We lost in Iraq. We must not Lose in Afghanistan

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

JAMES FORSYTHWEDNESDAY, 2ND DECEMBER 2009
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.
More
http://www.spectator.co.uk/spectato...aq-we-must-not-lose-in-afghanistan-too.thtml?
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
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
Andy_S said:
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.
Well said.

How can he say we failed in Iraq when we never had a plan?
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#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
#5
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.

VH
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#8
nigegilb said:
"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.
(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
Andy_S said:
And as a historian, I'd like to see him substantiate his first line. (Britain has fought....in a row.)

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

Ho hum.
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.
1968 - the only year since 1945 that a British Serviceman didn't die on active service.
 
#12
Oil_Slick said:
Afghanistan is 'unwinnable' short of killing all males ages 0-80
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
 
M

Mr_Logic

Guest
#14
blonde_guy said:
Andy_S said:
And as a historian, I'd like to see him substantiate his first line. (Britain has fought....in a row.)

Ho hum.
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.
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
blonde_guy said:
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.
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.
 
#16
Mr_Logic said:
blonde_guy said:
Andy_S said:
And as a historian, I'd like to see him substantiate his first line. (Britain has fought....in a row.)

Ho hum.
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.
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.
I do agree with you, I merely meant he may have been basing his sloppy journalistic claim on a fact, however wrong that claim may be!
 
#17
FORMER_FYRDMAN said:
nigegilb said:
"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.
(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.
Yep, take your point. AFAIK these were ministerial decisions, interesting all the same, it is hardly fluffy to send out what are effectively military execution squads. But I entirely take your point on the rest of the shambles in Iraq. Wouldn't like to give you a split on hopeless political leadership or arrogant military leadership with little capacity for self-criticism. (not having a go at the guys on the ground here).
 
#18
mick442 said:
go to the arboritum in staffs, that makes it pretty clear that a soldier has died every year since the end of the second world war.
Undoubtedly they have. The Arboretum remembers all servicemen who have died in service - accidents, car crashes, etc. As I saidabove, 1968 was the year, just prior to Northern Ireland kicking off, that someone wasn't killed on Ops.
 
#19
I feel humiliated about the endgame in Iraq. It was a national disgrace for us, and exposed our lack of commitment to the armed forces. The failure was not due to a lack of effort by our service men and women, of course, so I hope this final Big Push in Afghanistan is going to work.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
It's hard to be confident about Aghanistan because again clarity of purpose and strong political leadership is lacking. The troop increases seem to have been announced grudgingly and defensively and now there's confusion about how long we're going to stay for and when the pull out begins.

The nightmare is that the politicians talk up Afghanistan to the point where abandonment becomes too tricky whilst, at the same time, failing to do what needs to be done to secure victory, leaving the guys on the ground to soldier on and take pointless casualties until someone finally calls enough because the money's run out or the military's worn out.

I think we're very close to that nightmare - somehow we have 'Vietnamed' ourselves from a winning position and it's a disgrace.
 

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