We should not abandon Afghanistan

To abandon Afghanistan now would be a betayal of the fallen.  The campaign to defeat the Taliban must endure, says Boris Johnson - whatever it takes.
I'll tell you why we are in Afghanistan. I could show you the crater in downtown Manhattan, the place they call Ground Zero. They still haven't built over it, eight years on, and it remains like a great open wound on the American psyche, a reminder of the hideous terrorist attack that was launched from the Afghan lair of Osama bin Laden. We have 9,000 troops in Afghanistan because the Americans have 70,000 troops there, and because America is our closest ally. We enlisted with America in the cause of driving out the Taliban extremists who were harbouring bin Laden. And whatever the Independent on Sunday may demand, we will remain in Afghanistan, shoulder to shoulder with America, for as long as the mission endures. For us to pull out now – immediately, unilaterally – would not only be to let down Britain's most vital geo-strategic alliance, it would be this country's biggest military humiliation since Suez. Boris Johnson adds that "We are there with the Americans not just because it is our function to be their loyal lieutenant, the fidus Achates of Washington. We are there with the Americans in Afghanistan because the Americans are right to be there. We are there because our forces are doing their level best to improve the lives of the people of that poverty-stricken country. We are there to try our hardest to teach them the value of democracy and of educating women. We are there to do what we can to wean them off the opium crop. Of course, no one could pretend that things are going well. Yes, it is difficult to promote women's liberation and democracy and drains and habeas corpus when you have a constant risk of attack by a resurgent Taliban. How can our troops hope to deal with the opium crop when the very brother-in-law of President Karzai turns out to be one of the biggest drugs gangsters of the lot? Of course, it is depressing that British soldiers fought and died to ensure that Afghans in Helmand could vote – and yet one in three of the ballots turns out to have been fraudulent. The position is grim. But what is the alternative? The answer is that the alternative is even grimmer. I have an Afghan sister-in-law, and she remembers the chaos and the carnage when the Russians finally pulled out in 1989. She doesn't want the Taliban to take over the entire country, as they did before. She doesn't want Afghanistan to become a giant version of the Taliban mini-state of Waziristan. Are we really going to follow the advice of the Independent on Sunday, haul up the white flag, bring our troops home, and consign Afghanistan to a bunch of thugs and religious maniacs? Never mind the damage that would do to American interests, or the interests of the people of Afghanistan. Surrender is not in British interests, either. It is true that most British terror suspects are linked to Pakistan rather than Afghanistan. But if we surrender Afghanistan to the jihadis and the extremists, then what hope for Pakistan? It is already hard enough to keep track of those young men who leave Britain for sinister camps in the tribal regions of Pakistan. If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, the whole region will become a playground for the would-be terrorists. The problem with our mission to Afghanistan is not our Armed Forces. The trouble is a lack of political will, seeping from one side of the Atlantic to the other. In Washington, President Obama has now spent 10 weeks hearing various recommendations on General McChrystal's request for more troops. The President has many fine qualities but his gestation of this question is starting to make Gordon Brown look like a man of mamba-like decisiveness. Meanwhile, the people of Britain have apparently taken fright at the number of fatalities, and a procession of superannuated generals has made it way to the airwaves or to the red benches of the House of Lords to denounce the Government and to accuse the politicians of "betraying our boys." The generals are right to say we can't be there forever, and we should certainly pull out if the mere presence of western troops is starting to cause more problems than it solves. If the International Security Assistance Force is nothing more than a recruiting-sergeant for the Taliban, then the game is obviously up. But we are not there yet. Whatever their misgivings, the retired generals seem to agree that we cannot pull out immediately. That being so, we need to work like blazes over the next three or four years to make the operation a success – or as close to a success as possible. That means Obama has to make his mind up pronto, preferably in favour of the 40,000 troops requested by McChrystal. Naturally, we need to make sure that British troops have all the equipment they need, and it is obvious that they should long ago have been equipped with more helicopters. But we also need less sniping from the generals and, above all, we need the Prime Minister to give this country a clearer sense of what this operation is about – and why we should not back down. I never thought I'd say this, but the abject failure of Gordon Brown to offer a clear and inspiring explanation of what we are doing in Afghanistan is not only a failure of leadership. It is just about the only time we have missed Tony Blair. It may be right to say the war is not "winnable" in the short term. But that is true of many noble struggles. It doesn't mean the war is not worth fighting. To pull out now, and abandon Afghanistan to its fate, would be the biggest betrayal of those who have given their lives so far." For the full version see The Daily Telegraph

21 thoughts on “We should not abandon Afghanistan”

  1. Nope, sorry Boris, don’t agree. We are not at war with Pakistan and London is not Manhattan. Bring our troops home. Now.

    And like Christopher Hitchens I could give you a list of things I haven’t missed and just don’t bother me; the absence of Tony Bliar is one. But unlike Christopher I would like the Tories to be more reactionary and not blue labour.

  2. I can understand your reluctance to in any way to praise Bliar, but can you be sure what Bliars reaction would have been ? what relationship would he be having with an America not run by Bush ? There would be no one to tell him what to do, he would be sat around waiting for Obama’s decision like the rest of us.
    As for Afghanistan, it is getting to be a Vietnam situation, we can’t leave, but we have no guarantee of achieving anything like the result we want to achieve, so how do we get out ?
    I suppose if we have to stand next to someone it might as well be a very tightly controlled Karzai as opposed to an inevitabley hopelessly disastrous implantation of a suitable government. It started as a religious war, it has become (no surprise) a war about who gets left in charge and creams off the money.

  3. Britain is a member of the EU and Nato. How come other members of the EU have sent less troops ( or none at all ) to this war zone than Britain. So unfair that even Gordon Brown has now declared he won’t send any more British troops to this war zone unless the other member countries agree to send their ( or more ) troops of their own.

    Surely all member countries had to contribute equally in any matters?

    Why should our British troops stay put in this war zone and sacrifice their lives for the whole EU? Even the Italian troops have bribed the Taliban not to shoot them http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1111626/Italians-'bribing-Taliban'-

    Even Gordon Brown refused to bow at the Cenotaph yesterday while at work we all knew that we ought to bow our heads slightly without being told. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/campaigns/our_boys/2720233/Bloody-shameful-Gordon-Brown.html

    Shame on Britain’s socialist Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Shame on you.

  4. @Ray Veysey: I can be sure what Bliars reaction would have been; whatever profited Blair. And how do we get out of Afghanistan? We leave and declare it a success. Bigger lies have been sold and swallowed. Mostly by Blair. Don’t think Brown up to that job though. A leadership challenge might be the catalyst.

  5. @Philipa: . the problem Philipa is that in this case the lies about success might be followed up by a denial in Semtex form, or something equally undesirable in the UK itself.

  6. Are we sure that El Qaeda still has Taliban link? It would not surprise me if EQ had already abandoned Afghanistan as a suitable HQ – – -leaving the Western expeditionary forces struggling with the admirable if herculean task of attempting to reform a tribal territory- – –
    IM

  7. Philipa – You seem to be forgetting the 07/07 attacks. We should be there fighting for the memories of all those that lost their lives on that day. We should be fighting to ensure that such a tradgedy never happens. It is cowardice like yours that makes me embarrassed to be British!

  8. Knock it off Robert D, leave Philipa alone. Since when has speaking your conscience been cowardice. I am a great supporter of our military and if I thought there was anything to be gained by us being there I would say they should stay. It is the cowardice of certain politicians and even SOME military top brass that offends me. Have they learnt nothing from the so called “Great Game” of the nineteenth century. It seems to have descended into a “we’re there because we’re there” scenario.It is an insult to the soldiers and the citizens of this country that, while the soldiers are out there dying and being horribly injured, the politician’s and the judiciary allow hatemongers and those that mean us no good at all to walk the streets freely because they are in thrall to liberal left political correctness. That’s true cowardice! I believe the British have enough courage to deal with all eventualities and have a right to express an honest opinion.
    If you must flaunt your “patriotism”, Robert D, try “training your guns” on the real enemy and be more careful with that particular C word!

  9. @circus monkey: Thanks, I am with your argument completely.
    @Robert D: I’m not forgetting anything and as I understand it the 7/7 bombings were carried out by British muslims annoyed at Britain being engaged in war in the middle east. Go figure. Unless you think we should be bombing innocent people in Leeds as well as Afghanistan? Would that “ensure that such a tradgedy never happens” again?? I sincerely hope our foreign policies are a little more emotionally evolved. Although in politics nothing is guaranteed.

  10. How can British troops stay put in Afghanistan and carry on fighting, sacrificing their lives for nothing when their Labour government hasn’t even really wanted to support them?

    ” Four ex-military chiefs told Gordon Brown on Friday 6.11.2009 that the Armed Forces ” felt he has never really been on their side and they have not had his support “.

    Other EU’s NATO member countries don’t even want to get involved in this aimless war.

    Read more at http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/campaigns/our_boys/2720283/Prime-Minister-Gordon-Brown-couldnt-even-get-our-name-right.html

    ——————————————–
    ” David Miliband lashes the Tories for picking Polish allies with shadowy wartime histories. Yet he is silent about a Labour hero who betrayed THIS country.

    UNION giant Jack Jones was dubbed the most powerful man in Britain during the strike-happy 1970s that brought the country to its knees. Now we know he WAS a paid KGB agent. Say something, Milly. ”

    ( Trevor Kavanagh, Political Editor, The Sun newspaper 9.11.09 )
    ———————————————

    ” SURVIVE? NO, WE’D THRIVE OUTSIDE E.U ”
    by Trevor Kavanagh, Political Editor, The Sun, 9.11.09
    http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/media/2009/11/the-sun-trevor-kavanagh-survive-no-wed-thrive-outside-eu.html

    … There will only be one question – IN or OUT http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119360 . And if the polls are to be believed, only one answer.

    If Britain decided to quit, it would shake the foundations of the European dream and put the whole undemocratic enterprise at risk.

    Brussels will make it as difficult as possible to quit. But no treaty is unbreakable.

    Can we survive outside the EU? We should do better than that.

    A new publication ” TEN YEARS ON – BRITAIN WITHOUT THE EUROPEAN UNION ” describes how the unshackled UK would thrive as an independent nation.

    Threats of boycott are just bluff. As a net importer, they need our markets just as much as we need theirs. The book, published by The Taxpayers’ Alliance, describes how our economy would be liberated from EU waste, fraud and red tape. Potential savings are immense. For a start, we would stop subsidising the grotesque Common Agricultural Policy which cost UK taxpayers £10billion this year. Another £3billion is swallowed by The Common Fisheries Policy. Europe’s crazy VAT fraud carousel costs £80billion a year.

    Not only would we shed these costs, we would be free to trade toe to toe in world markets without the EU wagging its willy, I mean its finger under our noses. The book explains how Brussels meddles in every nook and cranny of our daily lives – from our courts and prisons to health and safety, from immigration to the amount of water used to flushed your smelly toilets.

    Some EU states – not least Germany – are beginning to buckle under the strain of keeping this lumbering giant on its feet. ” If you trade something, make something, sell something, police something, transport something, grow something, burn something, bury something, BRUSSELS has a say in it, ” says the book’s author, Dr Lee Rotherham.

    Like a copy? The Sun newspaper’s readers and everybody else are very welcomed to order one FREE from the website http://www.greatEUdebate.com

  11. Firstly rest in peace to all those who have died

    i think in my mind it should not be
    ‘we should not abandon Afghanistan’
    but
    ‘we should not of entered Afghanistan’
    This is only my view but…..

    i cant quite understand why we are sending many of our young men and women out to die for a reason other than to protect our country.
    these soldiers are all sons daughters mothers and fathers.
    all of these family’s are now missing a a member.

    in the world wars we fought for king and country to protect this land of hope and glory.
    now we are sending out many a man and women to fight in a war against an enemy with no conscience who use tactics which are more than below the belt.
    Not only this but we are on enemy territory so we spend so much money on teams of specially trained men to scout the area’s and make them safe before we can even send our soldiers in.
    I doubt anyone who joined up were expecting to be placed in this sort of situation where we are not fighting for england but for another country and their well being.

    Fair enough the human rights argument where these people are being treated like they are nothing does make you believe that we are doing the right thing.
    But apart from us and the americans who else are fighting for these people?
    How have we come to be involved in a battle for a distant country when they are not attacking us?
    If you take other countries such as china and japan they have such a large population and could have this war over and done with alot faster than we could.
    we have our heads of goverment such as gordon brown or previously tony blair and americas bush and obama sending out troops to fight this war….
    but how does this really affect them?
    Do we see them on the battlefield fighting for this cause or do we see them handing out orders like sweeties not thinking twice of what this is doing to these brave people and their families.
    warfare not only worries loved ones sick but can easily also destroy the mind of the soldiers themselves!

    People say that we can stop terrorists etc by fighting this war but at the end of the day terrorists are not confined to a country but the world.
    if someone gets an idea and finds enough easily influenced people looking for a cause they can turn them into terrorists with ease.
    i mean we have people arrested in our own country who either have the ideas in their heads, documentation, weaponry to commit such a vile act, and many people who are preachng this way of thinking to large groups of people.
    There is no way we can stop terrorism full stop by gaining control over a place such as this.

    i feel that the underlying cause for this battle is control of terratory to have better access to oil, somewhere further out to place troops and reserves should we actually go to war, and whatever other hidden reasons that the goverment may have.
    (unfortunetly our poor solders are facing death for this)
    disagree with me if you must but this is only my view .

    think, with troops armoury and tanks etc out there should there be a ‘world war 3’ we are at an advantage as we dont have to spend time getting our first troops out into the war zone , instead we already have the first wave much further inland ….well it is true .
    The reason this war is lasting so long is so (i believe) that we can keep our troops out there as long as possible to keep our saftey net in place.
    By rights we could of won tis cause alot sooner but we are taking our time for a reason.
    (my apolageis to any troops out there who believe differently, if you are fighting for this cause in belief it is soley human rights etc and truly want to fight and die for that cause then i wish you all the luck in the world )

    # Back many years ago the king would be the one leading the army for a cause he believed in and would be willing to die for this.

    # do we see any of our leaders do the same?

    # we are not fighting and dying for our own welfare.But that of another country.

    # in the world wars everyone knew exactly what they were fighting for.

    # I doubt half the involved countries population know the reasons now.

    # in the world wars if we were not fighting our civilians would die/ be under control of another country / ruler and propbably loose the power of free speech and free will.
    Is this the case now?

    # even those who are ot directly involved in the war are sufferng, losing family friends colleauges etc.

    i do not agree with this war, in fact i do agree with war full stop.
    in this day and age we should know better than to use violence like this. which includes those at the source of the problem not just those fighting to stop them.
    how long will we continue to mame and kill our own race before we are happy, we dont see this in the animal world and unless your slightly less than compus mentus you have no reason to kill others for food either!
    Why are we so addicted to power and control of both land and people?
    Why can we not just live along side each other in peace is it so hard ?

    But then as in my pericles post we just cant be happy without conflict sadly. Maybe if humans actually were able to use the whole of minds instead of the little we are able to at the moment we might think twice and work out that we should just try and be happy and take life easy and cause ourselves as little stress as possible.

    we hang our heads and start to sigh,
    we shed tears in fear we cry,
    for our loved ones who are sent to die,
    under gunfire and bloodred skies,
    we watch the time just pass on by,
    we will never know but we can try,
    to imagine what its really like,
    for those soldiers who stand and fight,
    we hold their hands in dreams at night,
    and wish each day they are alright,
    that each of them are sleeping tight,
    we send our love straight from our hearts,
    for those who lie awake in dark,
    and cry each day they remain apart,
    we wish you luck each female and man,
    who fight this war
    on forgien land
    in towns rough terrain or,
    surrounded by sand
    although not everyone’s sure
    of the cause
    we just cant understand

    by jdf

    p.s

    …..we hope you all ok out there………

  12. Good Evening,

    I would like to register my comment here, if I may?

    It has caught my attention that The Mayor of London B. Johnson Esq. has installed his website with a new comment rating system which is very high-tech indeed. Unfortunately, I am unsure if it was a good idea as this comment rating system makes me wonder if:

    – Only comments which were awarded some ratings are worthy ones and vice versa?

    – Comments with low ratings are evil ones which need to be removed from view?

    – Certainly, commenters are entitled to their views whether we agree with them or not, are they not?

    – Hence, all comments should be displayed ON this page equally, should they be not?

    – Hiding any comments with low ratings is equivalent to moving them to the trash bin, is it not?

    – Doing that is equivalent to taping the mouth of a human being with a whole roll of duct tape because of his views, is it not?

    – Which amounts to a breach of freedom of speech, does it not?

    – Certainly, some commenters do not wish their comments be awarded any kinds of ratings and should be able to declare their wish at the end of their comments, should they be not?

    I, hereby, do not wish this comment of mine to attract any kinds of ratings nonsense.

    Yours sincerely,

    Dame Katherine Ginseng

  13. @Dame Katherine Ginseng: it does not irretrievably hide the comment – it does give the option to click and read. Websites such as those of major broadsheet newspapers like The Telegraph do not allow comments immediately; they go through a screening process and I speak from experience. The rating option is a harmless extra application we believe.

  14. Yeah, I’m with Dame something ( roll eyes ).

    If there was a comment rating option for Boris’s articles, anti-Afghanistan war people would have voted this pro-Afghanistan war article down and have it banished to the bin!

    Mr Shut That-Door MP

    The Right Honest Honourable Member of The Parliament
    OBE, CBE, MBE and KGB awarded

  15. Boris, I am not saying you should pull out. But you need to learn the lessons from Vietnam. The Taliban do not walk around wearing badges saying who they are. If you kill innocent civilians while you occupy this country – this will only strengthen their resolve. The nation is very tribal and I cannot see us installing democracy down the barrel of a gun. The solution is never going to be easy, however, watching funerals every week is not a price worth paying. I know we are probably duty bound to help the Americans, but this war does’nt need to be so open – whereby our troops are slaughtered by IED’s. There should be more covert operations, preferably airbourne – and a end to running commentaries on the news stations. Afghan security should also try and assist with more covert operations. The enemy is invisible and defeating them seems impossible.

  16. Ok, someone needs to study a little more before writing what they feel. Listen, that little crater in NY had NOTHING to do with our occupation of Afghanistan. It was done due to our ties with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Afghanistan was done as a show of force and to claim the oil that they were burning.

  17. The real reason they don’t want to abandon Afghanistan is, because of the Exxon Mobile’s pipeline pumping oil from Afghanistan. George Bush Jr. brags he went to Iraq for the oil, to show off to his affluent friends. So instead of half the national deficit, we have it double, they want to build permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, so big oil, and the Republican’s can get rich. So why do they want to make Afghanistan a permanent duty station so they can protect the interest’s of big oil and the pipeline, before they started drilling and pumping oil out of Afghanistan, the country was considered the largest untapped oil resource in the world. They don’t talk much about the pipeline now because the Billionaire’s and corporations have silence everyone. I don’t vote and support neither party, nor will I be a registered voter, ever, because I never register to vote. George Bush Jr and the Republican party wanted to control the oil infrastructure of Iraq, and Afghanistan to enrich themselves, Billions traded for the corporations, while America accumulated Trillions in national debt, not such a good trade off, but it was for 1% of the population. The people of Afghanistan live simple lives as farmers and ranchers, living off of mountain goats, and sheep’s, and simple crops, too stupid to realize what they have an abundant source of natural resources that they do not benefit from, while Hamid Karzai hordes over 100 Billion in secret accounts for himself. The people of Afghanistan use horses and donkeys, and pick up trucks, as their main weapons, while military contractor’s keep building new weapon system’s for themselves and get richer, America goes down hill in debt. China owns 11% of the national debt, and Japan owns 10% and they are over 200% over GDP in national debt. So who owns most of the national debt Private Security Firms profiting off the national debt of the U.S. They want to go to war with Iran that will cost the U.S. 90 Billion a year, instead of executing precision strikes. Like Iraq, they always have known, since they have too much oil, no economic sanction will work, and only by declaring a full scale war can they actually bring about change.The real reason they don’t want to abandon Afghanistan is, because of the Exxon Mobile’s pipeline pumping oil from Afghanistan. George Bush Jr. brags he went to Iraq for the oil, to show off to his affluent friends. So instead of half the national deficit, we have it double, they want to build permanent bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, so big oil, and the Republican’s can get rich. So why do they want to make Afghanistan a permanent duty station so they can protect the interest’s of big oil and the pipeline, before they started drilling and pumping oil out of Afghanistan, the country was considered the largest untapped oil resource in the world. They don’t talk much about the pipeline now because the Billionaire’s and corporations have silence everyone. I don’t vote and support neither party. George Bush Jr and the Republican party wanted to control the oil infrastructure of Iraq, and Afghanistan to enrich themselves, Billions traded for the corporations, while America accumulated Trillions in national debt, not such a good trade off, but it was for 1% of the population. The people of Afghanistan live simple lives as farmers and ranchers, living off of mountain goats, and sheep’s, and simple crops, too stupid to realize what they have an abundant source of natural resources that they do not benefit from, while Hamid Karzai hordes over 100 Billion in secret accounts for himself. The people of Afghanistan use horses and donkeys, and pick up trucks, as their main weapons, while military contractor’s keep building new weapon system’s for themselves and get richer, America goes down hill in debt. China owns 11% of the national debt, and Japan owns 10% and they are over 200% over GDP in national debt. So who owns most of the national debt Private Security Firms profiting off the national debt of the U.S. They want to go to war with Iran that will cost the U.S. 90 Billion a year, instead of executing precision strikes. Like Iraq, they always have known, since they have too much oil, no economic sanction will work, and only by declaring a full scale war can they actually bring about change.

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