Gordon’s Great Game
Punch, April 1885. Brittania takes on Afghanistan
The blood runs cold at the report in Saturday’s Guardian that Britain is to launch a major escalation of its losing war in Afghanistan. After the collapse of the British military occupation of southern Iraq, now controlled by a variety of religio-criminal mafias, it might have been imagined that the government would have learned some humility. Not a bit of it.
As our so-called Nato allies sit for the most part on their hands, refusing to involve themselves with what is plainly an impossible mission, Whitehall has come up with a plan that suggests that much of the poppy being grown in Hellmand is being smoked in some opium den in a corner of the MoD.
The Big Idea is to involve the entirety of the parachute regiment, and even Eurofighter aircraft and Merlin helicopters, to overwhelm an “insurgency” that draws its fighters from a tribal group with a population estimated at 40 million. But of course it is not really an insurgency because the corrupt, incompetent, puppet Afghan government in Kabul enjoys not a shred of legitimacy in the south of the country.
Gordon Brown, whose claim to prudence becomes thinner by the hour, might have balked at this insane adventure. But not a bit of it. He and his part-time defense secretary, the robotic Des Browne, seem clinically psychotic, suffering from the delusion that their war on the Pashtun in Hellmand province, an utter failure so far, can somehow be brought to a successful military conclusion by the not so enormous might of the exhausted, under-resourced British armed forces.
The lies and fantasies of our Labour government on this subject are voluminous, starting with the claim to Parliament by former defense secretary John Reid that British troops could prevail in this mission without firing a shot. Two million rounds of ammunition later, with 82 British soldiers dead and hundreds maimed, not to forget thousands of Afghans killed and mutilated, the hare brained warriors of Whitehall are about to raise their bet on a losing hand.
Prepare for the British media to perform at their very worst. As this operation gets underway, we are going to be told of the bold, brave advances made by our boys and of thousands of Taliban killed. (Any Pashtun killed is automatically “Taliban”.) And then what? Does anyone seriously believe that the Pastun tribal areas will suddenly come to order?
What is the objective of this insane military adventure? What is the exit strategy? How long are we supposed to attempt to pacify Afghanistan? Ten years? Twenty years? The very last thing we should expect is an honest answer to these questions.