This war against the Taliban is part of a post-imperial spasm. The longer it is waged, the graver the consequences
Wednesday August 8, 2007
".....To the British left, Afghanistan was always the "good" war and Iraq the "bad" one. It is permitted for ministers to assert that they were "privately opposed" to Iraq so long as Afghanistan is seen as a worthy cause. With Britain at its helm, Afghanistan would be all it was not under the Americans. It would make Britain look macho. It would revitalise the UN and Nato after perceived debacles in former Yugoslavia and it would fulfil Britain's historic role as nation-builder to the world.
Iraq is post-imperialism for fast learners, Afghanistan for slow ones. While the concept of a benign outcome in Iraq is strictly for armchair crazies, such an outcome remains received wisdom in Afghanistan. The British ambassador, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, is building himself an embassy to compare with America's in Baghdad and has forecast a British military presence of 30 years. Brigadier John Lorimer in Helmand says he can suppress insurgency in 10 years but will need "longer than 30" to establish good governance. Such things were being said in Iraq until two years ago, when the body bags began to talk......
Getting out of Basra is now a firm diktat of British defence planning. The only sensible question in Kabul is how long before the same diktat applies there. The longer it takes to blow away Ashdown's "bewilderment" the weaker the alliances engineered by Karzai over the past three years will become and the more certain his fall will be. The longer Whitehall thinks it can win a war against the Taliban, the more it risks tearing Pakistan apart and sucking Iran into the conflict, both of which would be completely daft. Yet that is where liberal intervention is now leading. It is a post-imperial spasm, a knee-jerk jingoism and plain dumb."