DAILY MAIL Why Brown should get out of Afghanistan before it becomes his Iraq 20:37pm 16th August 2007 Andrew Alexander Afghanistan is all set to become Gordon Brown's Iraq. It is liable to taint his reputation as surely as Iraq tainted Tony Blair's - unless he is prepared to grasp the nettle and pull out. The death rate for British soldiers is higher than in Iraq and can be expected to worsen. As some of us who followed this doomed attempt to pacify Afghanistan warned months ago, this would not be easier than Iraq as certain ministers claimed. At least in Iraq, the biggest problem is the locals murdering each other. In Afghanistan, the locals may be all too ready to fight each other - as they have for centuries in a traditionally lawless land - but they can and do unite in the goal of driving out foreign invaders. We should know, having fought three Afghan wars and been bested in them when we ruled India and disposed of powerful forces. There seems no comprehension in the Government about the grim prospects ahead. The full folly of our approach is summed up in a piece by Foreign Secretary David Miliband in the Spectator. His article - "Why we are in Afghanistan for the long haul" - is at once ignorant, patronising, superficial, complacent and devoid of understanding of the country, its history or its people. It is nonsense, or perhaps we should say poppycock. Mind you, he has visited the place and "seen for himself" the problems. This is a typical politician's fantasy. Of course he has not seen for himself. Do you imagine that he has trailed up and down the the country's dangerous roads, traversed its mountain passes, stopped off in villages for the night, inspected farms in the poppygrowing areas or visited the competing warlords' territories? Did not "see", he talked - with various officials, British and Afghan, under conditions of maximum security. He arrived on July 24 and left for Karachi on the 25th. Political tourism - it's Wednesday, this must be Pakistan... In his article, he sees Afghanistan as a country needing rescue, a place of considerable poverty - when was it not? - and one which can only be a "success" with help from outsiders to "rebuild" its infrastructure (such as it was). According to him on his lightning tour, "you can sense the quiet pride of the Afghans" in their determination to rebuild their country. In that case, why not let them get on with it rather than have our troops act as a magnet for militants from all over the Middle East? Are the Afghans supposed to be too stupid, idle or incompetent to build schools or restore roads or install power plants themselves? You might think so from the tenor of his arguments. We might also note that a $1.4 billion contract for rebuilding infrastructure was last year granted to two American firms - well, there's a surprise! Apparently the Afghans also need our guidance in establishing effective (Western-style) political institutions. Miliband claims that under our guidance, progress has been made in establishing a constitution, elections and a government. But the writ of the government under President Karzai has scarcely run outside the capital, Kabul, at all. Moreover, the crop of poppies this year, the basis for so many drugs, has risen to record levels. However, we and the others from Nato insist we will help with law and order. We will "train" the Afghan police, which is as condescending as it is silly. Afghans know their own country, its faults and weaknesses. We think any senior British bobbies can teach them much of real use beyond how to install speed cameras and parking meters? If you say, "but we can teach Afghan policemen how to fight", then that is silly, too, since half the problem with Afghans is that fighting is in their blood. And weapons are everywhere, as they always have been. According to Miliband, we must keep the Taliban (among others) at bay to prevent Afghanistan becoming a training ground for guerillas. But that is precisely what we have made it. Islamic militants, whose numbers we continually boost, can go to Afghanistan and receive basic training in how to shoot, make explosives, plant bombs and all the rest with British troops providing perfect target practice. All the while we are also feeding the militants' propaganda machine. Such has been the casualty rate among civilians from aircraft strikes that Nato says it must use smaller bombs in future. According to military commanders and Nato politicians, the answer to the country's security problem, which Karzai complains has now been deteriorating for two years, is more troops. The British government seems to concur in this as it transfers men from Iraq to Afghanistan. We have heard that before. We have seen it fail in Iraq, where the death toll sets new records. We heard it all the time in Vietnam, where a force of 16,000 American "advisers" eventually became a defeated army of over 450,000. It is hard to believe, alas, that we will have an effective British Army left if its role is to be consigned to hopeless causes like Iraq and Afghanistan.