07 September 2006
Another day, another dead squaddie
As yet more British soldiers are killed fighting Blair's war in Afghanistan, Simon Jenkins in The Guardian proposes what will probably turn out to be the exit strategy:
Karzai, besieged in Kabul, knows one thing. He must do a deal with the Taliban as he has with the northern and western warlords. His spring appointment of gangsters and drug-runners as police chiefs and commanders may have appalled his foreign paymasters. But Karzai has only one way to survive outside his capital: buying support from those who can repay with security. In the south that is commanders in league with the Taliban, even if it means Mullah Omar returning to Kandahar. The British could then argue that they have roughly honoured the pledge to achieve security. Either way there is no alternative to negotiation.
This is not a war that can be won on the battlefield. A prolonged campaign of attrition, as proposed by Des Browne, Reid's successor, would demand a terrible cost in lives and money. The Taliban can fight for ever. It is no good politicians in London shouting: "We cannot afford to fail in Afghanistan." Such chest-beating at the expense of other people's lives should be actionable. Blair and his colleagues have willed on the army a war they knew it cannot win. The least they owe it is an exit strategy.
What Jenkins fails to mention is that before any such policy can be put into effect, Tony Blair has to be removed from office. That is on the cards, but not quickly enough to save the lives of many more soldiers in the doomed conflict that is the Fourth Afghan war.