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.

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