Ashdown warns on Afghanistan as UK takes flak on Iraq

Says Paddy on Afghanistan:

I’m not saying for a moment that we have lost… I’m saying that we’re getting pretty close to it,”

It’s summit time for Nato – will they get the troops to occupy Afghanistan?

Not many in the alliance are keen to get involved. Which makes Nato a coalition of the unwilling… 

The French contribution – announced by Sarko on his state visit last week – is a face-saving excercise.

Which means we can expect more of the following inevitable tragedy:

Two British soldiers have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

The two members of 40 Commando, Royal Marines, were on a routine patrol on Sunday when they were hit by what is thought to be a roadside bomb.

More dead and wounded, more families left to cope – in Afghanistan as well as the UK.

Despite what embeded BBC reporters in Afghanistan would have you believe, those resisting the occupation of their country are not young men brainwashed by DVDs.

No ammount of “hearts and minds” rhetoric or reality is going to overcome the central contradiction – that Afghanistan is under foreign occupation.

Moving on to the other Middle East occupation involving the “special relationship”…

The UK’s reversal of troop withdrawals is not enough to stop accusations that the recent uprising in southern Iraq was down to British attempts draw down forces.

The FT reports on the blame game:

The British handover to the Iraqis came at a sensitive time for the coalition since US forces were still engaged in the military “surge” which saw an additional 30,000 troops sent to Iraq. At the time, some US officers privately griped that the UK had “lost” Basra and was “cutting and running”. Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, echoed those sentiments in February, saying he “did not think it [the British move] was a good idea”.

British officials stress that their strategy was to let the Iraqis find a solution to the fighting between rival Shia groups in the southern port city, which they argued was more a political problem than security issue. One UK military official on Tuesday said critics misunderstood the nature of the conflict in Basra, which he insisted was not sectarian violence, like in Baghdad, but rival Shia groups “grappling” for power.

Some observers, however, say the British did not establish the conditions for success that would have allowed the Iraqis to pacify the unruly city. Peter Rodman, a senior Pentagon official until last March, said the conflict among the Shia factions was “latent all the time the British were there”.

“They do not seem to have done a lot to shape the political environment while they were there, and they lectured to us about…how inadequate we are on counter-insurgency,” said Mr Rodman, now at the Brookings Institution.

So we can take it that the divisions between the British and the Americans haven’t been healed by Brown’s decision to stay put

Des Browne, the defence secretary, told the Commons the number of UK forces would stay at 4,100 for the forseeable future. Gordon Brown told MPs last autumn he hoped the number could be cut to about 2,500 by late spring. The reductions envisaged then “might not be possible”, Browne said. The decision, he said, was taken as a result of military advice.

You might recall Brown’s people made a big thing of the draw-down when he became PM. Proof of a distancing, a chilling of the “special relationship”.

Two unpopular and ongoing wars prove Brown is just an ugly Bliar.

Boris Thatcher

Just to be clear on where I stand on the mayoral election (latest news: fascists back Boris) here’s an article from Socialist Appeal:

It is easy to write off Boris Johnson as a buffoon. There is a real danger he will be running London, a city of 7½ million people in a couple of months time. Make sure Johnson is not made London’s Mayor in the May 1st elections. As Compass points out, “his buffoonery conceals a hard line right wing set of views – a type of Norman Tebbitt in clown’s uniform. The quotes below are taken from their pamphlet Boris Johnson – a man of the Tory hard right.

First on character: Johnson is a liar. Knowing he couldn’t get anywhere in the Oxford Union as a Tory, he stood as a member of the now defunct Social Democratic Party.boris_johnsonmed.jpg

Johnson is also a thug. He had a phone conversation with his friend, convicted fraudster and fellow old Etonian Darius Guppy. Guppy was planning to have News of the World journalist Stuart Collier beaten up. Boris was happy to supply Guppy with Collier’s address. Guppy explained that Collier “will probably have a couple of black eyes and…a cracked rib or something like that.” The attack did not actually take place since the phone chat was published in the Daily Mail.

London is a multi-cultural city. Here’s an example of Johnson’s sensitivity. On Africa, “the problem is not that we were once in charge, but that we are not in charge any more…The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.”

Here’s another. “They say he (Blair) is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.” Johnson is equally offensive about anyone else who is not a white upper class male. He must not be the speaker for London!

Here’s a sample of his economic literacy. “Both the minimum wage and the Social Charter would palpably destroy jobs.” Elsewhere he fantasises that the Tories will win the 1997 election. “Golly it occurs to you: no more minimum wage. The polls had been so confidently predicting a Labour victory that you had already made provision to pay your workers at least £4.10 an hour, putting up your costs and greatly reducing your ability to reinvest. Your mood lifts a notch higher at the thought.”  Note that, for Johnson, ‘you’ are always a boss. Draw the lesson. For the vast majority of us who work for someone for a living Johnson is the enemy.

As Mayor, Johnson would be in charge of public sector services for the capital. But he wants to sack the workers who offer these services. “It is agreed across the political spectrum that the public sector is growing at too fast a rate and that this involves much waste.” His attitude is bound to alienate public sector workers.

The average house price in London was £289,000 in 2005. The average income for Londoners is £300 per person per week. That means housing is absolutely unaffordable for first time buyers who aren’t getting family help. Yet Johnson is opposed to social housing.

More than half a million children, 40% of all those in London, live in poverty. Yet Johnson attacks the welfare state as “this irrational system of subsidy, the excessive disbursements that warp honest people.

  • He is opposed to the Social Chapter of the EU which provides a measure of defence for the standards of the poorest and is against paternity leave. He wants more private money in the NHS and supports private health provision.
  • He supports grammar schools and private schools (of course).
  • He has opposed devolution for Scotland and Wales. Why should he support the right for Londoners to elect their own local government, apart from the fact that it gives him a chance to run the show?
  • He is opposed to the congestion charge. Apart from the issue of congestion, is he really unaware that the charge is virtually the only source of income for the Mayor and GLA?

Johnson is unfit to be London’s Mayor. Run him out of town!