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Friday, 13 February 2009

We must stop being America's poodles of war

What do you suppose is Britain's policy in Afghanistan - other than rolling over and asking the Americans for orders? Sit, stay, heel, fetch... something along those lines. Maybe followed by 'good boy' and a pat on the head.

Since the Afghanistan conflict has now lasted longer than World War II and shows no sign of resolution, it is reasonable to demand clarification.

The Government fires back the standard cliche, that we are there for 'nation-building'. It is a wonderful (and patronising) phrase. As one sceptic observed: 'Nation-building is a term created by people living off Pentagon contracts.'

You can almost smell the money. The U.S. is pouring $2-3billion a year into projects for Afghanistan. In 1961, a disillusioned President Eisenhower on leaving office issued his famous warning that Americans must beware the power of 'the industrial-military complex'. Perhaps 'nation-builders' should be added.

An essential feature of the current grand project, along with the hydroelectric schemes, the improved roads and all the rest, is to turn Afghanistan into a working democracy. Which, it is assumed, will be stable with a higher standard of living and thus unwilling to tolerate the Taliban and its Jihadist allies.

Such naivety is at least consistent with the American view of the world. It is sad to see British politicians of all colours accepting it.

Afghanistan, more than most other countries in the region, regards democracy as an alien and foolish cult. The country's basis is tribal and the key figures are tribal leaders. More