Thursday, July 26, 2007

Welcome for biggest ever ships order: And why the Taliban must be defeated...

As another British soldier - this time a Royal Anglian - died today serving his country in Afghanistan, anyone questioning why British troops are there at all could do worse than watch this truly chilling Channel Four News interview with the new commander of Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan…

In a separate but related development, today also saw Prime Minister Gordon Brown order the two biggest ships ever to be built in Britain - and ever to sail with the Royal Navy. The new aircraft carriers, each three times bigger than the flagship carrier Ark Royal, and even too big to be constructed in a single yard - will dramatically increase our military and humanitarian capacity.

Admiral Sir Alan West, retired First Sea Lord, says that the new carriers will give the Royal Navy
...Ability to project power with four acres of British sovereign territory that you can move anywhere in the world.
The massive order was welcomed by the Daily Torygraph, but the £20 billion plans didn’t stop the Tories sniping about military overstretch and claiming we’re not spending enough on defence.

Earlier claims that commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq left no soldiers at home to respond to the floods emergency were spiked by pictures on today’s front pages which told the real story.

They showed the Army bringing welcome relief to thousands of flood victims – by helping to deliver four million litres of vital bottled water to those whose taps have dried up due to too much rain!

Not so much the Calvery riding to the rescue, but the Royal Logistics Corps, driving in on their DROPS trucks which were designed to deliver munitions direct to the frontline rather than bottled water to flooded out civilians.

It is true of course that we ask an awful lot of our military, particularly our soldiers.

But what the Tories fail to mention is that one of the welcome dividends of the Northern Ireland peace deal brokered over many years by Tony Blair, is that thousands of British troops are no longer needed to patrol the streets of the troubled Province.

And in Iraq, quietly, but surely, thousands of soldiers have been withdrawn: there are now just 5,500 British troops in Iraq, reduced from a peak of 44,000.

Following today’s aircraft carrier order, Defence Secretary Des Browne was on Channel Four news – but presenter Jon Snow wasn’t interested in the new ships, which secure 10,000 British shipbuilding jobs for a decade and will serve our Royal Navy for half a century into the future.

Instead, Jon Snow was asking Des Browne to respond to their truly chilling interview with the new Taliban commander. The interview was bravely and exclusively recorded by award winning journalist Nick Paton Walsh and a crew in a secret location in the mountains straddling the Afghani-Pakistani border.

Mansour Dadullah’s words demonstrate more starkly than any politician could achieve precisely why the Taliban must be stopped from regaining control of Afghanistan.

Dadullah, make it clear that the Taliban goal is

...to kidnap as many westerners as possible, to fight infidels all over the world and to implement one religion around the world.
He has no qualms about seeing children trained to behead infidels and he predicts a spectacular terrorist attack will succeed soon in Britain.

That is why the Taliban must be defeated once and for all and why British troops – like the professional soldiers of the 1st Batallion The Royal Anglian Regiment, currently serving in Helmand Province – must continue to play their part.

9 comments:

Brynley said...

Farmers in the Helmand river valley grow nearly all our heroin.

The Americans want to spray it.

The British, who have the troops on the ground here, reportedly want to win "hearts and minds" to create the stability which would enable development projects to go ahead.

Now which is it?

You can't do both.

fairdealphil said...

brynley:

indeed: noone said Afghanistan would be easy....

who was it said - words to the effect - that there were two major problems to sort: Ireland and Afghanistan....?

It was, I believe, Disraeli.

Well, we seem to have made some progress in Ireland (let's hope it sticks)...

But as the Soviets (and previously us) found, Afghanistan must never be under-estimated.

I'm sure we all agree with the Americans that we need to stop the heroin supply.

But we won't stop the Taliban by military might alone (as we couldn't in Northern Ireland) - the 'hearts and minds' campaign is crucial to longer term success.

Did you see the Channel Four interview...if not, well worth watching on the web...

Brynley said...

Yes, I did see Channel 4 News last night.

I take it that by saying we need to stop the heroin, you mean that you support spraying the farmers'crops in the Helmand river valley.

I don't.

I support the Senlis proposals to enable local farmers to market their produce for medical supply market (painkillers). It 's the same stuff.

Spray the crops. Lose any local support. Face defeat.

fairdealphil said...

brynley:

i don't pretend to have the answers to the afghan problem.

i tend to agree that to spray would only be a short term answer.

a century and more of afghanistan tells us we need long term solutions not quick fixes.

Brynley said...

It would not even be a "short term answer", Phil.

The day that crop sprayers fly over Helmand river valley. That day will tip us into certain defeat.

Spray the crops. It becomes mission impossible. Might as well pack up on that day.

fairdealphil said...

Michael made this comment on international events on a Madeleine link (on which I'd invited his views), but it seems more appropriate here:


Michael Oakeshott said...
Broadly I agree that the order is a good thing. I am glad the army will have more of what it needs.

But you went for a cheap political point when it would have been better not to. It is not only the Tories who see that our military is over-stretched, and has been under-funded. I have no problem with using our army across the world, and am glad to have been involved in liberating Afghanistan and Iraq. Keeping the bases fully staffed in Ireland will be essential to support the unionists there(which we should always do). And it looks increasingly likely that Britain will have to act soon with America to protect the world from Iran. It is very hard to see how we can successfully accomplish these worthy aims with an army of 100k men. I would suggest increasing pay to aid recruitment, stop doing away with regiments, and increasing miliary expenditure sharply(probably double it for starters). We could do this by cutting the NHS(nuking it might be better), privatising the BBC(ditto, a disgraceful corrupt criminal organisation), rationalising education or even by making Iraq more profitable(historically speaking, a lot of the oil there belongs to us anyway - I would reverse the Saddam theft and get it flowing again - anyone who gets in the way should be slaughtered like the dog they are).

So in short there are only two threats to UK foreign policy.

1. A democrat President in 2008. The disgraceful Obama looks unelectable in any case. It would be better if a Republican were returned. It never helps to choke in the face of terror(see Italy, Spain). Enough Americans realised this in 2004(who would Bin Laden vote for?). Hopefully they will do the decent thing in 2008. A vote for Obama is a vote for Al Qaeda.

2. Our low military budget, over-streched army and the low morale of our army. If we are to use our army to re-order this world, then it should be given the necessay priority in budget terms.

Thursday, July 26, 2007 4:22:00 PM

fairdealphil said...

Michael:

Not a cheap political point on over-stretch, but agree we have to keep an eye on commitment matched to troop numbers.

Agree that there is still a need for a garrison in Northern Ireland, but as things stand, the NI bases no longer need to be "fully staffed" as you suggest.

Indeed, troop numbers have been able to fall from roughly 19,000 in the mid-1990s to around 5,000 today.

That's a saving of 12,000 troops which is interestingly just about the current combined deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Certainly do not agree with you that we must always support the unionists in Northern Ireland. The very reason the troops were deployed in 1969 was to protect the Catholic population from discrimination in jobs and housing by the "Unionists".

But back to troop numbers: This week, despite the apparent overstretch, the pictures were there for all to see: plenty of soldiers, airmen and sailors responding to the peacetime floods at home.

On further overstretch, I disagree with you that there is any prospect of British troops deploying to Iran. I can't see any possibility of Gordon Brown committing British troops to an adventure in Iran.

(But then, it was Churchill who said early in the thirties that war against Japan in his lifetime was unthinkable)...

However, I do agree with you that we need to step up recruitment and retention in our military - definitely through increased pay, particularly at squaddie level.

I recall comparing pay levels some years ago prior to the fire-fighters who were striking for £30k...they were whinging about how dangerous the job was...

I was horrified to discover that a fully trained professional private soldier expected to serve in Basra was on less than £14k at the time...

And to make the political point, with almost full employment today, youngsters have far more choice of opportunity. The Army is no longer the only alternative to the dole.

As a former TA soldier, I agree with your point on the importance of the Regimental structure:

I'll always be a Royal Anglian: it's about comradeship, identity, morale and a sense of belonging to a family.

I never had the same sense of identity when we were re-cap-badged as part of the giant Royal Logistics Corps.

I realise you're having a laugh about the NHS, BBC etc...so I'll pass on that one...

Final point: Can't agree with you on a Democrat President being a threat to world peace.

Not sure it will be Obama - the favourite has to be Hilary...?

In any case, I'm confident that the world would today be a safer, calmer place if a Democrat were in the White House on 9-11 - paerticuarly if that Dem had been Bill Clinton.

But maybe that's another debate...

Michael Oakeshott said...

There will always be a need to keep some troops in Northern Ireland. Their removal would allow the Republic to put pressure on the unionists. That can't be allowed. The discrimination thing in Northern Ireland was a complete myth in any case. The Catholics were treated as one might have expected, given they had spent centuries trying to overthrow the state through treason and terrorism, allied with foreign enemies(including such luminaries as Phillip II, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Adolf Hitler). I think the unionists(loyal British citizens, the best people we had) did well(in one way) not to wipe them off the face of the earth.

With all due respect, I am not going to base long term miliary stretegy on a few pictures from Al-Beeb of tommies handing out sweets and crisps in our flooded cities. I don't think anyone is going to do that.

Iran may not be palatable, but we are being forced into this encounter. Ultimately, their policy in Iraq, and their attempts to use nuclear weapons against us, will make action unavoidable. Statements like your's are exactly the sort of thing that will encourage tinpot dictators like Ahmadinejad to chance their arm. With a larger military we could afford to stay in Iraq(rich pickings if we would just subjugate the rebellious areas), crush resistance in Afghanistan and also secure Iran.

I am not really joking about the BBC and NHS. Both are criminally stupid and incompetent organisations. They will have to go.

The good thing about Clinton and Obama is that they are probably unelectable to the majority of Americans. Obama has lunatic ideas which look like an incomes policy(in America in 2008?!) and Clinton's ideas on a Soviet-style health system will rightly scare most Americans.

The whole point about 9-11 is that there was a Democrat President. His name was Bill CLINTON. He was President for eight years, during which time Al Qaeda launched attacks on American interests both in the US and abroad and planned 9-11. And he did nothing(other things to do perhaps). So the answer to your poser is obvious. If there had been a Democrat in the White House during 9-11...America would have done nothing. And on past performance...it would have been attacked again(something which hasn't happened since 9-11). No wonder they re-elected him in 2004.

Brynley said...

I have this theory that Michael Oakeshott is a 20 year old leftist who has been sent out to discredit the neocons by pretending to be one and camping it up a bit.