Wednesday, 3 March 2010
A total to date of 268 British deaths is more than enough
268 is not a round number nor is it an odd number. It is just a number. Or is it? It represents 268 dead British bodies and it obviously excludes the hundreds of other British bodies seriously injured and maimed.
All over the British world, journalists and political pundits are sharpening their metaphorical pencils and preparing to boot up their all-too-real computers in preparation for the next 'round number' of British deaths. The next round number will be 300. When the number of British deaths reaches 300 there will be a further outpouring of gut-wrenching words and graphic but miniature illustrations of the dead soldiers' faces.
Does that number have to reach 300? And 400? And 500? And 1,000? Not if the politicians who sit in the Houses of Parliaments say otherwise. Without the support of Parliament this adventure cannot continue.
Mr Paice replied in a letter dated the 12th of June, 2008, and said (inter alia), 'I find little with which to disagree,' for which I was grateful.
I wrote to Mr Paice again on the 17th of February, 2009, and said (inter alia), 'I now wish to press you further in light of the news today of yet another fatality for our armed forces - 145 dead to date, as I understand, plus innumerable injured of whom we hear little.
This adventure is proving to be a military and political disaster - military because neither we nor the Americans can win where no-one else has ever won, and political because all we seem to be doing is stirring up a hornets' nest that, in my opinion, would be better left alone. If the Afghans want the Taliban, well, that's their problem.
In this matter at least, the Emperors Bush and Blair are seen by all to have had no clothes and it seems now the Emperors Obama and Brown are equally nude. If you do not disagree with me, surely you owe it to us to speak up publicly?
I guess that the Party line and Party discipline make this potentially difficult for you, but you are one of our elder statesmen now and you surely have greater freedom and a duty to speak up and to persuade colleagues and others with influence that this Country needs to bring the boys home before more are killed or injured.'
Mr Paice replied again on the 26th of February, 2009, indicating (inter alia), that he felt 'constrained from what I am officially allowed to say' on this issue, presumably because he was and is toeing the party line. Mr Paice also indicated that he was constrained by 'lack of knowledge.'
If I felt that something had been achieved, or that something was being achieved, or that something is being achieved, or that something will be achieved by the continued presence of British soldiers - and the continued death toll of those British soldiers - in Afghanistan, I would keep my counsel and I would not criticise Mr Paice and the other British politicians. But it is worth recalling that a former Secretary of State for Defence, Dr. John Reid, suggested that we British might get in and out of that hell-hole 'without a shot being fired.'
If one criticises the Afghanistan adventure, some think that is not supporting our boys. I support our boys - and I have good reason so to do - but I believe that we are wasting men, money and matériel attempting to do what George 'Dubya' Bush said that he and we would do - 'smoke him (bin Laden) out.'
We should take more note of history. All of the great empires, including ours, have failed to 'tame' Afghanistan. Let's be out now and bring our boys home.
If the Labour Government will not decide to do the right thing by our boys, the Conservatives ought to say that they will. I am not a pacifist and I would support the defence of the Falkland Islands or anything feasible to deal with, say, Zimbabwe's difficulties with Mr Mugabe.
But I do not want to see another British death in Afghanistan. A total to date of 268 is more than enough.