We know that our SAS forces have been involved in a raid in Afghanistan, a raid in which two Afghani security guards were killed.
are different accounts of what happened and of who fired first. What
actually occurred is unclear, and it may be difficult to get to the
truth. It may be a cliche, but in war the truth is often the first
casualty. We should be wary about accepting at face values any of the accounts we hear, both the official ones and the so-called eye-witness accounts.
That hasn't stopped some people on
the left side of the blogosphere from leaping in, accusing the SAS of
committing murder or of acting negligently. And Keith Locke has again
used the event as a pretext to attack our presence in the country.
The conflict in Afghanistan is fraught with difficulty, and there
are no easy solutions. The war seems from this distance to be
unwinnable, and the best case scenario would appear to involve an
eventual negotiated settlement with the Taleban. I don't happen to be an
expert in the region's conflicts (though, thankfully, most other
commentators are as ignorant as me on the topic), but another potential scenario is
the eventual abandonment by the West of the nation, followed by a
bloodbath. Neither appear to be particularly attractive options, which
makes the moral certainty of many on the left who decry our ongoing
involvement so puzzling.
It may be that victory is no longer the main military
goal, but rather the objective is "hanging on" long enough to encourage
some sort of settlement. If "hanging on" is the goal, then further
fighting will be unavoidable. You don't bring an opponent to the
bargaining table by retreating. There may be merit in the tactics being
adopted by NATO and its allied forces, but I'm not qualified to make an
Total withdrawal may be the better option, if either victory or a
settlement cannot be achieved. But if we withdraw we may well end up wringing our hands as CNN and the BBC broadcast atrocities by the
Taleban, and demanding that something be done.
That is why I can't see how so many people who claim to be
concerned about the plight of the Afghan people can be so convinced that
a total withdrawal is the only answer. What if that withdrawal leads to
a frenzy of killing by a resurgent Taleban? How can people have no
doubts at all?
I don't know whether our forces should stay or go. I am just grateful that the decision will be made by others.