Time to pull our troops out…not in the future but NOW!
I have noticed something of a pattern when it comes to the war in Afghanistan; whenever there is a PR crisis brewing for the war it always seems that there is some shiny new offensive that takes place. It is like something from Geroge Orwell’s 1984; to convince the people progress is being made we have to sit through this charade. Invariably, sources say this goes well although thanks to the ‘War Logs’ we can say with confidence these sources cannot be properly trusted. Although there is a strong element of recklessness in how these logs were released; it seem, for example, names of people in sensitive positions were not properly expunged, it is perfectly correct that the public be informed of what is really going on. The public and the people deserve to know what is being done in their name and the only way a proper debate can be had on this issue is if they know the facts.
The ‘War Logs’ themselves will probably not surprise critics of the war; it confirms alot of prejudices, civilian casualties are high and the problems caused by the Taliban and Al-Quaeda, far from being solved, are being exported with potentially dangerous consequences across the border to Pakistan. Pakistan itself is meanwhile ‘playing both sides’; helping the West while elements with the fabric of its intelligence services help the enemy mainly, it is to be assumed, due to a feeling of religious/ideological kinship. David Cameron was therefore in some senses right to criticise Pakistan however, the manner of his comments made as they were in India are not likely to embolden or strengthen those elements in Pakistan on our side. In fact, Cameron’s boldness while being ‘refreshing’ in some ways is also clearly opportunistic and that is indeed reckless. He will have strengthened elements within the ISI who see Pakistan’s interests as being best served by continued support of the Taliban et el.
The ‘war effort’ also has other problems – today the Dutch contingent withdrew from the central province of Uruzgan. No amount of grand standing and new offensives can conceal the fact that the coalition forces are becoming much more thinly spread. You would think this would give the Taliban plenty of scope to relocate and even if it doesn’t it will take resources away from other areas and will allow them opportunities for strategic advance. This war can’t be won militarily and its increasingly clear that the military operation is an actual barrier to peace a settlement – albeit a costly one in terms of lives. Leaks like the ‘War Log’s’ are made necessary by the failure of leadership from all the main political parties on this issue. None of them have displayed the moral courage to do what is necessary both for the safety of this country and its troops that is withdraw them now – not at some indeterminate time in the future. Enough lives have been spent, both British and Afghani, for next to no return.