given the overlap of the coalition of the willing forces and the ISAF peace and reconstruction armies.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    DC,

    re. “6.Me thinks David Cameron’s sovereignty bill should referendum any further going to war type scenarios.”

    Good idea – cant see the moat-cleaners buying into that one, wars are good for Tory party morale and keeping unemployment down.

  • DC

    Exactly nor Daniel Hannan either – people like him don’t like feeling the limits of EU tolerance – I dare say then he wouldn’t like to be told that he and his tories cannot go to war again without a public vote on it.

    Self-governing is his claim against the EU, but Daniel Hannan is the type you want to have least putting it over you – a democratic authoritarian perhaps.

  • Wilde Rover

    DC,

    “Nukes are effective and just like Japan the method was the personnification of nihilism i.e. ditching morality and asserting western democracy as the winner using this concept of: values plus will.”

    A winnable nuclear war?

    “Fingers crossed no one strikes England or USA in retaliation – but bear in mind I did only propose this after Pakistan had in theory fallen to the Taliban and other rogue nuclear loving Islamic pro-terror elements.”

    I see, so if the non-rogue nuclear loving Western anti-pro-terror elements let fly with loads of nukes then the world will be safe from nuclear devastation? Interesting argument.

    Of course, you would have to kill everyone from the Indian sub-continent in the UK to prevent retaliation. And basically all brown people in the UK, to be on the safe side.

    Brit,

    “I am interested in political philosophy and the big issues not the detail.”

    I see. That’s a good way of having a casual approach to the deaths of million.

  • Wilde Rover;

    You might check Dr Kelly’s opinion which I gave with one of his best friends Julie Flint:

    http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/DrKelly.htm

    Apology please.

  • It is greatly to be hoped that those guilty of 7/11 are now fairly convicted.

    Those who pretend, or do not believe that Islamo-fasism exists or is a menace will have to modify their conspiracy theories.

  • Greenflag

    If the American Ambassador in Kabul thinks it’s not a good idea ? then

    ‘In contrast to the McChrystal approach, U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry in Kabul has argued against sending large numbers of additional troops. Eikenberry, himself a former U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, harbors strong doubts about the viability of the government there.

    As well he might -People in the USA and UK are not made aware of the fact that there is NO Afghan Army and that of any recruits it gets it loses 25% . The officer corps is made up of Tadjiks and Uzbeks and if there is one thing that the Pushtun’s are not keen on is being told what to do by any Uzbek or Tadjik .

    And the police ? Poorly paid and trained and terrified of the local warlords .

    If the USA cannot fix ‘New Orleans’ a city in it’s own country how can it fix Afghanistan ?

    At least Obama is looking at all the options or at least is appearing to .

  • Greenflag

    The president’s questions come as his ambassador in Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, is reportedly expressing deep concerns about committing more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

    Eikenberry, a retired Army lieutenant general and former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is said to be unconvinced that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is committed to rooting out corruption in his government.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that she is concerned about Afghanistan’s “corruption, lack of transparency, poor governance [and] absence of the rule of law.”

    “We’re looking to President Karzai as he forms a new government to take action that will demonstrate — not just to the international community but first and foremost to his own people — that his second term will respond to the needs that are so manifest,” Clinton said

    Half his own people -i.e the Pushtuns consider him to be a quisling and the other half don’t want to join the afghan Army because they’d rather not be officered by Uzbeks and Tadjiks their hereditary enemies .

    Perhaps in retrospect for the sake of the Afghan women and their daughters it might have been better to have left Afghanistan to the Russians instead of handing over to the religious maniacs of the Taliban ? But then it was a shower of American religious fundies who were behind the support of the mad mullahs of the time 🙁