Friday, 25 September 2009

Afghanistan: Letter to Lord Avebury

On Wednesday 23rd September there was a "fringe meeting at the LibDem conference which was addressed by Lord Avebury and attended by inter alia the Afghan ambassador.

Dear Lord Avebury,

I was at the Muslim/Afhanistan meeting in Bournemouth on Wednesday and raised the question about the identity of the "insurgents"

To reiterate and expand the question:

"Insurgent implies outsider. Who are the insurgents?

Why do the Afghan population harbour them?

Are we not seen as the insurgents?

You argued the necessity for the continued presence of our armed forces but with the imperative that they only be applied military targets.

If we cannot identify the insurgents this is impossible.
Indeed, given the inevitable (and horribly euphemistic) "collateral damage" to the civilian population, our actions exacerbate matters.

Lessons of history: this is our 4th Afghan adventure; what makes it different this time?

Surely, our only rational and achieveable objective should be to empower the local communities to resist insurgency whether labelled "Taleban" or "al Queda" or even "another ethnic group" by training the Afghan National Army and police force.

Bright idea?
To assist this process: there are significant numbers of Afghan young men seeking to get to the UK as refugees. We could allow them in on condition that they undergo military training and then return to Afghanistan to directly contribute to the establishment of the Rule of Law thereby removing their need to be refugees.

I would remind you of your own words from 4th December 2008:-
"My Lords, a few hours ago the Minister said that we invaded Afghanistan to prevent it becoming a haven for international terrorism. She did not remind your Lordships that that was also one of the excuses given for the invasion of Iraq, which, as President Mubarak said at the time, was likely to create 100 bin Ladens. He was probably out by a factor of 10, but that has happened. It has also involved us, as the noble Baroness said, in a £700 million contribution so far towards reconstruction, has placed huge burdens on our Armed Forces, and is an ingredient in the motivation of terrorists across the world."

I would also remind you of the words of another (then) Liberal:-
"The inhabitants of these wild but wealthy valleys are of many tribes, but of similar character and condition. The abundant crops which a warm sun and copious rains raise from a fertile soil, support a numerous population in a state of warlike leisure. Except at the times of sowing and of harvest, a continual state of feud and strife prevails throughout the land. Tribe wars with tribe. The people of one valley fight with those of the next. To the quarrels of communities are added the combats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each supported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a blood feud with his neighbour. Every man's hand is against the other, and all against the stranger."
- Winston Churchill 1897

Yours sincerely,

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