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Hearts and mines

Posted by Richard Sunday, June 29, 2008 , ,

click here to go to the blogThe latest part of our ongoing series "Winning the war" is now posted. Entitled "Hearts and mines", in it we look at the mistaken – and damaging belief that our military can prevail by pursuing a policy known as "WHAM" – winning hearts and minds. But, as we conclude, in a hostile environment, our military struggles for the "hearts" of the Afghan population and, in return, they get "mines". The strangest thing is that anyone ever thought it would be different.

By coincidence, there is a letter from Dr Rahim Sherzoy, Ambassador to Afghanistan, in today's Sunday Telegraph, responding to a news review feature which asked whether the British forces' tactics in Afghanistan were right or wrong.

Sherzoy suggests that the feature was "mostly one-sided", stating that "it is important to underline that the Taleban is not an Afghan phenomenon, but was imposed from Pakistan with the support of some elements from other states." He then goes on to write:

From the start, Nato was prevented from achieving its security objectives because it did not have a coherent strategy to go after the hard-core Taleban or a unifying programme to create jobs and address poverty. There was a lack of commitment to create an alternative livelihood for farmers and land owners to discourage poppy growth.
This, by some happy chance, is exactly the conclusion we have reached.

Read more on Defence of the Realm.