Since it was on every front page in the country today, I am sure my British readers will have not missed the story of five British soldiers being gunned down by an Afghanistan while having tea. My condolences go out to their families.
It has struck me that what the Taliban and “Al-Qaeda” (the whole disparate movement, hence the speech marks) are trying to do is a repeat of what the North Vietnamese did in Vietnam. Not inflict one massive military victory, but inflict drip by drip by drip by drip- a steady stream of losses, which turn public opinion at home against a conflict.
It’s a strategy that only works when the leaders actually give in. South Vietnam fell two years after the US withdrawal and a carrier group or two there might have made a decisive impact. I am sure there are other cases. When the military goes ruthless, it generally fails- France and Poland were only liberated (yes, that ought to be in inverted commas for the latter) from the Nazis by direct military intervention, although Yugoslavia is the exception that proves the rule. Four decades of intifada in the Palestinian Territories haven’t altered the situation. I also refer to Northern Ireland, where the military didn’t go ruthless.
While there are definitely issues of strategy, human rights and corruption, I still believe we should stay and train up the forces properly. If we don’t, we won’t just be fighting them there, we’ll be fighting them here and there, because it’s going to stink to be female, a Christian or a supporter of democracy in Afghanistan.
An old friend of mine is currently in the Army, although I don’t think he’s deploying to the country any time soon. When he does, I hope he stays safe.