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The Madness of Afghanistan

Leaving Afghanistan without a peace deal is madness ... General Sir David Richards, the head of Britain's Armed Forces, is right to flag up the likely difficulties British troops will experience as they begin the difficult task of withdrawing from Afghanistan next year. As Sir David and his military colleagues know only too well, the Government's decision to cease combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 has been driven by political expediency rather than conditions on the ground. The bottom line, as I have been saying since the Coalition came to power two years ago, is that David Cameron has lost interest in the Afghan mission, and simply wants to withdraw British troops irrespective of the situation on the ground. – Con Coughlin/UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: Let's make sure we leave on proper terms.

Free-Market Analysis: Con Coughlin is one of the most persistent and consistent of Afghan war reporters. In fact, a UK Telegraph feedbacker noted recently:

I admire your consistent position on all matters war, Mr Coughlin. There hasn't been one single war (or the threat of it, such as against Iran and Syria) that you have not supported. My only problem is with your unwillingness to pick up a rifle yourself. Why not? More to the point, why must other people and their children keep dying for your interventionist convictions?

Coughlin ALWAYS supports Western wars and thus, as the feedbacker suggests, the logical next step is picking up a rifle himself. But that is not Coughlin's way. He will keep advising from the sidelines.

In this case, Coughlin is upset that the war is being finalized along the neat terms that Western military men might find most desirable. There is no "peace deal" and thus NO reasonable way for Britain and the US to disengage.

Here's some more from the article:

The Government's policy, though, takes no account of the military advice, which is that any draw down of forces should be "conditions-based" – ie when the overall security situation in Afghanistan has been stabilised.

It is, of course, possible that the Afghan security forces will, as our politicians keep telling us, be in a position to safeguard their country's interests by the end of 2014, although, to judge by what I saw when I visited Kabul in the spring, the Afghans still have some way to go before they have the capability to take care of themselves, especially when they are confronted by a determined and resourceful enemy like the Taliban.

The Afghans rely heavily on NATO resources to function, and without that support many wonder whether the Afghan security forces will survive.

But the biggest problem I have with the Government's ill-conceived withdrawal strategy is that it completely ignores arguably the greatest challenge of them – getting the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal.

One of the cornerstone's of the counter-insurgency strategy signed off by President Barack Obama at the West Point Military Academy in 2009 was to force the Taliban to the negotiating table through a mixture of military force and political coercion. But three years on, the office opened in the Gulf state of Qatar to facilitate the reconciliation process stands empty, and the prospects of a deal with the Taliban remain as remote as ever.

Indeed, as Sir David remarked in his speech last night to the Royal United Services Institute, "Why should the Taliban reconcile if they thought we were 'cutting and running'?"

Despite the politicians' protestations to the contrary, this is precisely what we are doing, and in the absence of any serious attempt by politicians in London and Washington to address the Taliban issue, the insurgents are simply going to bide their time and wait for Nato to pack up and go home before seizing control of the country again, with all the implications that will have for our security.

This is more of a yawp than an opinion. The Taliban is not negotiating. This much is clear. So what does Coughlin suggest? It sounds as if he wants Western forces to fight on until the Taliban finally realize they must negotiate.

But, in fact, Western troops are leaving because apparently it is not feasible to sustain the fighting. After ten years and a trillion dollars nothing has been accomplished.

From our point of view, the power elite that is trying to create global government wanted to subdue the Taliban once and for all. The tactical retreat that is being waged is proof positive that the high-water mark of elite Western control has been reached.

The subduing of the entire world is not possible and this will have tremendous ramifications in the future. The proverbial tide is turning.

But that is not enough for Coughlin. Western forces will leave behind a civil war in Afghanistan between the Pashtuns, the Punjabis and everyone else.

And Western forces will leave behind a shattered land, as well, poisoned by depleted uranium and sown with deadly mines. The Pashtuns' mild form of Islam has been replaced by the Taliban's far more ideological brand. Poppy cultivation has actually increased under Western supervision.

So what does Coughlin want? None of these trends are going to be diminished by the West's continued aggression. Continued fighting can increase the misery without providing any alleviation.

Poor Western boys will continue to get blown up and families will continue to lose loved ones. A war that never really made any sense will be pursued on behalf of a theoretical acquiescence that will never arrive.

Coughlin is worried that leaving Afghanistan will make a mockery of the cause that the West was fighting for and make the world a "more dangerous place," as well.

In fact, it may do just the opposite. A chastened power elite that has learned once again, as it did perhaps after Viet Nam, that immoderate force is not the solution to all things may be less apt to utilize violence to pursue its world-spanning plans.


The abandonment of Afghanistan is a hopeful sign. It was never a war that was in the interest of the Western middle classes, only their elite masters.

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