Sunday, August 2, 2009

Afghanistan and advice to the Germans

With some 3,500 "Bundeswehr" troops in Afghanistan, only 38 German soldiers have died. Bad enough, of course, but one only has to compare it to the 124 Canadians, out of a contingent of 2,800, who have died to date. Nevertheless, the war has arrived in "der Heimat" and it is interesting how the German media reports it. While the British press, have been passing on the "optimistic" drivel it has received from a military that has lost 191 men since operations in Afghanistan began in 2002, including 22 last month alone, the German media, despite the still "relatively" low number of "Bundeswehr" casualties, is already providing the German public with a more realistic assessment of the situation and in his weekend's 'Süddeutsche Zeitung' we are told that the Taliban have returned to the villages in the Chahar Darreh region of Helmland just days after the "Bundeswehr" 'Operation Adler' was declared a success. It is a sense of realism that, when it reaches the British media, reaches it in a different form. Nevertheless, only days after the 'Times' was reporting, "The first phase of a bitterly fought British military operation in southern Afghanistan is over and has succeeded in driving the Taleban out of a former stronghold, senior officials said today,"we do have the 'Guardian' informing us, "British soldiers were sent into Helmand province on an ill-defined mission undermined by "unrealistic" planning and lack of manpower, according to a withering Commons report published today, which concludes that the strategic threat has shifted to Pakistan."There we have it; the Germans believe that once you beat them they just return, effectively they have decided that this is a war that cannot be won, on the other hand, the British celebrate a major victory and when it transpires that it is not so "major" and not such a "victory" after all, the realisation is that the threat has moved to Pakistan. Next stop then, the Swat Valley and there must be those who wish that they could get a hold of Sir Mortimer Durand by the throat and ring his neck; Sir Mortimer is the man who gave his name in 1893 to the Durand Line, the boundary that remains today the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and which effectively cuts the Pashtu people in two. For my part, I will not follow Kipling and offer the young British soldier advice on going out east, because the young British soldier will not be following it and when Afghanistan has been "pacified" our Brits will be moving onto Pakistan and the next stage in this ridiculous "war on terror". For the young German "Berufssoldaten", however, maybe the situation is not irretrievable and even if Berlin has aready joined the Anglo-Saxon bum chums, it might not be too late for young Germans to at least assess the situation correctly.

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