Sunday, 12 July 2009

Fight 'em on the beaches etc etc

The Government has taken a new stance in its attempts to convince us they are doing a good job. A new bogey-man has been deployed to stop Joe Public pressing that the troops come home from their exile in Afghanistan now it is clear that their sacrifices can never achieve any lasting improvement there. Brown first brought up the new spectre
Britain's offensive against the Taliban is showing signs of success, despite the heavy losses of recent days, says Gordon Brown.The Prime Minister said the campaign in Afghanistan was a "patriotic duty" to keep the streets of Britain safe from the threat of terrorist attack. In an interview with the British Forces Broadcasting Service, he paid tribute to the "sacrifice" of the 15 troops who had died since the start of the month in the bloodiest fighting the Army has seen in the Afghan campaign.
Britain's offensive against the Taliban is showing signs of success, despite the heavy losses of recent days, says Gordon Brown. "I know that this has been a difficult summer - it is going to be a difficult summer," he said. "These sacrifices that have hurt so many families in our country are ones that the whole of Britain will want to acknowledge."
Next it was the turn of his clear-eyed young acolyte David (Boy) Milliband who said 

Troops are fighting for the ‘future of Britain’ warns Foreign Secretary as the Afghanistan death toll rises. David Miliband spoke out following a surge in British casualties, which saw eight soldiers killed in just 24 hours.

This brings the death toll since combat began in 2001 to184, overtaking the 179 troops killed in Iraq.

Miliband today defended Britain’s continuing presence in Afghanistan saying that the country had to be secured to safeguard against future terror attacks on home soil.

He said: "We must ensure that Afghanistan can not again become an incubator for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on us.”

"This is about the future of Britain because we know that the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan have been used to launch terrible attacks, not just on the US but on Britain as well."

So, the USP of their published remarks is the avoidance of a war on terror being fought on the streets of England. Given the results of their  "War on" campaigns such as W.o. drugs, W.o. knives. W.o. want amongst many others the chance of a W.o. terror breaking out is something to be avoided like the plague.

If we are indeed fighting the W.o. terror as an away match, we seem to be missing the ground where it is being held. In 2002, analysts were reporting that Lt. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, who has taken over the command of the US-led campaign has admitted that the difficulties will grow because it will enable many, if not all, of the top Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders who are still lying low in small groups in Afghanistan, to flee into Pakistan.

Commander of the US-led forces in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hegenbeck, said in an interview that virtually the entire senior leadership of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda has been driven out of eastern Afghanistan and is now operating with as many as 1,000 non-Afghan fighters in the anarchic tribal areas of western Pakistan. He claimed on the strength of intelligence reports that the Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders were plotting terrorist attacks, including car and suicide bombing, to disrupt the selection of a new government in Afghanistan this month.

At least two senior Taliban leaders, Fazul Rabi Said-Rehman and Obidullah, have said in an interview that Taliban leaders are reorganising their militant religious movement and the Al-Qaeda was recovering fast. They said there was a split within Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, ISI, between those who share the Taliban’s ideology and those who support Pakistan’s alliance with the US. The two Taliban leaders who claimed that both Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden were alive, warned of some more suicide attacks on the US and Britain in retaliation for the war in Afghanistan.

So, not only have they placed themselves beyond the reach of significant Allied forces, but wherever they were they retained the ability to create terror in both UK and USA.

And then we have another view on the "War on ......" concept. The director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, put himself at odds with the home secretary and Downing Street last night by denying that Britain is caught up in a "war on terror" and calling for a "culture of legislative restraint" in passing laws to deal with terrorism.

Sir Ken warned of the pernicious risk that a "fear-driven and inappropriate" response to the threat could lead Britain to abandon respect for fair trials and the due process of law.

He acknowledged that the country faced a different and more dangerous threat than in the days of IRA terrorism and that it had "all the disturbing elements of a death cult psychology".

But he said: "It is critical that we understand that this new form of terrorism carries another more subtle, perhaps equally pernicious, risk. Because it might encourage a fear-driven and inappropriate response. By that I mean it can tempt us to abandon our values. I think it important to understand that this is one of its primary purposes."

Sir Ken pointed to the rhetoric around the "war on terror" - which has been adopted by Tony Blair and ministers after being coined by George Bush - to illustrate the risks.

He said: "London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, 'soldiers'. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a 'war on terror', just as there can be no such thing as a 'war on drugs'.

"The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement."

I see another attraction for a withdrawal of all our forces from Afghanistan. If AQ and its cohorts chose to further a war here, we would be fighting on a battleground where we have considerable advantages over the sandy place. We have something over 160,000 police. The 9,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan would be supplemented by the home reserve and there are those in Germany close at hand. I am sure that our intelligence gathering here would be more intensive and better targetted than it is now. We have Menwith Hill and CCHQ all involved in listening in to plots and plans. Take the prejudicial stance that anyone from a Muslim background could be a AQ operative or sympathiser and we wuld be able to target them on better 1 to 1 terms than the many in Helmund province. Anyone attempting to plant IED along the Mall or to set up mortars in Regent Street would come to notice. We have a fairly sophisticated cctv and number plate recognition network in place. The cost of supplying our overseas forces is considerable and a saving there could be applied to the crime prevention measures here.

For my money, I would be much happier with a crime prevention operation here rather than a war in Afghanistan. All we do there is irritate a lot of the people. Any determined assault we mount leads to civilian deaths by nature of the grossl;y disproportionate force deployed. There are no rules to this game. So, what is there to prevent AQ from initiating a - to use words Brown and Milliband understand - a war on terror here anyway? If they truly thought they could do this and there was any mileage in it - they would. That is what terrorism is about - spreading terror.

Posted via email from John's posterous