Thursday, 19 November 2009

Same old message from government on Afghanistan

Both the PM and Peter Hain have called for greater political understanding of our role in Afghanistan, then repeat the tired message which an opinion poll has shown that the UK public has heard, but does not believe. Mr Brown, in the Queen's Speech debate, again used the expression "keeping our streets safe", while Mr Hain varied with: “The government is determined not to be defeated by terrorism and extremism, which would threaten our security here in Wales.”

Yet, of those people surveyed by the Independent, "nearly half – 47 per cent – think that the threat of terrorism on UK soil is increased by British forces remaining in Afghanistan, while 44 per cent disagree. The position is at odds with the argument put by government ministers that the Afghan campaign was vital to preventing terrorism around the world – and in the UK."

[Later] There is a good piece in the Independent by David Davis, the Conservative front-bencher and once leadership contestant, now discarded by David Cameron. In his introduction, he writes: "the original 'ink-blot' strategy, based on the Malayan success, envisaged commanding and dominating areas of land and population. Within those areas the rule of law would apply, and the ordinary citizens would be able to go about their business, farming, trading, and supporting their families unmolested by the insurgents. Like ink-blots, these areas would expand until they joined up. The concept depended on guaranteeing security and normality to the population inside the inkblots, so that they would be better off than those in the insurgent areas.

"Instead, within months, and under pressure from President Karzai, this was abandoned in favour of defending a number of far-flung outposts, in locations where our authority did not extend more than a rifle-shot beyond the walls of the compound."

So, what was a British strategy, proven in Borneo as well as Malaysia, and one which no doubt Paddy Ashdown would have endorsed if he had been given the task of UN oversight, was abandoned in favour of one which suited the USA and President Karzai, but has not been as successful. Davis states, however, that there have been belated second thoughts.

No comments: