Monday, 21 June 2010

Afghanistan: The End Game?

The Army Game used to be a popular weekly comedy on British television. In the early 1960s the British Army wasn't striving to combat foreign insurgencies.

Unlike today. The cost of that effort in Afghanistan has registered 307 on the meter. The cost of dying, as David Cameron has already said, is likely to rise through the summer.

But for how much longer? Less than two years, thinks Professor Paul Rogers from Bradford University's Peace Studies department and a contributor to the Oxford Research Group independent think tank, which specialises in issues of national and international security.

He said: "I think the death of the 300th soldier will remind people of the continuing losses in Afghanistan. Sympathy for the Army across the country does not translate into support for the war. I think there is widespread dismay about why we are still there.

"There is some pretty serious re-thinking going on behind the scenes. The Strategic Defence Review of the whole armed services will look at Afghanistan. They cannot keep 9,000 to 10,000 troops there for another ten years.

"Scaling down is likely to happen all the faster because there is a new Government and, more significantly, because domestic politics in the United States dictates that American tropps have to be withdrawn before the 2012 presidential election. That's the plan; if it works, the British will happily go along with that.

"I meet quite a few soldiers, including squaddies. They will acknowledge that the rate of training of the Afghan Army is very slow and they do not trust the Afghan police - they're too corrupt.

"Although they see themselves as proving themselves to the country, because fighting is what an army is all about, there are mixed feelings about the future. Very sharp intelligence officers I have spoken with know they - the army - cannot win.

"The more troops that go in the more they are seen by locals as occupiers and resistance rockets. In the first four months of 2010 the number of roadside bombs doubled over the same period for 2009. For a larger percentage of Afghans they are occupiers.

"I will be very surprised to see the same number of troops out there in the next two years.

"Had a large peace-keeping force been put in place after the Americans defeated the Taliban in 2001, the situation in Afghanistan might have been different."

Prof., Rogers has consistently argued that the US made an error of judgement after 9/11. Instead of treating Al Qaida as a "trans-national force of criminals" and sending in small specialist forces to bring them back for trial as criminals, it treated Bin Laden's men as members of a terrorist army.

So it looks as though the fate of the British Army in Afghanistan depends upon the election strategy of President Barack Obama. Is that what is known as a 'special relationship'?

Richard North warned in Ministry of Defeat that the British, in a state of denial about Iraq, ran the risk of making the same military and political mistakes made in Afghanistan.

"This is a politicians' war - it has nothing to do with the people. The people did not ask the soldiers to 'invade' Afghanistan, know little about the country and are indifferent to the aims of this Government, even if they are aware of them," he said.

More than 1,800 NATO soliders have now been sent home in boxes, more than 1,000 of them Americans - hence the significance of the US presidential election.

Can anybody without a vested interested seriously doubt that what has happened to Defence Chief Jock Stirrup and now General Stanley McChrystal are but two moves on the chess board of Afghanistan towards the end game?

1 comment:

tripps goes to Newmarket said...

"In the early 1960s the British Army wasn't striving to combat foreign insurgencies".

Does not the Indonesian 'confrontaion' count here?