We lost in Iraq. We must not Lose in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Dec 3, 2009.

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  1. The unspeakable truth is that we lost in Iraq. We must not lose in Afghanistan too

    James Forsyth reviews the week in politics

    Britain has fought more wars than any other country, but rarely has it suffered two defeats in a row. That humiliation is what this country is currently drifting towards, following failure in Iraq with failure in Afghanistan.

    Westminster might be obsessing over the Iraq inquiry’s revelations about how the decision to go to war was made, but the really important part of the inquiry’s work will come when it turns its attention to what happened after the invasion. The painful truth about Iraq, which no politician dares speak, is that Britain was defeated. As David Kilcullen, a Nato counter-insurgency expert whom both Gordon Brown and David Miliband have lavished praise on, has said: ‘In 2006 the British army was defeated in the field in southern Iraq.’ The principal job of the Iraq inquiry should be determining why this happened; everything else can be thrown to the historians.

    We already know that while scrambling to leave Iraq, Britain decided to concentrate resources on Afghanistan. The thinking was that Afghanistan was a far less controversial conflict and so keeping troops there would be easier politically. There was also a desire on the part on the British military to prove to the Americans its effectiveness — something that had been thrown into doubt by what had happened in southern Iraq — by taking on one of the most difficult places in Afghanistan: Helmand province.

    Worryingly, though, we seem intent on repeating the errors of Iraq in Afghanistan. A decision has been taken to start looking for the exit and, disastrously, the strategy is flowing from that. Brown may have announced an extra 500 troops on Monday, hardly an increase that is likely to make a decisive difference on the ground, but all the spin and pre-briefing was about withdrawal dates. On top of this, the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary is dysfunctional, as is the one between the Defence Secretary and the top brass.
  2. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    More unspeakable truth: The writer of the piece could have (and perhaps did) cut and paste his key contentions from ARSSE.

    And as a historian, I'd like to see him substantiate his first line. (Britain has fought....in a row.)

    Ho hum.
  3. Well said.

    How can he say we failed in Iraq when we never had a plan?
  4. We did have a plan - bale out as fast as possible and chuck the whole mess at the Iraqis. When we executed our plan, the US had to step in and help out. Once shame dinto it, we put people back on the streets as well.

    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    I'd like to know he how defines 'defeated in the field'? Sure the military made mistakes, and right from the get go in 2002 when the planners failed to grip Tony, but Iraq was a failure of political will, not a failure of the Army to function - as has been amply shown by the operations in Helmand. Having Britain's armed forces directed by this Labour Government is like having a Formula One car driven by someone's granny.
  6. "Special" soldiers killed hundreds of ALQ/bad guys in Iraq, (allegedly). All the time the desperately crap situation was going on in Basra a serious amount of killing was going on quietly around the country. I guess their role will only be acknowledged a long time down the road, but Iraq wasn't all bad news.

    Interestingly, the grannies in the labour govt, allegedly, authorised these killings, so there is a tougher side to labour. I am sure something similar is going on in Afg, scaring the crap out of the bad guys there. There is still hope for Afg but one cannot escape the fact that the Iraq War was based on fallacy and that the chance to relatively easily fix Afg was lost.

    These historians make me laugh. Do they have any idea how difficult it is to fight in Afg? I would rather listen to soldiers who have been there on the ground.
  7. We won the war in Iraq, it's the peace that's still not won.


    FORMER_FYRDMAN LE Book Reviewer

    (My bold) Nige, I'm sure you'd agree that effective political leadership in wartime extends further than just authorising a few shootings. If anything, it's the easy option because it's quiet, relatively inexpensive and other people do the dirty work.
  9. Is there not a statistic that since the end of the Second World War there has only been one year (not sure when) in which Britain has not suffered combat fatalities? Perhaps he has taken this as evidence Britain has fought in lots of conflicts back to back.
  10. Afghanistan is 'unwinnable' short of killing all males ages 0-80
  11. 1968 - the only year since 1945 that a British Serviceman didn't die on active service.
  12. That's not a bad objective in itself!

    Let's be honest, if the Russians couldn't make a difference over there, we, with our Health & Safety and Human Rights, 'Press Freedom' and general pussy footing around, coupled with little or no public support for it at home and no real political will to get the job done properly, not that the politicians should have got us involved in the first place, are highly unlikey to achieve anything other than irritate a few local warlords and make the situation worse.
  13. i agree i think it was labour who lost it's nerve not the military
  14. It is commonly understood that 1968 is the only year is which a British soldier has not been killed on operations. However, that isn't a statistic in my view, just a fact.

    That fact does not support James Forsyth's leading contention that we have fought more wars than any other country. If he stated that "since 1945 Britain has fought x numbers of wars, the USA has fought y number of wars," then he would be on firmer ground.
  15. go to the arboritum in staffs, that makes it pretty clear that a soldier has died in combat every year since the end of the second world war.