Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We're shocked, shocked!

We saw recently another example of the vulnerability of the coalition supply chain in Afghanistan and now, under the pretext of news, the BBC, the Washington Post, the New York Times and others, tell us that the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are channelling the money to warlords.

Truckers carrying supplies to US troops – according to a Congressional report entitled "Warlord, Inc: Extortion and Corruption Along the US Supply Chain in Afghanistan" - allegedly pay the firms to ensure safe passage in dangerous areas of Afghanistan. And what is more, the convoys are attacked if payments are not made.

Well, we are shocked, shocked, I tell you. In fact, we're so shocked that we were writing about this in June 2008 and then in more detail on 3 September 2009, again on 13 September 2009 (based in part on reports from February 2009, with references from the previous year) and then again on 10 December 2009.

Apart from the obvious comment – like "what took you so long?" – the issue here is of some considerable importance. We are six months into McChrystal's so-called "surge" and even before it started, we knew that huge bribes were being paid to the Taliban, effectively enabling them to keep the war going.

It would have been such a good idea to chop off the flow of funds, before we started pouring men and materiel into the "surge", but no ... such logic is clearly quite beyond the military and political geniuses running this war. So, six months in, the Taliban are likely better off, better equipped and richer than they were before the surge started.

And, while the evidence here is focused on US payments, it is equally the case that the UK is making similar payments. Thus, not only are we the taxpayers funding our own troops in the Afghan adventure, we are also helping to fund the Taliban, alongside the Americans.

Despite this, we have Lieutenant-General Nick Parker tell us that the most important ingredient of success (in Afghanistan) is "an aggressive political strategy that can build on the improving security." He adds: "It should draw further strength from improvements in governance and development and a sense of the inevitability of progress."

I might have written in these terms before, but either the general is irredeemably stupid – which he must be if he believes this guff – or he thinks we are stupid if he is expecting us to believe it. But even someone as thick as an Army Lieutenant-General should be able to understand that paying your enemy to fight you is not a recipe for instant peace or military success.

How then can there be "improving security" when he and his over-paid, over-promoted mates can't even sort out the basics? How can any current plans have any credibility whatsoever when this situation has been known about for years and still nothing is done about it?

Short of stupidity, there can only be massive self-delusion here, which brooks no confidence whatsoever in the conduct of the Afghan mission.

Comment: Afghanistan thread