As Peter Hitchens explains:
We must pull our troops out of Afghanistan. It is no good waiting for the Americans to lift us off this hook. They will leave, too, in the end, but they do not know it yet.
It takes quite a nerve for us to claim we are fighting terror and promoting civilisation in Afghanistan, when we have been beaten hollow by the IRA in Ulster, when we cannot prevent deaths like that of ‘Baby P’, and our own poorer zones are lawless wastelands of disorder and violence, guns and knives, long abandoned by authority.
In fact it is this arrogant fantasy that we have some sort of right, as a ‘civilised’ country, to visit our non-existent wisdom and our devalued ‘democracy’ on Afghanistan that infuriates me most of all about this futile adventure. Brave young men, the best of their generation, die or are maimed for life because our politicians do not even have the small courage to admit that they were wrong.
The Government never knew why it was sending them there in the first place. Opium poppies? We grow them legally in Oxfordshire. Freeing women from the burka? It’s still worn. Fighting the Taliban? We could do that for 50 years and still lose, as anyone who knows anything about Afghanistan could have warned from the start.
It’s weeks since Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said that the idea of defeating the Taliban was ‘neither feasible nor supportable’, America’s spooks recently conceded that our operations there were in a downward spiral, and our Ambassador to Kabul, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, has been revealed in a leaked document to believe that our mission is doomed. Yet we just carry on, like Earl Haig on the Somme, spending other people’s lives like so much paper.
Afghanistan’s government is a corrupt, powerless joke, not least because it is founded on the barrels of foreign guns. It does not even control its own capital. The Taliban are quietly re-establishing themselves in a cleverly modified form, avoiding some of their old unpopular policies.
There is no point in waiting for a new American President to save us from our own folly. Barack Obama – like all Left-wing US Presidents – will need to prove how ‘tough’ he is quite early on, and also hopes to win over many of the neo-Cons who backed the ‘war on terror’.
And Mr Obama’s most likely way of showing off will be to step up the futile Afghan conflict, since it is still – absurdly – popular and widely believed to have a defined purpose. Probably he will make more and more raids into Pakistan, a country already stumbling around in wounded circles.
This whole septic area is the direct legacy of ill-informed, short-term meddling by outside powers, from our own invention of the nonsensical ‘Durand Line’ border which divides Pakistan from Afghanistan in the wrong place, to our shameful, ill-prepared panic scuttle from India 60 years ago, to more recent Russian and then Western interventions in Afghan affairs. If this is the outcome of well-meaning intervention, surely neglect can only be better?
We forget everything, and learn nothing. Politicians often pose as being able to save us from economic crises, which in fact they cannot control any more than they can order the weather about. They do have absolute power over the deployment of our troops, yet they never debate it, and political journalists never ask them about it.
The Tory ‘Opposition’, ashamed of its role in selling the country to Brussels, backs the operation in the hope of appearing ‘tough’ and ‘patriotic’. Patriotism in these times demands a little more thought than that.
And this is certain. We have failed at whatever it was we were doing in Afghanistan, if we ever knew what it was.
Who dares send another man to die in a cause that’s already lost? Get out now.