War in Afghanistan

Gordon Brown is coming under increasing pressure as the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan continues to rise. This week has been particularly bad and there is every indication that the numbers being ‘repatriated’, to use a Ministry of Defence phrase, (or to you and me the number of dead young men and women coming back in body bags) will continue to rise.

Listening to Ministers describing how the objective is to give Afghanistan back to the Afghans is meaningless twaddle. This is a war Brown inherited from Blair and Bush. He would be well advised to say it was ill-advised and was unwinnable from the outset. Afghanistan, even with Taliban, never posed a threat to the UK. Yes, the Taliban accommodated al Qiaida and was one of the most nauseating, repressive, anti-women regime in modern history.

But the reality is that the UK and the USA at some point will have to negotiate with the Taliban. And there are elements within the Taliban that are not anti-women and support, for example, the education of women.

Of course Brown won’t have the courage to come clean on Afghanistan. However, if he is to continue with this misadventure, he should make the objective is clear. What does victory look like? What does it mean to give Afghanistan back to the Afghans? Quite how far are the UK and the USA prepared to go in order to achieve the, as yet unclear, objectives.

As with the USA in Vietnam, it is the sight of body bags and coffins that will sway public opinion and will bring an end to the U.K.’s involvement in Afghanistan. The danger is that there will not be a planned, negotiated, constructive withdrawal, leaving anarchy, revenge, and the worst elements of the Taliban returning to power.

Well done, Tony Blair. Yet another aspect of you fine legacy.

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