Monday, 13 October 2008

Punchline

Norm , writing about a New Statesman editorial on Afghanistan which argues that it is morally preferable to leave the foreigners to the wolves, concludes:
The New Statesman is a weekly magazine of the left.
Still waiting for the laugh. The word ‘left’ has been marked down so often, it’s only value is sentimental. If you want to impart meaning, you’ll have to find another.
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More dark humour: Terry Glavin applies the realist solution for Afghanistan to Britain with the headline Britain’s Best Hope: Abolish the Commons, Let the Lords Rule. I suspect a number of the realists wouldn’t get it, being only too happy to agree with such a notion.
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Related: we saw last week how words spoken in Afghanistan were heard around the world. No doubt this week words spoken in Iraq will be heard clearly in Afghanistan. What value the word of a British leader now, be they political or military?

From the interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki published today in The Times:
At the time Basra was not under control of the local government, but in the hands of the gangs and militias. The local government was just a screen. And didn’t have the ability to move or solve any security issue.

The British forces withdrew from the confrontation from inside the city to the area of the airport. They stayed away from the confrontation, which gave the gangs and the militias the chance to control the city. At the time we were strongly pre-occupied with Baghdad and some other provinces, therefore our presence in Basra was not strong.

But when the British forces withdrew and the situation deteriorated so badly that corrupted youths were carrying swords and cutting the throats of women and children, the citizens of Basra called out for our help … and we moved to regain the city…
And he continues, speaking  about the deal that the British cut with the militias in 2007:
Of course we were not comfortable and we conveyed our discomfort and regarded it as the start a disaster. The disaster would have materialised, if we had not made the sacrifices. Had they told us that they wanted to do this [cut a deal] we would have consulted with them and come up with the best possible decision. But when they acted alone the problem happened.
It will take a major change in thinking at a political level to recover from this. Sticking plaster missions will come unstuck. Aims short of victory equal defeat. In Afghanistan as in Iraq, final victory will come at the hands of the people. Our victory will lie in their victory. That will only be achieved by standing with them. To betray them is to betray ourselves.

Follow up post: Loose lips.

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