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What’s the point of these justifications for the ongoing war in Afghanistan?

By Flying Rodent
May 15th 2012



There was a jaw-dropping editorial in the Times yesterday, haunted by spectre of democratic accountability looming over our Afghanistan mission, that could’ve been churned out at any point in the last hundred years.

The Taleban hope that each new killing of a Nato soldier will be the straw that breaks the back of the resolve of America, Britain and their Isaf partners to linger in Afghanistan a minute longer than the 2014 deadline they have already set.  Who knows? – the Taleban wonder – it may even spur them to pick up their skirts and run away even sooner if pressed to do so by restive electorates at home.

Imagine, restive electorates, possibly pressing their governments over an eleven-year long war!

Well, here we are in 2012.  Osama is toast, his evil crew long since captured or incinerated and the US has been running high-profile victory laps around Al Qaeda’s smoking corpse for about two years.

So, why do we still have thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan?  According to The Times:

To make clear to Afghanistan’s militants that the withdrawal of British troops from the country will be dictated by a timetable set in Downing Street and the White House, not by murderers in Afghanistan.

Now, here’s a lesson from American military history – if you’ve been training an army to defend its capital city for eleven years and it still isn’t up to the task, it’s probably not that interested in defending its capital city.

Bonus points too for the sunk-costs fallacy:

A premature exit that abandons the ambitions and achievements of the past decade would be a betrayal of those who have given their lives to make Afghanistan more stable.

Translation: We must continue to get our soldiers killed in an effort to achieve the impossible, because doing otherwise would be disrespectful to all the soldiers that we have already got killed by trying to do the impossible.

Additionally, Barack Obama hopes that his recent agreement with the Afghan government will “persuade the Taleban that negotiating now will pay greater dividends than waiting for American soldiers to leave”.  Diplomacy, after all, is the art of saying “Nice Doggie” while groping for a rock that doesn’t exist, in a room full of ravenous timber wolves.

And that’s it.  That’s the sum total of their best case, their most convincing justification for British troops staying for the next two years.

If we want to show our gratitude for our soldiers, we could always repay them by bringing them back to Britain and buying them a round of drinks, rather than by forcing them to act as target practice for any passing Pashtun with a grudge.

After all, as an American politician once famously asked – How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

The answer comes back firmly and confidently from the Times editorial board: On pain of court-martial.

originally published by Liberal Conspiracy

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