Talking to the Taliban

 

I was interested to learn that talks are now underway with the Taliban in Afghanistan. That implies Obama is at last thinking of getting more American troops back home. It probably means we too can be thinking of getting our troops back.

As someone who has argued for many months that we need to get out, I will pleased when we know that at last we will do that. It was always the case that there needed to  be a political settlement, and a withdrawal by foreign troops, if Afghanistan is to have any kind of stable future.

We also need an exit strategy from Libya. The immediate humanitarian mission has been accomplished,as sanctioned by the UN. Pushing too hard to kill Gaddafi and the rest of the army high command could result in more civilian deaths. This is not what the UN resolution had in mind. The UN forces need to be careful, as intervening from the skies in a civil war on the ground in urban areas is not an easy task, requiring huge patience and precision.

The good news this spring has been the emergence of some genuinely democratic movements in Arab countries, coming from within. The west can encourage and support these movements without having recourse to arms on the ground. More importantly it can make it more difficult for dictators by its diplomatic and trade responses to them.

The west needs to be careful not to compromise democratic Arab movements, and not to make it more difficult for them to recruit local support through clumsy association with the west. When it comes to intervening in Arab lands, less is better. I look forward to British troops coming home.

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35 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    Indeed bringing the troops home they are just incubating terrorism, creating enemies and making solutions less likely. There is no guarantee that they will leave the places any better and every likely hood they will do the reverse – at great cost in lives, money and UK/US reputations.

    More government insanity:-

    Energy Performance Certificates for holiday lets is a good illustration of how an absurd law creates pointless parasitic jobs in both the state and private sectors and destroys rather more real ones. Inspectors, agents, landlords, regulators, printers and get extra pointless work all paid for by putting up the cost of holiday lets and putting others out of business completely (best just to go abroad perhaps for holiday).

    Holiday lets are generally let mainly in summer when little energy is used anyway and are only usually let for part of the year (so energy improvements usually make very little sense economically). If you are renting for a week do you really care about the tiny energy use any way (you will use for more just getting there). The actual certificates are usually superficial, childish and absurd, even in term of energy improvements anyway.

    And now we have Michael Fish (famous for being unable to predict a hurricane a few hours in advance) advertising on TV absurd and ugly PV panels for house roofs in a “government backed scheme”. Nothing to pay (unless you are a tax payer) just “free” electricity in a government backed scheme! All done in the name of weather projections for one hundred years plus.

    More and more Cameron/Clegg insanity heaped on insanity.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      The EPC’s make no sense for other properties either – anyone looking at a property can see it was built in about xxxx has single glazing and roof insulation x thick and an insulated hot water tank or not and a gas boiler that is about x old. We do not need someone who has been on a short course at FE college to travel miles and tell us what we already can see and know and then charge us £100 for a pointless bit of paper.

      Abolish them now you did it for the equally mad HIPs – about the only sensible action the government has taken so far.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      These EPCs and HIPs illustrate the problem of bad government perfectly. They are clearly bad for everyone on average making us all poorer as can be demonstrated conclusively in an hour or two – but very good for certain interested parties QUANGOs, government departments, testers, politicians wanting to be see to be doing something “green”, training colleges, even landlord organisations who benefit from ads and cheap schemes (though not landlords or tenants who have to pay for all this nonsense). It is in effect a back door, command economy by regulation rather than state ownership.

      But the input to government comes almost totally from those parties who benefit at the expense, on average, of everyone and those who wants a UK holiday let.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        Might be relevant in a Blackpool self contained room as it might give some indication as to how long your to how long your quid will last in the meter? In the context of the global war on terror might prove to be of little use. Though the security services should be wary of the terrorist implications of extrapolating the energy consumption in the various regions of the UK. Maybe Mr Redwood could pursue your points further through the correct channels?

  2. Stuart Fairney
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    In order to negotiate anything, the party agreeing to certain conditions in return for something (ie Taliban agreeing to things for Western withdrawl) there needs to be a serious and effective sanction in the event of a breach of these terms.

    So what’s to stop the Mullahs agreeing to everything more or less, waiting for the west to bailout and then carrying on where they left off some years ago? We clearly wouldn’t go back in militarily, so it must be a combination of vague threats (predator strikes) and bribery, sorry foreign aid.

    Forgive my bluntness, but not one penny for these bastards, please.

    • Gary
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Why must the Mullahs agree to anything, the fact that we want out of there means that we are losing ? What are we doing there in any case ?

      Bin Laden was in Pakistan.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Well indeed, they could just turn around and say “Nah” but in their position I would say, sure, sure we’ll respect XXXX rights but we’ll just need £500 million in aid to rebuild the country. Get the cash and then proceed just as I planned to anyway. And short of drone/missile strikes there isn’t much we could do.

        This was all so hideously predictable when John “they may not fire a shot” Reid sent ’em in.

    • Peter Turner
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      Your question regarding what is to stop the Taliban acting just like before is the question that has not been answered publically. Is this because there is nothing to stop the Taliban acting like before?

  3. Alison Granger
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    So assuming the result of the negotiations is the return to power of the Taliban then the net gain of a decade of war, hundreds of billions spend, hundreds of thousands murdered or maimed and the destruction of huge swathes of the country is – nothing.
    We can also assume that the same is true of Iraq and Libya.
    This just about sums up government as the purveyor of lies and incompetence at every level. Then of course we have the little matter of the lack of legality and morality involved by all those that participated or supported these wars.
    Will we see those responsible brought to account? Not a hope. Who says crime doesn’t pay, Mr Blair.

    • lifelogic
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      I tend to agree that Blair and his gang should be brought before a proper court to account for their behaviour and dishonesty in starting these pointless wars.

      • Bazman
        Posted June 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        Maybe we could prosecute him for letting the banks run riot too. Spending all the money so there is not enough to fund another war in Libya? Good to see Philip Davies MP putting forward that disabled workers be given the power to voluntarily waive their minimum wage requirements. He should have gone further and included child labour laws. This absurd and outdated regulation preventing children from taking part in the economy helping their families and business also working for less than the minimum wage due to their immaturity. Not many chimneys left, but much waste recycling is viable if labour costs are low enough. This idea has worked before and could work again. I belive the trade was called’ Mudlark’ Though in some countries the competition may be tough, we have much better quality waste and better fed children with some being nearly literate.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      When you’re digging yourself into a hole…..

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I agree with all these remarks wholeheartedly. Islam makes demands on people that Christianity simply doesn’t. Liberal atheism, too, has its own very special way of thinking. Just assuming that the Arabs are us in (different clothes -ed) is simply stupid.

    Marching into the old Caliphate “because we can” is the way of fools. We ought to get out of Libya and Afghanistan as soon as we can.

  5. English Pensioner
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    What’s the odds that Argentine will take advantage of the present situation and return to the Falklands.
    And this time we neither could, or would do anything about it.
    Our military should be to protect Britain and its colonies, not engage in doubtful adventures around the world.
    And as for stopping world terrorism, that is not our job; as an island nation we could spend a fraction of the cost of these wars in putting some decent border controls and restrictions in place and beefing up our security services.

    • BobE
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      There is now an air base on the Faulklands and there is a garrison of troops. Planes and men could be landed directly on the island. This was not the case when Maggie was in charge.
      It is very unlikly that Argentine will make another attempt. They always talk it up at election time. Bit of a cast iron promise!

    • davidb
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      I have actively boycotted Argentine produce since they started murmering last year. Pears and cherries as well as wine come from there. Read the labels – which can involve rummaging at the packing cases in many shops. Some places don’t need our money spending on them.

  6. A.Sedgwick
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Panorama last week showed how hordes of Afghans, mainly young men were fleeing the country, taking perilous journeys in order to reach the EU first and England second. The tragic irony is our unbelievably stupid MPs collectively have allowed our finest young people to die and be maimed for life in their thousands when their young generation just wants to get out.

    • alan jutson
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      A Sedgwick

      Exactly the point I have made may times.

      We send our young men and women over there at huge cost in life, limb, and money, to fight for their freedom and democracy, when their young men escape to come here, and probably never want to go back, even if we achieved (unlikely) what we set out to do.

      Makes you wonder just who, and what we are fighting for.

      Perhaps if we had a policy of 2 years suscription to our armed forces (when they could be sent to fight anywhere), for all who wanted to come here, and a 5 year payment record before you could make a claim for financial benefits, how this may help to reduce immigration or claims of asylum.

      • Simon
        Posted June 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        Seems like Clegg wants to relax the rules on immigration .

        Could it be because he wants people who have been recently granted cititzenship to vote for him so they can bring the rest of their extended family over ?

        Lets have a double referendum
        i) immigration
        ii) membership of EU

        A good way of letting people know that they can’t control one without controlling the other .

  7. Acorn
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Which Taliban, the Afghan one or the Pakistani one? The more I read of this conflict, the more confusing it gets. Particularly the fact that the US Defence Intelligence Agency was backing the Taliban, while the CIA was trying to back the Northern Alliance of Ahmad Shah Massoud; the nearest thing to a democrat in the area. In March 2001, Ahmad Shah Massoud had warned that his intelligence had gathered information about a large-scale attack on U.S. soil being imminent – 9/11.

    Throughout the conflict since the Soviets left in 1989, the same characters keep turning up in or at the White House, all of whom appeared to have contracts with Pakistan’s military.

  8. Dave B
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    What is the British national interest in the Libya conflict?

    • BobE
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      oil

    • Foreign Aid is Evil
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Dave B, as BobE says, oil and nothing wrong with that. You might also add PC Yvonne Fletcher and anybody with an interest in flying.

  9. Bob
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    If any Afghan has their human rights violated by the Taliban after we leave, they can just come to the UK and claim asylum (among other things). Sorted.

  10. Michael Read
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Yes, we’ll be scuttling off just like the Americans did on those last helicopters evacuating off the US embassy rooftop at the end of the Vietnam war.

    Treasure. Blood. A complete waste. Taleban sitting out it out to take over where they left off.

    Our political system needs a radical overhaul if it can allow such disastrous ventures to be undertaken without anyone bearing responsibility.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

      Do you remember “Dr” Reid from Scotland blandly announcing that we were going to rebuild Afghanistan in a couple of months and then come home?
      He has indeed borne full responsibility and is now Lord Cadowan (or something).

  11. alan jutson
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    You always have to talk in the end, its just a matter of do you talk from a position of strength or weakness.

    Its a simple fact of the more you have, the better your outcome in negotiations, but beware, if you push it too far you may just delay the real outcome, as many have suggested about the surrender document after the frst World War.

    Whatever the outcome there needs to be in place a system which monitors the agreement with safeguards.

    Whilst we may have most troops out of the front line in a few years, I do not think we will be out of Afghanistan completely for many years to come.

  12. Suze Doughty
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Could it mean that, having lost Bin Laden’s funding stream, the Taliban are suing for peace? One wonders at what price, what do they have left to offer? Can they be believed if they promise to be nicer to their mothers?

  13. forthurst
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Using terms like ‘the west’ and ‘arabs’ is not helpful: using ‘arab’ as general pejoritive term for all adherents of Islam is typical of the historical distortions and lies emaniting from those who like to pull strings from behind the curtain, and the latter, though they would like to believe so, have no legitimate right to speak for ‘the west’.Let’s talk about the Britsh interest and let others discuss their own.

    As the basis on which we entered Afghanistan was a grotesque and cynical lie concerning a false flag terror attack in which many British subjects were murdered, it follows that all those of our servicemen who have been killed and injured in Afghanistan did so on the basis of that lie so for every day that Cameron keeps our men in Afghanistan, his treason is compounded.

    I do not believe what we have been told about Libya; as I have remarked before, the response of Cameron and Sarkosy was far too pat, especially as we know that Libya was on the Pentagon shopping list. Whatever, there are ongoing acts of suppression in the Middle East of which Cameron would appear entirely comfortable, and yet other ‘popular uprisings’ whose spontaniety may have been attenuated by organisations associated with foreign intelligence services and strategic ‘think tanks’ headquarted on the other side of the Atlantic.
    Not withstanding that, any overstepping of the UN resolution would constitute an illegitimate act of war of which Cameron appears far too comfortable on precident.

  14. rose
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Any diplomatist who has served in the Near East would say this to HMG, and I would like to think they all did at the various times of intervention. What are ambassadors and, indeed, business men for, if not to get to know the complexities and subtleties of foreign lands and then discreetly convey them to government. The suspicion is, and I hope it is an unfair one, that HMG doesn’t have time for old-fashioned diplomacy any more, or its specialists who have built up a lifetime’s knowledge and wisdom. The razz-a-ma-tazz of the press conference seems to have superseded all that. I had hoped this PM would have returned to the old tried and proven way of doing things. He seems to have been able to delegate in other departments of government, and I wish he would let them get on with it..

  15. stred
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    After centuries of pointless wars over dogma, the best young people are still being killed for nothing. The ony reason I can see for the Afgan war is womens rights. So why not agree to let women fight the Taliban. (sentence left out ed)

  16. electro-kevin
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Why have you only been arguing for withdrawal for months, Mr Redwood ?

    Most of us have been doing it for years.

    “War on drugs.” “War on terror.” “War for female emancipation.” “War on those who shelter Bin Laden.”

    All provable bunk. Every bit of it.

    Our troops sacrificed for the vanity of one man and the weakness of another.

  17. Stephen Gash
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    What I truly find nauseating is the flagrant hypocrisy of the ruling political parties across the board in Europe.

    On the one hand they refuse to work with parties like Geert Wilders’s PVV in the Netherlands, and call “fascists” those who oppose the introduction of sharia law and finance into Europe. Then on the other hand they seek to broker deals with the (unpleasant-ed) Taliban.

    While refusing to work with so-called “extreme” parties in Europe they tell us we must work with the Muslim Brotherhood should it be elected into power in Egypt, despite (serious allegations about their behaviour-ed). Never mind whether parties in Europe are elected into office in like Vlaams Belang in Belgium, for example, they are persona non grata, and must be quarantined.

    Many of us, in fact I would hazard a guess at most of us, are thoroughly fed up with the pernicious selective conscience of politicans in the UK and EU that costs us priceless lives and billions in money and only makes matters worse.

    If Greece’s unrest escalates into civil war, will NATO and the EU send in troops, tanks and bombers? If so, how will it differ from Syria and Libya? If the strikes threatened in the UK this summer escalate to prolonged violent unrest, will we see NATO tanks on UK streets? If so, will the UK government be held to account like it is demanding Gaddafi be held to account?

    Yes, hypocrisy sums up present leadership in the West, to be brutally frank.

    Let’s keep out our noses out of foreign domestic matters and bring some security to our homeland.

    • Stephen Gash
      Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

      With respect why is my comment still being moderated? I was not promoting any party, I was attempting to show the hypocrisy surrounding talking to the Taliban, that is all.

      • Stephen Gash
        Posted June 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Is my comment going to be posted or not? If not, may I have an explanation as to why?

  • 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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