Ashdown on Afghanistan

by Stephen Tall on July 19, 2007

A sober assessment of the current situation from former Lib Dem leader, Lord Paddy Ashdown, in today’s Guardian. Here’s how it starts:

In July 2006, Britain’s highly respected commander of international forces in Afghanistan, General David Richards, issued a stark warning: “Afghanistan is a good and winnable war but, at the pace we are proceeding, we need to realise that we could actually fail here.” A year on, as yesterday’s defence committee report indicates, we are indeed beginning to fail in Afghanistan.

Failure is not yet inevitable. But it is now likely, and will remain likely until we increase resources and redress the disastrous failure of the international community to get its act together.

You can read it in full here.

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One comment

The original aim of the invasion was to destroy Al-Qaeda and it’s training grounds. That was done. Getting rid of the government that haboured them was also important. Thereafter the primary objective of US forces was to capture OBL. The stability of the new government was simply assumed, and the US went on to invade Iraq.
The potential for a viable government was unlike in Iraq relatively good as the opposition could unite around the Northern Alliance.
The problem was that Iraq, with their oil wealth, simply took priority.
Iraq is now lost and Afghanistan probably is as well. 2 years ago I would have said pull the troops out of Iraq and do what you can in Afghanistan.
Today the south and east of Afghanistan is lost and we need to consider whether we can save the rest from Taliban rule.
As Paddy Ashdown says, the stakes are high for what might happen in Pakistan. He did not mention it, but Pakistan has nuclear weapons and the last thing we would want is for an anti-Western government to get their hands on them.
This is really the most desperate state of affairs, and should be getting a lot more attention.
Personally I do not see an obvious set of good policy options that can get us out of this.

by Geoffrey Payne on July 19, 2007 at 9:23 pm. Reply #

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