If terror is the problem

Adrian Hamilton
Pakistan, which has now undertaken a full offensive to take control of its border areas, complains that the co-alition efforts on the other side of the border are far too little and ineffective. And it may have a case. And if Pakistan stability is your main concern, then tackle it directly by helping that country develop a prosperous democracy instead of putting all our efforts in propping up a particular weak regime in Kabul.
The justification for the Afghan war on anti-terror grounds is largely specious. We\\\'re in Afghanistan because we – like others – wanted to support the US after 9/11 and removing the bases of al-Qa\\\'ida seemed obviously right at the time. We\\\'re in the mess we are in now because we allowed that initial impulse to drift into a confused and under resourced attempt to impose security for the government, stamp out drug dealing, rebuild society and defeat the Taliban. We\\\'re suffering higher casualties now because we\\\'ve joined a US-led surge which Washington has adopted for its own reasons and in which we have precious little say.
No-one seriously believes that the present policy of trying to do everything without the resources to do it is a viable option. But the only alternative is not to double up the ante. There are other perfectly viable possibilities. We could scale down the enterprise to concentrate on preserving rule and communication in the key parts of Afghanistan, leaving it up to the Afghans themselves to make deals or enforce control in the outer parts.
We could withdraw most of our troops, continuing with just a basic anti-terror force and border patrols or indeed we could announce a date for leaving altogether, as we and the Americans have done in Iraq.
The one thing we cannot do is to go on as we are, led by events and the despairing claim that \\\"we cannot afford to lose this war\\\". History is littered with the graves of the soldiers who died obeying that call.
(Courtesy The Independent)