Friday, 16 November 2012


When Paddy Ashdown speaks on military matters, and especially on the sort of expeditions on which he has experience, then the powers that be need to listen. I remember his advising four or five years ago that we should keep our forces in Afghanistan, but change our strategy, because there was still - just - support among the population for their ability to keep the peace. That support has clearly evaporated.

That does not mean that we should forget Afghanistan. There is not only a moral requirement to continue to support good governance and the social well-being of what is one of the poorest countries in the world, there is also the self-interested motive which was the Labour government's pretext for putting our troops there in the first place: preventing the country becoming a breeding-ground and safe haven for terrorists. There is already civil support from EU nations and from Canada. The UK should share in this.

There is probably enough mineral wealth to support a viable Afghan state, if multi-national corporations, with the aid of warlords and/or private militias, are prevented from exploiting it at the expense of the nation. A start could also be made to increase Afghanistan's income by licensing the opium, which their farmers have some expertise in producing, for medical purposes.

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