Dear Editor, Because the decision-makers in the United States and here strongly suspect that the use of conventional forces has too many downsides and risks to wisely warrant their intervention in destabilised Afghanistan, their continued and increased employment in Helmand is in effect a political gambit for which the Armed Forces are merely pawns.
Helmand has already been lost once in 2001 and will likely be again. This has happened because President Barack Obama recognised in his White House campaign that had he urged the winding-down and withdrawal of forces from both Iraq and Afghanistan, media pressures from the right wing would have damned him as a hater of the United States flag, unpatriotic and a typical northern liberal, something which the American right wing has made a term of abuse since JFK. He would have lost the election.
So he trod softly, playing up to gung-ho passions by stating that US forces would go into the caves of Tora Bora to seize Osama Bin Laden and adopting the populist bellicose language of the so-called ‘surge’ which under superficial analysis is believed to have succeeded in Iraq.
As part of a series of trade-offs over the economy and the environment, Gordon Brown is anxious to buttress Obama within the USA, to help enable him to be the internationalist figure he wants him to be.
So, as always, it’s the soldiers who pay the piper for politicians who, as the trumpets play the Last Post, have suddenly qualified their support of the war and emerged from their foxholes to attempt to score points with the blood of young men.
Meanwhile, the Little Englander Tories who so cynically abandoned our warriors after the Falklands War are playing their old chestnut of ‘inadequate equipment’, so that they might better wrap themselves in the Union Jack.