Great merriment this morning despite the task of thawing out twenty plastic water-dispensers. The reason was letters received by two of us who are due to celebrate – wrong word – our eightieth birthday this year. The Department for Work and Pensions were delighted to confirm that our pensions increase by 25 pence per month as from the great day. As our fingers lost touch with reality, we amused ourselves with speculating about how we will spend such largesse. Sadly we had to conclude that it will not be enough to buy a knighthood.
But later we were in a more sombre mood when we read of yet another British soldier killed in Afghanistan. Many of us experienced loss in World War 2 and the pain lingers to this day. But at least we had the consolation of knowing that fathers and uncles died defending our island from the Nazi hordes. How people must feel when they receive heartbreaking news from Afghanistan is hard to imagine, there is no consolation to be found. No one really believes that the end result there will be any better than the beginning. Politicians have known this for a very long time, but saving their face is more important than saving the lives of young men engaged in a futile struggle.
Regular readers will know that we have always believed that, but now there is far more reliable evidence. It comes in the form of a leaked Nato report. A team of senior American officers have compiled a dossier based on interviews conducted with more than 4000 Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees. The findings are horrendous if unsurprising.
The report is headed ‘State of the Taliban’. It confirms that Afghan soldiers are selling their weapons and vehicles to the Taliban. Billions of dollars spent by the USA, Britain and other Western donors is providing a huge flow of weaponry, a good deal of which ends up in Miranshah, capital of North Waziristan in Pakistan’s tribal region. There the bazaar is “increasingly inundated with rifles, pistols and heavy weapons” which have been sold by Afghan security forces. The report adds that “vehicles and weapons are now regularly sold on or donated directly to the Taliban”. And it gives chapter and verse of the new Afghan security forces ceding territory without a fight, or even joining forces with the insurgents.
Taliban fighters believe that they have withstood the US troop surge and their return to power is “inevitable”, the document says. They believe they can easily subdue such sections of the Afghan forces that are loyal to President Hamid Karzai once his army and police take charge.
The report also says that the Pakistani government remains “intimately involved” with the insurgents, and many Taliban prisoners claimed that Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency is “thoroughly aware of Taliban activities and the whereabouts of all senior Taliban personnel”.
Astonishingly, the report goes on to provide details of “outright co-ordination, equipment transfers, intelligence sharing or occasionally even the incorporation of Afghan security forces in Taliban operations”. It adds that there is considerable evidence that Afghan police and soldiers hold regular ceasefires with insurgents in selected areas. And pledges from the security forces that they will support the Taliban in the longer term have been “signed and sealed”.
The conclusion of the report is sobering. Thousands of Taliban detainees, interviewed seperately, showed great confidence in the outcome of the ‘war’ and an undiminished belief in the ’cause’. They believe that the Karzai governmnet is corrupt, more importantly it is seen as corrupt by the majority of the people.
We should perhaps spare a thought for those people. Violence affecting the civilian population is at a higher level than at any time since the 2001 invasion. Spare a thought too for those members of the new Afghan security forces who are attempting to do an honest job. They operate in appallingly intimidatory conditions where the ‘enemy’ may well be the man next door. And their families are at constant risk. Sadly they appear to be in the minority and the recent decision by the French to withdraw their troops early was triggered by the death of four soldiers. All were killed by supposed Afghan colleagues.
In truth we didn’t need this report to tell us that our young men are dying in vain. Yesterday I watched Cameron and Miliband behaving like two boys in a school playground and I thought ye gods, the lives of our men rest in the hands of idiots such as these.
Even they must surely realise that too much blood has been spent, it is time to bring our troops home!
THINGS PEOPLE SAY; “Men are superior to women. For one thing, men can urinate from a speeding car”…..Will Durst “20 years ago there were all sorts of words you couldn’t say in front of a girl. Nowadays, you can say all the words, but you musn’t say ‘girl’ “…Tom Lehrer “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place”…..Billy Crystal “My wife is a sex object. Every time I suggest it she objects”….Les Dawson “I felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body. Then I was born”……Chris Bliss “For a father, a home birth is preferable. That way you’re not missing anything on TV”…..Jeremy Hardy “Adolescence is the stage between pubery and adultery”…..Denis Norden “At the end of every party there is always a girl crying”….Peter Kay