Our Battle Plan's Lost in Barack's
Posted by Fraser at 8 48 PM on Saturday, November 14
WHY are we in Afghanistan? We all know Gordon Brown can’t answer. And for once, I don’t blame him.
To beat the Taliban? To back the Afghan government? To close down terror camps? To stop the poppy trade?
It’s all down to Barack Obama. He can’t decide — and while he ponders, his allies are twisting in the wind.
There’s no point pretending. Britain has NO independent mission in Afghanistan: We’re an adjunct of the US Army.
We’re all waiting for orders. Nine weeks ago, US General Stanley McChrystal asked for 40,000 more troops. Obama is thinking. And thinking. As he does, we’re all thinking: What’s it all about? What are we doing there?
I used to think victory meant keeping the peace — and steadily handing power to an Afghan government.
But last month’s fraudulent elections make it horribly clear: Hamid Karzai’s government is rotten to the core.
Outside Kabul, ‘government’ means racketeering tax collectors, a predatory police force and terrorising armies.
You could argue that the Afghan police are no worse than Uzbek police or the Pakistani police. But Obama doesn’t. He doesn’t argue anything. This strategic dither in Washington is draining support for the war worldwide.
The expectation is that Obama will fudge it, and give the military about half the troops they want.
But McChrystal has only asked for what he needs. If he gets half, he can’t guarantee half a victory.
Last week, Brown delivered his best speech yet on Afghanistan. He actually does have a strategy ready to go.
He’d pull out of outposts like Musa Qala. Beef up core areas such as Kandahar City and Lashkar Gah. Create oases of stability.
And at the same time, he’d start a ‘decapitation’ strategy: That is, use intelligence to identify and kill Taliban chiefs. The SAS believe they can execute the leaders of the groups which plant roadside bombs. It worked in Iraq.
The troops want two things from London: More resources, and LESS ambition. Brown, to his credit, will do both. But even he needs the nod. There’s no point Britain doing something without America. We just don’t have the scope.
And then, we need a mission. This means ditching the lie that Afghanistan is somehow making British streets safe.
As Brown repeatedly tells us, most terror plots are hatched in Pakistan. Jihadis have everything there: Why move?
Then there’s Sudan. Or Somalia. Or (in the case of the London 7/7 bombers) Dewsbury, Aylesbury and Leeds.
Terrorists have a whole lawless world to plot in. Afghanistan is a cold, rocky option on a planet of potential venues.
The reason to fight, and win, in Afghanistan is simple. If we pull out it will invite a whole world of new wars.
To lose, now, would be a shot in the arm for ALL jihadis. Their power would advance in the Muslim world. If they can defeat the almighty Britain and America — armed with a death wish and resolve — what would be next?
Small retreats invite bigger conflicts. Show you’re weak, and all sorts of others will come and have a go.
The Cuban missile crisis — almost World War III — came after John F Kennedy cocked up an attempted invasion of Cuba.
To the Soviets, this meant JFK was (to quote one Moscow official): “Too young, intellectual, not prepared for decision-making in crises.”
Remind you of anyone? If Obama decides to go half-cocked in Afghanistan, it will tell the world: He’s weak.
Weakness is more provocative than strength. Even Brown knows this. But all he can do is wait for Washington.
And it seems, right now, that Obama’s indecision is final.