Monday, June 16, 2008

Bush and Brown, The Mutual Admiration Society

It was the mutual admiration society today, as Bush and Brown fawned over each other. If any two men ever needed each other and deserved each other, it is these two. Both are facing disasters in public opinion polls and both are frantically searching for their legacies. 

So what do you do if your policies are a mess at home and public opinion of you is at its worst since records began? Bring on the troops and tap into national pride where you think you are on politically safe ground.

Thatcher's flagging political career was saved by the Falklands and Brown wants to try and pull it off with Afghanistan. But Thatcher knew she had public opinion on her side.

Brown has to do something to appease his new pal Bush. It's clear the UK has a timetable for pulling the troops out of Iraq, possibly with an announcement before September's Labour Party conference. He'll want it also before the next General Election so that may be sooner than we think. And the US is losing its taste for Bush and war.

Brown has to do something to show he is still right behind the US. After all, there are all those warships, troops and aircraft and huge military contracts with the US. So send more troops to Afghanistan and try to regain the political agenda. 

The war in Afghanistan was a lost cause before it started. Afghans have been fighting foreigners and each other for centuries. From the British in Victorian times, then the Soviets and now the US and the UK again. And what are we really doing there? Waging war on the invisible Taliban and at the same time protecting the poppy fields which produce most of the UK's heroin.

With some weird logic, Brown is reported as saying: "We have resolved that it is in the British national interest to confront the Taleban in Afghanistan or Afghanistan would come to us."

'We' have resolved have we? He's even using the Thatcher 'Royal We'. And the Afghans? What, come all the way from Afghanistan to the UK? Doesn't he know it's a land-locked country and they haven't got a navy or an airforce! So how do they get here? On foot? We'd see them coming a mile off. It's '45 minutes to destruction' all over again.

The number of UK soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 reached 102 last week.

Playing politics with people's civil liberties is one thing - playing politics with people's lives in this country and abroad is shameful.

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