Terrific Guardian column by Simon Jenkins. Excerpt:
The one straw at which ministers and generals will grasp is that as long as the war lasts, it helps them lobby for money. Ever since Nato lost its reason for existing, its task has been to find a purpose. It has dragged out the insane Afghan conflict for 11 years. Why stop now? In the one battle that matters to a modern army – the battle for resources – the Taliban is not an enemy but an ally.
What do officials say nowadays to the relatives of the 433 British and 2,000 American who have died fighting in Afghanistan. Do they say they have avenged the dead of 9/11, taught the Taliban a lesson, “sent a message” to militant Islam, helped rebuild a poor country? They cannot surely be repeating Gordon Brown’s line, that their deaths are making Britain’s streets safer. London now has to be patrolled by armed policemen, and a billion pounds spent protecting the Olympics.
The truth is that British troops are dying in Afghanistan because no British government has the guts to admit they are there to no purpose. Military lobbyists shelter behind the “bravery of our boys” to sustain defence spending. No party dares question the war or its objective, for fear of demeaning heroism. The war is not mentioned at party conferences. Money is poured into drone bombing, despite its manifest counter-productivity. The coalition claims to be “training” a 350,000-strong local army and police force, but knows them to be unreliable, a new Taliban in the making.