People sometimes say they wish the politicians would get together and agree, instead of bickering and arguing. I wish the politicians and political parties would disagree more about the issues, so that actions and policies can be properly tested and choices evaluated. Consensus often breeds the worst errors.
As someone who bore the scars from opposing the consensus that the Uk should enter the ERM – and probably go on to join the Euro – it surprised me just how much damage the consensus mongers were prepared to do before they accepted their idea was wrong.
As someone who has been a farily lonely voice explaining that the Bank of England was not made independent in 1997, and who thought the MPC alongside this government was likely to make a mess of running our economy, I have been less suprised at how long this nonsense has continued and how much damage it has done.
Today I read a senior military voice telling us we cannot win the war in Afghanistan. As someone who is not an expert in these military matters and who has not visited Afghanistan I wonder if this is a warning we should heed? This is a war supported by Barack Obama, John MacCain, George Bush and Gordon Brown. It is a war where Barack Obama and the Democrats, who have moved from supporting the war in Iraq to questioning it, want to see Western forces increased. They favour a troop surge in Afghanistan whilst being sceptical about a troop surge in Iraq.
I have always wondered how you can fight a war on terror. The US has the world’s greatest ever military machine, with amazing technology. Not even the US yet has the technology to identify and destroy an enemy living within residential areas full of people you are trying to help, without killing too many of them as well. Better bombs and smarter delivery mechanisms can help the US win any conventional war easily, but it does not mean the US can win enough hearts and minds in fledgeling democracies to make them safe for a particular way of life.
I am not suggesting there are any easy answers. I understand it is not helpful to say I would not have started from here. I would appreciate some thoughts on whether on this occasion the amazing consensus is right, and we need to intensify our military efforts in Afghanistan and over the border into Pakistan, or whether we should heed the General and try something else.