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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.
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Thursday, 5 November 2009
So what is to be done about Afghanistan?
The problem with the UK is since the Thatcher era we have been constantly punching above our weight and when Labour came into power some twelve years ago, it was with the promise of a new revitalised UK.
Northern Ireland (with an untold amount of money thrown at it) no longer was a nagging sore, deals were done and the Irish Taliban, senior IRA personnel, were given shoe-in positions of power, when at least one of them should have been facing a trial for 18 well documented murders and the UK authorities to this very day have all the evidence – firmly under lock and key.
The involvement of an Irish Priest at one point caused at least one of the major fugitives to be released having been captured after a long and bloody search by the military.
I know this as the senior military figure in Belfast at the time (now sadly passed on) recounted the story in detail to me. It was at the end of his distinguished military career when he, Major Napier was looking forward to retirement, but was unexpectedly posted to Belfast with the Kings Own Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
Ironically, I later heard the London Met. Police (at the time, on virtual permanent secondment to Northern Ireland) view on the same series of incidents in Northern Ireland and all the strands matched up.
So given the Northern Ireland experience and the fact that Tony Blair was in the driving seat, you can see why Gordon Brown is keen to make Afghanistan work, even though the current rate of murders (you really can’t call them battlefield casualties) is exceeding the Falklands daily tally.
Ministers keep to the line that if we pull out, the Taliban will join with other terrorist groups, overrun Pakistan and use nuclear weapons against us in the UK. So the classic Westminster model thinking is (as used back in colonial times) support the functioning Government of the day, put in place basic elements of a rag tag police force and implant basic civic systems, use a combination of bribes dressed up as aid and threats (withdrawal of bribes ie aid) to exert a nominal hold over the incumbent Government.
Trouble is everyone knows that the UK is financially stretched and the populous does not have the jingoistic (politically incorrect) will to support the action in Afghanistan.
Children have grown up during the 12 years of Labour inspired multicultural rule and with information computer technology, know far more about world affairs than many politicians from a previous more sane world.
Take a walk around any major UK conurbation, find the Central Library computer room or in-town internet cafés, the collective high tech teaching of discredited and deported Mullahs are to be found streaming hate and vilification 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
Essentially it’s Gordon Brown looking at the Autumn of his political aspirations versus the Mullahs? No contest in some ethnic and religious groupings. The days of a stiff upper lip, swagger stick and a loud “Now look here…” no longer works. ‘Johnny Foreigner’ lives in the UK, has a growing family, a taxpayer and is now a second/third generation British Citizen.
Ministers say the threat comes from a variety of ‘dark’ fanatical well financed, trained, equipped forces combining together and then our own mainland is threatened.
For this reason if you follow the logic, we fight hand to hand skirmish actions with conventional weaponry and highly restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan? Rather than unleashing a concerted arms length missile based attack and blanket carpet bombing of poppy fields,Taliban strongholds and used of a whole range of weapons of mass destruction NATO forces have stashed away. The whole Dr Strangelove scenario if you like, and where are all those NATO troops and associated support?
Publicly when we were ‘winning’ it looked good, and gave MPs something to talk about. The UK looked good (in Gordons’ good eye anyway) at international symposia such as the G8 or G20 and soon wonderful Copenhagen. Such actions keep the arms industry in operation and many thousands employed in areas traditionally associated with high unemployment.
On the money side conventional warfare is also cheap, the Treasury likes that, having dipped into and virtually emptied the secret off balance sheet military ‘contingency fund’ or ‘war chest’ to pay off (or bail out) the bankers, prop up the massive underfunding of the Olympics, the private sector was supposed to have filled.
The truth is that few really understanding what goes on inside the many privately funded faith schools, parents and young impressionable people also have access to superior worldwide family and wider networking avenues only open and normal to people of Asian origin. All perfectly legal and supported to the hilt, by the Human Rights Act.
It also has to be said, the traditional British family unit crumbled a few generations back. As to the UK’s world financial standing, reading The Daily Telegraph as the Taliban certainly do, “UK is ‘skint’ says M&S’s Sir Stuart Rose”. If the Taliban didn’t know it earlier they certainly do now!
So no strong public backing for the war, no extra money to fight it and a Government on the way out probably by late March. MP’s collectively tarnished as corrupt with Duckhouses and moats to clean, all out of the public purse. Whilst mounting job losses are announced daily and not just in the hundreds but thousands. Nothing like a good recession to have a bottom upwards corporate clear out, it’s not looking good.
The USA Fort Worth killings allegedly by a lone shooter US Army Medic Major Nidal Hasan, who according to a neighbour wrote in arabic "Allah" on his apartment front door underlines the crass stupidity of the Gordon Brown position on Afghanistan, the terrorist threat is now clearly well organised and from within. Let me make it clear from within the UK, USA, France, Germany in fact every country.
A weak, corrupt Afghanistan Government and subsistence level poorly paid Afghan trainee police officers drawn from the general population, with minimal vetting. Extra income and wider families covertly maintained by the opium warlords and in a country where everyone is related. That is what our troops are facing, and Gordon Brown knows it.
So what should be done. Gordon needs to save face. He’s lost his saintly spin doctor, rudderless if you like, nervous about returning highly professional motivated battle hardened but disciplined British troops en-mass to the UK, but that is what has to be done, the real threat is from within and as we are now fully within Europe, the Lisbon treaty having been ratified, take full advantage of it.
Europe can now collectively take over the Police training role and supply on a rota basis, the NATO troops required, our insular role is effectively done and dusted. We should leave Afghanistan, within weeks and if there is any training to be done, it can be carried out at arms length in neutral territory in any one of a number of European countries.
We’ll continue to supply the hardware and remote drone assisted air support but our British troops on the ground in hostile conditions? This is the battle tactic of 64 years ago, the Battle of the Somme without the mud. Just as futile and pointless.
The heartbreaking thing is that all the Ministers know it, but have to keep it going until they can collectively pass the buck or baton to a new administration. “Not our problem old boy. Fancy a pink Gin?”
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