Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why the west is losing the war on terror

Writing in the Guardian, Simon Jenkins excoriates the Americans for their politicisation of the "war on terror". In the short-term, this screws up cases - most recently, the "liquid explosives" case which wrapped up yesterday with only three of eight defendants convicted, and then only on subsidiary charges. In the long-term, it is losing them the war:

Last week's massive operation by Nato forces to move a dam turbine 100 miles across Helmand was reportedly brought forward at Washington's insistence to help John McCain's candidacy. It cost some 300 Afghan lives. Every one of those lives invites revenge against that dam. Meanwhile, Nato and the Americans are intensifying their bombing of Afghan and Waziri villages. Anyone who visits this theatre is briefed with the same mantra: We are going to stop killing civilians ... Every death is 10 recruits to the enemy ... We must win on the ground not from the air. Airforces claim they can kill with "pinpoint accuracy". They claim the new predator drones can murder a Taliban leader at a mile distant.

They lie. To soldiers on the ground, calling in air power to clear a village is easier and safer than fighting by hand. As a result, and amid a storm of mendacious denials, wedding parties are blown to pieces, houses are crushed, women and children are massacred. To kill a Taliban it is considered worth wiping out a market. British and American generals in Kabul have slid into Vietnam mode, using the enemy kill rate as an indicator of victory. They do not care that one dead Taliban creates 10 live ones.

An Afghan crusade that was possibly winnable in 2001 has been systematically subverted by those waging it. Attempts to destroy the nation's staple crop, opium, has alienated almost everyone and driven huge profits into the pockets of the enemy. It has been unbelievably stupid.

(Emphasis added)

So much for "hearts and minds".

We have hitched our cart to this horse, and to this stupidity. We should be asking ourselves now whether we really want to see kiwi soldiers killed or injured for the stupidity of Americans.