onsdag 6 februari 2008

Futile war

afghanistan, originally uploaded by soldiersmediacenter.

It would be nice if, as a result of the war against terror, Afghanistan were to transform itself into a nice democratic country - like Denmark, perhaps. And to stop living off the proceeds of opium production. And so Condoleeza Rice is visiting Britain as part of her campaign to get other NATO countries to pull their weight.

It seems to me that a sense of realism would not go amiss. Britain fought in Afghanistan for many years in the nineteenth century. It was futile. The Soviets failed in the 1980s. The terrain puts all conventional armies at a disadvantage. And what exactly is the fight against? The Taleban are about an idea, and ideas of this kind can never be defeated by force of arms. As for the poppy products, first, there is a shortage of the stuff for legitimate medical use, and second, the epidemic of drug taking in western countries is symptomatic of a deeper malaise in our culture.

This is not to say that the west should not have a policy about Afghanistan, simply that it should acknowledge that not all things are possible, however desirable. The country is not going to become another Denmark

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