For God's sake, get out of Afghanistan now

First published in Peter Mullen The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

‘SANDHURST in the sand.” With this dilapidated slogan our rulers announced their plan to build a military college in Afghanistan to train that country’s soldiers according to the excellence of the traditional British model.

This strategy is about as practicable as a plan to build a snowman in the Sahara.

Have we learnt nothing from the catastrophic failure of our 19th century campaigns in Afghanistan? Or the Russian failure which was certain as soon as it began on Christmas Day in 1979? Or from the present failure?

Why does the Government persist in a policy of maintaining troops there when this results only in the loss of hundreds of our brave young soldiers?

And I do know whereof I speak. I am Chaplain to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Association and a couple of years ago we lost six of our men out there in a matter of weeks The supposition that we are there for “nation building,” for the purpose of bringing “democracy” to that country or for helping with “the education and liberation of women” is only fanciful.

The entire place is a maelstrom of warring factions, tribal conflicts, religious strife and a culture of perpetual mutual vengeance.

Moreover, we have announced that we intend to leave soon. Obviously, the Taliban and the other local combatants will play it cool until that time and then resume their war against Hamid Karzai’s regime – perhaps the most corrupt government in the world.

Our original purpose in entering Afghanistan was to express solidarity with our US allies in their war against al Quaida.

That war was successful in a very short time.

Al Quaida is a spent force in Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden is dead. Al Quaida is, by the way, very much alive and well in dozens of states, including Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Indonesia and, through its extremely murderous surrogates, in Nigeria. Is it proposed that we invade those countries too?

This is only one part of a much wider crisis.

The western world – and particularly Britain and the EU countries – are conspiring in their own destruction. How the mass media rejoiced to see the revolutions in Libya, Egypt and across the Middle East: the so called Arab Spring with well-dressed young radicals orchestrating uprisings on their mobile phones. The naive supposition was that these revolutions would see the planting of democracy.

The reality is much more sinister. It is the spectre of Islamic fundamentalism and militancy taking over failed states and fomenting conflict.

Just take Egypt for one example. Power in that country is now overwhelmingly with the doctrinaire Muslim Brotherhood and its even more religiously radicalised colleagues in parties representing Islamic extremism. Last year the Muslim Brotherhood solemnly declared that no member of their party would seek the Egyptian presidency. Last month, they reversed this decision. So we face the prospect of Egypt as a totalitarian Muslim state: Egypt as another Iran.

In other words, the West has problems far more immediate and intractable than anything taking place in Afghanistan.

To misquote Oliver Cromwell, we have stayed in Afghanistan too long for any good we might do there.

We should leave and, in the name of God, leave quickly.

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