Why we are in Afghanistan for the long haul, David Miliband

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Aug 8, 2007.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Skynet

    Joined: Sep 17, 2005
    Posts: 1108

    Posted: 2020 26/01/06 Post subject: Re: Afghan fighting - the latest reports.

    The Spectator.
    Published in: the current issue
    Issue: 11 August 2007

    First stop: Afghanistan
    Why we are in Afghanistan for the long haul
    David Miliband

    The phrase ‘think global, act local’ originated in the environmental movement. It can be a glib substitute for serious attention to large problems. But it can also be a telling rejoinder to the temptations of top-down, big-government solutions. I believe it is relevant to our challenge in Afghanistan.

    The potential problems emanating from that country are global in scope. Afghanistan is at the centre of international terrorism and the drugs trade. But the solutions need to be local — in tune with the needs and circumstances of the people. This was brought home to me on a trip there in July.

    I decided that my first visit as Foreign Secretary outside Europe should be to Afghanistan, followed by Pakistan. The reason is that what has happened in Afghanistan, and what will happen there, directly affects British interests and British people in profound and direct ways.

    Everyone should know that al-Qa’eda prepared its assault on the West — of which the horror of 9/11 was only the most atrocious example — in the valleys and hills of eastern Afghanistan. Now we know too that most British terrorism investigations trace back to the training camps just across the border, in western Pakistan. A 1,500-mile border that the Taleban and their al-Qa’eda associates cross and recross, despite both governments’ efforts to control that lethal traffic.

    So our direct interests are at stake in tackling the terrorist threat. But so is our word. At Bonn, in December 2001, and again in London, in January 2006, the world made a pledge to the long-suffering people of Afghanistan: after nearly 30 years of unparalleled suffering at the hands of the Soviet Union, the warlords, and then the Taleban, we would help them all — women as well as men — to set up a state of their own, free from oppression.

    As I saw for myself in Kabul, Kandahar and Helmand, reaching that destination is not going to be quick or easy. Afghanistan is two places from the bottom of the UN Human Development Index, poorer than most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. A poverty compounded by war, exacerbated by the massive outward migration of human talent, and still darkened by the shadows of drought and famine.

    Despite this you sense the quiet pride of the peoples of Afghanistan — Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara and many others — and their determination to rebuild their country. I saw this for myself at the funeral of Afghanistan’s last king, Zahir Shah, who was deposed in 1973, but who returned in 2002 as ‘Father of the Nation’. As we sat under the plane trees in the gardens of the Royal Palace, listening to the funeral prayers, I saw around me a gathering of Afghans of every race and background, in a display of the unity that is at once possible and essential.

    To serve our interests and those of ordinary Afghans the social, economic and political changes require stability. We must help Afghans squeeze out of their country, both physically and morally, those elements whose malign purpose is to deny Afghanistan the future it deserves. The Taleban, above all, whose objective — the imposition of a mediaeval emirate in the name of Islam across as much of Afghanistan as they could conquer — would consign millions of Afghan men and especially women to miseries they remember only too well. Taleban success would produce an opposite reaction from the North, bringing back the dark days of civil war. If we allow Afghanistan to become a failed state, it will always be a target for terrorist activity. If we can support the Afghan government in establishing stability and the rule of law, it can become a target for development.

    The first step is to recognise the progress that has been achieved since 2001. A constitution, presidential and parliamentary elections — the elements of a functional democracy. The return of nearly five million refugees. Major improvements in healthcare, in life expectancy, in education and the provision of electricity. Now we need to build on this, not let it slip.

    Second, we need always to ensure that this is — and is seen to be — an Afghan project. In London last year the Afghan government launched its National Development Strategy, which forms the basis for all its activity and is the vehicle for delivery of its side of the Afghanistan Compact. Our job, with our partners from around the world, is to work with Afghan institutions to create the space in which Afghans can do just that. We cannot succeed if we seek, by accident or design, to run Afghanistan as some kind of collective international protectorate. We cannot succeed if we seek to prescribe exactly how every Afghan village and valley is governed, how every town is policed, how every law is drafted and enforced. Instead, we will succeed if we help Afghans at all levels shape their own destiny.

    Third, we need a comprehensive approach. We need to make efforts to rebuild the institutions of government and the security forces; to provide aid for reconstruction and development; to tackle the threat posed by the drug trade; and to provide military support to give the government space.

    Afghans need to be presented with a clear choice: the Taleban threat funded by the drugs trade or our offer of real power. That means alongside troops maintaining peace, training Afghans to police themselves. As well as aid for reconstruction, it means creating the institutions that will protect property rights, enable Afghans to create their own wealth, and benefit through trade. It means creating political institutions that share power rather than just administer things.

    Finally, we need to send a clear signal to allies and enemies that our commitment will be sustained, and will be matched by partners across the world. Our work in Afghanistan has brought together a global partnership of countries determined to do something to help, with contributions coming from Norway to New Zealand,

    from Latvia to Singapore. We have a shared interest in Afghanistan’s future, and a shared commitment. A stable, successful Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours, is a necessary condition for stability across South West Asia. A country true to its traditions and to its deep Islamic faith, but creating its own modern ways of thinking and doing.

    The bravery and intelligence of the British soldiers, diplomats and aid workers I met in Afghanistan was immensely impressive. The fact that there are six Foreign Office staff applying for every Foreign Office job in Kabul makes me proud. British people do recognise that it is right for us to be engaged in the world.

    The old divide in foreign policy was that the Left believed in soft power and the Right believed in hard power. I believe that there is a new progressive consensus to be forged. Progressive because its goals are to tackle inequality and obscurantism. Consensus because it uses all the tools available and recognises that soft power works best when hard power is in reserve. It is not an imperial project; that’s why thinking local as well as global makes sense in a modern world
  2. Whilst I am agreement with his aims, it's his definition of long haul that interests me more.

    The creation of institutions alone is not sufficient to achieve wealth creation and is probably the easy part, notwithstanding the historical lack of such beasts in this part of the world.

    The difficult part will be creating, maintaining, and protecting the infrastructure that will be necessary to enable sufficient wealth creation opportunities that offer a credible alternative to opium production and arms trading. This is not only hugely expensive, and extremely difficult to protect against disruption, but more importantly, if critical mass is to be achieved, it will require many, many decades to put in place.

    So, on this basis, we are certainly in for the long haul, whether that be in terms of mil/civ sp or expenditure. Not convinced that this is achievable or sustainable, or even that there is sufficient political will to achieve or sustain it.
  3. Were I an Afghani, for me the 'long haul' would mean all my life, and all my children's lives. So maybe just under a century. Is that what Miliband means?
  4. Clearly if the long haul means thirty years plus of military, economic and political engagement then the MOD needs to do a feasibility study to see if this is militarily possible and what resources are needed. What size of army is needed? Will it be possible to recruit and train the necessary talent under present service conditions? Are more permanent bases to be built in order to house troops who are not in direct combat? It seems to me that they have a grand idea but no one bothered to consult the architect
  5. It will be Afghanis who will decide the fate of Afghanistan and not English speaking white men, whose day in the sun is anyway coming to an end.
    And it was hastened by his own idiocy and hubris.

    In the past six years we have amply shown the world that our arrogance and aggressive readiness to attack other countries is matched only by our corruption of motive and sheer incompetence.
    The world has taken note and is moving on leaving us in their wake to continue squandering our blood and treasure in places where we are not wanted.
    We have proven that we are not capable of introducing democracy in other countries for the simple reason we barely understand its nature ourselves. And anyway the neo cons were using the introduction of democracy as a ruse behind which to try and hide other ruthless commercial ambitions.

    All power might come from the barrel of a gun, but democracy can only evolve into being when the guns have been silenced.
    To force an of the shelf electoral 'democracy' on people in a state of war and collective trauma is insane. Democracy didn't evolve in our countries during times of war. It was prolonged peace and growing prosperity that acted as the compost from which democracy began to bloom.
    So as well as displaying our incompetence to the world we have also shown them we little understand the nature of the rule of law that underpinned our own societies. And because of this America under Bush, is slipping from a democracy into a totalitarian republic.
  6. As far as I can tell Mr Millipede, we are in Afghanistan because of cnuts like you.
  7. Oi Millipede ... spend 10 million, buy all the drugs at source and kill the talebans main weapon against out hearts and hinds campaign ... protection for the drug growers.
  8. Too right Cuddles. I have heard Milliband speak in the past and he seemed to make the right noises and be an intelligent person. But now, a little bit of promotion and all ready he is talking pure, skifully phrased, mealy mouth.
  9. I have never heard him speak anything other than unadulterated c0ck. I don't doubt he is intelligent but he lacks bottom. Which is surprising considering he is a complete and utter arrse...
  10. Don't any of these people read history books any more?
  11. msr

    msr LE

    2007 Afghan poppy harvest headed for record levels

    The war on drugs - just as bone headed as the war on terror.

    "Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world's heroin," the State Department's top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. "That makes it almost a sole-source supplier" and presents a situation "unique in world history."

    In 2006, Afghanistan accounted for 92 percent of global opium production, compared with 70 percent in 2000.

    Well, at least we can claim to be world leaders in one area...

  12. Do you mind? Nobody has got time to read the history of the British/Afghan wars because they are too busy fighting a British/Afghan war.
  13. Rayc

    Rayc RIP

    An interesting article in the Telegraph (India).

    Ways of the Orientals

    Interesting are the quotes of Lord Roberts of Kandahar and Lord Curzon of Keddleston, a future Viceroy of India.

    It is a moot point if they are being applied or are they even valid in the current context.
  14. 'An alarmed British parliamentary committee recommended last month that the United Kingdom raise its level of troop deployment in Afghanistan to a level substantially more than its present 7,500 —this despite a ministry of defence warning that the country (already bogged down in the Basra province of Iraq) had no further troops to spare.'

  15. I agree entirely. My comments earlier on this thread

    Clearly if the long haul means thirty years plus of military, economic and political engagement then the MOD needs to do a feasibility study to see if this is militarily possible and what resources are needed. What size of army is needed? Will it be possible to recruit and train the necessary talent under present service conditions? Are more permanent bases to be built in order to house troops who are not in direct combat? It seems to me that they have a grand idea but no one bothered to consult the architect

    It amazes me that over the last few years we have had committee after committee raising grave concerns regarding the ability of the armed forces to carry out the missions being dealt out by this and previous governments. Despite this we have a major government department committing the troops to possibly 30 years of operations without any plan on how to do it.

    We need firstly to treat our troops in a different way we cannot expect troops to continue to perform at this tempo and take casualties and suffer with their families a life style which is foreign to the remainder of the UK population. Rather like living in a parallel universe with a small section of the population taking all the risks and the majority in comparison living in peace and harmony. The risk takers are paid poorly for what they do are housed in poor accommodation and have a contract of service (The Covenant) which is not worth the paper it is written on and commits them to an unlimited liability.

    If the troops are to carry out these missions and retain a good rump of experienced personnel they will need to recruit, from the general population, very intelligent, intelligent and average citizens. Without a radical rethink of the conditions of service I see no reason why we can expect to recruit and retain the necessary personnel to carry out these missions and especially those who are married and are likely to be among the most experienced.