Get out of Afghanistan

I welcome Liam Fox’s statement today that the new government is actively looking at ways to accelerate the departure of our troops from Afghanistan. He is right to say “No” to any new mission in a new province there for them, and right to concentrate on faster withdrawal. We have lost too many young lives and spent too much treasure already in Labour’s Middle Eastern wars. We need an early exit with dignity.

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22 Comments

  1. Ahmadi
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    well, according to Afghan and British War Story, the British will never wants to lose this opportunity to leave Afghanistan- the British gov is very smart – Its diffecult for the British Gov to lose this greatiest and golden time -the First Anglo- Afghan War lasted form 1839 to 1842 .It was one of the first major conflicts during the great game – the British will never forget the 19th century competition for power and influence in central asia as well as te 21th centurary competition for power betwee the unioted Kingdm and US.

    the United Kingdom casualties and losses were 4500 – then the british withdraw from Afghanistan and Now the United Kingdom lost only Less than 300 in 8 years –
    If the United Kingdom withdraw the British troops from afghanistan then they must accept another Afghan Victory!!
    Best Regards
    Ahmadi
    From kabul /Afghanistan

    • Andrew Johnson
      Posted May 23, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Dear Ahmadi – whose name means "highly praised" or "most highly praised", I am sorry I cannot praise you for your analysis.

      May I suggest you reflect on what a "Pyrrhic victory " is? Do you know how many young Taliban men have died or been terribly wounded to achieve your "victory"?

      (advises Taleban against escalation leading to retaliation – ed)
      It is my view for alll kinds of reasons, that the Americans are tragically mistaken that this is a "necessary war". Suffice to say that it's fulcrum is the American neo conservative belief that "western style democracy" can be imposed on any Islamic country by force of arms.

      The sooner all Nato troops, but especially ours, are withdrawn from Iraq, Afghanistan and all other Islamic countries the better.
      Ahmadi, there is a great deal of difference between a defeat and a strategic withdrawal.

      May I also say that I have nothing but praise and admiration for each and every member of the United Kingdom's dedicated professional defence forces. They have done everything and more, that craven and duplicitous politicians have asked from them in the Queen's name.

  2. Sceptical
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    But we have an obligation to NATO and to our American allies who have led this Afghanistan mission – a campaign which President Obama has called the "necessary war" and which President Bush initiated eight years ago in a coalition of supportive nations. We also have an obligation to the Afghan people, to our own security interests and to those young men and women who have served and died for the campaign. Do you really think we should just cut and run and leave America to go it alone, fighting in our interests while we watch from the sidelines? And what kind of ally does that make us?

    Also "Labour's Middle Eastern wars" were all supported at the time by the Conservatives, surely?

    • Winston's Black
      Posted May 22, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      The question is whether the Afghan War IS in our interests.

      I'm not intending to criticise here the truth is I don't know the answer.

      My probably simplistic take on it is that September 11 tragically occurred. Bush then decided that Afghanistan (and Iraq) were financing and harbouring terrorists and invaded accordingly. As members of NATO we then joined in even though many of our "EU Partners" stood back.

      I suppose what I find difficult to reconcile is that (at the time of both the Afghan and Iraq invasions) the UK had not suffered an Islamic terrorist attack. Yet we felt we had to get involved and sacrifice young lives as well as (possibly) indirectly provoking the July 7 attack on our own shores.

      What is the aim of the Afghan War?

  3. Quietzapple
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the next plot from the Afghan – Pakistan border will eventuate in Wokingham?

  4. Dan
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Well said John, if it is in the true national intrest of all of NATO then there would be no debate about availability of troops. If it was truly a priority we should be the last ones to go because of our history of 200 years involvement in the area and 70 plus years of immigration and settelment.

    Pride of operatioal independance in the Helmandshire was always a distraction from the strategic position of the full Af-Pak theatre

  5. backofanenvelope
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    We have no obligation to the "Afghan People". We should get out and let them get on with it.

    We should also campaign for NATO to return to its original mission – defence of the North Atlantic area.

    There is of course, an issue of internal security. We all know how to get on top of that problem don't we? Stop importing foreigners.

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Mr Brown humiliated us completely in Basra.
    Now we are being completely humiliated in Afghanistan.
    And we are completely unable to pay for the right equipment.

    We English have experience. We have a super foreign secretary. We are straight (or used to be before 1997). Compare these gifts with, say, China or Iran or North Korea. We have a lot to offer the world. We should not hang back or different ideologies will very, very soon come forward to do it for us. (China in Africa? Iran in Palestine/Brazil?)

    Please will some bright politicians sit down and decide a sensible policy and the means to bring it to pass?

  7. Janet
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ahmadi

    I agree it is a victory to Afghanistan. It was foolish of the UK ever to get involved either in Afghanistan or Iraq. Both episodes were a case of the UK meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. Afghanistan is from what we see on UK TV an absolutely stunning country and how sad that we should have played a part in spoiling it. What a shame we got involved in such a fight and instead didn't go there as tourists.

    War is never an answer to anything and I weep at the loss of lives on all sides.

    • Richard
      Posted May 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

      How would you have reacted to 9/11 had you been Prime Minister?

      • Janet
        Posted May 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        I certainly wouldn't have rushed in troops as a first response just because George Bush believed in a gung-ho approach….nothing has been solved and arguably it has made the situation worse and acted as a recruiting tool for extremists.

  8. A.Sedgwick
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Glad to see that you have broken cover on this disaster, hopefully you and the other Conservative MPs (as opposed to Liberal Conservatives) will follow suit on the bust EU, zero immigration, repeal of human rights acts, nuclear power before the lights go out, nuclear defence.

  9. English Pensioner
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    One of the major problems is that these days we insist on trying to impose our type of democracy on a country which is essentially tribal and owes no allegiance to anyone but the tribal chief. The whole idea of democracy is totally alien to people in that part of the world, as is the idea of those in charge serving the country and not their own personal ends, (something that regrettably seems to have been happening in this country of late).
    When we had an Empire we ran it largely on the principle, particularly in India, that we recognised the minor princes and supported them provide that they toed the line laid down by the District Commissioner. It was divide and rule and it worked very well.
    OK, it wasn't democratic; but it kept the peace!

  10. david b
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    At last reason begins to prevail.

    The attack on our ally on 9/11 was an attack on all of us. We had to respond. Perhaps the better response would have been the approach used against Hirohito to force surrender.

    Thuggish governments cannot attack us and get away with it, but we spent 30 years in Ireland. Was nothing learned about the unwinability of an asymmetric war in a country where rightly or wrongly, the enemy have the local populus on their side?

    We are a small country with a wrecked economy. Our priorities lie at home.

  11. Kevin Lohse
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Dear John. "We have lost too many young lives and spent too much treasure already in Labour’s Middle Eastern wars"
    The trouble is that we lost too many young men because not enough treasure was spent by a chancellor who thought a personality clash with the PM more important than his duty to the young men and women concerned.

  12. adam
    Posted May 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    "actively looking at ways to accelerate"

    nice and clear, then

  13. Andrew Holden
    Posted May 23, 2010 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Abandon the Afghan people – pass by on the other side! A long way from Mrs Thatcher quoting the Good Samaritan, I think.

  14. TWHITE
    Posted May 23, 2010 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    If Bin Laden really was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks then the Afghanistan war makes sense, and all those heroic men and women who have lost their lives really did die to protect the freedom of others.

    How to win it though, that is the question when the allies are up against crazy fanatics who think nothing of committing suicide, or even using children as suicide bombers for their cause.

    Here's hoping Afghanistan gets the leadership to inspire and lead so the Afghan people can fight against this themselves and the Pakistanis do a good job from their end.

    It is the little children who are caught up in this that deserve a chance to have a life free from violence, so the terror can end
    and the blight on their lives removed.

  15. Peter
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Well said John. It is high time British troops were pulled out.

    There is no possible outcome that could justify these losses, let alone the damage the war is doing to Afghanistan and its people.

    In fact, it is quite reasonable to suggest that the continued presence of NATO forces in this area will not only stimulate more radicalism in Afghanistan, but also destabilise Pakistan.

  16. Emily
    Posted May 31, 2010 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    At last reason begins to prevail.

    The attack on our ally on 9/11 was an attack on all of us. We had to respond. Perhaps the better response would have been the approach used against Hirohito to force surrender.

    Thuggish governments cannot attack us and get away with it, but we spent 30 years in Ireland. Was nothing learned about the unwinability of an asymmetric war in a country where rightly or wrongly, the enemy have the local populus on their side?

    We are a small country with a wrecked economy. Our priorities lie at home.

  17. Anas Hassan
    Posted June 3, 2010 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    Hear hear.

  18. HuwOS
    Posted July 7, 2010 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    The terrorist atrocity perpetrated against the US in 2001 was not an attack on us all, it was an attack on the US. However there is nobility in claiming that an attack on a friend is an attack on all of the group.
    Unfortunately for this argument, Afghanistan did not attack anyone in 2001, nor did the Taleban.
    Most of the attackers came from Saudi Arabia another ally of the US.
    The US claimed that Bin Laden was responsible and insisted that the Taleban capture him and hand them over to them without being willing to present even the tiniest iota of evidence for the claim.
    Even so, the Taleban were willing to discuss the issue and did offer to hand Bin Laden over to a neutral third party.
    We ignored all that and attacked them.
    There is nothing good that can come from our deeply immoral act and nothing good to say about us having continued to perpetrate outrageous actions against the people of Afghanistan for the last 8 years.
    Anyone saying otherwise should be deeply ashamed of themselves.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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