British Withdrawal from Southern and Eastern Afghanistan?


I thought the Today Programme interview with Rory Steward at 0712 this morning was fascinating. Not so much for what he said, because it's all been said before (even on this very site!), but because it was being said by someone who as a previous Deputy Governor in Iraq has been at the centre of Tony Bliar's foreign adventures.

He's now heading up something called the:

Turquoise Mountain Foundation

a collaboration between the Prince of Wales and Hamid Karzai to rebuild the remaining medieval part of Kabul, but even allowing for the fact that he's now working with a bunch of tree huggers, his background as a top diplomat and current employ at the heart of government in Kabul, must lend credibility to what he had to say:

In short, he highlighted the fact that NATO are not making progress in the south and they do not have the factors necessary to beat the Taliban. Specifically:

- Popular support at home for a 15-20 year conflict.
- The deployment to Afghanistan of 100,000 troops.
- Control of the country's international borders.
- The support of the local population.
- Some control of the Afghan government.

Without those factors, he considered it foolish to throw a few more troops and helos at a situation which simply cannot be won with the present force levels. The interview concludes with him saying that we should focus on, and invest in, the things we can do, since we have no moral obligation to attempt the unachievable. When pressed he admitted that that means pulling out of the South and East of Afghanistan.

Personally, I can't help wondering whether he's flying a kite on behalf of the liberal left, or on behalf of Gordon Brooon and his new cabinet of clever dicks. Either way, it's high time we had a national debate about exactly what we (GB PLC) hope to achieve in that godforsaken part of the world.

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