How many British troops have now been killed or maimed in Afghanistan? In case you have lost count the score is now (at August 17) 425 dead and (at July 31) well over 6,000 personnel have had to be evacuated from the country as a result of injury or illness. Source MOD. These are terrible numbers and grow every day. And to what end?
Over the weekend we learned that the Taliban had beheaded 17 young people (15 men, two women) for having a party where they danced together. This happened in a “Taliban controlled” part of Afghanistan. The fact is that large swathes of the country are controlled by these Islamofascist creeps whose stone-age ideas of justice are abhorrent. In other places the regime of President Karzai is propped up by Western military force. But is “our guy” such a great guy?
According to Transparency International, Afghanistan is the world’s second most corrupt Government ( after Somalia). Incidentally that other great beneficiary of Western aid and military support (Iraq) is joint 4th. As to human rights, well the Karzai regime is not exactly a progressive centre left bastion of tolerance. Christians can ( and are) arrested for … being Christians. Homosexuality and cross-dressing are illegal and punishable by death. My advice to large number of C of E vicars is that for two good reasons they should not go booking their next holiday in Afghanistan whether in a Karzai controlled zone or a Taliban run one.
So please explain why we feel the need to prop up Karzai? But of course in the end, the body bags will prove too much and we will pull out. At that stage there are two end games.
We pretend that the Western trained Afghan Security forces can hold the line. Given that a) they seem regularly to shoot US soldiers and to be on the “other side” and b) they are not that effective, this is clearly a joke. The Taliban have popular support, Karzai does not. And so with no Western troops around the Taliban will soon be back in charge.
Or we do a deal with the Taliban. They say that they will not sponsor international terrorism and we allow them back into power. Of course when Britain invaded this country (twice) in the nineteenth century this is exactly what happened. We realised that “our guy” had no popular support and cut a pragmatic deal with the bad guys.
The leaders of the US and Britain pretend that there is another solution. A Third Way. But that is a lie. This campaign has – as did Britain’s last two invasions of this country – achieved little other than a needless loss of British lives and a transfer of wealth to the crooks we back. I should note that no intervention in Afghanistan has achieved a positive result. In the 1980s we gave vast amounts of money, guns and training to the Mujahidin (including one Osama Bin Laden) to help them fight the Russians. Did that make them like us? Nope. They still hated the West. The West just cannot win the love of this country by intervention whatever it does.
The longer we pretend otherwise the more money and lives we will waste. It will make no difference at all to the eventual outcome. This is not to decry the brave men and women serving in Afghanistan. They have my ultimate admiration and I hope they travel safely every day. But I would rather they all came home at once and the Politicians ( whose sons and daughters so rarely serve on the front line) admitted their error, apologised and accepted the inevitable.