The conflict in Afghanistan – and in particular Helmand province – has dominated the papers and news bulletins in Britain over the weekend.
This poll , however, commissioned by the BBC and the Guardian, suggests the public here are unwilling to turn against a war while British soldiers – like the 8 who died in one day last week (pictured ) are dying.
But the conduct of the war – and whether the British and the Americans are even in the right places – is being discussed widely.
Lord Ashdown was tipped to be tyhe UN’s special representative there last year :
“ The army were persuaded, for political reasons, to follow a Beau Geste strategy – putting our people out in forward forts largely because the politicians were persuaded by [Afghan president Hamid] Karzai that this was where his supporters and family lived, It led to a military error of major proportions. The army’s job in a war is to find and kill the enemy.”
Another opposition vouice – Conservative John Maples;
“Increasingly, people are starting to ask whether this war is winnable and whether our military objectives are sensible given the number of troops and the amount of equipment we are prepared to commit.”
In this article in the Telegraph , Richard Preston asks “what exactly are we doing in Afghanistan ? ”
“But Osama bin Laden is still in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. He chooses to be there precisely because Pakistan can be more assertive in its state sovereignty than Afghanistan and restricts US operations.”
And Peter Preston in the Guardian has this to say :
“The world is full of places where al-Qaida can hide and operate. Somalia, Sudan, twisting back streets from Jakarta to Casablanca. You don’t need the full military monty to wreak death and destruction. A few deluded kids from Bradford will serve quite as well. And, anyway, to quote Gordon Brown again: “Three-quarters of the most serious plots investigated by our British authorities have links to al-Qaida in Pakistan.” Downing Street’s “crucible of terrorism” is somewhere east of the Durand Line. Our soldiers are fighting and dying in the wrong country – and that’s the idiocy that has got to stop.”
Despite this, the British Government continues to insist that the war is just, and is even making Britain a safer place.
And a senior figure in the Afghan section here at Bush House says he thinks the majority of the Afghan people SUPPORT the action, if not necessarily the way it’s been handled .
is it the right war to be fighting ? or the right war in the wrong country ?