26 June 2010

A new broom

What are we doing in Afghanistan? What precisely is our military objective. In answer to that question this is what Ms Harman said:

We do not want anyone to be in any doubt about the importance of this mission in Afghanistan. It is important to ensure that in the mountainous regions surrounding Afghanistan and Pakistan, we do not have a crucible for the development of terrorism, which threatens people not only in those countries but in the wider region and, indeed, the whole world.
Dr Grumble would be the first to admit that terrorism is bad. Dr Grumble has seen bombs go off. The consequences are terrible. But it is actually something that you can live with. We did it with the IRA. And we got back on the underground after 7/7. You can respond by saying that you will take action to eradicate the perpetrators but real solutions may come from engaging with them. Many terrorist leaders grow up to become political leaders. By the time this happens the terrorism evaporates. There is a message there somewhere.

You could say that Muslim terrorism is not quite the same as, say, the IRA. You could say that engaging with a religious fanatic is not quite the same as engaging with somebody who has a political agenda. You might be right. But Dr Grumble remembers when the IRA were viewed as fanatics who should not be talked to. Even their voices were banned. How mad was that?

One thing is for sure. If you cannot eradicate home-grown terrorists when they are in your own country, you cannot possible eradicate them from the barren and remote mountains of Afghanistan. Even if you could they would just slip across the border into a neighbouring country or just go somewhere else altogether.

Look again at the military objective in Afghanistan:
It is important to ensure that in the mountainous regions surrounding Afghanistan and Pakistan, we do not have a crucible for the development of terrorism....
How can this objective ever be achieved? It is simply not on. It is obviously so. It should have been obvious before we entered Afghanistan. It was obvious. Who could have been so misguided as to have got us into this mess? Another religious fanatic?

A new broom sweeps clean. Dr Grumble is warming to the coalition government.


Doctor Zorro said...

I believe that Blair had looked enviously at what happened to Margaret Thatchers standing after the Falklands and decided he wanted some of that. He acted in a totally self serving and dishonorable manner. The Falklands conflict had a clearly defined and attainable objective and considerable public support. Afghanistan has none of these.
The British army has withdrawn from Afghanistan twice before, in 1842 and again in 1880, after having sustained defeats and heavy losses.
The trick now is going to be how to get them out without it looking like they are slinking out with their tails between their legs.

Freda said...

Thanks for a glimmer of commonsense about fighting terrorism so far away. Somehow, the coalition government has got to get together the ideas and confidence for a proper exit strategy.

English Pensioner said...

I would rather have had the same amount of money spent protecting our boarders from "asylum" seekers and keeping tabs on potential terrorists who are "British" citizens. It would make me feel far safer, particularly as the Treason laws can, and should, be invoked against those people.

Anonymous said...

public school tossers (current govt) and more public school tossers (the current army leadership) are never going to come to a sensible approach to the war

sadly the higher echelons of uk society are so unblanced that we are doomed to crap

Dr Grumble said...

I think, English Pensioner, quite a lot is already spent on surveillance. Perhaps too much.

Anonymous said...

Harry Truman said 'the only thing new in the world is the history you don't know'.

Wars are often sold on false pretexts (e.g. Iraq, Vietnam). The only difference with Afghanistan is that the pretext (9/11) occurred 9 years ago, so we are drip fed other pretexts (ill-treatment of women etc). Most are uneasy about this war, but few are really interested in confronting uncomfortable truths, which are usually dismissed as ' conspiracy theories'. The latter is quite simply an old totalitarian trick of branding people who question propaganda as mentally ill.

The war in afghanistan provides multiple functions. It is a strategically important area due to the Caspian Sea oil reserves, indeed the 'central asian oil pipeline' is one of the few things up and running since the war began. The opium supplies are important and are now back up to 90% of world heroin production - the pre-Taliban levels). Perpetual war feeds the beast of what Eisenhower warned us was a dominant 'military industrial complex', keeps us afraid and justifies further creeping totalitarianism in our own society. Finally, we are being conditioned to dislike muslims, as the next big will be against Iran and will be of a much bigger scale.

Anyone who thinks this is not a credible explanation hasn't read enough history. The reasons most britons are baffled by the Afghan war is that the media have not yet provided them with a satisfactory narrative, and most are now entirely reliant on media commentary to provide this.

The truth is that our armed forces are being deployed in Afghaistan to serve the purposes of a criminal elite.

If Grumble wishes to explore this further he might have a look at the work of Chossudovsky (Professor of economics, Ottawa university). (GlobalResearch.ca).

Julie said...

I think the reason Blair entered Afghanistan was quite simple; America. We do a lot of trade with America and not going into Afghanistan with them would have led to economic penalties. I think Britain needs to start doing trade with other countries so that we are not so dependent on America and take our own way on this.

'When you're wounded and lying on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll on your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your death like a soldier!'

We've been there before..

Historian said...

"Another religious fanatic?"

Why isn't anyone addressing this question?

Dr Grumble said...

You may well be right, Julie, but such pressure did not prevent Harold Wilson from keeping us out of Vietnam which was quite important for people like me because if he hadn't I might not be typing this now.

As for the religious question, Historian, my own feeling was that Tony Blair's mind was so dominated by his religious views that he easily developed fixed delusions. Quite a lot of what he said with regard to the wars he got us into did not stand up to scrutiny but I think that he himself believed it. That misguided belief enabled him to come over as very honest forming a dangerous combination with his oratorical and persuasive skills.

Historian said...

"I think that he himself believed it. That misguided belief enabled him to come over as very honest forming a dangerous combination with his oratorical and persuasive skills."

But Bush spoke about 'a crusade" well before Blair became 'misguided' as you put it. It has always been a point of interest for me since then; if Blair's conviction was new; something he developed with Bush's persuation?

Dr Grumble said...

Folie à deux? Quite possibly.

Anonymous said...

This is not a holy war against Islam. Quite what Tony Blair's motivations and religious beliefs are is anyones guess but his actions are certainly not those of a christian.

If the oil resources were in Buddhist countries we would be told radical Buddhism was a threat.

Political vanity, religious delusions, buddying up to America - none of these are credible explanations for what has occurred. What we are witnessing is geopolitical chess. Blair is a bit-part player, which is why nothing will change under the new administration.

Obama said he would pull the troops out and..... guess what? He ramped up the deployment and invaded Pakistan. He then invaded Haiti after the earthquake.

Dr Grumble said...

I didn't mean to imply that Tony Blair was a good Christian on a crusade against Islam. I just got the impression that his religious beliefs gave strength to his conviction that what he was doing was right and might have lessened his doubts.

Of course his Christianity might also have given him some common ground with George Bush to the extent that it was easy for the delusion of one to be transferred to the other.

I didn't know George Bush had referred to a crusade which I find a further worrying twist to all of this.

Perhaps I have been bamboozled and this is all about geopolitical chess and the rest is window dressing. Certainly that would account for why I can't make sense of what we have been told.

Fuddled Medic said...

You might believe that this saying applies to Blair and Bush

"Good people do good things, bad people do bad things but for a good person to do a bad thing it takes religion."

Bit of an oversimplification but its still a good point

Historian said...

" Quite what Tony Blair's motivations and religious beliefs are is anyones guess but his actions are certainly not those of a christian."

I know that for certain. Christians, and Christianity, have always been part of my life, because I grew up with and have many christian friends ... you'd be surprised!

By the same token, would you agree that the actions of those who commit terrorist acts against innocent civilians are also not Islamic! Does that make sense?
If you do, then that makes fanatics, whichever side they are, and who even don't mind, even seek, killing their own, terrorists and cowards who need to hide behind something to justify their cowardly actions. As Pondering Practioner said, religion does provide the perfect cover for such twisted mentalities - that's because people are ignorant about each other's beliefs, so it's easy to stir fear and confusion in both groups to'create' the perfect ground for conflict.

Then you hear the president of the USA talking about a crusade - and you don't want the simple minded to be radicalised?! - He said it at the begining of his presidency while, as far as I can remember, talking also about a new world order, then he retracted it a week or so later saying, I think, he didn't mean it as it was supposed to be meant or something stupid like that - then his actions spoke for themselves!

"This is not a holy war against Islam."

You know, part of the reason why Muslims detested Bush so much was because they knew he was trying to 'create' conflict, when nobody wanted it! Another was because he succeeded, and millions died. Personally, I have never despised a man, and his entourage, so much!

And, religion is a very personal thing, much like a finger print. I never think of all Christians as clones of one another and find it really baffling why the west thinks all Muslims are replicas of one another?! We are not! I tell you what, I have seen what is being called here as Islam but, I do not recognise it at all, some of what I hear or see is 'very' alien to me - same as some Christians would describe other Christians whom they are not familiar with - so, please give us 'all' a break! :-)

Dr Grumble said...

Everything you say, Historian, seems very reasonable to me.

It must have occurred to many of us that quite a lot of what George Bush did was more likely to create than eradicate terrorism. And that would include what is now America's longest war.

Historian said...

Christ came with a message of love, Mohamed's is peace. Indeed Mohamed's success, if you can call it that, was because Christians hid him [in Medina, Saudia] when he was being followed by the arabs who didn't believe in his message and wanted to finish him and his few followers.

So, we're not really two groups as some modern leaders want to make us believe, nor do we have two sets of gods either, we are just 'people' who come in different shapes and sizes - and different ways of doing the same thing, religion included - this is the reason for the advancement of man and his civilisation - but it can also be the reason for his downfall if negative vibes are allowed to probagate.

Maybe we should all go back to the basics more often and remember the message of 'love and peace' because that's really what humanity is about; just two words, but we can't even manage that! How life would be different if we did!

Anonymous said...

So we have an 'English Pensioner'. How does he know that? Perhaps he is a British Pensioner, or a Norman Pensioner, or an Anglo-Saxon Pensioner, or Saxo-Norman Pensioner, or a Romano-British pensioner.

Mr So-called English Pensioner - we are all mongrels, get over it.

Julie said...

I have to say that Tony Blair is something of a puzzlement to us Catholics, because although he joined us he doesn't seem to hold any of our beliefs. JPII was quite unequivocal in his attitude to Iraq and Guantanemo Bay; with the former he had a very public meeting with Tariq Aziz ( the Iraq foreign minister and Coptic Christian) and gave George Bush a very public row about Guantanemo Bay. Blair has not upheld any of our beliefs on embryonic research, the Mental Capacity Act (which we opposed and which he imposed a three line whip on), cloning, faith schools etc. He is but a Catholic in name and we don't know why he bothered joining us, nor why he was accepted as sincere. I think he has the touch of the fanatic about him, but if the churches had been listened to on this, we would not be in Iraq and I doubt we would be in Afghanistan either.

the a&e charge nurse said...

"Dr Grumble is warming to the coalition government".

Surely Dr Grumble has not forgotten this?

Dr Grumble said...

I know it's naive but I do have a feeling of a breath of fresh air.

Susu ;-) said...

About that 'life inside Badam Bagh' on your shared list Dr G


'Garayem Akhlaqi', The BBC, doesn't mean 'bad charecter', it means that she was actively practicing the oldest profession in the world!

Not defending how 'generally' women are treated in this part of the warld, because I am not.

Only, I am a bit taken by how all the women in that clip look and feel so happy! I wonder why?! ... they are in 'prison' after all ...

Dr Grumble said...

I thought the same, Susu. And I rather guessed what "bad character' meant. Thank you for explaining it.

Susu :-) said...

But you're a doctor Dr G, the reason why you may have understood, others can't! Hence the bbc has a duty to report properly, including proper translation of any material they put on air or on their website!

Because of this mistake, the main message is now missed! This clip may still partly be about the opression of women [for those who 'may' be wrongly imprisoned, but the main message now is; doesn't it blow you mind, these women can do what they do in Taliban country? ie, societies 'everywhere' are more complex than anyone thinks ... so don't let appearances decieve you!

Dr Grumble said...

There are a lot of issues here, Susu. One of the things I like about blogging is that if you get things wrong your readers can put you right. The BBC is not so willing to allow this and does not make complaining that easy. If you do complain they can be quite dismissive in my experience. Like them as I do, they have a sort of establishment arrogance.

Of course it might not be deliberate. All doctors know that if you take a history via a poor translator they edit it and you only hear the translator's interpretation of the history. I can imagine a translator not being willing to be explicit in this situation.

Susu said...

I wonder if this was a translation 'error' though! BBC translators that bad!

The phrase in question 'garayem akhlaqi' has only 'one' meaning; garayem meaning crimes and akhlaqi meaning behaviour. In these parts of the world there is a 'behaviour police' and it is there precisely to stop this kind of 'sin' happening and to ensure the culprits, caught in the action, are taken to court and punished.

Since it is that straight forward, I doubt very much it was a translation error, more likely, I think they deliberately camauflaged this bit because they just wanted to highlight how women are oppressed in Kabul and hence, generate people's sympathy - but this phrase stood in the way.

And I had no intention of complaining because it is for Afganis if they wish to. But as you say, this kind of deliberate change of material which can and does send the wrong message. I too doubt the practice will not last long with bloggers like us around - many of whom are at least bi, tri or even able to understand multiple languages to a good standard, or at least in their simplist forms. BTW, for example, I do not speak Afgani, but that particular phrase is so fundemental, it is of Arabic origin .. and is used in Farsi and perhaps Pakistani ... etc too!

Bad luck BBC, you got found out!

the a&e charge nurse said...

Here is a bit more work by the new broom - I wonder if Dr Grumble will warm to this as well?

Dr Grumble said...

The picture painted by Polly Toynbee is a frightening one isn't it, A&E Charge Nurse? And it is difficult to fault her logic. There are certainly going to be troubles ahead. Do they really believe this is the way forward? Or is their cunning plan to blame it all on GPs when the house of cards comes down? Who knows? Sometimes there is no method to the madness - just madness.

the a&e charge nurse said...

If it comes to pass that GP consortiums must manage £80 billion of the NHS budget then how much of their time will be left over for clinical activity - and by that I mean actually seeing patients rather than filling in QoF data?

Surely these proposals are tantamount to a charter for nurse practitioners to finally emerge into the sunlight?

Why it's almost enough to bring Dr Crippen out of his self imposed exile?