London Afghanistan Conference

Coming toghether or falling apart?

I'll tell you how I deal with plotters I'll tell you how I deal with plotters
Many people are rightly suspicious of the raising of the UK terror threat from whatever it was, to something higher at this moment in time. The Chilcot Inquiry is giving the government plenty of problems and, to boost his image at home, Gordon Brown is to host a conference on Afghanistan. What better back-drop could there be from the UK authorities to show to visiting conference attendees than - "we're ready for anything, are you"? All those pathetic nations that keep themselves to themselves and don't invade weaker nations would be put to shame on that one. There are, of course, problems with this theory.

First up, what was the terror threat? Words like “highly likely”, “severe”, “imminent” and "substantial" are waved about as if they are white flags; perhaps they are? One can imagine a bunker full of public servants deliberating long and hard on how to convey a clear message.

For the outcome is as clear as mud; but then perhaps this was inevitable and their intention? Was a trial undertaken? It's possible a clip-board squad went forth to ask the population, well a few hundred of them, what they thought. "Upon hearing 'severe', 'imminent' and 'substantial' which word would make you most likely to go out and stock up on candles"? For, so long as "don't know" is left out of the list of scare words, it won't impress anyone.

Second is Chilcot itself, it is but an echo. During the Blair and Bush love fest, the patients took over the asylum, and this is happening again. The very people who helped Blair and Bush go to war are now turning around and giving evidence, this has been commented on in other posts. The only exception here seems to be Elizabeth Wilmhurst, deputy legal advisor to Jack Straw and a rare, honourable, public servant.

The third point is that Gordon Brown hopes to boost his image in the run-up to a general election by any method, so here comes a conference on Afghanistan. As it's clear that on a military level the mistakes made in Iraq have been repeated in Afghanistan, it's reasonable to say that other departments of state have followed suit. Thus if we all live that long we will see an inquiry into Afghanistan and learn more about those mistakes.
Elizabeth Wilmshurst Elizabeth Wilmshurst
The London Conference on Afghanistan, LoCo, seems all set to make some more mistakes now. One aim, perhaps the most central of LoCo, is to find a civilian supremo figure for the coalition effort. The balance between the civil and military people in Afghanistan is, for obvious reasons, currently tilted towards the latter. The get all the publicity and some get killed, does someone think a man in a suit will 'sort things out'? For some of the publicity is very negative, would a caring thinking politician in charge mean fewer protests by the likes of Anjem Choudary, is that the plan?

It could be that as much as Iraq 'went wrong', in both the military aspect and the civilian led reconstruction, so too we see Afghanistan well past the point of no return. Rather than a 'glorious outcome' Iraq was a lucky escape, it could have been far worse. So who would be willing to try to sort Afghanistan out? One name mentioned was Geoff Hoon, until he was caught plotting against Gordon Brown. The idea that Hoon was not prepared to put up with the unelected PM Brown ruining the UK anymore but was happy to serve with the corrupt Hamid Karzai is wonderful. But then jobs such as the Afghan one are, like jobs in the EU, seen as ideal for yesterday's politicians to slither into without too much bother.

Funny too how Hoon, as a former Minister of State for Europe, was no doubt happy for Herman Van Rompuy to become the unelected President of the European Council. Also funny was he would have been required to help bring democracy to Afghanistan. While at the same time he would be giving the nod to the military side of things. Remember it was Hoon, in 2003 during a BBC interview with David Frost, who said the UK was willing to use nuclear weapons against Iraqi forces "in the right circumstances. How will Afghanistan cope without him?