Thursday, February 19, 2009

Afghanistan: the medical way out

The NATO operation in Afghanistan is in deep sh*t. The Taleban are making advances, and the Australian Defence Minister is honest about poor prospects of defeating them. The US-Karzai relationship is at a low ebb, with Joe Biden, Obama's vice president and foreign policy wonk, reportedly storming out of a meeting with Afghan President Karzai, exasperated at not getting "straight answers" on drugs and corruption.

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's written statement to Congress during her confirmation hearing called Afghanistan a "narco-state" that was "plagued by limited capacity and widespread corruption".

General James L Jones of the Atlantic Council of the United States says that Afghanistan is close to being a failed state.

Karzai (whose brother is reputed to be into the drugs trade) is muttering that if the US will not give him the boys toys he wants, he will ask the Russians, who in turn are saying that the NATO invasion is going the same way as their ten-year stay in Afghanistan.

So the US is pumping more grunts into the country. They have 30,000 now, the generals want to double that, and 17,000 more are on their way now. They want NATO to send more. They are critical of the British troops, who are snide, and keep asking the USAF to bomb them out of trouble.

So things are really not good, but the Government is humming bravely to itself. Lord Malloch Brown, in a letter to the Leader of the Green Party dated 6th February, writes "All concerned know that the battle against opium in Afghanistan will be a long one, however, we hope that it will be ultimately successful, in Pakistan and Thailand".

To be charitable, I think his secretary has left out "as" between the comma and the in.
Even so, it shows that the good Lord did not read the letter that the civil servants put before him, so he obviously feels that he needs more letters on the subject before he starts taking it more seriously.

So. SNAFU in Afghanistan. Our troops find themselves located in a severely sewage-polluted watery inlet without any means of propulsion. My military advisor tells me that the technical term for this is "embuggerment".

What to do?

Buy the opium crop! Purchase it from the farmers!! Give them money for it, thus
  • turning the Afghan economy around,
  • putting the Afghan Government in charge of its nominal country,
  • pulling the Oriental prayer mat out from under the Taleban,
  • reducing one of the main pretexts for corruption in the country,
  • slashing the heroin addiction problem in Europe, and last but not least,
  • providing pain relief for the 6 million people who die in agony from cancer in the Global South.

You would think that Government would see that, wouldn't you? Like they might have seen the unsustainablity of the Brown Bank Boom?

Boom Boom! as Basil Brush would say.

Please write to your MP today.


13492 said...

Obama increasing troops?

mmm... that's change for you

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show that leaders are not the 'be all and end all' that some people seem to think they are. Things are a bit more complex than that, as any leader finds out on their first day in office, when they get the files of big secrets slapping down on their desk!

As many predicted, the Obama leadership reality (as distinct from the fantasy) will start sinking in fairly quickly, eg:

Richard, I have to query your apparently uncritical reporting of the US slag-off of our people in Afghanistan.

For a start, I think the US has got a bloomin' cheek criticising Britain when we're one of the few of their so-called allies who are actually doing anything there.

Secondly, the criticism should be directed at the British Government and the MoD fatcat pen-pushers and bureaucrats who got us into this mess in the first place but have been failing dismally to provide our troops with the resources that they need to do the job they've been asked to do.

It is the British Government and MoD that are snide and want to get risky and dangerous work done on the cheap with no regard to the cost in British lives.

Sergeant Steve Roberts and Corporal Mark Wright are only two of our fellow citizens who have lost their lives because of penny-pinching and negligence on the part of the State. It is the State that deserves criticism, not our soldiers.

DocRichard said...

Dona and 13492
Good and valid comments both. Thank you