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'we Should Have Talked To Taliban' Says Top British Officer In Afghanistan

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/28/talks-taliban-british-officer-afghanistan

The west should have tried talking to the Taliban a decade ago, when they had just been toppled from power, the top British commander in Afghanistan has told the Guardian, barely a week after the latest attempt to bring the insurgent group to the negotiating table stuttered to a halt.

General Nick Carter, deputy commander of the Nato-led coalition, said Afghan forces would need western military and financial support for several years after western combat troops head home in 2014. And he said the Kabul government may have to accept that for some years it would have only shaky control over some remoter parts of the country.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, he said: "Back in 2002, the Taliban were on the run. I think that at that stage, if we had been very prescient, we might have spotted that a final political solution to what started in 2001, from our perspective, would have involved getting all Afghans to sit at the table and talk about their future," he said.

From what I read I thought the Taliban were only succeeding because they where buying off all the local warlords, which would imply if we offered the warlords more money they would switch sides. Although I do recall reading that part of the current problems in Afghanistan relate to the fact we offered lots of people money and then didn't follow through which naturally p155ed off the locals ensuring they now don't trust us.

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I suspect that some of London's finest and most expensive property is now owned by gentlemen from Afghanistan - all paid for with US and UK tax-payers' money no doubt.

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From what I read I thought the Taliban were only succeeding because they where buying off all the local warlords, which would imply if we offered the warlords more money they would switch sides. Although I do recall reading that part of the current problems in Afghanistan relate to the fact we offered lots of people money and then didn't follow through which naturally p155ed off the locals ensuring they now don't trust us.

From what I read of that story, even if you buy the official narrative*, the last decade has been a complete waste of time. And God knows how many lives and how much money.

*=Hard for me to even start doing when a mate who is a brain in the shipping business unequivocally told me a month before 9/11 that the logistics were being put in place for the Americans to invade somewhere in that region before year's end.

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On the positive side, geopolitically speaking, Iran is now up to its ears in all that bonus Afghan opium washing on in

As per UN drug report of 2011, Iran accounts for highest rate of opium and heroin seizure rates in the world, intercepting 89% of all seized opium in the world. Within a span of thirty years, 3700 Iranian police officers have been killed and tens of thousands more injured in counter narcotics operations mostly on Afghan and Pakistan borders.

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*=Hard for me to even start doing when a mate who is a brain in the shipping business unequivocally told me a month before 9/11 that the logistics were being put in place for the Americans to invade somewhere in that region before year's end.

You don't have wear a tinfoil hat to notice that the power mad Bush administration was waiting for a pretext to invade places and plenty of pretexts were emerging: Saddam (grossly exaggerated threat though he was) was a reasonable annoyance, the Taliban blowing up monuments didn't endear themselves to the rest of the world, and things were already escalated through the 90s with Osama Bin Laden.

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Basically, what the Afghans do in Afghanistan is none of our business and never was. We invaded their country and we had no justification whatsoever for doing that, no more than the Afghans would be justified in invading our country because they disapproved of unaffordable house prices.

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You don't have wear a tinfoil hat to notice that the power mad Bush administration was waiting for a pretext to invade places and plenty of pretexts were emerging: Saddam (grossly exaggerated threat though he was) was a reasonable annoyance, the Taliban blowing up monuments didn't endear themselves to the rest of the world, and things were already escalated through the 90s with Osama Bin Laden.

Saddam tried to assassinate the first George Bush President in Kuwait a few years after he left office. I will always be convinced that his son invaded Iraq as payback.

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Saddam tried to assassinate the first George Bush President in Kuwait a few years after he left office. I will always be convinced that his son invaded Iraq as payback.

FBI agents sent to Kuwait to investigate the car bomb assassination threat against Bush believed the entire operation was bogus. They believed the Kuwaiti government rounded up a few Iraqi whiskey smugglers, planted Iraqi ordnance left in Kuwait by Iraqi forces as "evidence," and staged the entire assassination plot in order to ingratiate themselves to Bush and put pressure on the Clinton administration to retaliate against Iraq

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If people want a deeper understanding of the lash up that our politicians and their military commanders have made in Iraq and Afghanistan then they should read 'Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan' by Frank Ledwidge.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Losing-Small-Wars-Military-Afghanistan/dp/0300182740

This book was written by an experienced reservist who saw service both in a military capacity in Iraq and as a civil official in Afghanistan.

It is a pretty damning indictment of the current British military high command and it will come as a bit of an eye opener to anyone who still nurtures the delusion that the British army is somehow immune from all the failings that afflict every other area of public life. The reality is that the military are knee deep in all the sh*t that rots the fabric of British society from top heavy management, poor planning, lack of consistency in strategy, lick spittle senior officers who sometimes appear more concerned about personal promotion and medals than the lives of their men and the civilian populations they are supposed to be protecting, petty scheming to secure budgets for pet military projects, childish inter service and inter regimental rivalries, pathetic attempts to 'spin' obvious military failure into success etc. It is all there.

I think the most crushing item for the British army is the fact that both in Basra and Helmand US forces essentially had to dig the British out of the hole they created for themselves. The Americans have come to view UK forces as liabilities rather than allies much as the German army saw the Austrians in World War 1 and the Italians in World War 2 While the Yanks have made more than their own fair share of blunders in these campaigns they have at least acknowledged some of their mistakes and made attempts to rectify them. The British have instead chosen to pretend that black is white and that defeat is victory.

The most chilling part of the book is the final chapter that warns that British military is now so obsessed with 'Expeditionary warfare' that it might not be to take the strategic shock of fighting something other than ill armed peasant rebels, IEDs and suicide bombers. If that happens it wont just be British soldiers or foreign civilians in far away lands who will be doing the dying.

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If people want a deeper understanding of the lash up that our politicians and their military commanders have made in Iraq and Afghanistan then they should read 'Losing Small Wars: British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan' by Frank Ledwidge.

<snip>

An updated version of The Man Who Would Be King then ;)

I've seen a similar suggestion that 'deskilling' of IDF was responsible for its less than stellar performance in Lebanon in 2006

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FBI agents sent to Kuwait to investigate the car bomb assassination threat against Bush believed the entire operation was bogus. They believed the Kuwaiti government rounded up a few Iraqi whiskey smugglers, planted Iraqi ordnance left in Kuwait by Iraqi forces as "evidence," and staged the entire assassination plot in order to ingratiate themselves to Bush and put pressure on the Clinton administration to retaliate against Iraq

Well, blow me over with a feather and then tickle my fancy afterwards. I never knew that - probably because the first half of the story got widely reported and then the latter half did not.

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We should have bought all the opium crops, produced medical-quality diamorphine, decriminalised heroin usage, distributed it free to registered heroin addicts (as methadone is apparently worse) and thus destroyed the illegal market for heroin in one fell swoop, at the same time helping wean addicts off heroin and removing any financial 'need' for them to engage in petty crime.

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Basically, what the Afghans do in Afghanistan is none of our business and never was. We invaded their country and we had no justification whatsoever for doing that, no more than the Afghans would be justified in invading our country because they disapproved of unaffordable house prices.

The Taliban were only a secondary threat that were less menacing than the Pakistanis and were slightly embarrassed about hosting Al Qaeda

Going in and filling Osama Bin Laden with slugs was fine and dandy, but it was delusional thinking akin to Hitler's attempted invasion of Eurasia when the US assumed it could reform Afghanistan and then Iraq in its own image after shooting the places up a bit.

The most chilling part of the book is the final chapter that warns that British military is now so obsessed with 'Expeditionary warfare' that it might not be to take the strategic shock of fighting something other than ill armed peasant rebels, IEDs and suicide bombers. If that happens it wont just be British soldiers or foreign civilians in far away lands who will be doing the dying.

Here's a more balanced review on the slightly hysterical sounding book:

1. Lots of dubious historiography. Firstly, Rommel apparently saying that the Americans learnt quickly after Casserine (any rational review of the disastrous winter performance of 1944/5 and 100,000 casualties later, would question this; similarly missed the point that 3 Para got distributed in order to protect Karzai's drug money machine). But hey, why spoil a good narrative with facts?

2. This book makes very good points about what happens when your army is too small to have a strategy, and you act as an auxiliary for a decaying world-power in transition from world policeman to political neutrality.

3. In essence, only Special Forces make any sense when intervening in civil wars, and perhaps armies can only act as feeding-grounds to recruit your finest to join Special Forces.

4. If we were serious about "winning" in Basra - we would have kidnapped all the gang leaders and their sons and negotiated very slowly, announced we were staying for 100 years, sorted out the utilities and then switched them off whenever there was a problem. When in doubt, always ask yourself: "what would the Romans have done"?

5. If we were serious about "winning" in Helmand - we would have bought all the poppy production from the farmers, and sold them the seeds; and/ or used the Kajaki dam to switch off the water supply when it suited.

6. This book hints quite intelligently (but not explicitly) that wars are often like vanity publishing, where the narratives say more about who you want to be rather than who you actually are: that the democracy/ education/ freedom/ modernity/ progress narratives are a cover for a moral vacuum in the USA and UK.

7. I was intrigued by the idea that the Afghans (whoever they actually are) were convinced that the British were being deliberately incompetent. Why didn't Ledwidge ask them what we would have been doing if we really cared?

8. Why didn't Ledwidge talk about the influence of the Pakistani military in Afghanistan?

9. I agreed with the need to think deeper, systemically and iteratively about goals, needs and wants when operating in foreign political climates.

10. The point about influence needs development, but I find the narrative about soft and hard power unconvincing. Perhaps N.Korea knows what it is doing after all, and China's aquisition of foreign resources through purchase from local governments without occupation, seems to work well. And yet, they are building a large, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

11. Some good points about careerism and its connection with compliant, submissive behaviour in senior officers. Ironically, perhaps we could do with more people joining the military with private incomes. We might get better, more intelligent, less career-focused behaviours.

12. What special insights might the RAF or RN have had that might have made any difference?

13. We tend to forget that the British Army was big enough (and diverse enough) to have people who were "not nice chaps" like Montgomery, whose whole approach was to keep British Soldiers alive. Size is often everything. As French said: when your army is small, everyone tends to think they can take you on. And win.

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The Taliban were only a secondary threat that were less menacing than the Pakistanis and were slightly embarrassed about hosting Al Qaeda

Going in and filling Osama Bin Laden with slugs was fine and dandy, but it was delusional thinking akin to Hitler's attempted invasion of Eurasia when the US assumed it could reform Afghanistan and then Iraq in its own image after shooting the places up a bit.

Here's a more balanced review on the slightly hysterical sounding book:

Ledwidges book is anything but hysterical even if some of his suggested solutions may be impractical.

I would suggest that you try reading it rather than just cutting and pasting other peoples reviews from Amazon. If you did you might find that some points made by the review you quoted are simply wrong. The 16 Air Assault (including 3 Para) did not protect 'Karzai's drug money machine' since they were enforcing a British government policy which included the removal of Sher Muhammed Akhundzada the warlord and opium trader who ran Helmand as governor for Karzai after the Taliban were ousted. This act and the general counter narcotic activity undertaken by the British army at the behest of the British government attracted the displeasure of both the Americans and Karzai who was close to Akhundzada.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sher_Mohammad_Akhundzada

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmand_province_campaign

In fact, this step is identified by Ledwidge as possibly the single biggest blunder made by the British army since it opened the door for the Taliban effectively to retake control of much of Helmand

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Saddam tried to assassinate the first George Bush President in Kuwait a few years after he left office. I will always be convinced that his son invaded Iraq as payback.

I've always thought the same thing.

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The way to truly "win" in Afghanistan is to either socialise with the local strongmen or erect pyramids of human skulls, with no middle ground. There still seems to be no coherent planning and even the Germans are quite timid, with the Canadians having similar hang ups to the UK.

And it was pretty much America's irrational decision to invade Iraq, drawing a lot attention/funding/manpower/weaponry away from the Afghan theatre in the first place. And the US Military is also slowly rotting away from inside with too many career orientated officers and bureaucratic bloat.

NATO arrogance after outspending the Soviets seems to be one of the main culprits for the current mess and the MoD is trying to replicate the comparative success of the Falklans (when China now has a vastly superior ground force than we do).

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Basically, what the Afghans do in Afghanistan is none of our business and never was. We invaded their country and we had no justification whatsoever for doing that, no more than the Afghans would be justified in invading our country because they disapproved of unaffordable house prices.

It is said that in all of History, an invader has never kept his ill gotten gains...not including invaders like Dutch Elm Disease of course.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/28/talks-taliban-british-officer-afghanistan

From what I read I thought the Taliban were only succeeding because they where buying off all the local warlords, which would imply if we offered the warlords more money they would switch sides. Although I do recall reading that part of the current problems in Afghanistan relate to the fact we offered lots of people money and then didn't follow through which naturally p155ed off the locals ensuring they now don't trust us.

the only way to win in afghanistan is to do a "ghengis khan" on them.

they don't call it the graveyard of empires for nothing, pussy footing around trying to be friends with them doesn't work.

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And it was pretty much America's irrational decision to invade Iraq, drawing a lot attention/funding/manpower/weaponry away from the Afghan theatre in the first place. And the US Military is also slowly rotting away from inside with too many career orientated officers and bureaucratic bloat.

erm,no it wasn't.

bush and blair were both under orders from external parties conducting their policy......nothing whatsoever to do with our own domestic security requirements, in fact their agenda was/is quite malevolent.

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erm,no it wasn't.

bush and blair were both under orders from external parties conducting their policy......nothing whatsoever to do with our own domestic security requirements, in fact their agenda was/is quite malevolent.

And nothing at all to do with Cheney's secret energy resources meeting earlier?

Operation Iraqi Liberation was the game (and Afghanistan was to control access to Caspian oil). It also enabled the yanks to seize the fertile triangle, and force their seed control onto the Iraqis.

I'm not saying there wasn't synergy with external parties.

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And nothing at all to do with Cheney's secret energy resources meeting earlier?

Operation Iraqi Liberation was the game (and Afghanistan was to control access to Caspian oil). It also enabled the yanks to seize the fertile triangle, and force their seed control onto the Iraqis.

I'm not saying there wasn't synergy with external parties.

like burglers in the night...and day.

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It is a pretty damning indictment of the current British military high command and it will come as a bit of an eye opener to anyone who still nurtures the delusion that the British army is somehow immune from all the failings that afflict every other area of public life. The reality is that the military are knee deep in all the sh*t that rots the fabric of British society from top heavy management, poor planning, lack of consistency in strategy, lick spittle senior officers who sometimes appear more concerned about personal promotion and medals than the lives of their men and the civilian populations they are supposed to be protecting, petty scheming to secure budgets for pet military projects, childish inter service and inter regimental rivalries, pathetic attempts to 'spin' obvious military failure into success etc. It is all there.

I think the most crushing item for the British army is the fact that both in Basra and Helmand US forces essentially had to dig the British out of the hole they created for themselves. The Americans have come to view UK forces as liabilities rather than allies much as the German army saw the Austrians in World War 1 and the Italians in World War 2 While the Yanks have made more than their own fair share of blunders in these campaigns they have at least acknowledged some of their mistakes and made attempts to rectify them. The British have instead chosen to pretend that black is white and that defeat is victory.

Plus ca change and all that, what?

Its certainly not a unique development. And not even a unique development of British military disasterism in Afghanistan. The first debacle back in 1842 was a direct result of muddled and inconsistent doctrine and strategy designed by committee and aggravated by penny pinching and official cowardice.

Happened several time in the intervening years. Aden is probably a good example. The inability to equip the army with a decent tank in WWII is a prime example of, as you so eloquently put it, "the sh*t that rots the fabric of British society".

One of the guys at work just left the army after 12 years. He said the rules of engagement stated they couldnt return fire if the person shooting at the was moving. Even a child can see the stupidity of that.

A documentary a while back showed how an Anglo-Afghan patrol was sent out to investigate a compound they thought was being used as a machine-gun nest by the 'Taliban'. On the way, one of the poor sod Afghans trod on an IED and got two legs and an arm blown off. They abandoned the mission to medevac him. So thats it really. One casualty and the whole mission is binned. You cant win a war that way.

I recall again in the news a while back that our lot had had a lot of trouble with IED's on a certain road. Dont recall how many were killed or injured trying to clear the IED's but when the yanks took back over, they simply bulldozed every house for 100m on either side of the road. Put a stop to it immediately.

The point being that if you want to occupy a country and force your world-view on them, then you can go around with pink feather boas and high heels saying "pweees can we wun your country-wountry doo-ddo se boo-boos pweeeees?" You need to go in there with the mailed fist and the steel toe-capped jackboot......

...... of course, our politicians and the public at large have no appetite for that sort of thing so our people are getting killed prancing around like Mother f*cking Terresa in a cammo skirt.

Firstly, Rommel apparently saying that the Americans learnt quickly after Casserine (any rational review of the disastrous winter performance of 1944/5 and 100,000 casualties later, would question this;

As an interesting historical point, Rommel had a great deal of mis-placed awe in the Americans, frequently attributing British developments that gave him a hard time to the Americans. I have some of Rommel's memoirs and I'll see if he ever actually said this.

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I recall again in the news a while back that our lot had had a lot of trouble with IED's on a certain road. Dont recall how many were killed or injured trying to clear the IED's but when the yanks took back over, they simply bulldozed every house for 100m on either side of the road. Put a stop to it immediately.

And added several more people to the next generation wanting to kill westerners.

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  • 246 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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