Rod Liddle

A just cause

A just cause
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We are apparently incapable of fighting a war, these days, unless a quick and bloodless victory is pre-ordained. Labour (and especially John Reid) deserves some criticism for having pretended, initially, that Afghanistan would be so. But the fact that it has not been so is not the government’s fault, nor the fault of the troops, nor for that matter the fault of the US. Nor does it mean that the war was not worth fighting in the first place: it was, clearly it was, and there were few arguments to the contrary at the time. The Taliban was possibly the most vile regime to have taken office on earth and, more to the point, it was a regime which directly threatened our security – that was why we went in.

The parades at Wooton Bassett and on our evening news programmes, the emotive anger of the bereaved and the clamouring of opposition politicians may yet weaken the will to see this thing through (by which I mean exterminate as many of the Taliban as is humanly possibly, while buttressing the patently flawed regime in Kabul). But none of the stuff we have heard from the opportunistic (and plainly useless) Mr Clegg, and from the Tories for that matter, about ill-prepared troops suggests that the original intention to commit troops was wrong. Or that it is right to bring them home now. The army was ever ill-prepared; I cannot remember a single war fought by our troops without the friendly fire from opposition politicians about a shortage of weapons, uniforms, military vehicles, morale and so on. Of course we might all wish that no British soldiers had been killed: that is an easy thing to wish for, after all. But it is what happens in a long, drawn out, war against an ephemeral enemy. The best way to support our troops right now is to give them our support, not to raise a white feather on their (unwanted) behalf.