As the new government finds it feet and starts looking at our involvement in Afghanistan it would seem a new strategy is in the offing.
That strategy comprises of two broad elements
1. Get the fuck out of dodge
2. Pretend it was a victory
After years of failure in Afghanistan the new strategy will be to come up with a sensible disengagement. Lets face facts, we have failed.
The government has failed, the MoD has failed and the senior military leadership has failed.
It might be fashionable to blame crusty old Cold War Generals or penny pinching Treasury officials but the truth is, they are all equally responsible. Trying to undertake a complex operation with the absolute minimum of everything was never going to work and that is making the assumption that it was worth making work in the first place.
That should be Labour’s epitaph, ‘what’s the minimum we can get away with’
With confused strategic objectives that ranged from cutting opium production one day to sending Afghan girls to school the next the real strategic objective has been to coat tail the USA. There is nothing wrong in standing by the USA if we are honest about it but the dishonesty that the current argument of ‘reducing terror on the streets of the UK’ is patently ridiculous. How many British Citizens have been killed in the UK by Islamic fundamentalists and how many have been killed in Afghanistan?
The Afghan population is unwilling to actually do anything other than sit on the fence and wait and see, whilst squeezing every last drop of money out of pockets of Western nations tax payers back pockets.
The execution of the operation has been and continues to be deeply flawed, under resources and plagued by delusional optimism. It has taken the academic and free thinking US forces to come and show the supposed master of COIN how to do it. The student has become the master. Apart from the usual suspects, our NATO partners have been dragged kicking and screaming into a conflict that they perhaps quite rightly judged to foolhardy.
We have lost nearly 300 killed and countless wounded, the cost to the public finances are simply huge and on the ground, despite good news stories from the MoD, there is very little progress.
A cynic might suggest that the current government, having spent many years in opposition complaining about underfunding will have an entirely different perspective now they are in government and might have to stump up the money to do the job properly.
Better to blame those Cold War Generals.
Facing a very real defeat in Iraq we chose to use the line of ‘supporting the Afghanistan mission’ as an excuse, providing a fig leaf for the failures in Basra.
We always seem to fall back on our our successes in Malaya, Oman and particularly Northern Island as the model for this type of operation, without recognising that each is different. Look at the force levels in Northern Ireland or the tactics in Malaya, there are no parallel with Afghanistan. We have failed to apply even our own experiences.
Out of the wreckage of Afghanistan and Iraq the British Armed Forces and Great Britain itself has to recover some of it’s reputation.
I don’t buy into the ‘no one has ever won in Afghanistan’ arguments but it is really difficult to see how we can make any real difference now.
Do we double up and put enough resources in to actually make a real difference or cut and run?
Whatever the strategy…
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results
PS, sorry for the sweary bits!