"I've never been to Afghanistan before but from what I've seen it actually looks like quite a nice country, so I'm looking forward to going out there and making a difference." A young soldier was reported as saying.
The war in Afghanistan has always been incomprehensible except in terms of a craven subservience to the most belligerent elements in the US government and military Why do we follow the lead of this declining power whose hubris President Barack Obama has yet, in his actions, to refute? Why is Britain, with its foreign wars, the second most belligerent state on the planet? Why are we one of the world's largest exporters of arms?
Do our politicians and generals never learn from experience? This is the fourth war Britain has fought in Afghanistan in the past 170 years.
Arithmetic on the Frontier
A great and glorious thing it is
To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
Ere reckoned fit to face the foe --
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."
Three hundred pounds per annum spent
On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
Comprised in "villanous saltpetre!"
And after -- ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our 'ologies.
A scrimmage in a Border Station --
A canter down some dark defile --
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --
The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!
No proposition Euclid wrote,
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar's downward blow
Strike hard who cares -- shoot straight who can --
The odds are on the cheaper man.
One sword-knot stolen from the camp
Will pay for all the school expenses
Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
But, being blessed with perfect sight,
Picks off our messmates left and right.
With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
The troop-ships bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and steam,
To slay Afridis where they run.
The "captives of our bow and spear"
Are cheap -- alas! as we are dear.
This was relevant in Vietnam. It is also relevant in Iraq. Our government learned the arithmetic and now has volunteer army and fights battles with technology that lowers casualties. Alas, however, in a police operation like they are attempting in Afghanistan, the arithmetic becomes relevant again.
The Government tells us we cannot withdraw our troops until the war has been won. Anyone who has been in the tribal areas and met the Afghan people would know that they will never accept a foreign presence in their country and that they will never surrender. Unfortunately we rarely hear about how many civilians are dying because of this conflict.
Soldiers from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, Tidworth, are presently part of the force of occupation in deployed to Afghanistan. They will be marching through Bristol on the July 16.