Groundhog Day 7


I fear I have entered a time warp. Gordon Brown is in Basra announcing that we are going to reduce our troops pointlessly occupying its airport to 2,500. He hasn’t been there and made that announcement for almost three months, since he tried to steal the thunder of the Conservative party conference. Indeed that is at least seven different times this announcement has been made over eight months.

We have also taken Musa Qala from the Taliban. That is the fourth time “coalition forces” have done that since 2001. I wonder if we’ll do it again next year?

All just became clear. Sky News gave out the headline “As Gordon Brown touched down in Afghanistan, NATO announced they had just taken a strategic Taliban headquarters.” We bombed the town – that’s the way to win hearts and minds. If we kill enough Afghan civilians they’ll love us eventually, no doubt. I expect we’ll manage to hold the town at least until Gordon has left, so that was worth several deaths, including of at least one British soldier.


7 thoughts on “Groundhog Day

  • writeon

    Craig,

    The reason you feel you're in a kind of time-warp, is becuase you/we are.

    We are going around in circles in Afghanistan, because we can't do much else. We don't have the troops available to properly pacify the country, control it, impose our will, and start meaningful reconstrucion programmes. So, instead we move our over-stretched forces from one area to another, push the Taliban out for a while, then they re-group somewhere else, and we're forced to leave the first place and follow them, and the whole process starts over again.

    Most people seem to agree that one would need at least as many troops as the Russians had, around 600,000, to stand any real chance of "winning", so people think 1,000,000 is a more realistic figure. Now where are those troops going to come from? Are we considering introducing conscription in order to pursue the war in Afghanistan? I don't think so!

    The troops we have there are simply too few and too overstretched. Now we're talking about handing out weapons to local groups so they can take on the Taliban. The Russians tride this too. It didn't work. One runs the risk of actually arming the Taliban that way. It's a sign of desparation on NATO's part.

    Our strategy in Afghanistan seems to be coming apart, so we invent an artificle propaganda victory in Musa Qula to give the impression that ther'e progress and point to the whole affair.

    But what is the point of being in Afghanistan? Damned if I know! It seems like we're there to prove that NATO still has a role to play in the world and is relevant and can agree on what it is, and why it is. So we're fighting in Afghanistan to prove a point about NATO. But does NATO still, really, exist? It doesn't really look like it, at least not in Afghanistan. Very few NATO countries have troops on the frontline and are willing to expose their men to danger. In reality NATO is split down the middle on the whole Afghan adventure, and the split is likely to get worse the longer the war continues.

  • ruth

    I've read that we're in Afghanistan so that an oil pipeline can be built through part of the country. But I wonder if we're also there for the opium?

    Wasn't opium produced in India under a British government monopoly and then shipped by British traders to China not so long ago? And didn't the British government attack China when they didn't want any more?

    Now, in the British controlled south-west region, there's more Helmand heroin than ever before. The land for poppy cultivation in the country has increased by 59 per cent to 165,000 hectares, according to the United Nations. In contrast a growing number of provinces in northern Afghanistan are becoming opium-free.

    Afghanistan now accounts for 92 per cent of the world's opium production with

    Britain being the world's biggest customer for Afghan heroin. Nine in every 10 grams of heroin sold in Britain originates from Afghanistan.

    Why is so much allowed to be grown in the Helmand province? And how come it's not being tracked and stopped in transit and impounded at our borders?

    Someone's making billions. I wonder who.

  • pamery

    Opium war dissonance.

    "We are there to eradicate the opium crop"

    The crop rises to record levels.

    Cui bono?

    Afghan bureaucrats, the drug barons, the Western officials dispensing largesse and idiotic advice and, one suspects, some of our politicians, army and intelligence chiefs. Imagine how much the British army is worth to an Afghan drugs baron who can destroy a rival by calling him "Taliban" and arranging an air strike.

    We can only defeat the international criminals who both run the drugs trade and support its prohibition by legalising opiates at the point of consumption – here. The next time a politician, policeman or customs officer reacts with outrage to this suggestion we might do well to investigate his or her bank accounts.

  • Boss

    The range of opinions explore differing issues;

    Afghanistan;

    Boasts gas fields, oil fields, and uranium mines, all awaiting 'discovery', and exploitation, that so far have been subject to no debate, or discussion.

    The notion of replay of the 'great game' in the twenty first century with a hydrocarbon hungry China, rising powerful Russia, and increasingly developing India, is a pipe dream that only could be conjured up by the mind of a bullied public school boy, whom would later blame God for making him do it!

    However on goes the charade, and death keeps befalling the operatives, and their victims alike in the nightmare of realizing the Emily's pipe dreams.

    Opium;

    Those interested in this trade, ought read 'Politics of Heroin' by Alfred McCoy, they will be surprised to find their hunches validated, and proved.

    Musa Qula:

    Bouncing rubble, through carpet bombing an already devastated, and beleaguered town, in an effort to deliver the 'victory' that was so impatiently awaited by the sole BBC reporter sitting somewhere in Afghanistan (probably in Kabul), and going on record; 'the promised capture of the town is taking longer, than anticipated, and the final push is yet to come'. Was in fact a little boost for Brown whom could go on to extol the victories in Afghanistan, and tactical withdrawal from Iraq (military parlance for defeat), to concentrate his forces on the winnable Hemland.

    This theory however has one little qualifier, the last time around Russians fought in Afghanistan for fourteen years, and gave up, Afghans are set for the long haul, and within next few years the events on the ground would be tilted for yet another withdrawal, however, until then there will be deaths, and carnage for the hearts, and minds of Afghans, after all once the heart is torn out of its owner, and brains splattered across the mud hut, then the guy is won over!!

    Finally, for those students of the power games, who is ready to bet on when will the Afghans start getting new military hardware from Russia, or China?

    PS even Husni Mubarak is at it these days; Egypt 'fabricated terror group', http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7137950.st

  • papageno

    I confess I haven't read McCoy's book (it's from 1972, imagine…), but the essential points are:

    – guerilla wars cost mony

    – both sides need weapons (and lots of other things)

    – drugs make easy money

    So whereever there is guerilla warfare, there is drug trade. Also, globally rising weat prices make food more expensive, especially in crisis countries. There are food riots in Lebanon now.

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