Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fighting to win.

I'm not one to start a fight - at least not since I retired from playing rugby. Well, not a serious fight anyway. But if I were to find myself in a fight, its a case of whatever it takes to win. My view is that Queensbury rules are for losers. This attitude sums up my approach to Britain's involvement in wars as well. I wasn't at all enthusiastic about the Iraq war until I believed that our Prime Minister had decided to team up with President Bush and invade. All questions were then cast aside, and our soldiers received my total support. Half measures are no use. Hit the enemy with all it takes - plus a bit more to be sure. Which brings me to the current activity of British forces in Afghanistan. I was doubtful about the wisdom of going into Afghanistan, because history has shown it to be a difficult land to control. But now we are in, we are in to win.

Lots of people ask "to win what". The aim was, and remains to eliminate a source of terrorist threat to the UK. It's to prevent the Taliban from taking control of large tracts of Afghanistan, developing a power base sufficiently strong to engulf Pakistan, and to then threaten the world with nuclear weapons. The strategy must be to create space for alternative power bases to strengthen in Afghanistan, which means winning the support of the peoples of that faraway land. It will take great courage, commitment and sacrifice over many years to deliver our aims. The Taliban's aim is to break our will by raising the 'price' of our intervention higher than we are willing to accept.

As so often happens, the invasion was launched by our Government without the British people being informed what this 'price' might be. In one of the most ridiculous statements ever made by a British Foreign Secretary, (John Reid I think) we were told that perhaps not a single shot would be fired. This was dishonesty on an epic scale. During the eight years we have been in Afghanistan, almost 200 young people have been killed, a number that could well rise significantly. The general tone of what I see on the BBC, read in the newspapers, and hear an increasing number of our politicians saying is that this war is 'unwinnable' and that we should withdraw because our men and women are being killed - delivering exactly the message that the Taliban have hoped and planned for. For my part, I stand four square behind Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and our armed forces as they strive to counter international terrorism. I want every soldier to know that they have my full support. I want every parent who has lost a son or daughter to feel that they died in a noble cause. We are in a very serious fight, up against a ruthless and very dangerous opponent. I want my side to be given every support to win, included my full backing.


Anonymous said...

As long as you fight to win the General Election.......

mitywa said...

It's kind of 'funny' as in funny peculiar that many of my fellow Brits thought Obama would pull US troops out of Afghanistan. Strange because Obama gave every signal during his campaign of building up US forces in Afghanistan and even said he would invade Pakistan if required (not an exact quote); Obama even took some heat for saying he would go into Pakistan. So, why my fellow Brits got it in the head that Obama was against America being involved military in Afghanistan when Obama said the opposite makes no sense unless the British media failed to report what Obama was saying.

I agree Glyn, we have no choice. If we withdraw the Taliban will likely take over in Pakistan and they will have nuclear weapons at their disposal to blackmail us and/or use against us.

It kind of amazes me that the Liberal Democrats who supported Labour in ditching the nuclear bomb, who now want the UK to abandon Trident and/or its replacement using the argument we don't need such weapons when all along Iran and the Taliban might well get their hands of quite a few nukes of the most deadly kind: small nukes of the size that can be fitted onto a ballistic missile. Iran is testing North Korea's long range ballistic missile technology under the cover of Iran's 'space exploration' tag line. Iran flew rocket motors out of NK some time ago and tested them. Iran test fired a space capable rocket not so long ago, the Safir rocket almost certainly a development based on NK Taepodong-2 long range ballistic missile.

Since Iran now has a satellite launch vehicle based powered up by the Safir rocket it has become pretty much moot that Iran can hit just about any target in the world - which conflicts with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates who believes Iran is still some way off being able to hit the USA, "Iran's going to have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons to the people in their region a lot sooner than they're going to have the capability to deliver them to us". By region Gates probably included much of Europe. But with Iran's use of Taepodong-2 technology from NK and combined with small nukes already fitted to Pakistan's short/medium range ballistic missiles - Iran will spark off a nuclear arm's race in the Middle East with Saudi already on the verge of committing to getting its own nuke armed missiles given Saudi's belief that Iran will get nukes.

With Pakistan's small nuclear warheads fitted to its medium range ballistic missiles put atop the modified Taepodong-2 by Iran - and vola, a nuke ballistic missile able to hit the EU and threaten the UK. Meanwhile the Lib-Dems don’t want a replacement to Trident and are on the verge of supporting full pull out of Afghanistan even though they supported Obama to win the Presidency and despite President Obama wanting the UK to keep troops in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile the Liberal Democratic party wants Brown to ditch Trident largely on cost grounds (after calling for the cheaper free fall nuclear bombs to be scrapped some years ago) and because they, the Lib-Dems, don't see a need for Trident even though the UK no longer has the ability to drop free fall nuclear bombs and despite the fact that without a replacement to Trident the UK will be VERY vulnerable to Iran once Iran gets its own nuke armed ballistic missiles or gets hold of the Pakistani nuke warheads - which it could if the Taliban took over Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about the figure of 200 deaths? I'd imagine its far higher, or aren't the Afghans included in the figure?

Of course I agree that we should back 'our side' and that we should seek to defeat the Taliban, but we all need to be honest about the true costs.

As you rightly say we need to win hearts and minds in Afghanistan, and we're not going to do that if we devalue their deaths.

Anonymous said...

What ARE the odds now on the Montgomeryshire seat?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure while people write comments that are the length of a small novel. First I think the British Army's inadequate supplies is criminal. However my late father said the same thing happened in Korea so its not a new problem. As for the Taliban and Pakistan, thats quite simple. The Pakistani Army set up the Taliban and they will destroy them, if they attempt to takeover the country, that is simple.

eric said...

first thing we should be doing is buying the opium off the local framers rather than destroying it as we do now.
We buy it it takes a major revenue stream fromthe taliban away, reduces the heroin that floods the world and wins the minds of the farmer rather than turning them to the taliban - and in due course we suggest they grow other crops for a higher return, pomegranites I understand are perfect but take a few years to cultivate - which we subsidise also- a lot cheaper than what we are currntly engaged in.

But by the by we couldn't control afghanistan 100 odd years ago when we were a superpower, what have we got today that makes us think we can now? It doesn't matter the reaons we are there, an external force,especially ones like the brits with our history in the region, add in the religious element, the civilian casualties and try and emphasise with a local tribesmen? what would we be like in this country if an occupying force was in place?
This needs to be won economically, its the only way it can be won.

Anonymous said...

95% of the heroin in the UK comes from Afganistan.

Osama bin Laden said that he would flood the UK with heroin, and has done so.

In the 1990s if you wanted heroin, you had to go to Bristol to get it; today, at around noon, I seen a drug deal being done in Cefn Cribbwr, Bridgend County, on the main street in broad daylight.

There is a strong corrilation between substance misuse and deprevation, in addition there is a strong corrilation between wards held by Labour Councillors and deprevation.

There were no weapons of mass distrution in Iraq.

There are weapons of mass distruction in North Korea.

Heroin is the opium of the masses

anzato said...

President Obama has said repeatedly that the USA and its allies should have troops fighting militants/Taliban in Afghanistan to stop the Taliban re-emerging as the main power in Afghanistan and/or taking over Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons.

JPT said...

We fight the radical Islamists abroad but seem to encourage them into the country and then suck up to them when they are here.
It's all a nonsense, we've let them in and we've lost, all because of the shame and fear of political correctness.

latink said...

The 'loss' that counts is letting the militants get hold of Pakistan's small nukes (small as in size; nuke warheads that can fit atop ballistic missiles are VERY dangerous because they are 'ready made' for a delivery vehicle - alread in the hands of NK and Iran, but especially Iran given that Iran recently successfully launched a small package into orbit/space).

Glyn Davies said...

Anon 1 - I will be doing just that.

mitywa - As far as I can see, Obama is more commited to the fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan than George Bush was. Anyone who supported Obama was in effect supporting a 'surge' in Afghanistan - though I know a few believed he would change his mind after being elected. He was always very clear about his approach, and has remained so after being elected.

Anon 2 - I meant deaths of British soldiers. There have of course been many other deaths amongst the combatants - on both sides.

Anon 3 - I'll be posting seperately on this sometime soon.

Others - sorry have to go. No time to respond

lads said...

Two people you know well Glyn were at Wattisham airfield in Suffolk last weekend for an open day for the Army Air Corps which has a very substantial presence there. They counted at least 15 of Britain's very high tech and very expensive Apache helicopters sitting on the tarmac. There are more at other UK bases. We were told that they can't be used in Afghanistan because we don't have enough trained pilots and also because the MoD don't want to clock up too many flying hours on them!
Whatever the truth is, it seems a quite extraordinary misuse of resources to have bought them in the first place and then not use them.

Anonymous said...

A lot recently has been made about the shameful lack of equipment available to our Armed Forces. Indeed, our Labour Government should hang its head in shame for sending our troops into combat with anything less that the best our country can supply. However, I do differ from some Military commentators about the underlying composition of our forces and their equipment. Fundamentally, our forces are still equipped and focused on fighting as part of NATO against a massive attack from a major power - principally the old Soviet Union (now Russia). This massive submarine / aircraft carrier based 'concept' is designed to defend the UK, not police the World's trouble spots. Many argue that with an increasing number of UN Peacekeeping roles and anti-terrorist campaigns involving Britain, our armed forces should be restructured accordingly...

I disagree. We must retain a powerful, north Atlantic deterrent force - with the prime aim of defending our national interests in the increasing desperate struggle for resources. For example, the Artic Ocean is going to become very hot in the years to come, and I don't mean in relation to climate change. The War on Terror will be, by comparison, a sideshow and if we cannot adequately supply our magnificent brave troops, then we should not be there. We must not lose focus of wider strategic issues and trade in our aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines for blue helmets, aid trucks and the like.

canct said...

Errrr, the UK doesn't have regular aircraft carriers – because they lack steam-catapult assisted takeoff hardware.

Instead, the UK has ski-ramps for launching Harrier jump jets) which don't work well in hot climes (Harrier's work better in colder climes in short take-offs - Harriers have to take off with less ammunition and/or fuel load in hot climes or risk 'flopping into the sea' which has happened on more than one occasion in hotter climes. (Jet engine compressors don't work at peak performance in hot weather (intake air is less dense) ... so Harrier performance is compromised.

Traditional steam-launch catapult aircraft carriers (a British invention) are used in the US fleet of aircraft carriers and so don't have this issue because the take-off assist is adjustable thereby allowing planes to take off with normal bomb/missile loads regardless of hot weather conditions.

The new British aircraft carriers on order (but they might be cut back to just one) will have steam-catapults and will not be subject to the 'flop' problem of the Harrier in hotter climes.

The new British aircraft carrier(s) will come equipped with the American F35 aircraft carrier variant(s) - single engined aircraft with strengthened landing gear for aircraft steam catapult assisted take-offs (and wire/arrest landings).

cablre said...

PS ... if the British 'reg' aircraft carriers are delayed - the MOD might switch to the evolving 'electric catapults' - electromagenetic hardware. It's expected that electric catapults will be more reliable, requires less maintenance and will be considerably less costly to operate than steam powered catapults which require a dedicated steam boiler, water treatment, and come with the usual hazards associated with using steam (e.g., steam burns - very nasty).

If they are delayed even longer - the 5th gen F35 might be partially replaced with a 6th-gen aircraft (3rd-gen remote control aircraft) - pilotless aircraft. There's also talk of using a series of thixotropic singularlities to power the catapult and downward directed EMPs to subvert enemy submarines. However, underwater EMPs can cause water to cavitate (release dissolved air) causing the water to be less dense and thereby allowing large ships to sink into the water bubbles (density changes), these experiments have caused ships to disappear and can lead to wild downward air movements (sudden downdrafts). Reality or Sy-Fy? Where is the boundary?