Sunday, 5 October 2008

Should we make a deal with the Taliban and pull out of Afghanistan?

Some parts of the Middle East, notably parts of Iraq and Afghanistan are too dangerous for reporters to venture, so we do not really know what is going on.
So from time to time, we are told that things are going well in Afghanstan. Prince Harry loves it out there. He would far rather be there than at home, he said on a TV interview.
But consider this. Our troops have been there for nearly 7 years, and although by now they should have started leaving, in fact we are putting more in. This is a sign of it NOT working.
And now Brig Mark Carleton-Smith has confirmed what we suspected. We are wasting money, lives and resource out there. We are causing more ham than good. We should settle with the Taliban and leave.
If we could do better, then why have we not already done better?
I went to a fringe meeting at Lib Dem conference last month where Paddy Ashdown presented his solution to the problem. It was good to see that he has taken on the lesson learnt from Iraq, he gave a very realistic analysis of the country I thought.
As for his solutions, I would say that most of the pieces fitted, but some did not.
I asked him how he expected local people to "defeat" the Taliban. He clarified that his view of them was more nuanced, and only some parts of the Taliban should be defeated. He then said that we had been in Northern Ireland for 35 years, implying that is how long it might take in Afghanistan. If that really is a timescale you are considering, I would suggest you do not have a viable plan. Northern Ireland, and within it the IRA was a much smaller scale problem in a culturelly similar country.
If it took 35 years there, I dread to think about Afghanistan. 35 years really means no idea how long it will take.
So I was not persuaded by that. Many of the peices in the plan fitted. But for the plan to work, the most important pieces must fit, and I do not think they do.
There is a price to pay either way. There are 3 main objections to the Taliban;
1/ They raise money by selling drugs
2/ They might habour Al Qaeda again.
3/ From a Liberal point of view, we loathe them because of their human rights abuses.
My solution does not fix these problems. But then neither does anyone elses. Having to make this choice is indicative of how the power of the West has seeped away...

There is no perfect solution. Withdrawing our troops is the least worst solution.

No comments: