When I wrote the last column, British troops had just secured a Kabul airstrip and thousands of British troops were ready to go out. The Northern Alliance did not like it, but they just live there. It looked like a classic episode of New Imperialism: secure the airport for some ostensible humanitarian purpose, take effective control of the capital and some of the roads and then take over (or "train") the government army. I predicted that this would happen and that we should call our troops home
It seems that I have faulty predictive powers, but I am not too bothered about this because so did the British government. The troops really were on standby; it just seems that the British misunderstood what the Americans wanted. So instead of getting to patrol the unwelcome streets of Kabul, the squaddies were carrying out kit inspections and playing four-hours-long football matches in Kabul.
So who is the hero of the hour, who has saved the west from a senseless and damaging deployment? Well it seems that it is that uber-peacenik Donald Rumsfeld. It seems that Rumsfeld was opposed to nation-building, which was roughly what the troops were intended to do. When the British went out there (was it a misunderstanding or an attempt to force America's hand?) the Don or some senior underling said that the US would not follow. Close your eyes and thank God that Gore was not elected. As a little bonus, it made Blair look a bit of a pillock, although the domestic press did not notice.
It is not known whether Donald Rumsfeld reads Antiwar.com, nor is it known who his favourite columnist is. (Is it Raimondo, Cockburn or Goldstein?) However, he seems to have taken our advice. It isn't often that we have had the chance to praise Mr. Rumsfeld over here, so I feel duty bound to praise the man. Sadly, I doubt that we will have much cause to praise him in the future, but we can but hope. For now, though, the US Department of Defense is taking our line: get Bin Laden and get out.
There has been a massive amount of responses; unfortunately, much of this was from people who either did not try to follow the line of argument, or simply were unable to do so. You can see most of it here.
Any further complaints about my line on the Afghan war should be sent to the address, as the recipient shares the same view as I do on this and he is more likely to get things done:
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