Friday, 27 June 2014

"Afghanistan 'will mirror Iraq', UK Army officer says"

From the BBC:

The most senior British Army officer in Afghanistan says he believes that country will follow Iraq into sectarian conflict when international troops withdraw by the end of the year.

Lt Gen John Lorimer told BBC Radio 5 live the circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan were "pretty similar".

Iraqi forces are currently battling jihadist-led Islamist rebels. The former head of the UK military, Lord Richards, has also warned the fighting could be repeated in Afghanistan.

'Helpful comparison'

Lt Gen Lorimer, who is the deputy head of the Nato-led mission, is in his last week of service in Afghanistan.

He said he was not confident the country would be secure as international troops withdraw, saying the Afghan national security forces were well equipped, but as poorly trained to deal with the threat of insurgents as were Iraqi forces.

"I think the comparison between Iraq and Afghanistan is a particularly helpful one", he said, "The circumstances are quite similar, the context is similar, I think the important thing about this next mission is that the international troops who were here to train, advise and assess the Afghan national security forces...the Afghans want the international community to leave."

Lt Gen Lorimer said the Afghan forces had been "pretty disappointing" in maintaining security in the run-up to the country's elections. He added: "There are still gaps in their capabilities, they aren't working on them, they have not recognised what they are, and the international community is not helping them fill those gaps."

That community has committed $4bn (£2.4bn) a year for security in Afghanistan until 2017 and $4bn a year for development to underpin future security and stability, meaning that the resurgent Taliban will have ready access to weapons and ammunition when the Nato-led mission ends and the Afghan security forces promptly abandon their posts.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter, as Tony Blair will say "it was the right decision to go in no matter what happens because who knows how much worse things might have been had we not gone in. QED. ner ner ne ner ner"

Bayard said...

I think this is a spoof, becuase senior army officers always wait until they have retired before they say such things, but your link isn't working.

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, clearly, this was a spoof, where I merely swapped "will" for "will not". The cluebat was at the end.

B, good call and I hereby apologise for breaking the first law of blogging, at least one workable link. Now fixed, hopefully.

Ian B said...

The question is (spoofery aside) whether this is what actually needs to happen anyway. The sad reality is that wars often sort out the situation on the ground. If people don't like sharing a polity with each other, then wars can split it into functional parts.

It looks like Iraq is ceasing to exist, splitting into the three state solution by violent means, for instance, with Kurd, Sunni and Shia areas forming. Whether we should bemoan the destruction of Iraq, or be cautiously glad of the creation of three new states which may be far more stable and, ultimately, peaceful, is the question.

Mark Wadsworth said...

IB, what I don't get is why anybody is bothered about Iraq splitting up? Why do the pol's always wail on about "maintaining territorial integrity"?

There is no real optimum size to a nation-state, sometimes splitting up is better, sometimes merging is better, it all depends.

DBC Reed said...

I should imagine if Iraq were to split into three parts,the Shias in Iran and Syria would kick off demanding a mega Shia state and likewise the Sunni, leading to a post partition disaster as in India -Pakistan where people found themselves on the wrong side of Radcliff's lines and got massacred .Also these conflicts tend to involve oil wells and other modern infrastructure getting set fire to.
What an industrial economy most likely needs is a society divided up on class allegiances not ancient religious and tribal (even family) loyalties that flourish under conditions of subsistence agriculture where trade is not national or international.Afghanistan has potential for hydro electricity and mineral extraction but we decided to kibosh the secular pro Communist Najibullah (also the secular Baathist Saddam Hussein in Iraq) and arm the rural,medievalist mujahadeen who have wrecked everything.Tajikistan thanks to the Soviet era has many times more hydro-electric plants than Afghanistan where many of the generators lie neglected .Maybe people oppose the break up of large political units because they want to preserve the large scale economic/ infrastructure systems, they contain.Its hard to see whats good about living in some superstitious village doing hand labour for local food without any electric light or power.

Ian B said...

Mark, that's the point I'm making really. "Iraq" is just some lines on a map drawn in the Colonial era, it has no particular other existence.


You can't have countries divided by class, partly because a society needs all classes to function, and partly because there's no good definitions of who is in what class anyway.

The tribal and religious differences are, in that culture area, profound, and if they are how people choose to define themselves then it's better to just let them go with that.

Mark Wadsworth said...

IB, exactly, you and I are applying common sense.

DBC Reed said...

Ian B
"The tribal and religious differences are profound ..then it s better to just let them go with that."
Any report on Land Ownership in Afghanistan, (there are loads of them on Net), shows that good old laissez faire chaos, confusion and people losing their rights. A lot of land disputes are settled at local level ie. not Statist ,and end up with jirgas guided by Sharia law discriminating against minorities, women and minors. Nomads grazing pasture land are in a really difficult position having i)no land titles ii) no local allegiances.
What is needed is bureaucracy with cadastral mapping and development of the water systems for irrigation and hydro electricity (all very Statist/not hippy)
Perhaps the Americans are encouraging land rights chaos because they know that the mineral deposits (land based) are worth trillions.

Ian B said...

Who's going to run your bureaucracy, DBC? Have you, for the first time in history, discovered that long-sought magic class of people who are free of all personal interest and bias? Well done!

Maybe we could send them a few of our locals from Northampton, just in case somewhere in Afghanistan there's a well appointed bus station that needs shutting down and replacing with a shed and scattered bus stops. Because bureaucrats always know best, oh yes.

DBC Reed said...

I don't know that it entirely follows to go from discussing Afghanistan to bellyaching about Northampton Bus Station.
If you are saying the old "jaws of Hell" which was the product of centralised planning was better than the new, smaller, decentralised set-up where some of the buses draw up in the street then you are making my argument in favour of centralised, planned provision.
However, the new system does work very well and the old building was
decomposing itself over parked cars, although I liked it when using the bus.
I do think that a medieval society
like Afghanistan needs to train up a middle class of officials etc
,if possible not on the take, as the landowning situation is very corrupt, as is.The Chinua Achebe book about a Nigerian on the take seemed to show that the old concept of the very extended family and local allegiance was a hindrance to a modern bureaucracy.
I would rather have a bit bent bureaucracy, job mobility, nuclear families and a diverse economy than be stuck in some village with highly repressive religious people from the same families in charge and you all had to live off very parched land self-sufficiently without electricity, absent the centralised hydro-electric
and irrigation schemes which would require 19th cent Statist
organisation( similar to what Chamberlain brought to Birmingham
post 1870's).

Bayard said...

"Why do the pol's always wail on about "maintaining territorial integrity"?

Because if a country splits into 3, then that's at least two more lots of rulers you have to suborn.

All together now: "They've got to be protected, all their rights respected, until some one we like can get elected."

The Stigler said...

"Maybe we could send them a few of our locals from Northampton, just in case somewhere in Afghanistan there's a well appointed bus station that needs shutting down and replacing with a shed and scattered bus stops. Because bureaucrats always know best, oh yes."

That said, the Northampton Bus Station was, I think, the ugliest and worst designed building in Northampton.