Wednesday, January 04, 2006

More UK troops on the way to Afghanistan

Simon Jenkins is absolutely scathing about the UK government's decision to send 3400 troops to Afghanistan.

"In the next few weeks, an army of 3,400 British troops expects to be deployed to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. This is nearly half the number deployed in Iraq. Everything I have heard and read about this expedition suggests that it makes no sense. British soldiers are being sent to a poor and dangerous place whose sole economic resource is opium. They will sit there as targets for probably the most intractable concentration of insurgents, Taliban, drug traffickers and suicide bombers in the world - until some minister has the guts to withdraw them...

Eradicating Afghanistan's poppy crop was assigned to Britain after the 2001 war. Before Clare Short arrived to oversee this task, poppies were grown in just six of the 32 provinces. By the time she finished, the UN recorded production in 28 provinces and a record export value of £2.3bn dollars. It was probably Britain's most successful agricultural policy of all time...

The Helmand expedition arises from Blair's obsession with global machismo and his addiction to abstract nouns. If I were its designated leader, General David Richards, I would not disobey orders but I would ask to see Reid before leaving. I would grab him by his lapels, ram his head against the ministry wall and scream in his face: "Tell me what the hell you really mean by sending my soldiers to that godawful place?" If the reply is yet more waffle about upholding democracy and combating terror, I would storm out with such a door slam as could be heard the length of Britain."

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