Monday, June 09, 2008

Death By Numbers in Afghanistan

A milestone has been reached in the 'number of serviceman killed in Afghanistan'. Duly reported by the BBC and the newspapers of record. Reduced to a tally of the dead. Death by numbers. 

Why do we just accept it? Our servicemen continue to die, along with hundreds of civilians in far off lands. We care about the dead, but does anyone care about the wars anymore?

For nearly half a century after Suez, any idea of UK interventionism was not an option. Until recently. Liberal interventionism came back with New Labour and Blair. But only if the US said it was OK. And only if Blair "knew it was right". 

Taking a nation to war is bad enough when the State is threatened directly. The only justification for war must be if the UK is directly under threat by a foreign state. It hasn't been since 1939. 

Pull all operational troops out of Afghanistan. Nobody seems to know why we are there. Fighting Tommy Tailban. But who are they? Fundamental Islamists, sure - but also mainly Afghans. 

The British were there in Victorian times fighting somebody or other. Then the Soviets tried and beat a hasty retreat. Now it's us (again) and the US. What are we doing there? Well, certainly protecting the poppy fields from destruction. After all, more than 90 percent of the UK heroin comes from these fields. Protect the poppy with pride!

And pull all operational troops out of Iraq. See what happens? The tribal groups will realign and eventually federate. Look at the Kurds. They seem to be peacefully getting on with it. Baghdad is a problem. And here the solution is for a UN agreed creation of an independent city state. With a UN peace-keeping force.

We don't have an Empire anymore! Heroin from the poppy fields of Afghanistan is a really bad thing. No general worth his pips would try to fight two wars on two fronts. We just don't have the money to wage any wars let alone two at once. 

Think of the money we'd save. Billions of pounds. We're a tiny island off northern Europe for goodness sake, not a world superpower. We could use some of the cash to help pay off our increasing national debt (and maybe use some for schools and hospitals and staff) and to treat our servicemen with the dignity they deserve. 

And why doesn't some one ask what are all our troops doing stationed in Germany (don't they know the Cold War has ended). And in southern Cyprus (since when have the friendly Turkish EU wannabes been a threat?).

It is time for a reality check. Realise that we can't afford billion of pounds fighting wars in foreign countries. Wake up to the fact that Muslims really don't like western Christians invading their country. Liberal interventionism shouldn't be on the whim of a UK prime minister because he thinks he's right. There's a place for liberal interventionism but only with full UN approval and only then if the UK parliament and people agree. 

The problem is Brown is simply carrying on with Blair's New Labour policy. They've dug themselves into a hole and can't get out. You'd have to do something with all the troops, the sailors and the aircrew and vast army of MoD staff. And there's the huge defence, catering and supply contracts. Pulling out will cost a lot of very rich and powerful people an awful lot of money. 

This isn't anti-war. This is just common sense. 

Meanwhile you can now make up our own news report. "Another British serviceman has been killed in____ This brings the total number of UK troops killed since 2001 to ____. 

Death by numbers.

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