The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

12 For 2012

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 2, 2012 @ 20:23

Continuing a fine annual tradition, it’s time to lay down a few markers for the coming year. It’s going to be a busy one, methinks…

  1. Starting at home, with yet another boring prediction, the Coalition will last the whole year. Get used to it, Labourites. It ain’t going anywhere.
  2. The Lib Dems will take a pounding in the local elections, especially in Scottish councils, where they will be wiped only for the saving grace that is a truly proportional electoral system. Predictably, it will all be dismissed, and the Lib Dems will accept it and carry on.
  3. David Cameron will finally conduct a proper reshuffle, though it still won’t be particularly far reaching. Osborne isn’t going anywhere and neither is Michael Gove. Lansley may be moved if the NHS reforms pass successfully to give someone else a chance. He will definitely be removed if they fail. The Lib Dems have such a paucity of front bench talent that there is very little room for manouevre… but maybe Nick Clegg will at least get a real portfolio at last, now the “political reform” agenda has vanished.
  4. Ed Miliband will remain Labour leader, in spite of generally underwhelming election results and another defeat to Boris in the London mayoral election.
  5. In Europe, the Euro crisis will be resolved with a “treaty”. The treaty will not get the UK’s blessing, and the EU will proceed into a closer union without the UK, creating overwhelming calls for an in-out referendum. If it starts looking tempting, expect Labour to back the idea.
  6. France will get a “Socialist” President as Sarkozy plunges to inevitable defeat.
  7. Rick Santorum will win the Iowa caucuses, but Mitt Romney will be the Republicans nominee for President.
  8. Barack Obama will squeak a narrow re-election against Mitt Romney.
  9. The Democrats will either lose control of the Senate or it will be an exact 50-50 tie, with Joe Biden, VP, suddenly finding a reason to exist. The Democrats will not re-take the House, but it will be close. This disastrous deadlock will result in two more years of pathetic governance in the States.
  10. Syria will continue to make a mockery of the West – and the uprising will eventually be brutally suppressed. Meanwhile, the rest of the Arab Spring becomes stillborn, and the tendency towards strong, authoritarian governments in the region will persist.
  11. Iran will successfully navigate the year without there being any progress on disarmament, and there will be no military activity of any sort. However, the West will begin sounding the war-drums, and the useless public will buy it.
  12. And all the while the schizophrenic public will continue to ignore the fact that Afghanistan has been, and will continue to be, a catastrophic failure. More lives will continue to be lost, though Obama will, mercifully, confirm a long, slow, drawdown over the next few years.

And the usual bonus prediction… Manchester City will win this year’s Premier League.

See you at the end of the year!

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And This Is What We’re Fighting For

Posted by The Futility Monster on February 23, 2010 @ 09:50

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

I don’t know about you, but this story makes me pretty mad…

Western diplomats have expressed deep concern at a decree from Afghan President Hamid Karzai giving him total control over a key election body.

The move gives him the power to appoint all five members of Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC).

The body helped expose massive fraud in last year’s presidential poll, forcing Mr Karzai into a second vote.

The Afghan people, our soldiers, and those of other countries are dying for this.

They are dying to create a sham version of democracy which props up an ailing administration that has no power beyond its base in Kabul.

They are dying apparently to secure a better future for Afghanistan, when all that is happening is, as usual, the people at the top are abusing their position for personal and political gain.

But what can we do?

After all, we put him there. We made sure he continues to be re-elected. We set the framework for the constitutional arrangement of the country. We can’t go preaching democracy and then moan when we dislike the result.

But we’ll plunder on regardless. After all, that is the neoconservative view of the world. We have no principled objection to dictators. We’d just rather they all supported us. See Uzbekistan, China and Saudi Arabia. Oh, and Cuba, North Korea and Iran.

Afghanistan. A complete and utter travesty from which we will never extricate ourselves.

Nice job, politicians.

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Dither On, Obama

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 13, 2009 @ 10:46

ObamaScratchHead

Wouldn't you be scratching your head too?

After calling a few weeks ago for Obama to grow some balls over US healthcare, I’m now going to spectacularly reverse my position.

However, I feel such breathtaking double standards is justified because of the extraordinary circumstances of the decision I’m going to discuss.

I’m talking – what else – about Afghanistan.

There’s a growing level of concern amongst the talking heads about the fact that Obama is taking so long to decide whether or not he wants to raise the level of the war by sending in more troops.

It has always been assumed that that is exactly what Obama would do. Indeed, he made it a part of his election campaign… though I was always hoping that was just to ensure John McCain couldn’t try to use it to bash him over the head.

But no, it seems Obama is planning to escalate the disaster that is Afghanistan.

And yet. And yet…

There is something slightly reassuring about the fact that he appears to be taking so long about what to do. Some people, even amongst the left, are getting a bit restless about the situation. But I assure you, there is no need to worry.

Why? Because it appears the Americans have finally elected someone who’s interested in what is, perhaps, the most important thing in the world.

Facts. Evidence.

We have become so used to the American president blindly going ahead with what he believes to be the right course of action because of some misguided faith in what is good versus the evils of this world, and to hell with the consequences.

If George Bush had been a fan of the facts, he might have realised that Iraq was folly of the first order. If George Bush had been a fan of the facts, he may not have supported Israel’s extreme reaction to the Hezbollah troop kidnapping.

If George Bush had been a fan of the facts, he might have paid more attention to the sheer hypocrisy of exporting so-called Western values around the globe while working to subvert them at home and abroad with scandals such as warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition and the torture of inmates in Guantanamo.

Meanwhile, there are some complaining that taking such a long time over a decision like this really doesn’t bode well for any other difficult decisions in future. Or, worse, is going to damage his reputation.

I couldn’t disagree more. For what harder decision can there be than one that will inevitably result in the deaths of thousands, if not more? With the amount of evidence and points of view to be absorbed, and many factors to consider, I imagine most of us would find such a judgement to be extremely difficult too. To me, his reputation is enhanced for such a start and sober assessment of the reality in the ground.

Let’s face it, it’s better than the alternatives.

So, dither on, Obama. It might, at least, change the news focus onto outcomes (how the war ends) than process (number of helicopters…)

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Why The Afghanistan War Will Continue

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 6, 2009 @ 10:30

poppy_square

Perhaps we need more white poppies this year...

The question I’m beginning to wonder is simple. How much longer can the political class go on supporting the deaths of British troops in the face of public opposition?

The answer is nuanced and requires a combination of all the following factors:

While opposition is merely “opposition” and not being demonstrated extremely and forcefully, they could conceivably go on for a long time. After all, millions made their feelings known on the Iraq War, and that made no difference. Right now, people may say they oppose the war, but do they have a place to go to express it?

While the main Opposition party supports the war, that too will ensure little changes. When the two main parties are both agreed on a course of action, there is almost nothing stopping it. The Tories support the war as much, if not more, than Labour. Perhaps when Labour are in opposition they may elect a new leader who takes a populist stance on Afghanistan. For governments to be truly put under pressure, it is essential that the Opposition is the articulate voice of the nation’s feelings. That isn’t happening now.

While there is a relatively convincing and wonderfully rhetoric-laced riposte to all opponents of the Afghanistan war. It’s very easy for me to get into a debate with someone and tell them the war must end, but I have to admit I am always put on the back foot if they respond by saying we must remain there or the country will collapse, and then tens or hundreds of thousands will have died in vain. Then there are arguments about terrorism, which, while mostly bogus, give easy soundbites for the warmongers.

While there is a government at utter rock-bottom which knows it really doesn’t matter that it’s backing an unpopular war. Labour couldn’t sink any lower if they tried, and so the party leadership is free to ignore populist demands. Perhaps when the Tories are in government, and it soon becomes “their war” and the poll ratings start to slip… maybe that will encourage a change in direction.

While there is nowhere to go. None of the three major parties are outlining a case for withdrawal. That makes such a view extreme, espoused only by cranks from Stop The War or loony lefties. As such, the only people who appear in the media news cycles to say we need to pull out are figures that don’t look, sound or feel like they represent Britain. Paul Flynn MP made a superb case on Newsnight for pulling out immediately, but until such voices are heard consistently and forcefully across all media, opinions will not harden.

While not enough people refuse to make the issue the number one priority for how they will vote. In the end, it is down to the electorate to make their feelings fully heard.

While politicians don’t have the bottle to say “Enough is enough”. We’ve got into this bizarre situation now where no one wants to be the first to back down or they will be accused either of being unpatriotic or overseeing a defeat for “our boys”.

While tabloid media are not opposed. The government doesn’t necessarily listen to the tabloids, but if it’s being remorselessly attacked by this group as well as other media and the public at large, it all builds up a convincing case.

While Obama refuses to take the lead. It would be rather odd if the world’s policy on Afghanistan was set by the fact that Obama doesn’t want to lose face against the rhetoric of the Republican Party, but that is what’s happening. I get the sense that he’s not prepared to take them on on this issue. In any case, I don’t think he opposes the war anyway. Which is a mistake; this will be his very own Vietnam.

Conclusion

Afghanistan is a total mess, and the sooner we’re out, the better. There is nothing more we can achieve there. Our efforts have succeeded in putting in place a corrupt administration in Kabul, while the rest of the country is run by local warlords. Meanwhile, we allegedly defeated the Taleban in 2002, yet we’re still fighting them seven years later. That is not a good enough return for the deaths of thousands of soldiers and huge, untold numbers of civilians.

The bloodshed, and the madness, must stop.

If it doesn’t, the corrosive effect of politicians failing to appreciate or understand their electorate will continue.

And then maybe our own country will need to be invaded in order to restore “democracy”.

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What Is Afghanistan For?

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 9, 2009 @ 00:54

Once again - only this dearly departed man asks the right questions...

Once again - only this dearly departed man asks the right questions...

Forgive me a moment for being an old anti-war leftie, but it pleases me that, at last, the continual deaths in Afghanistan have finally been noticed by people.

To me, all deaths in this war are an utter travesty. But I can’t have been the only one to have noticed that in recent times, although each death is reported, it is often little more than a footnote to the news bulletin. From all politicians, no matter which country you pick in the Western world, there is a very cozy consensus around the issue that this is a war we must fight, have no choice in, and therefore all consequences are acceptable.

Each one is always noted in the Commons at PMQs every Wednesday, and is always accompanied with the usual message of defiance – we can’t let the terrorists win, etc. But it is simply taken for granted that the country supports the objectives in Afghanistan, and are willing to make the blood sacrifice that is spilt on a regular basis – even more so in recent days.

However… maybe there is a glimmer of turbulence on the horizon. Today at PMQs, Conservative MP John Maples seemed to suggest his constituents are getting restless about the war. And now we see my party’s dear leader Clegg is starting to get a little worried. And rightly so. We are indeed throwing young lives away in Afghanistan. But, as always, these criticisms are very caged. You’ll note he still supports the war fully.

Yet I am not so convinced, especially after this brutal week, that the public continue to buy this argument that we must remain in Afghanistan until the Taleban are defeated. Personally, I don’t think we are engaged in a war that we will ever win. And the more the news remains bad, the more opposition is likely to build up again over this deployment which, let us not forget, has been going for nearly eight years now with little to no obvious signs of progress.

It really is not clear why we’re in Afghanistan any more. But given recent events, I think the time will come where we see the whole argument being opened up again for discussion.

After such a long time, I think we at least owe our troops that respect: that they are being used for a genuine purpose.

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