Afghanistan: Extract, re-arm & re-org for a worthier cause?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Steven_McLaughlin, Sep 27, 2009.

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  1. Any student with only a rudimentary grasp of history can tell you that Afghanistan is a damn near impossible land to conquer, and then even if it could be 'conquered', it begs the question what on earth would it achieve and how would it make us safer over here?

    The gravest threat to our civilisation is radical Islam and its assorted terrorist offshoots, but unfortunately for us radical Islam and Al Qaeda is not a land or country, but an invisible idea that can migrate from state-to-state without borders. I'd dearly love it if we could just get them to change their minds and beliefs by bombing them into submission by force of arms, but alas we can't so we have to seek other means. Even if we could flatten the entire region they'd just drift into Pakistan, and then if we went into Pakistan they'd migrate to the Yemen or Somalia - where they already are incidentally!

    I might add too, that the greatest direct threat to our country are radicalised and home-grown Islamists from our own backyard; men who are as British as you or I but have chosen to embrace this death-cult. The 7/7 bombers were British - and I'll bet the next lot will be too. Before we start worrying about potential radicalists thousands of miles away we'd perhaps be wiser to worry about those a little closer to home...

    The Soviet's spent a decade in Afghanistan and tried every tactic known to man; I know that we're better than they are militarily, but we're not that much better for Christ's Sake - we're not supermen! - and if they couldn't do it with ten times our number then I don't see how we can. And remember too: The Soviet's didn't have to worry about collateral damage...

    We're losing the best and the brightest of our British youth here in a War that was begun by political novices who've only ever seen the business end of a rifle on the telly. The decision to invade Afghanistan and Iraq was made within ONE WEEK of the twin towers going down in New York, by perhaps the most misguided President ever to hold the office; he'd have put more effort and thought into deciding what colour tie to wear most days than he did in going to war.

    There is a reason why our NATO and European allies are hesitating and failing to commit fully to our efforts in Afghanistan and it’s not because they’re cowards or war-dodgers – they aren’t. It’s because to go in heavier is to risk being sucked ever-deeper into this quicksand like quagmire of a country, that has a long and proud history of spitting out mighty invading armies – after they’ve been chewed to pieces.

    As Ho Chin Min said about the American invasion of Vietnam: ‘They will come here and kill many of us. We will kill a few of them and they will go home.’

    Anyway, we are where we are, and our sons and brothers are paying the blood price for that mistake. Let's get them home ASAP and re-org and re-arm for a worthier cause in the future - but not this one.

    Steven McLaughlin,

    Author of Squaddie: A Soldier’s Story

    PS: And please Mr. Moderator don’t delete this post or my account - I promise not to post it elsewhere and have duly learnt my lesson. Apologies to those whom PM’d me on my earlier account; I couldn’t reply to you as I was suspended from my account, and quite rightly too, so there’s no complaints from me!
  2. I think there's a great deal more to Operation Herrick which you simply fail to grasp. The tiny little opium trade, for example...

    And easy although it is to throw stones at other people's greenhouses I don't notice you building one of your own...what's your suggestion to deal with the threat posed by Islamic terrorism?
  3. U.K. isnt there to CONQUER the country just help train Afghan army and fight insurgency. People think their being clever quoting history and soundbites but the fact that, for the main part , the Taliban is unwelcome & ISAF have the backing of the local population.
  4. All very true, BZ. However, I would not be at all surprised if, within the next 18 months or so, the US and UK Gub'mints figured out a way to declare "victory" and bring the troops home. No matter how fcuked up the actual situation on the ground is.

    Cynical? Moi? :roll:
  5. Was it you on Jeremy vine giving Bob Ainsworth the good news?

    If so good effort
  6. Thank you 'the Gimp', it was indeed. (God I feel awful calling you that but that's what you've listed your name as!)

    My feelings on Bob Ainsworth are that he's probably a really decent and hard working guy, but unfortunately for him and our armed forces, he's completely unqualified to perform that particular job - as are most people. The job of Defence Secretary is so specialised and critical to our safety at home and the success of our military campaigns overseas, that it requires a specialist with military experience. Here’s the crucial difference between us and the Americans: Their Defence Secretary is nearly always a former General with thirty years or more service, or an equivalent rank from within the CIA or FBI. Either way, the man running the campaign has at least some idea of what does and doesn’t work.

    Unlike poor old Bob, God bless him.

    Regarding my comments on Afghanistan and the British mission I want to make it absolutely clear that I’m not criticizing the lads out there who are doing an incredible job in unbelievably hard circumstances; but what I am questioning is how viable, sustainable and winnable (for want of a better word), is what they’re doing out there.

    For what it’s worth, here are my own feelings: The Taliban ARE Afghanistan, no matter how much we wish it to be otherwise. Even though a large swathe of the population DON’T support them, when push comes to shove they’ll back their fellow Afghani tribesmen against us any day of the week. The Taliban share with ALL Afghani’s a shared and deep love & respect for an extremely orthodox and hard-line version of Islam, which for hundreds of years has been a fundamental part of ALL the competing tribal castes and political/religious parties.

    It’s a similar thing to how it used to be in Northern Ireland; many Irish Catholics weren’t involved with and didn’t support what the IRA did, but my God, when push came to shove the general population would back them against ‘the Brits’ every time. If an RUC officer or Army Intel’ man went knocking on doors looking for info on dissidents he’d likely be met with a cup of hot tea in his face and a string of expletives. Because like it or not, as in Afghanistan, when push comes to shove native civilians always side with their own against a common enemy – even if they don’t particularly like ‘their own’.

    In Afghanistan the Taliban are a feared band of tribal inquisitors and the government is a hated puppet regime – neither are held in any love or affection by anybody but themselves. But here’s what we are in the general populations eyes – even those who give fake smiles to our faces and profess to be our friends:

    Godless Atheist/Infidel/white Christian invaders who’ve come to impose an alien way of life on their beloved Islamic culture, to tell them how to vote and to rob them of their most precious recourses under a draconian President, backed by tribal Warlords.

    I know it’s wrong, you know it’s wrong; the British Army knows it’s wrong.

    But it doesn’t matter, because that’s how the Afghani’s view us. So they will bomb us until we leave – as would we, if they were here…
  7. That's not really true. The only former general to become SecDef is George Marshall, the former US Army Chief of Staff in WW2, who was in the post in 1950-51. The only former CIA officer to become SecDef is the current one, Robert Gates. No former FBI man has ever had the post. Most of the rest have been politicians, businessmen or lawyers, though the the distinctions are often blurred; some of these have had previous experience in the military (mostly as junior officers) or government.

    I do agree that Bob Ainsworth is probably the least qualified UK Defence Secretary ever.
  8. The above statement is demonstrably untrue and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Afghanistan. Quite apart from the fact that both Sunni and Shi'a Islam are present in the country, the cultures of, say, the Pashtun and Turkmen communities are radically different (and don't forget that around 60% of the population are not Pashtuns). Your above statement is further disproven by the fact that large swathes of the urban population of Afghanistan (and not just in Kabul) supported the secular and progressive policies of the republican government in the 1970s - hardly the way an inherently fundamentalist people would be expected to think.

    I'm afraid that your analysis of Afghanistan is fatally weakened by this central error and can only say that, for a published author, your research on this occasion appears to leave a lot to be desired.

    Do they really? Pity no one told the Ulster Protestants, Malayans, Kurds or any of the other hundreds of examples from the 20th century alone...
  9. I stand corrected Sir; but either way, as I’m sure you’ll agree, the Americans do tend to fill many of their senior political ranks with high-achieving former soldiers and all-round professional types – unlike us. And I get the sense that they give more weight and gravitas to the military communities viewpoint than we do; hence the quite outspoken comments of quite a few of their Generals, both serving and retired. The difference is that they often listen to and act upon the good advice offered, however politically inconvenient, whereas our politicos sweep it under the carpet with patronising praise.

    You know despite all of the above I’ve just noticed the huge streak of irony running through my argument – because arguably the Yanks are in an even worse position than us, long-term in Afghanistan. So how the hell are we going to get out of this mess? I don’t know but greater minds than ours need to start asking the difficult questions – and proffering answers.

    As a side issue but crucial observational point: General Sir Richard Dannat would have done really well in the American military – even better than he did in ours – and been more appreciated by peers and politicians alike. I dare say he’d have even had a shot at the Presidency, had he wanted it. It’s a damn shame we can’t draft him as a Prime Ministerial candidate in our system, because in this day and age he’d have been like a breath of fresh air and would have made a wonderful leader. I for one have nothing but the greatest respect for him; he’s a rare giant in a land of political pygmies.
  10. That's because the ex-military types would do wild irrational things like spending money where it's actually needed.
  11. There's a huge streak of something running through it...
  12. I agree with Werewolf, and it's what I've been saying for yonks. Just declare victory and get the lads home. The other option is to flood the place with 500,000 to 600,000 troops and make a proper occupation of it. The only problem then is that Muslim fighters from all over the world would be drawn to Affers like shies to flit, thus necessitating even more troops.

    The only reasonable thing to do is as Werewolf said. There's really no other choice, whether it's done in six months, two years or whenever, it'll happen. So why not now and spare a good few lives?

    Forget all this bollix about Muslims taking over the world, it'll never happen. In Muslim countries, two villages three clicks apart can't even agree on a common policy, so the idea that billigans of Muslims are going to agree to travel untold thousands of miles to descend on Western countries is ridiculous to the point of comicality. Of course, there'll always be a few nutters around, but we'll just have to deal with it as it comes.

  13. Without getting all hippy on you, i'd say the greatest threat to the world is not radical islam. They have been kicking up a stink for decades and other than a handful of spectaculars in the west they have killed less people than normally die in gardening accidents. Maybe world hunger, enviromental disasters, Global warming, Giant asteroids or even an invasion of the men from mars is more likely to have large scale impact on the World as a whole. Islamic extremists are just filling the hole of world bad guys in public opinion and the movies left by the ussr until china takes it up. Until then Rambo and bond will be in Afghanistan or EYE-rack.
  14. Command_doh

    Command_doh LE Book Reviewer

    No, thats garbage. You seriously thing that a few melting ice caps over the next 50 or so years is more pressing than an Iranian supplied (or Saudi aquired, depending on whether its a crazed Suuni or Shia group) irradiated suitcase bomb going off in London, Washington or somewhere similar? No. So why say it then?

    At least China have the gonads to squash their problematic restless Uighurs. Nobody else in the Westernised World has the stomach to REALLY show their populace that they are prepared to play hardball with their homegrown jihadi's and their extensive network of international supporters and backers.
  15. Steve, I agree with your subject heading, maybe not all your justification, but food for thought.... What would we do if 3 planes flew into the White House, Buckingham Palace and say Paris... And it came put they were Yemeni terrorists.., would we drop everything and charge into Yemen...? (granted, they don't produce 90% of the worlds opium) ... But you get the point... We're farting in the wind... And like you say, afghan in not exactley everyone's top priority...