Afghan bribes are the last straw. Bring our boys home!

With defeat staring us in the face the time has come to bring an end to our mission in Afghanistan.  The body count is rising and although some infrastructure improvements are being made, the fact is we are not winning the hearts and minds of the population, let alone the war.  The people there are not converting to western ideas of democracy and civic society.  Our strategy, if one existed, was flawed from the start and the efforts of our troops have been disgracefully undermined by the craven politicians and Whitehall bureaucrats.

As an exercise in nation building, Afghanistan is an abject failure.  Today Gordon Brown signalled clearly that Britain is desperate for a face saving way out.  In an interview he said that the only condition where the coalition in Afghanistan will engage with terrorists is “if they give up terrorist activities” and agree to become “citizens”.  But Brown has already run up the white flag.  It’s the endgame now.  These bribes are the last straw.  We must bring our boys home.  Paying bribes in Afghanistan is nothing new, but this overt effort to buy off our enemies with huge sums of money is sickening.

We haven’t brought change to Afghanistan.  While our military and police trainers maintain a stoic silence, when they would be well justified in highlighting major misgivings about the inevitable failure of our mission, in Germany there is no such discretion.  There, the announcement by Chancellor Angela Merkel that Berlin will signal a new ‘strategic direction’ by sending 500 more troops and police trainers to Afghanistan has sparked bitter complaints from the military and policing unions.  The comments of some present the reality of Afghanistan and futility of our efforts in a way our politicians would never allow here:

Rainer Wendt, head of the competing police union, called the German Police Union (DPolG), agreed with his colleague’s assessment. “The incoming Afghan police officers receive just a brief crash course from us,” he told the daily Stuttgarter Nachrichten. “We would already consider it a success if the future security personnel wouldn’t bash people on the head, cut off the hands of thieves and stone women.”

He also voiced concern that many of those trained by German police might join the Taliban once their instruction is complete. “We are training fighters for the Taliban,” Wendt said. “We should be concerned that many of the Afghan police candidates don’t even join the force after their training course. Instead, they go directly to the Taliban. They pay twice as much.” Afghan police officers earn $100 per month, according to the German Foreign Ministry.

It is not the sort of stiff upper lip assessment we are used to here.  Given this kind of insight, it would seem reasonable to assume the announcement today that £87m had been set aside to pay ‘low level’ Taliban fighters to lay down their arms and ‘reintegrate’ into Afghan society, isn’t going to achieve a damn thing.  When are western ‘elitist liberals’ going to understand the ordinary Afghan has a very different mindset to theirs?  When will they stop assuming ordinary Afghans will act with honour?  How many times do they have to witness Afghans switching sides at the drop of a hat during this conflict?

After taking the money we so generously dole out, what do we do if they decide to go back to their Talib masters and continue fighting our troops?  Do we write a bigger cheque?  Well that’s a question that no one seems willing or able to answer.  The Taliban is winning this war of attrition.  We have a paucity of troops, a lack of equipment and the cost of maintaining the military campaign is biting hard into the public purse.  Isn’t it time to dispense with futile gestures and face saving follies and accept that Afghanistan is a lost cause and get out?  This is not worth the loss of one more British life.

The idea of buying off Taliban fighters is the last throw of the dice for the NATO led alliance to give the illusion that in some way they finally overcame the insurgents.  It’s a waste of time.  This adventure was lost before it started because of the way we went about it.  It’s time to face reality.  Let’s get our fighting men and women out of Afghanistan, learn the valuable lessons it has taught us and come up with a strategy for tackling terrorist training camps and plots in a smarter way, perhaps with the use of special forces and tactics that are cheaper and in all likelihood more cost effective.

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2 Responses to “Afghan bribes are the last straw. Bring our boys home!”

  1. 1 Mike Spilligan 29/01/2010 at 6:46 pm

    What worries me more is that a backward 14-year-old could have worked out the bribe and counterbribe ploy – or 12 years old in Afghanistan. That is the problem when we have civil servants who have safe, comfortable lives, only a few get to travel beyond the usual Surbiton / Whitehall shuttle, and then only cocooned from the realities.

  2. 2 Kenomeat 29/01/2010 at 10:09 pm

    Surely this is the New Labour way; appeasement and bribery where they don’t have the will to give the army the resources they need to do the job properly. (See also their policy in Northern Ireland.) I am, however, in two minds over whether we should pull our troops out. If even the Germans are there then I guess we should be as well. But I don’t want any more British deaths.
    Perhaps the greatest service we could do in the fight against terrorism would be to have our troops sort out the terrorists in our own country. Then perhaps the US wouldn’t continue to see London as the source of the major threat to their safety.

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