Five British soldiers have died in Afghanistan, shot in their own compound, after an Afghan policeman they had been training apparently turned on his mentors.
The policeman, who had been living with the soldiers as part of the training programme, reportedly opened fire, then fled. It has sent shockwaves through the military not only in Britain, but in all countries with troops there.
Training Afghan’s security forces is a key part of NATO’s strategy to eventually leave the country, but if trainers are being turned on by the people they are helping, should they stay? With all the questions about corruption, the legitimacy of the Afghan government, and a rising death toll of both civilians and soldiers, is it time to let Afghans sort out their own country?
Former British foreign office minister Kim Howells has called for the “great majority” of British troops to be withdrawn, saying the opportunity given to Afghans to tackle their problems had “largely been squandered”.
This commentator calls for “a whole new approach” focused much more on development.
But remember that last week at United Nations guest house was attacked in Kabul, killing twelve people. And aid workers have been attacked many times in the country
This article in the Daily Beast calls for America to get out. He quotes a resignation letter from a US marine turned diplomat who resigned from his post over his country’s policy there. As author Christopher Buckley says, the belief of Matthew P. Hoh is that “the U.S. is little more than a “supporting actor” in a long running tragedy of Afghanistan’s now 35-year-old civil war.”
Despite 8 years of intervention and billions of dollars in aid, both military and civilian, Afghanistan is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Corruption is still absolutely rife – do read this comment piece by the new deputy head of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption in Afghanistan if you have time – it give a fantastic insight into just how difficult a problem it is to tackle.
As historians have noted many times, Afghanistan is a country that has consistently defied every foreign occupying power that has ever tried to control or influence it. Is the current military and development mission no different? Is it time to accept that Afghanistan is just different – that no amount of money or intervention is ever going to profoundly change it?