A change in the way that the war in Afghanistan is fought could be on the way.
The new commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus, is suggesting that he will review the rules of engagement. Some troops have complained that the restraints, which curb the use of air power and heavy weapons if Afghan civilians are at risk, are putting Western forces in greater danger. They also, it is claimed, make it harder to defeat the Taliban.
The phrase that seems to occur often is 'self-defence' as a criteria for the use of force. No mention of aggression then? It is very clear that a large number of the people of Afghanistan do not want us there such that persuasion achieves little. Certainly not much that lasts as our forces deploy to another location and the Taliban tide washes back in. If we want change, we will have to make it compulsory and find a mechanism of making it permanent. That is never going to be achieved by 'self-defence' where out enemy has the initiative and plays the game by their rules.
If the powers that be really held the self-defence opinion then our tactic is very simple indeed. Withdraw completely and re-form back in England. No risk of any confrontation where one of our units does a Bloody Sunday in some fly-ridden compound. Those with the animus to continue the dispute would need to travel here. We are on a much better wicket. Any incomer would - marginally I agree - stand out as being of a particular ethnicity. Maybe we should be enforcing the dress for them of hair covered and white dish dasha robes?
Our intelligence would have the benefit of many more eyes. Neighbourhood Watch par excellence. Proper roads inhibit placement of IED. Savings in the supply train reduction. Also, a much stronger moral justification where attacker deliberately comes to us to cause us harm; why then complain when sent off to the land of the transvestite virgins?
Also, it is still self-defence regardless of where the assailant is based. Whether they come from Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen or any other Mad Mullah dependency is all the same to us.
Yep - more I think about it, the more I like it. Instead of a Glorious Twelfth for birds we could declare an open season for extremist fundamentalists. Sell tickets - whole new world of environmentally friendly hunting so old Foxy could rest in peace.