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Troops out?

Nick Robinson | 23:52 UK time, Friday, 25 June 2010

This is not a change of strategy says Downing Street.

This is not a new timetable, they say.

However, the prime minister's declaration that he wants British troops home by the next election does highlight the fact that his mind is on how and when to bring British forces out of Afghanistan.

David Cameron has repeatedly said that he does not view Britain's military commitment as open-ended.

In November last year he talked about imposing a "tight internal timetable". In April, he said that Britain would put everything into the fight "this year and next year" and said that "we've been there already for eight or nine years. That's already a long time. We can't be there for another eight or nine years".

He went on: "It's got to be in the next parliament that these troops really start coming home - as soon as possible but based on success, not on an artificial timetable."

On all those occasions, though, David Cameron was not prime minister. That's why his comments on Sky News that "we can't be there for another five years" are significant.

Earlier today he discussed Afghanistan with the host of this year's G8, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In March 2008, Canada's parliament voted to pull the troops out of the war in 2011 (although members of its Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan have spoken of maintaining a role after that date).

Tomorrow he will lead the G8's discussion of Afghanistan and hold a bilateral meeting with President Obama, who has committed to troop withdrawals from next year.

On his mind, and theirs, is the fact that June has been the bloodiest month for Nato forces in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2001, with the coalition death toll standing at 80.

What's more, he and they know that we are entering fighting season and that, as the prime minister said onboard the Ark Royal yesterday, we need to brace ourselves for a "difficult summer".

The prime minister's message to the military is that this is the year the generals get to show they can make progress.

What today's remarks suggest is that he may be thinking already about what to do if they don't make that progress.

PS: In another interview - with Canadian broadcasters CBC - the prime minister spells out his thinking on Afghanistan in more detail :

Q: The three major partners in this, the United States, Great Britain and Canada - the US and Canada both set dates already. The US saying they're going to start to withdraw in July of next year, Canada saying they're out as of the end of next year. Are you looking at a date?

A: I haven't named a date in that way, but obviously all of us, as I've said many times, we don't want to be in Afghanistan for a day longer than we have to be. As soon as the Afghans can take control of their own security then we shall be bringing our troops back home.

We shall go on having a very long and deep relationship with both Afghanistan and Pakistan. We've got to convince those countries that we're in for the long haul with aid, with diplomacy, with trade, with assistance. We don't want those countries to go back to being the bad lands for terrorist training camps, but do I want to get the troops out? Yes, of course I do.

Q: Why do you hesitate on a date when others seem to be rushing towards one?

A: Look, I accept the timeframes that have been set out by President Obama and I'm working very closely with him. A proper review of how we're doing towards the end of this year, the ambition that we should be starting to transition districts and then provinces of Afghanistan over to lead Afghan control by the end of this year and into next year and then, yes, the ambition to start bringing some troops home.

But I want this to be done, as far as possible, on the basis of success rather than lines in the sand and dates, but am I pushing very hard to get everything done so this can happen? Yes, of course, and I think there are basically three elements: it's making sure the surge works and the counter-insurgency is going full steam ahead. It's about training up the Afghan army and police, and then, vitally, it's about the political settlement that we need to make with those elements of the Taliban that want to lay down their weapons.

Get those three things right and the timetables are realistic.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    This is a non story and the media's reaction to it is why in his later days of his premiership David Cameron will be a lot more tight lipped.

    He never said that he was going to pull the troops out before the next election, he said that was what he wants to happen. There is no deadlines, except in the minds of your fellow hacks.

  • Comment number 2.

    It may be worth pointing out that in Canada both the governing Conservatives and the opposition Liberals would actually like to extend the mandate of Canadian troops in Afghanistan past the 2011 pull out deadline.

    Neither party dares to say so out loud, because it would be political suicide. When they make even the slightest hints of fudging the date - "Oh, well leave advisors to help train the Afghan Police and Army" - the public reaction is distinctly cool.

    We have been there almost ten years, we appear to have achieved next to nothing, we have taken what most Canadians consider to be more than our fair share of casualties, and, ultimately, for political reasons NATO can't do the things that might actually help to win the war militarily - viz, send Hamid Karzai (and his brother) packing, clean out the NWFP Province, clean out the ISI, and clean out the Augean stable that is Quetta.

    NATO's goals and objectives have little, if anything, in common with the goals and objectives of either of our supposed allies (a) the Karzai government and the various local warlord/druglord thugs to which it joined at the hip; and (b) the Government of Pakistan (which appears also to mean the ISI, which appears to be just another way of spelling "Taliban").

    Most Canadians would, I think, accept that everyone in NATO has a duty to continue to shoulder a share of the burden if it looked like there was a realistic plan to make things better. But it doesn't, and there isn't. It is a big mess. There does not appear to be any likelihood of a positive outcome any time in the near future.

    We don't understand what the point is of having our troops there under those conditions. Show us something that looks like it has a reasonable chance of success, and we might change our minds. Otherwise we're just wasting more blood and treasure with every day we stay there.

  • Comment number 3.

    At last we have a glimmer of an exit strategy. I just hope this nightmare conflict can be brought to some sort of conclusion soon. If Mr Cameron can deliver on bringing the troops home within 5 years, or preferably sooner, then it will be a success for his government.

  • Comment number 4.

    Behind the political rhetoric of suggesting that troops can be withdrawn once the Afghans are able to look after their own security and have a political system that is robust is a glaring failure to recognise that the Afghans, in the main, are intrinsically poor, illiterate and have no ambitions to want to become 'democratic' like the so-called civilised West.

    Afghanistan might as well be on the other side of the Moon as become a functioning democracy as most Afghans owe more to their familial clans and tribes than they do to Afghanistan as a nation.

    The reason that the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is so porous is that the peoples on either side of the border are ethnically the same and if not brothers-in-the-same-struggle-of-lafe are most certainly cousins.

    The Anglo-Saxon war machines of America, Canada and the UK can go into Afghanistan and fight the 'Taliban' as much as the politicians want but the fact of the matter is that THE Taliban are as much Pakistanis (and even foreigners coming to the strife through Pakistan) as they are of indigenous Afghan tribal stock ... in fact probably more so.

    Unless the UN Mission stops playing with Afghanistan with kid gloves and recognises that the real problem is in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan and allows the troops to engage in hot pursuit and takes on the Taliban in Pakistan, Afghanistan is a war that must be lost as conventional war methods being employed to capture territory and hold it is not working, will not work and has no hope of succeeding.

    If the political leadership of the USA, Canada and the UK don't have the will to take on the Taliban in Pakistan then they might as well pack up their troops now and go home now as every time a British (or US or Canadian soldier) is lost, it is a loss that is a wasted life as the mission is circumscribed by the political leaders not having the courage to realise that they have to take on Pakistan as well as Afghanistan or get out of the quagmire altogether.

  • Comment number 5.

    So our troops are to be out by 2015...........How many of our brave soldiers will die by then ?. If we pull out in 2015 within months if not weeks the Taliban will take control !!!The Russians couldnt deal with them what chance do we stand ??......I have never seen so much waste of good mens life outside of WW1 and WW11.......For heaven sake their is no justification for us being in Afghanistan ...Get our boys home ..they can hold their heads up high.

  • Comment number 6.

    While our troops fight and nearly work themselves to death in temperatures approaching 50 deg C...it's nice to know that others back at home aren't stressing themselves too much!

    A MUST READ STORY...

    The Great Inertia Sector: A whistleblower's account of council work where staff pull six-month sickies

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1289702/Public-sector-inertia-council-office-employees-month-sickies.html

  • Comment number 7.

    Anyone expecting a date is being idiotic

    However, the fact that Cameron is saying this NOW, is because it is a message to the US prior to the G20

    Come on Nick, this should be obvious to you?

  • Comment number 8.

    #1. At 01:12am on 26 Jun 2010, alan_addison wrote:
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    A perfect and succinct summary! The trouble is that too many journalists have been told what to say by No. 10 that they have forgotten how to find out things for themselves and so are reduced to writing this sort of drivvel.

    I'd also agree with other posters who confirm what everyone in the UK must know - the only way to win a war is to give the troops a mission and then let them get on with it completely unfettered by politicians or lack of equipment.

    No external country has ever conquered Afghanistan, nor ever will and we should not forget that most intra-continental borders are purely arbitrary lines on map, drawn in colonial times: they do not reflect reality in any sense.

    A useful function for the UN would be to re-write national borders over much of the planet, creating some new countries and dramatically changing others, so that tribal, historical, political and practical boundaries are followed, rather than geographical ones.

    We can't even get it right in the UK for constituency boundaries, so there's no chance it will ever happen - but we'll have conflicts like we have now until we get tribal boundaries recognised.

    Kharsi is from Northern Afghanistan and the trouble is in southern Afghanistan where a different tribe exists and they have no loyalty, language or respect for the current national Govt.

    It's a mess, and the answers are too simple to be implemented, as it would have implications for other places around the world - Spain and France, Kurds etc etc

  • Comment number 9.

    Morning Mr Robinson and fellow Brits .
    This is a non starter nick
    I think the nation in my personal opinion all want to see our troops returned to the united kingdom yesterday .
    We have lost to many of our young men for a war or cause nobody wanted in the first instant.
    There can be no justification in keeping them there.
    I notice their great leaders that deployed them are no longer in a position to recall them?

  • Comment number 10.

    New Nick blog on a Saturday - must be something big, I thought. Saw the title (!) and started cheering and preparing to smother David Cameron in praise & positivity. Then clicked in and saw the ? at the end. Read the detail and calmed down entirely. Story I'm looking for isn't Troops Out?, it's Troops Out! ... and soon, I hope.

  • Comment number 11.

    Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. First, the excuse was to find Osama bin Laden and rid the world of al-C.I.A.da, then it was the drug war and freeing women from burqas, then it's about Taliban 'insurgents' (who quite frankly just want to protect their local, corrupt monopolies on power, and have no ability to terrorise us in the UK), then they announce trillions of reserves of natural resources (in some vain attempt at appealing to our greed instinct).

    Wouldn't it be far easier to just admit that our leaders got it wrong. Saying, "I made a mistake" must seem impossible to some, but carrying on with this charade just makes it more obvious to the casual observer.

  • Comment number 12.

    Given the governments commitment to Nato and the United Nations any government needs a let out clause. My suggesting is a referendum let the people decide for a change, a real vote.
    1. Bring the troops home.
    2. Stop all emirgration.
    3. Come out of the E.U.
    4. Reduce both houses Commons and Lords to 100 each.
    5. Proportional representation.
    All of the above would bring real democracy, then any government could argue its the will of the people. None of the parties have a overal majority and cannot argue they are carry out the wishes of the people, but if they put the five above issues to a vote they could.Or is it wishful thinking on my part that the political parties want change and a true democracy.

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes, get out now! 300 British dead and for what? To maintain the myth we are fighting Al-Qaida there so we don't have to fight them here, what utter nonsence. The same sort of lies that helped protect us from the invading Iraqis. It is shameful the way we are so eager to go to war in third world countries just to toady up to America. Even General MacCrystal has chosen tactical career suicide rather than be responsible in any lasting way for this unfolding Vietnam the sequel.

  • Comment number 14.

    It's extremely difficult to fight a war without definition of victory. In both of the world wars, it was deemed the unconditional surrender of Germany and her allies (at least in later 1918 and after 1942 respectively, when a Germany-led victory seemed unlikely). With the Taliban, what will be termed as success for the NATO mission? A functioning quasi-democratic government seems the best bet, on the conditions that heroin production ceases and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan be collectively patrolled and maintained by both countries.

    What are we likely to get? A weak Karzai-esque government which falls a few months after NATO forces leave en masse, causing civil war and handing Afghanistan back over to the hands of Islamic extremists. The problem is, this kind of fundamentalist fervour will easily spread into Pakistan, and this is why NATO must actively pursue and destroy the Taliban/Al Qaeda strongholds in north western Pakistan. If we are not willing to aim for total victory we should leave, as a partial success will not last.

  • Comment number 15.

    #11. At 09:41am on 26 Jun 2010, NoImSpartacus wrote:

    >>>>>>>>>

    I think 'stubbornness' rather than 'vanity' and a perceived problem in bringing 'our boys' home when we've manifestly failed to do what we, the public, were told they were sent there to do.

    That that was utterly an impossible task must have been what the Military told the Politicians before they ever began - but Brown ignored them as he ignored everyone.

    Remember 'They could well come home without a shot having been fired in anger'? One of the most, no, THE MOST stupid statement EVER made by a Minister of Defence EVER, when sending British Forces into a war zone.

  • Comment number 16.

    We talked our way out of northern Ireland with the terrorists so what is wrong about doing this now with the Taliban?

  • Comment number 17.

    I cannot believe that I am reading this. It does not matter what Cameron says, or what he wishes for, UK troops will stay in Afghanistan or anywhere else, as long as the US require them. Cameron has no say in the matter. Just let him, or any other British PM try to pull out and watch the US destabilise his government - perhaps do a Wilson on him.

    And as for not setting a time for moving out - ha ha - I suppose they will just up and go leaving behind their empty tents. I feel sad that brave men and women are dying with no one in British politics in a position to speak out for them.

  • Comment number 18.

    where`s the timetable robinson, there isn`t one, so until one appears it is wrong for you to buy into something that may not happen, I can understand you trying to sell this, with your background, but I cannot understand how the BBC would except something so wide open as this.

  • Comment number 19.

    Further more we are told we are training the Afghan army in a different fashion so as to be more effective in dealing with what?
    They have defended their side of the fence for untold years against all comers so what exactly are we doing?
    Still rooting out AL qaeda insurgents?Or training a Muslim nation that don't want to be trained ?
    There are no more excuses as to why they should remain.
    You are not going to stop others taking the place of those you kill as there is a hatred against the American and other nations not wearing a turban? So get out and stay out.
    And stop the procession at Wooten basset.

  • Comment number 20.

    Next party I go to, I'm going as Nick Robinson! ;-)

  • Comment number 21.

    donald johnson @ 12

    "All of the above would bring real democracy"

    What, just putting those five questions, or only if the answer is Yes?

    Because I'd vote (in order) - definitely - no way - non! - mmm - maybe.

  • Comment number 22.

    To sagamix @ 21, thanks thats what democracy should be all about sadly its not. Choice is not available, Its good to see Nicks woke up and challenging the P.M.

  • Comment number 23.

    Come on Nick ! Your last two blogs have been on non story fluff. All if when maybe. Lets have some meat.

    What you have brought out though in this and previous blogs on the same subject is that every one with an ounce of brain can see that Afghanistan is a fools errand, a lie, unwinnable if we even knew what we were trying to win and leading to the deaths of hundred of our service personnel and tens of thousands of Afghani civilians. Well everyone that is except those in a position to actually stop the charade NOW and bring the troops back NOW.


    Discretion always was the better part of valour, the govt seems to have forgotten this at the needless expense of our troops lives.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Train the Afghan army up? How long have the coalition forces been there? How much longer will it take?
    It'll only work if the numbers and the moral and political will are all present.

  • Comment number 26.

    16. watriler
    "We talked our way out of northern Ireland with the terrorists"

    It's funny how they are always the terrorists. That is the people who live on the occupied lands.

    Funny that!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Nice to know our own premier is being practical and not bowing to media pressure.

    It would be a stupid move to pull out too early and just because someone set a date.

    Quite frankly its an insult to all those who lost their lives trying to achieve peace in the region.

    If peace is unachievable then it needs to be evaluated and said, then they would need to justify why that evaluation hadn't taken place 5 or 6 years ago.

    Putting out withdrawal dates is disgraceful and shows bad leadership and selfish intentions.

  • Comment number 29.

    The prime minister's declaration that he wants British troops home by the next election highlights...Well...nothing, except that for the next five years, he can repeat the same answer.
    Cameron: “We can't be there for another eight or nine years". Okay, but he added: "It's got to be in the next parliament that these troops really start coming home - as soon as possible but based on success, not on an artificial timetable."
    Based on success? How much success has been attained in the past eight or nine years? How is success measured?
    G8, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper: In March 2008, Canada's parliament voted to pull the troops out of the war in 2011 (although members of its Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan have spoken of maintaining a role after that date). Don’t you love these little addendums, which really say - we may pull out; we may not pull out. Let's all wait and see.
    Harper's whole statement was: As soon as the Afghans can take control of their own security then we shall be bringing our troops back home. Wow, when do you think that might be?
    As for Obama, once an American presence is established, The American presence is forever. Witness Japan and Iraq.
    Here’s a lovely stament: We shall go on having a very long and deep relationship with both Afghanistan and Pakistan. We've got to convince those countries that we're in for the long haul…"
    BUT these poor war-torn countries have been trying to tell The Coalition of the Willing they are sick of the haul. Please go home! When a country says we are not welcome, should we not go home?
    Harper: I think there are basically three elements:
    1. it's making sure the surge works and the counter-insurgency is going full steam ahead;
    2. it's about training up the Afghan army and police, and then, vitally,
    3. it's about the political settlement that we need to make with those elements of the Taliban that want to lay down their weapons.
    Last I heard the counter-insurgency was not doing very well; in fact, the Taleban had greatly stepped up its attacks.
    When an army does not “really” want to leave, it doesn't leave but it starts calling its military troops “military trainers”.
    “We”, the west cannot make any settlement with the Taleban. If a settlement were to happen it would have to originate with and be resolved by Afghans themselves. No foreign imposed political settlment has ever worked. What you get instead is constant, endless “revolutionary” components (aka) gorilla warfare.

  • Comment number 30.

    #16 Watriler "We talked our way out of northern Ireland with the terrorists so what is wrong about doing this now with the Taliban?"

    We did no such thing. You are forgetting that with Northern Ireland we were dealing with a small group of political idealists who used bombs and the deaths of innocents to achieve political recognition.

    What we did in Northern Ireland was to capitulate and surrender. those groups got their political recognition and although it could escalate back into conflict at any time, for the moment we have a negotiated peace.

    The difference with the Taliban is that even if we did capitulate and surrender they will still carry on killing innocents.

    When you are dealing with both political and religous idealism, talking to them won't solve the problem.

    Like Northern Ireland there are innocents on both sides equally as vulnerable as each other. With the Taliban there is a fundamental hatred of our lifestyle, religions, freedoms and ethos.

    Saying 'ok we're off!' just means they will find a way to come after us and hurt us and our loved ones.

    There is a lot that needs to be done yet in Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 31.

    Where's this Osama fella. Why is he not part of the equation any more???

    Funny that!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    30. sircomespect
    "...with Northern Ireland we were dealing with a small group of political idealists..."

    I think you will find there was a lot more to it than that!!!

  • Comment number 33.

    #32. At 2:45pm on 26 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote

    Somewhere between 100 and 500 (max); I suspect nearer 20 or so.
    The rest live in Eire and so are foreigners.
    Why do we still allow Eire nationals to vote in UK national elections?
    Makes no sense - particularly as the majority are tax-dodging labouring Labour supporters.

  • Comment number 34.

    33. happydadtoo
    "Somewhere between 100 and 500"

    So the thousands imprisoned for republican activities were wrongly imprisoned in your view. Sure it wouldn't be British justice unless a few thousand innocent Paddies were jailed for crimes they did not commit. I agree totally with your view!!!

    TAL

  • Comment number 35.

    33. happydadtoo
    "labouring Labour supporters"

    People don't vote for the British Labour Party in Ireland and very few vote for British Tories.

    What about the Tories canvassing in Pakistan???

    Any views on that???

  • Comment number 36.

    Regarding the training of the Afghan Army we should look to history when we trained foreign nationals to fight as our allies. I refer of course to the Gurkhas where in WW2 the British were senior officers in the regiment and the Nepalese enlisted men. This way we could pay the Afghans a decent salary (far above their national average wage) that would buy their loyalty at a very cheap price.

    At the moment the Afghan conscripts are the lowest of the low who are often stoned on hashhish and that is when they turn up. Handing money to the Afghan governemnt to pay for their army is like letting kids loose in a sweet shop. Secondly is Afghanistan simply too big and diverse to be run as one country? It would probably make sense to divvy up the nation into a series of republics much like how the provinces are ruled by the respective warlords.

    As things stand we are losing this occupation. It is not a war as a declaration of war has not been made. The only tangible improvement that I have read about is the new electricity power line from Uzbekhistan to kabul and that was through the auspices of the Indian government - it's a crazy world in that India gives aid whilst simultaneously receiving aid from the UK

  • Comment number 37.

    The sane people in Ireland are now, and always were, peaceful.
    Only those who are psychopaths remain and they run the drugs gangs there.
    2 nominally Catholic, 2 nominally Protestant, though neither would have the slightest understanding of Christianity.

    Why they are not arrested and charged is a scandal of the 'peace process' aka 'Abject Surrender' by Bliar.

    Now that explosives supposedly 'decommissioned' are appearing in recent bombs, it is clear the leadership do not have the iron grip on the gang bosses that they thought they had.
    One can only wonder at the levels of lead in the water supply in parts of Ireland and whether the locals travel much before having children.

  • Comment number 38.

    37. happydadtoo

    Again typical Brit. When put in a corner you resort to racism. If you can't win an argument don't start one.

    Now. Any views on the Tories seeking votes in India and Pakistan???

    p.s. the last time the Tories stood for election in N'Ireland, on their own and not on the band wagon, they got 0.5% of the vote. Their policies are not wanted in Ireland, so away back to England and leave us alone to sort out your disastrous policies in Ireland!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Cameron gets to say the nice things like 'we want to see our troops leave Afghanistan as soon as possible' Which seems a bit of an obvious statement to mak. He also does a bit of banter about the world cup. But if a tricky issue comes up, he hides behind Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems. Like Vince cable having to defend the budget on Question time on Thursday. Discussing the lib dems campaing against the VAT increase is a handy distraction from discussing its introduction by the Conservatives.



  • Comment number 40.

    37. happydadtoo
    "The sane people in Ireland are now, and always were, peaceful."

    That is correct and since the abject surrender of the British government, the insane and non-peaceful types have taken their campaign to Afghanistan!!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Only those who are psychopaths remain and they run the drugs gangs there.
    2 nominally Catholic, 2 nominally Protestant, though neither would have the slightest understanding of Christianity.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    And neither would you since your sectarian and racist comments about Irish Catholics have been removed from previous blogs.

    And if you are a Christian, do yourself a favour and turn the other cheek!

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi there Londonderry. Still screaming for attention, I see. Jolly good.

  • Comment number 43.

    #40DiD
    Perhaps I should have added..

    But during the period from 1969 to 1995 far too many (on both sides) were terrorised and coerced by the drug gangs and their thugs into submission and so allowed these 'terrorists' to subdue their nominal 'supporters' into taking no action against them.

    The terrorism was of Irish on Irish - and WITHIN the religious divide, NOT across it. The sad truth is that it still continues today.

    As for your, truly bonkers, suggestion that the 'Pakistani postal vote scandal' was in any possible way a Conservative 'plot' you're simply barking! The votes thus harvested - as shown by a BBC reporter who went there to see for himself - would have been for only one party - the Socialists. The evidence of that is well-documented by the numbers of postal votes in marginal Labour-held constituencies.

    Check what happened in Halifax, in particular, where 6,000 postal votes were all delivered to the Polling Centre ON MAY 6th, and which often related to derelict or non-existent addresses.

  • Comment number 44.

    43. happydadtoo
    "The terrorism was of Irish on Irish"

    So terrorist soldiers implicated in the Saville inquiry were Irish? British army terrorism in Ireland is well documented as well you know. Thanks to Sinn Fein, British terrorists are no longer on our streets. Unfortunately for the Afghan people, they are on their streets. How many Bloody Sundays have they committed over there???

    p.s. I recall a Para telling a journalist of how some of his battalion were robbing banks in Belfast. Brave men indeed!!!

    TAL

  • Comment number 45.

    43. happydadtoo
    "The terrorism was of Irish on Irish"

    So the terrorist soldiers implicated in the Saville inquiry were Irish? British state terrorism in Ireland is well documented as well you know. I also notice how you can never provide evidence to suggest otherwise. That is because there is no evidence to suggest it didn't happen. That is state terrorism. Thankfully British terrorists are no longer on our streets. Unfortunately for the Afghan people, they are on their streets. How many Bloody Sundays have they committed over there???

  • Comment number 46.

    Sorry, wasn't this thread about Afghanistan? Take the IRA/UDA/UFV discussions elsewhere.

  • Comment number 47.

    DinDERRY

    Out of curiosity, how old are you? If you lived through the troubles of the 70's and beyond and are still as bitter as you are, then you are truly a sad individual and I am sorry for you. If you are younger and just ranting about things you've read about in books, you are even sadder.

  • Comment number 48.

    Moderator:
    'Distgusted in Derry's' posts are almost always offensive and have no place on any public forum, in my view.
    On Armed Forces Day, there surpass even his depths and I'd ask that they be removed asap.

    have some respect, BBC for the national significance of today, for those who have attended the 350 different events held in honour of our troops and all those who are putting their lives on the line in our names, wherever and whenever they do so.

    Irrespective of whether you support the decision by our former Socialist Govt to send them to war, they, as fellow human beings, let alone being our fellow-countrymen, deserve our whole-hearted support, admiration and best wishes.

    Mud-slinging and disgraceful slurs such as those posted by this one individual are unacceptable on any publicly-funded forum.

  • Comment number 49.

    People

    Look back on this thread. I'm only responding to comments. Take off the Union Jack glasses for a minute.

    Thanks kindly.

  • Comment number 50.

    p.s. My opinion is as valid as any of your opinions. Please respect that.

    As for Armed Forces Day, I have no respect for the British armed forces, as they showed me and my people no respect during their terror campaign in Ireland. Which by the way goes back hundreds of years.

    Thank you kindly.

  • Comment number 51.

    Lefty 53 Previous

    Your comments are valid and recognised. Politics is and always has been a the hardest of games to play.

    But the only thing that is left well after the politicians of the day have left the stage is.. is well their legacy.

    Ted Heath - Three Day Week/Common Market
    Wilson - Open University (great achievement)
    Callaghan - Winter of discontent
    Thatcher - Thatcherism/Minors strike
    Major - ERM/Maastricht treaty
    Blair - Iraq War
    Brown - Saving the Worlds Banking System
    Cameron - Coalition Government
    CTP - National Pension Plan

    You see Lefty always opportunity to look forward (as well as back) and if you look forward with an open mind the future's full of unexpected but welcome surprises.

  • Comment number 52.

    45 - You think the soldiers involved in Bloody Sunday wanted to be there? Soldiers are trained to fight battles, not undetake policing operations. There was no 'plan' that day. If there was, do you not think there would have been planting of evidence sufficient to give a cover story? The enquiry has shown that soldiers did the wrong thing, not that any plot happened. The number of people who died on that day is a tiny percentage of the number who died in the troubles. Rant away about the injustice of the Birmingham 6 and Guildford 4 by all means. But don't forget that someone planted those pub bombs. Someone killed innocent civilians with no knowledge or interest of ireland and doing nothing more than having a pint.

    25 dead and over 220 wounded. What did any one of those do to any Irish person?

    Your hatred and bile leaves you devoid of reason.

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh dear, whatever happened to the credited to Voltaire principle of despising what is said but defending to the death the right of the speaker to be heard ?

    Disgusted in Derry is , with some historical justification, an angry man.

    It is taking time for his wounds to heal.

    I like to think that all those soldiers who died for freedom also died to allow dissent.

    To paraphrase another French philosopher, Thoreau, let Disgusted walk to the drum that he hears.

  • Comment number 54.

    50 - "I have no respect for the British armed forces, as they showed me and my people no respect during their terror campaign in Ireland. Which by the way goes back hundreds of years."

    What, you know them all do you? All the Irish people of the last few hundreds of years and you can confidently claim to speak on their behalf because you know how they feel about things?

    How do you feel about those from southern ireland who fought in the british army in WWI and WWII? They, of course, were real warriors, not internet warriors like you.

  • Comment number 55.

    'me and my people'?
    My mother's family are all Irish, living south of Dublin.
    You're British, living in Northern Ireland, which is subject to the laws of the United Kingdom passed by the Westminster Parliament and ruled by Her Majesty QE2.

    Yes, Stormont has considerable powers over the things that matter to the everyday lives of ordinary people, but Stormont only exists because Westminster allows it to.

    In contrast, I'm far more Irish than you - and even hold an Irish passport as well as a United Kingdom one.

    So, please, no more 'me and my people' stuff; they're MY people (on both sides of your argument) in a way you cannot grasp.

    I'M 50% Irish - you're 100% British! (See 'British Isles and the basis of Governance in the UK - and yes, I KNOW you (rightly) think 'Britain' ends at the Irish Sea and think 'British' can only mean those living to the east of that water: I (like everyone else) regard 'British' as meaning 'resident of the British Isles'.

    I presume your hatred is particularly directed at the Highland Scots, who were the ones who 'colonised' Ireland post-Cromwell, or are you agin anyone who came over after the Picts, post Ice-Age?

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    #53 xTunbridge

    Fine thoughts and I agree. It's the language with which DiD expresses his (passionately-held) views to which I object.

    Four soldiers seem to have behaved badly on BS: many, many others over there from 1968 to today have shown extraordinary courage (in defusing Irish-on-Irish bombs) and in defending the very people (of both religious groups) from death or serious injury by Irishmen (and women) which DiD claims to speak on behalf of.

    Condemn the few by all means - even rightly s, from one perspective. But don't slur every Btitish soldier who was sent to NI, not to mention the tens of thousands of Irishmen who fought (and still do) in the British Army. They're not all Protestants, by any means.

    Soldiers make an individual decision to fire or not (under modern rules of engagement), whilst the fact that they are in a particular place at a particular time was because they were obeying orders.

    Orginally from their superior officers, but ultimately by the politicians in Westminster.

    If DiD wants to rail against the Politicians (whether Irish or British, Catholic or Protestant,in their positions as local Councillors, Stormmont and Westminster MPs) who created the situation, then I am with him 100%, and I'll read his arguments with care.

    That, however, is very differnt than claiming that the Bitish Army, who were, don't forget, who were invited into their ghettos (and that's sadly, what they were, in 1968/9) by the Catholics of Londonderry and Belfast, to protect them from the Protestant Irish majority, are 'an army of occupation'.

    (Sorry, that's a clumsily-worded last sentence!)

  • Comment number 58.

    53

    Free speech isn't a license to be offensive, provocative, and unpleasant

    Actually, these are against the house rules, unless you support the Catholic Church, the home of the paedophile

  • Comment number 59.

    48. happydadtoo
    "'Distgusted in Derry's' posts are almost always offensive"

    Your own comments are likewise!!!

  • Comment number 60.

    58 Kevinb

    I think you will find that the abuse you refer to you is interdenominational . The Catholics are getting the bad press now but others have in the past.

    Sadly all such organisations attract some bad apples.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    60

    I know, and would be equally unhappy with loyalist comment of the same nature

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    57. happydadtoo
    "courage (in defusing Irish-on-Irish bombs)"

    These UDR soldiers, yes British soldiers in British uniforms, were not defusing but planting a bomb. They set up a UDR checkpoint then did their murderous deed. The British government knew as early as 1973, that 15% of a British regiment, the UDR, were also members of loyalist terrorist organisations. What did they do? Nothing!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    Mr N,

    "CTP - National Pension Plan"

    Plus Citizens' Bond and State Bank and 25 Year Plan - also women only House Of Commons and free piano lessons for the unemployed. All of these are transforming but I think the last two may be what we're most remembered for.

  • Comment number 67.

    14. At 10:08am on 26 Jun 2010, Colchie wrote:
    'It's extremely difficult to fight a war without definition of victory. In both of the world wars, it was deemed the unconditional surrender of Germany and her allies (at least in later 1918 and after 1942 respectively, when a Germany-led victory seemed unlikely). With the Taliban, what will be termed as success for the NATO mission? A functioning quasi-democratic government seems the best bet, on the conditions that heroin production ceases and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan be collectively patrolled and maintained by both countries.'
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Agree with you but that last sentence is a big ask. Insurgents will always be able to get through. If our (so-called) policed borders leak, how will a joint Afghan & Pakistan border force cope when both of those countries are heavily divided and share a completely different style of (uncommon) border with other countries?

    If the Taliban go and are kept out, then what happens? A local chief or a warlord gets the hump and clobbers someone else. If they are not too orthodox, religion-wise, then someone who wants to get their own back on them starts to invoke a religious crusade and appeals for help and they are fighting again. In a similar way, a lot of young Afghans must be aware of western lifestyles and would like to be 'westernised' but others will be horrified and want to stop them. There is an existing internal Taliban in Afghanistan who will probably resist liberalisation as soon as western forces leave.

    'What are we likely to get? A weak Karzai-esque government which falls a few months after NATO forces leave en masse, causing civil war and handing Afghanistan back over to the hands of Islamic extremists. The problem is, this kind of fundamentalist fervour will easily spread into Pakistan, and this is why NATO must actively pursue and destroy the Taliban/Al Qaeda strongholds in north western Pakistan. If we are not willing to aim for total victory we should leave, as a partial success will not last.'
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Agree with you again but I can't see NATO or Coalition forces being welcomed into Pakistan. I think that would set Pakistan alight and could even provoke a wider Jihad through the eastern part of the old-USSR, into China and down into south-east Asia.

    Your last sentence is so true but also for being the reason why we should have never gone there in (a conflict oriented) military way in the first place.

    Perhaps it is appropriate to point out on UK Armed Forces Day that western military forces have an incredible amount to offer in a peaceable way. Engineering skills, logistics capabilities, outstsnding mobile medical capabilities plus the manpower and kit to get it anywhere on the globe.

    If, in 2001, we had gone in and helped rebuild infrastructure ruined by war with Russia and their own Taliban created semi-civil war and then left them to organise themselves in their own way of choosing according to their own unique style and traditions, they and we would, I believe, have been a lot better off by now.

  • Comment number 68.

    63. At 7:25pm on 26 Jun 2010, DisgustedinDERRY wrote:
    58. Kevinb
    "Free speech isn't a license to be offensive, provocative, and unpleasant"

    Why start with the above, then make offensive, provocative and unpleasant remarks about the Catholic Church? By the way I'm not a Cathoilc, your racist comment did not offend me.

    p.s. Peodophelia is all pervasive.


    What is peodohpelia? Dictionary anyone?

  • Comment number 69.

    58 & 62 Kevinb

    The current disquiet is about the way the Catholic church has hidden the abuse.

    It is not difficult to understand why this happened.

    Firstly it is a mainly male organisation with those in holy orders being forced into an unnatural state of celibacy. Although there are married priests, those who defected from the C of E over the ordination of women priests. That anomaly just adds to the oddness of the situation.

    The Catholic church for many years was a fire and brimstone organisation and held much of its power by fear of retribution in the next life if you didn't do what the church said.

    The church alone knew right in all matters and the word of the pope was and is infallible.


    So with a background like that can you imagine the impossibility of the hierarchy admitting that their pastors were fallible as much as anyone else in fact more so in many cases.

    Not only would it be an admission of guilt but a damaging knock to the power base. It is hardly surprising it has had to be dragged screaming from under the carpet.

    This doesn't mean that the church is a bad organisation but just that despite its posturing it is fallible like all mortals.

  • Comment number 70.

    67

    If George Bush had died at birth we would be a lot better off by now

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    But what about his mother, Kevin? You know, Mrs Bush.

  • Comment number 73.

    69

    The Catholic church rampaged through Europe with the Spanish Inquisition, and has much to answer for with it's indirect involvement in South America

    It is still a powerful, and in my view very corrupt organisation, with it's recent history none too clever either

    Collaboration with the Nazis, and the Paedophelia scandal both indications that they still feel above the law

    I am not particularly sure that they have yet grasped the pain and anguish caused by the Catholic dogma

  • Comment number 74.

    70. Kevinb
    "If George Bush had died at birth we would be a lot better off by now"

    If Maggie Thatcher had died at birth we would be a lot better off by now!!!

  • Comment number 75.

    55. happydadtoo
    "You're British, living in Northern Ireland"

    My Irish passport tells me that I'm Irish. Your holding of two passports is illegal.

  • Comment number 76.

    16. At 10:23am on 26 Jun 2010, watriler wrote:
    We talked our way out of northern Ireland with the terrorists so what is wrong about doing this now with the Taliban?
    ----------------------------------------------
    You deserved a fuller answer to this but unfortunately the question set something else off on this Blog.

    I think Afghanistan is unique in its uniqueness. (Yes, Ireland is unique as well, but not like Afghanistan!)

    As I understand it, if you turn up armed to the eyeballs, an Afghan warlord (or community chief) in a community will, if you hit it off, smile at you, welcome you, offer great hospitability, agree with everything you say, even help you out and cooperate fully with all that you might want. But after you've moved away to chase drug dealers or deal with a terrorist training camp his loyalties will change. Something or someone may cause a problem that will change his loyalties - perhaps to resist a particular edict from Kabul or to join, in a sudden fit of religious enthusiasm, with a Taliban or Taliban-style group or to sort out a dispute between some 'important' families. Loyalties are different, and organised differently, there.

    Afghanistan is almost a planet away from western Europe, not just a world away. I do not think we can impose western 'democracy' on them (and should not be trying to) because it probably does not 'fit' their society. At least not for a long while yet.

    It might have been a smarter move in 2001, instead of trying to bomb the rocks of Afghanistan into smaller rocks, we had invited them to join The Commonwealth.

  • Comment number 77.

    72

    What about her

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    "Paedophilia is all pervasive" - at 63

    Wouldn't put it quite like this - but yes, certainly not confined to any one grouping (apart from that of paedophiles). Any case it's not illegal.

  • Comment number 80.

    79. At 8:25pm on 26 Jun 2010, sagamix wrote:
    "Paedophilia is all pervasive" - at 63

    Wouldn't put it quite like this - but yes, certainly not confined to any one grouping (apart from that of paedophiles). Any case it's not illegal.

    Thoughts aren't illegal, actions are

    Or does your fantasy in general lead you down some dark alleys?

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    79. sagamix
    "Any case it's not illegal"

    Are you suggesting the rape of children is legal???

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    DiD
    I'd refer you to my earlier post 'Irish on Irish terrorism'.

    I'm not seeking to defend any individual, rather the 'brand' of the British army. I was just pointing out that British troops (by your definition, the UDR are Irish - something about petards comes to mind) generally acted with great courage and bravery despite enormous provocation - by the very people (usually women) who the Army had been invited in to defend. That they were Catholics and the soldiers usually C of E was not a problem to the Army, but was used as a rallying-cry by the gang-lords on their side of the religious divide to justify the unjustifiable - the planting of bombs in civilian areas .

    I'm not, I repeat, seeking to defend the indefensible, in particular, the actions of particular individuals. It is, I feel, you who have 'generalised from the particular' as we were taught not to do at school (in debates)

    I'd also make the unarguable comment that Religion, has caused more wars, deaths, and general human unhappiness than it has benefited those whose beliefs have given them spiritual peace.

    To my mind, the idea is that, by telling the oppressed masses that, now matter how bad their lives might be, by accepting it and helping others, they could guarantee everlasting happiness in the hereafter. All religions and creeds have basically the same message - accept repression now in exchange for 'good times tomorrow'

    Religion is thus just a method by which the privileged few can control the many - often with some serious 'extortion' for cash along the way, too!
    'Opiate of the people' - hmm - a perceptive observation!

  • Comment number 85.

    #75
    Two passports - legal; three not so (been there, done that, both in the Appeal Court here and Australian Family Court over my daughters' nationality (currently UK and French; mother wanted to naturalise them Australian and so void their UK passports - which I hold)

  • Comment number 86.

    79. At 8:25pm on 26 Jun 2010, sagamix wrote:
    "Paedophilia is all pervasive" - at 63

    Wouldn't put it quite like this - but yes, certainly not confined to any one grouping (apart from that of paedophiles). Any case it's not illegal.

    New Labour...Thomas Hamilton..Dunblane..Gordon Brown...George Robertson

  • Comment number 87.

    66 Saga

    And just to show CTP will not shy away from difficult decisions the number of bristles on tooth brushes (excluding childrens and those used by over sixty-fives (if still required)) will be reduced by 10.

    BTW - I have another foresight. The VAT increase will not be implemented. No! I've seen through it. At the budget we were told that the state of the finances were apparently worse than first thought, result VAT will increase but not until next year. Q. if the finances in such a bad state why wait? why not now? A. Because GO want's us to go out and buy "big purchase price" items and because we think VAT will rise at the beginning of next year, we will. - I myself am considering buying Mrs N some new curling tongs before the VAT increase. Now once we've bought these "bpp" the finances will not so bad (they never were in the first place) and therefore GO will say that he has taken notice of the concerns of the Lib/Dems and in the name of the coalition and in the name of fairness, he will do a ueeee on the VAT, October!!!!

  • Comment number 88.

    kevin @ 80

    "Thoughts aren't illegal, actions are"

    Correct. Or I guess more precisely ... only actions can be illegal, thoughts are never so.

  • Comment number 89.

    "What about her" - 77

    Well it wouldn't have been very nice for Mrs Bush (would it?) if George had died at birth. So when you said "we'd all be better off" if that'd happened it's not quite true, Kevin, is it? That's all I meant.

  • Comment number 90.

    88. At 8:57pm on 26 Jun 2010, sagamix wrote:
    kevin @ 80

    "Thoughts aren't illegal, actions are"

    Correct. Or I guess more precisely ... only actions can be illegal, thoughts are never so.

    You are wrong, in this instance the courts would successfully prosecute, and win, on PLANNED actions

  • Comment number 91.

    87

    No

    It is to ensure that the 15% to 17.50% rise is out of the inflation snake

    The greater political win would have been not to increase it now

  • Comment number 92.

    89. At 9:04pm on 26 Jun 2010, sagamix wrote:
    "What about her" - 77

    Well it wouldn't have been very nice for Mrs Bush (would it?) if George had died at birth. So when you said "we'd all be better off" if that'd happened it's not quite true, Kevin, is it? That's all I meant.

    As a socialist, though, don't you put the needs of the many, above the needs of the few?

  • Comment number 93.

    derry,

    "Are you suggesting the rape of children is legal???"

    No course not, that is against the law (and quite serious!) but paedophilia itself isn't. If a person is so afflicted but doesn't act upon it, they commit no crime.

  • Comment number 94.

    93

    This is not strictly true, grooming is a very serious offence, and planning paedophilia is also very serious

    In each case there would have been no actions in the sense you describe

    So unfortunately your point is not very well made

  • Comment number 95.

    84. happydadtoo

    I accept your initial sentiments although I disagree with the religious conflict scenario. Republicanism in Ireland got its foundations in the French Revolution by a Protestant, Theobald Wolfe Tone. He despised the awful treatment of the majority Catholic Irish. In fact most Catholics of the time despised this militancy in their name. Daniel O'Connell, the man who forced Catholic emancipation in 1829, deplored violence. Many, many more revolutionary republicans were Protestants. I would need to go deeper to explain some things but it would take quite a while. I will summarise it as so: Republican activism in Ireland was never about religion, although loyalist activism was always about religion and loyalty to a Protestant ascendancy, both in Ireland and Britain. Republican activism has always been about bringing an end to English (subsequently British) occupation and exploitation of Ireland and her people.

    Republicans generally accept that they can not achieve their goals by military action alone and have now embraced peaceful, constitutional means and this should be commended. Even by the most bitter of British people. However. The British army have a collective bad reputation in Ireland. Of all the atrocities carried out by state forces, very few were properly investigated, very few of the perpetrators were served with justice. This will be, as far as the Irish are concerned, their legacy: A collective bunch of thugs and terrorists. If it offends you, that is up to you. If you want to understand the republican stance on this, read this academic document. If you don't want to understand the republican stance, keep your opinion to yourself.

    TAL

  • Comment number 96.

    "You are wrong, in this instance the courts would successfully prosecute, and win, on PLANNED actions" - 90

    I'm never wrong, Kevin, you should know this by now. Planned actions are in themselves actions. The action being the planning. Nothing which stays purely in the realm of unspoken thought can ever be illegal - Minority Report was just a film (good in that, Tom Cruise, I thought).

  • Comment number 97.

    Kevin, I think you should ignore DisgustingInDerry, oxygen of publicity...

  • Comment number 98.

    90 Kevinb

    Yes there was a succesful prosecution in 2000 of two men who had detailed plans to kidnap rape and murder children.They met in jail whilst serving time for child sex offences.( BBC News UK 18/1/00)

    Although they never put their plans into action, partly due to undercover police infiltration, they were precise and advanced and they pleaded guilty.

    That was rather more than thoughts. Tecnically once you share dodgy thoughts of any kind and the other party reciprocates the realms of conspiracy loom large.

  • Comment number 99.

    HD2,

    "I'd also make the comment that Religion, has caused more wars, deaths, and general human unhappiness than it has benefited those whose beliefs have given them spiritual peace."

    Tick.

  • Comment number 100.

    #93 sagamix
    rape of children is quite serious!

    No, sagamix, the rape of achild is the worst act a man can commit. You are a complete fool to say "quite serious!".

 

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