Sunday, November 8, 2009

Afghanistan


I was in Salisbury this weekend. This is a part of the country as associated with the army as places in my home of East Anglia are with the air force.

There was plenty of talk about, including the current needs of our armed forces and the rightness of their being in Afghanistan.

The Taliban of Afghanistan provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda to plan and execute international acts of terror, notably on September 11th 2001. The extremist world-view of both bodies makes them a threat to anyone who holds individual liberty dear.

British and allied forces are in Afghanistan to ensure it does not again become a launch pad for terrorist attacks on the rest of the world. They are not there to occupy the state against the wishes of the people but are there with a UN mandate and as part of our NATO duties.

Our goal must be to help make the country secure, so that it can be governed by Afghans for Afghans. It will not turn Afghanistan into a Jeffersonian democracy or any other specific outside model.

On a partisan note, the Liberal Democrats are gearing themselves up, most cynically, to be the anti-war party for the 2010 election. They hope to gain the same support for their opposition to the Afghanistan campaign in 2010 as they did for Iraq in 2005. It is worth noting that if the international community had followed the Lib Dems advice, bolting from Iraq in 2005, we would be seeing even more suffering in that country than we did following the troop surge by the US. Also, we have had the continuation in power of a democratically elected national government of Iraq. Odd, isn’t it, how the domestic ‘champions’ of democracy, trade unions and women’s rights would have abandoned them abroad?

I hope on this year’s two-minute silence, coming up on 11th November at 11am, that we take the time to thank everyone who has been to Iraq and Afghanistan – and elsewhere around the world in our service - for doing their duty.

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