So after returning from church this morning, the TV was on and a television show called “The Big Question”, hosted by Nicky Campbell. When I read the title, it immediately registered an interest, so I stood want watched the unfolding conversations take shape. Several points were raised and I will cover those that were an interest to myself.
I personally think that the war in Afghanistan was worth it, for many reasons, some not worth mentioning here. Thanks to the US, UK and many other UN nations taking part in the Afghan War, millions more are now educated. People seem to forget that since those first shots were fired in 2001, it has been thirteen years since it started. Within that time an entire generation was born and another came of age, and thanks to the sacrifices of those soldiers who have laid their lives down for the protection and security of those people, they can be educated in a fair and just way. Not only are more people able to read (literacy has increased hugely since 2001) & write, but females are able to do so as well, which is thanks to the military again. Women before 2001 were third rate citizens in the eyes of the Afghanistan population, mostly due to the rules, regulations and laws passed by the controlling Taliban. Democracy has taken root, granted many will say that this was force, but yesterday millions of Afghan’s went into polling stations to vote for THEIR president. Not a western sponsored president, but an Afghan native, who wants to put his own rules, regulations and laws into effect, who wants to build the Afghan nation back up again. The people, not the Taliban, now have a right to choose who that president is, something which pre-Taliban era, they wouldn’t have had hope of doing. Again, Women were permitted to vote, something which would have be a crime punishable by death before we entered into Afghanistan. Individual freedoms are evident as well, over two million mobile phones are now owned and used actively within Afghanistan, radios are permitted to be listened too and newspapers can be printed and purchased by the public. All three things would have been punishable crimes beneath the Taliban. So yes, the nations that have sacrificed their sons and daughters to the war in Afghanistan have something to be proud of.
There is a darker side to the freedoms that have been given to the Afghan’s. Granted they themselves have lost sons and daughters during these troubles, from both the soldiers whom have come to free them and the Taliban/Al-Qaeda forces that have fought so hard to maintain a foothold in a land that no longer welcomes them. Corruption is rife, both at the high level and lower levels of the Afghan government. This is a sad fault of the amount of aid that has been granted and given to the Afghan government, and with a reduction of aid would come less corruption. If we reduce the aid and now just leave Afghanistan, how can we be proud of our achievement? Someone mentioned that we need to look back in ten, twenty years time and see what Afghanistan is like then. Only then can we see if all the sacrifice was worth it, but already with the minor freedoms that have been granted to those living in Afghanistan at the moment, it is worth it.
A point which I would like to touch on was David Cameron’s speech regarding leaving Afghanistan in 2014 “Come what may”. This is why the world cannot have true justice and protection. Our foreign policy is a hypocritical mess, shrouded in honest intentions and just causes. How many times has a population sat in a country, being murdered by its own military/police/government and we have sat by and done nothing? Partially we can blame that on the media for not giving it the coverage it requires to allow the normal public to understand and feel empathic towards the cause. Mostly we can blame the government for making the decision to ignore the plight of a nation in need or help. We went into Afghanistan to flush out Al-Qaeda and we did a great job of it, at first it was difficult, but with the elections that we saw yesterday the proof of success is right there to be seen. Kosovo we went into the country to protect the people being murdered, a little too late, but we went in. What next? We allowed Russia to annex the Crimea despite the Ukraine pleading for help. We allow atrocities to occur all over the African continent and yet, we never intervene. So what is our foreign policy based around? Is it based around what we can take or get from the country, which brings to question our long standing deployment into Afghanistan. Should we have left much earlier and handed it over to the Afghans? What happens if another nation, say South Korea, requires military aid against North Korea or China, will we decide that we cannot aid them because it will cost us too much in military spending?
What is the price for a human life? What is the price for a hundred lives? The UK has stood at the forefront of protecting smaller, weaker nations from enemies, or even an indigenous population from its rulers, for a long time. Alas we haven’t had a great history at treating indigenous populations perfectly in the past, but maybe its atonement for what we have done. Maybe its not. That’s for you to decide. I honestly would like to see the UK take more of an interest in world policing, many will disagree, but we have the best armed forces, within the entire world, for a reason. We have one of the longest standing, most organised and well drilled armies in the world. We’ve fought in more conflicts than any other nation on the globe. We understand hearts and minds better than any other nation and we understand rebuilding nations from the ground up. What is an army for if it sits inside the walls of a barracks doing nothing? Yet people will stand with their “Anti-War” banners and flags declaring that a military budget isn’t required and that war is wrong. Yes, war is wrong, people die and that’s unacceptable on so many levels. I ask you, what is worth more? The life of a youth who hasn’t lived, or the life of a soldier whose trained for this moment? I would prefer to wear a uniform and lay my life down for someone who may go on to do great things with the life I saved, sacrificing mine. So many before have done this, and I think we can all look to the conflicts on the past to see how they impacted on the free world.
I digress, Afghanistan should have had a longer time with sustained support from the countries that have fought through her and in her. We’ve pulled out suddenly, with little preparation and left it to the Afghans with little support from outside elements. Going back to the foreign policy of our government, this is unacceptable, for if within the next three to five years the Taliban return and take over, we only have ourselves to blame. Or more accurately the Conservative government.
I hope that the Afghan’s have a peaceful and prosperous future ahead of them.