Friday, March 09, 2012
Afghan War has Been a Waste of Lives and Resources
In The Guardian today Simon Jenkins rips into our Afghanistan policy. He's an unusual columnist- I didn't agree with him when he said we should abolish our defence budget- but I think his analysis spot-on re the Afghan War. He lists the 'lies'government trots out when soldiers are killed; 'they died to keep us safe'; they didn't. 'We're making great progress' say military chiefs; we're not.
In fact,the war began in response to 9-11 when the US cast around wildly to punish someone for the atrocity. Convinced he had to 'hug our ally close', Blair offered unconditional support and so that is why we're still there, desperate to get out. After a decade, can we say we are any safer as a result of the war? Any foiling of terroriast plot has been done domestically, not as a result of fighting the alleged 'source' of it in this faraway country. In any case, 9-11 and most terrorist plots are not directed at eliminating nations, more at specific targets.
Furthermore terrorists could set up home anywhere- Somalia, Yemen, anywhere where the law is slack and the topography difficult. So to occupy a country where terrorists once hid, does not neutralise terrorist 'bolt holes'.
The only conceivable reason for continiuing the war is ther danger that the taliban might get hold of pakistan's nuclear weapons. But surely that evntuality could be guarded against separately and not via a multi-billion murderous occupation? We have to come to accept that the taliban will control the country; we hate them but we didn't like the muxh mofre powerful USSR and survived the Cold War.
In 1842 the British retreated out of the country with some 20,000 troops and their entourages, facing the withering fire on al sides of the valley as they made their way to Jallalabad. The Afghans finally left the wounded Doctor Brydon survive alone out of the 20,000, to tell the tale of the huge imperial disaster. We should have learnt our lesson then but Tony Blair was always very ignorant of history.
But the people who believe the that Taliban control of Afghanistan is inevitable are as naive as the people who believe that the country will become a liberal democracy overnight. I suspect most Afghans are delighted the Taliban has gone...if the blogosphere is anything to go by. And most of them have got better lives, by any accepted measures. The war has made us safer, and given hope to a people who had none. Sorry if that upsets the Guardianistas, some of whom hate the West so much they allow themselves to dream that foreigners would prefer tyranny...
Thanks for making that point which I should have mentioned. The Afghan people are dcertainly the biggest losers out of the whole thing. But there comes a point when the frog boils to death, to use the eell known analogy. We have to realise continuing the war makes for more evil than ending it.
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