Afghan War was “unavoidable”, claims centre-left journal

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Blog: The Guardian newspaper considers itself a “centre-left” or sometimes “liberal” newspaper. It was founded in Manchester in 1821 by businessmen close to liberal (or “whig” as the term was then) free-trade and manufacturing interests as opposed to the landed gentry represented by the Tories. However, much of its readership is to the left of the ideology to which the Guardian subscribes. The reason for this is that there is no leftwing newspaper in Britain. It is not that leftwingers approve of the Guardian. It is that they have to get their news from somewhere and at present the Guardian is the best of a bad bunch compared with the other daily titles on sale in that country. Were a viable leftwing newspaper to be created, we suggest that readers would leave the Guardian in droves.

It comes as a shock, none the less, when readers of a leftwing persuasion run up against Guardian editorials with a true-blue establishment bias. The main leader in today’s paper (7 October 2011) could come straight out of the Ministry of Defence. It starts: “America and Britain invaded Afghanistan 10 years ago, for reasons which were understandable, to wage a short war that was unavoidable”.

America invaded Afghanistan as an act of revenge for the attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan on 9 September 2001. The Americans assumed that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the attack. The Afghans refused to surrender the suspect to them. So they invaded Afghanistan. Is that what the Guardian thinks is an “understandable” reason for invading a foreign country? Do you invade a sovereign state because its government is sheltering a suspect on whom you want to get your hands? Is that the legal procedure for conducting international relations? The Guardian goes on to say that the war was “unavoidable”. It was not. The diplomatic route could have been pursued. As G. K Chesterton said in another context, it was not tried and found wanting. It was found wanting and not tried. The fact is that the American Government, humiliated by the attack in Manhattan, was hell-bent on exacting vengeance. What did the Afghan people matter to them?

Britain invaded for a different reason. By an amazing coincidence, Britain’s foreign policy always coincides exactly with that of the United States. If the US goes in, so do the Brits. It’s called the Special Relationship. And never in recent history was the Special Relationship stronger than it was when Anthony Blair was Prime Minister of Great Britain and the invasion of Afghanistan took place.

One might have thought that Britain’s messy prosecution of three wars in Afghanistan in the 19th and 20th centuries would have given it pause for thought. Not a bit of it. Not least, doubtless, because of a culpable ignorance of that history on the part of the current generation of political philistines.

And as to waging a short war, what about the lessons of Vietnam? Wiser counsels urged caution at the time of the invasion, but the warnings brushed aside, the hotheads rushed in. The result was Vietnam II – the checkmating of the world’s most technologically advanced army by scattered bands of turbaned rebels armed only with knives and Kalashnikovs. They will never learn, will they? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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