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Will Bin Laden's death hasten withdrawal from Afghanistan?

Nick Robinson | 12:15 UK time, Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Further to my post yesterday I note the prime minister's words on the impact which the death of Bin Laden will have on the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

British soldier watches as a Chinook takes off from Camp Delhi, Helmand Province

"It's clearly a helpful development I don't necessarily think it will change any timetables but we should use it as an opportunity to say to the Taliban now is the moment to separate yourself from Al Qaeda to give up violence"

More significantly he stressed the possibility of a political deal with the Taliban rather than a military defeat.

"If we can therefore get a political reconciliation in Afghanistan, persuading the Taliban that now is the time to achieve the goals they have through political means rather than military ones then we could get a more rapid solution"

Mr Cameron was quick to deny he was looking at an earlier withdrawal, but nevertheless the political clock on our involvement in Afghanistan is ticking a little faster.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    On the bin Laden death - that is celebrated and joyous news - I do wonder if it may also now force the ISI to look at other possible links.

    The military academy may be just the kind of place to house the people who may have coordinated the Mumbai attacks and I seem to recall a while back some Majors were under suspicion. Were they located there?

    It is also the case I would hope that if we are waiting for terrorist strikes that may be quickly planned that may lead to the uncovering of many other cells (like Sellafield perhaps though it is early days).

    I can't see withjdrawal being affected as that is a strategic process.

  • Comment number 2.

    What on Earth does Cameron mean by "persuading the Taliban that now is the time to achieve the goals they have through political means rather than military ones then we could get a more rapid solution" Is he prepared to give up on supporting a democratic Afghanistan and allow the Taliban to impose their 13th century religious view on society, crime, education and women? The 364 dead soldiers to count for nothing?

  • Comment number 3.

    My dear Nick, how many Afghans do you think believe the American fabrication about Bin Laden's death? Afghans are not stupid. Most of them know that Bin Laden died long ago, was buried in Tora Bora and in accordance with Wahhabi tradition. Most of them know this is just another American ploy. If there are a couple - even a couple - who believe this American fabrication, I think it would make the Taliban more volatile than anything else...Has it made them more volatile?
    Cameron seems to link the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but I don't believe that this was ever true. Most Taliban are very conservative but they are not terrorists. And besides when the world is saying all Al Qaeda, except maybe 50-60, have transferred themselves to Yemen, maybe that's where your question should be posed, and maybe that's where the Americans should have fabricated his death (vs. Pakistan).
    The west cannot think like the Taliban; the Taliban cannot think like the west. So, what does reconciliation mean to both? Most probably not the same thing. If Taliban goals include burquas is that okay with the west; if Taliban goals prohibit female education is that okay with the west? If Taliban goals mean squashing opium production in cooperation with Iran is that okay with the west?
    Methinks Mr Cameron protests too much; he would like nothing more than an early withdrawal from Afghanistan. He may be feeling a little austerity...and then of course there's Libya to rethink.

  • Comment number 4.

    2#

    Good spot Rotty. Very good spot. A very good question very well put. Considering the relationship between AQ and the Taliban was more one of logistics/infrastructure compared to shared ideology - I'm not aware of the Taliban having the re-establishment of the Caliphate compared to making Afghanistan into an Islamic state under Sharia as one of their high ideals - indeed at one point, were they not trying to persuade AQ to hand OBL over to avoid them being invaded and toppled?

    Regardless of how their perceived Islamic state may have appeared to the rest of us, the reason it gained as much traction as it did and how it managed to be established in the first place was as an antithesis to the post Soviet era when the country was being run by narcotics shipping warlords. It struck me that until AQ were allowed to base themselves there that the Talibs intentions were mostly domestic in their outlook, whereas AQ has always been international.

    For Cameron or Obama therefore to say this is the beginning of the end is a tad disingenuous. AQ violence is different to the Talibans view on what might euphemistically be called "law enforcement". In the context of them attacking NATO/ISAF, they are doing what any such organisation/government in exile would do against what they perceive to be an invading/occupying power, ie waging a war of attrition against a force they perceive as one that was never welcomed by them and therefore, in their eyes with no legitimacy. AQ on the other hand, the stated aims of their violence is/was about spectaculars to try and drive the west out of the region, reducing/eliminating support for Israel and the re-establishment of the Caliphate. This was always going to be international in its dimensions.

    I say "was" because the funding isnt there as much as it used to be to bring about the spectaculars of the past and if anything it has now morphed into a franchise/affiliation for want of a better word. It remains to be seen what the reach and influence of the organisation is in the future now OBL is officially dead. The thing is, he was for the most part the titular figurehead; the brains behind the outfit is and probably always was, Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, the former head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. What he does to assert/cement his influence and authority within the organisation remains to be seen. Anything that is likely to happen in the coming months is more likely to have the stamp of "inspired by" as against "funded by and organised by" AQ... for instance the Marrakesh incident. AQIM has been active for some considerable time. It will be interesting to see what happens in Saudi & Yemen in particular over the coming months. But, in the meantime, the Arab Spring has failed to deliver anything to the more hardline Islamist cause that has the backing of the wider arab public - particularly where Syria, Tunisia, Libya and especially Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood have failed to capitalise on the instability and to sell their cause to the public.

    Its far too early to say whether the wind has truly gone out of the Islamist sails or not. And, Afghan, to be honest has always been a sideshow in comparison. The main dangers in the region (and to the region and for that matter, the wider world) remain the threat to stable civil government in nuclear equipped Pakistan and what happens in Iran.

    Either way when NATO/ISAF leave Afghan, it will collapse back into a failed state. Karzai is no less corrupt, no better than what led to the rise of the Talibs in the first place. The only way its influence will ever be curtailed internationally is to seal the borders around it in total. And that is physically impossible.

    So, one way or another until it finally sorts itself out and finds its own equilibrium, we're going to be stuck with it regardless of whether international troops are there or not.

  • Comment number 5.

    "It's clearly a helpful development I don't necessarily think it will change any timetables but we should use it as an opportunity to say to the Taliban now is the moment to separate yourself from Al Qaeda to give up violence"

    Um, I was not aware of an alliance beteen the Taliban and AQ. Is this an example of discombulation on the part of the PM? Does cameron not understand the differing views and goals of the tribal Taliban groups in Afghanistan. I very much doubt that OBL's name will be on the lips of every single Taliban fighter in 'Stan.

    Once again we interpret western views and thinking and presume that Islamic thoughts and views follows suit.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yes I think so. We've 'lost' in Afghanistan (should never have invaded and occupied this deeply foreign and far away country for all this time; everyone knows it) and thus we are - quite rightly and understandably - looking for ways to make the inevitable and welcome and long overdue withdrawal smell positive, seem a bit like 'victory'. The well planned (by the Americans) and competently realised (by the Americans) assassination of Osama Bin Laden helps with this and we should exploit it to the max. It was always about America, not us, and it's fitting that their skill and daring has brought home the bacon. Time to call time on this one. Would have been better to have stayed on the sidelines from the 'get go'* but in the grand scheme of things perhaps no ultra-serious harm done.

    * phrase being one of so many great things to come from America; let's in future take all the good stuff - the music, the films, the cool language, the dynamic 'all is possible' energy packed mentality - and leave the rest.

  • Comment number 7.

    Cameron will do what he's told by the US.

    Troops in Afghanistan are on Iran's eastern border.
    Troops in Iraq are on Iran's western border.
    You work out the rest.

    'In Western policy-making circles and political commentary the Iranian threat is considered to pose the greatest danger to world order and hence must be the primary focus of U.S. foreign policy, with Europe trailing along politely.'

    'The U.S. invasion and military occupation of Iran's neighbors is "stabilization." Iran's efforts to extend its influence to them are "destabilization," hence plainly illegitimate.'

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175382/tomgram:_noam_chomsky,_who_owns_the_world/

  • Comment number 8.

    A lot of UK and US blood and treasure has been put into this (latest) Afghan campaign and therefore it is not unreasonable to expect some return on the 'investment'.

    Maybe the Taliban can be bought in from the cold but somehow I doubt it, violence and a very constricted view of society seem to be their modus operandi.

    Far better to build up the Afghan National Army, as is happening, in the hope that when the US/UK et al eventually withdraw, they will be able to keep some sort of order.

    One way or another, we are stuck there for the time being, despite efforts to accelerate the political conditions for an early departure.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well will it do any good that Bin Laden is dead or have we just killed the so called leader

    what we need to do is make sure his money do's not go to Al Qaeda to continue it's rain of violence

    And there is no way we can let down our gaurd as we can not be sure if he had not made provision for such an event

    If Mr Cameron or other leaders think they can pull out of Afghanistan earlyer they will be making a mistake

    The Taliban only want a system in Afghanistan were women have no rights and every one else do's as they say and not as they do

  • Comment number 10.

    "but in the grand scheme of things perhaps no ultra-serious harm done."

    I'm not quite so sure of that mate. The 7/7 victims for a start would vehemently disagree. Depends on your definition of "ultra serious".

  • Comment number 11.

    Cameron's remarks imply that he hopes the Taliban can be persuaded that, instead of imposing their chosen lifestyle on the people of Afghanistan with guns, they can democratically offer the choice to the Afghan people, and let them decide at the ballot box if they want it or not.

    Some countries are still stuck in the Stone Age mentality where the man with the biggest stick gets to tell everyone else what to do. Thankfully, many Islamic countries are now waking up to the fact that they've been left behind by progress as a result of outdated ideologies and ideals: their people, especially the young, would prefer to have the life of comparative peace and wealth that they see us enjoying.

    Bin Laden has not been living like a king: he's been in hiding for decade, living in caves, afraid to show his face in public. Even if the compound where he died was luxuriously furnished, he was never seen outside of it, could never go to the market, enjoy a walk with his family in the countryside, visit friends, etc. That's still a prison in my book, it's rather irrelevant whether he was in the house of a friend or in Guantanamo Bay.

    So yes, I think Bin Laden's death may well hasten the withdrawal, provided the Taliban can see that violence and force only leads to retribution, a life of living in hiding, and a violent death.

  • Comment number 12.

    "achieve the goals they have through political means". Does Cameron have any idea what goals they have? Is he quite happy for Afghanistan's leadership to descend back to medieval practices? Hopefully, instead, the focus can move from trying to find a dangerous man in a cave to working with the Aghani government in wiping out this oppressive regime.

  • Comment number 13.

    Sagamix 6

    'let's in future take all the good stuff'

    Yes let's take the good stuff which of course includes low taxes and a small state (military spending excluded) and both of which are an intrincate part of what makes America so successfull.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes (f @ 10), 7/7 was a horrible event and every life lost was a tragedy. And, as I say, I'm of the firm view that our invading/occupying Afghanistan (as opposed to targeted strikes against AQ facilities) was a bad call and that pulling out asap is the best and right move now. By 'ultra serious' harm done, I have in mind something which changes the course of history and leads to seizmic negative consequences ... I'm thinking Hitler into Poland, I'm thinking the election of Mrs Thatcher ... and on that score I don't reckon our Afghan misadventure qualifies. That's our involvement specifically, I mean. It was an American revenge (for 9/11) project and would have happened pretty much as it did, with or without us. Bad call for them too, maybe. On the 'best eaten cold' theory, how much better for the US if they'd skipped the Afghan invasion and just now announced they'd killed Bin Laden. Kind of like that Keane maiming tackle on Haaland a while back. Ouch.

  • Comment number 15.

    never mind Bin Laden... the left is collapsing all around the globe..

    Tories have caused the liberals to implode in Canada and their 'latte sipping elitist' MP Michael Ignatief has lost his seat.

    What appears to be a 'blip' for sagamix, Miliband and Balls is fast becoming a trend...

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 16.

    The announcement that US Special Forces had finally succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad, right next to Pakistan's military training academy, has given the American-controlled media new life for "Osama" and "Obama". It's a distraction from reality - unemployment, sinking economy - and a reason for celebration and renewed American unity.
    The timing of the Abbottabad operation comes when Obama's ratings for re-election are sliding - even when there is no Republican contender in sight. US as an economic power is sliding faster. Will Bin Laden's alleged death hasten withdrawal from Afghanistan? I don't think so because the United States is so oil-desperate.
    The US is quagmired in Iraq, caught in an unwinable war in Afghanistan, and Arab countries are revolting against American puppets.
    Doesn't all of this remind you of the 1990's revolts in East Europe against Soviet imposed regimes, which culminated in the collapse of the USSR.
    I have a gut feeling that there be another 9/11 event coming to America, following the alleged death of Bin Laden; It will be called revenge re Bin Laden's death (though he's been dead since December, 2001), but what it will be is another inside job - used to unite Americans.
    As for 11/9 events, right from the beginning there have been suspicions that it was an inside job, a pretext to invade Afghanistan (oil corridor), occupy it and use it to threaten Russia and China, use it for transport of energy from central Asia to the Indian ocean. Before 11/9 Taliban leaders were in Texas with oil company UNOCOL in discussions for such a project. Karzai was once employed by UNOCOL.
    The US is not only a declining power but a declining power whose declining power should give to this world a sigh of relief.

  • Comment number 17.

    There was a reason I didn't mention small state and massive military spending and low taxes on my 'American Beauty' list, Jobs (13). Amazing country - if you don't like it, you're only half alive - but that such a wealthy nation has so many people living in poverty is shameful.

  • Comment number 18.

    At 13:28pm 3rd May 2011, sagamix wrote:
    ...let's in future take all the good stuff - the music, the films, the cool language, the dynamic 'all is possible' energy packed mentality - and leave the rest...


    I'd like to put in a bid to keep cheeseburgers too, please. Sometimes nothing else will do the trick.

  • Comment number 19.

    "6. At 13:28pm 3rd May 2011, sagamix wrote:
    Yes I think so. We've 'lost' in Afghanistan (should never have invaded and occupied this deeply foreign and far away country for all this time; everyone knows it)"

    Quite right. If I recall, I observed that the bones of one soldier, never mind 364 soldiers, were not worth losing unless the cause was both just and to the benefit of the UK.

    If I remember rightly, there was all sorts of screeching from the left on here that I was somehow making a comparison of the values of a British soldier and an Afghan when I never was.

  • Comment number 20.

    The UK's role in Afghanistan was redefined and expanded several times under the last government in an effort to justify the returning coffins.
    Are we now in the business of trying to influence or shape foreign countries' domestic policies by occupation and military force and if that's the case why Afghanistan in particular? There are several other countries and territories that have archaic discriminatory laws and practices by our standards. What's holding us back?

  • Comment number 21.

    Your last couple of blogs have been very good, Nick. Not as provincial as usual.

    I think this might be seen as a... let's call it a reason... for the US re-assess the size of its footprint in Afghanistan.

    As for the Taliban, they'll just continue to wait for everyone to go, and then after sorting out some local issues will start to concentrate on stirring things up in Pakistan. I think one of the most interesting things to watch after America's eventual withdrawal will be how India reacts.

    I'd also guess that the various facets and factions of AQ are currently looking at more opportunities than they can currently handle, but that Osama's demise will have no discernable impact per se.

  • Comment number 22.

    What stupid comments from Cameron. The Taliban are not democrats. They don't believe in democracy. They don't believe in alternative political parties, and representation.

    They believe in religious fascism, an objective, universal morality that just so happens to be their morality. They believe they are morally entitled to enforce their form of Islamic law and crush any opposition.

    They can't be reasoned with. Some people are going to have to accept that we have enemies with whom our ways of life cannot be reconciled. We can never be happy about their treatment of women, and they will never be happy at our interference in their treatment of women (as just one example).

    Let's have a bit of realism here.

  • Comment number 23.

    14 - "I'm thinking Hitler into Poland, I'm thinking the election of Mrs Thatcher"

    Yeah, because you'd really bracket those things together, wouldn't you? A democratically elected government that you didn't like is in your eyes the same as an invasion ordered by the maniac behind the holocaust.

    And you accuse others of being partisan? A shameful post.

  • Comment number 24.

    14 - "Kind of like that Keane maiming tackle on Haaland a while back. Ouch."


    Let me guess. Sport, like politics, the working class and life in general is something you've never experienced at first hand at any signifiicant level but you have read a bit about it and so consider yourself an expert?

  • Comment number 25.

    Robin 15 the left is collapsing all around the globe..

    still living in your own little world robin....


    The election marks the first time in Canadian history the Liberal Party did not finish either first or second.

    They have historically been the main party in opposition when the Conservatives have held power, but the NDP has now taken over that role.

    The NDP went into the election with 37 seats, The NDP had its best-ever showing, taking more than 100 seats. But it has been a disastrous night for the Liberal Party

    BBC News, Toronto

    Hardly a collapse of the left....but it does show what happens to the liberals when you go into coalition with the tories

    It may feel like a great time to be a tory, but tell that to the 1300 tory councillors who will lose their seats on thursday

  • Comment number 26.

    6 - "the dynamic 'all is possible' energy packed mentality"

    What would be the point when you'd want to tax the bejezzus out of any spirit of anything with any dynamism in it anyway?

    To not realise that the dynamism comes from the understadning in the US that you get to keep most of what your effort achieves shows that you're not so much blinkered as blindfolded and deafened.

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't think the fighting in Afghanistan will end until the country is pacified sufficiently to allow for the extraction of the reported Trillions of dollars worth of rare earth mineral deposits previously reported to be in that country. The USA and ourselves require access to these minerals as 95% currently come from China, who as we know is starting to ration the export of them. Of course we could declare war on China for breeches of human rights, but compared with that task Afghanistan looks the easier option. Hopefully a deal can be done with the Taliban but that would see the end of the Karzai regime.

  • Comment number 28.

    The bleached bones, Andy (19), as I recall.

  • Comment number 29.

    marnip @ 22

    Most agree that the Taliban are cruel and misguided in their denial of basic rights to women - I certainly think so - but we shouldn't pretend this was the reason we attacked Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 30.

    andy @ 23

    Okay forget the 'Hitler into Poland' reference, guess that was a stretch. Let's just go with the election of Mrs T.

  • Comment number 31.

    Belongs on the list, Outrage (18), no question about it. Near the top in fact.

  • Comment number 32.

    Bad man dead, so what? It changes nothing, except improving Obamas chances of a second term to bring the US economy down further. Bin Laden has been Americas obsession for years, no one elses. Terrorism has changed much in that time, I doubt Bin Laden was a big fish any more. The terrorist threat will now increase for ordinary people, whilst the politicians will tell us how clever they have been in getting rid of public enemy number 1, Bin Laden. Of course Obama will milk this one for all it is worth.

    No one will ever know the truth about the circumstances in which Bin Laden died. Most probably no one would believe the Americans if they did tell the truth, thats how little trust there is in those who represent us. What is certain is that Britain will continue to throw Britains cash away on aid to Pakistan. Obama will make Bin Ladens death an excuse to extricate America from the war in Afghanistan, making himself even more popular in America. Thus leaving exactly the same situation in Afghanistan that they started with, after numerous deaths and mega amounts of money.

    So what difference does the death of Bin Ladin make, none except more terrorism to come. Not much to discuss in that.


  • Comment number 33.

    The US should have asked for the arrest and extradition of Bin Laden instead of shooting him dead in front of his daughter. They have probably created another martyr like Che Guevara and may have made the problem of dealing with militant religious extremists more difficult.

    Despotic regimes need to take drastic steps to prevent their opponents being heard, but true democracies should be able to allow their opponents to have their day in court.

    It was a US president who insisted that the Nazi leaders should be tried and not just killed out of hand. It is a pity that Obama was not able to apply the same standards, but then he has an election to fight, and 2011 America is not the America of 1945.

  • Comment number 34.

    alexpo..

    read and inwardly digest..

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/maryriddell/8488658/Labour-must-not-be-airbrushed-from-history.html

    It's a real possibility.. the left are disappearing everywhere and becoming the irrelevance they always actually were. The 'latte sipping elitists' are just that.. latte sipping and elitist. But of practical use to the country? Absolutely none whatsoever.

    As for the result Thursday.. you're setting yourselves up for a big fall...

  • Comment number 35.

    Talking to religious fanatics is a ridiculous idea, they are what they are because they cannot be persuaded otherwise. The only thing they understand is that like Bin Liner, being dead stops your activities. When Britain, the USA/ NATO make it a priority to kill terrorists as a matter of course rather than thinking of them as reasonable beings open to persuasion , then perhaps they will lose the proclaimed desire for martyrdom. Their twisted interpretation of religion makes them immune to the problem that afflicts the west ; morality and conscience.

  • Comment number 36.

    "32. At 16:41pm 3rd May 2011, Susan-Croft wrote:
    Bad man dead, so what?"

    Would have made a good headline in one of the papers!

  • Comment number 37.

    sagamix 30

    'Let's just go with the election of Mrs T.

    The election of Mrs T was a disaster for your brand of left wing politics wasn't it Saga. Practically destroyed it for good in any meaningful form. Probably won't come back again in your lifetime, if ever. :(

  • Comment number 38.

    Sagamix @ 14
    Kind of like that Keane maiming tackle on Haaland a while back. Ouch.


    >>

    I'm confused now. Is Keane Bin Laden? Seems a bit unfair. Bin Laden had a few good qualities.

  • Comment number 39.

    Cameeron worries me. "(I say to) Taliban now is the moment to separate yourself from Al Qaeda" - The taliban offered to give up Osama in 2001, an offer that was rejected out of hand by Bush and Blair! http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5

  • Comment number 40.

    Yes, Robin (15/34), the Conservatives have won an election in Canada.

  • Comment number 41.

    AndyC555

    'Would have made a good headline in one of the papers! '

    But not as good as the Sun's - 'Bin Bagged'


  • Comment number 42.

    Oh come on Susan (32), search out the positives for heaven's sake, you're like a blogging prune sometimes. You strongly support US/UK withdrawal from Afghanistan, don't you? Well then.

  • Comment number 43.

    andy @ various

    I'm not keen on this new thing of yours, deconstructing me and setting about each line in a separate post. Suffice it to say that sport (except rugby and show jumping and water polo) is in my veins and no, I don't think America's 'can do' is fiscal in origin.

  • Comment number 44.

    sagamix@various

    Saga, seems as you have such a priceless and peerless ability to see whats really happening in very complex and difficult situations, from a perspective that no one else can see, and deliver such a reasoned, formulated and progressive analysis of all of the relevant info .... is there any chance you could tell me what Saturday's episode of "Dr Who" was all about ?

  • Comment number 45.

    PD @ 38

    Yes, if pushed I'd probably opt for OBL over RK. In my highly inappropriate analogy* however, BL is Haaland and Roy Keane is - hold onto your hat - the President of the USA! Taking revenge with that vicious 'tackle' about 6 seasons after whatever it was happened to annoy him in the first place.

    * so inappropriate that even Andy hasn't picked it up and sprinted away.

  • Comment number 46.

    #14 saga

    Do you really equate Hitler invading Poland with 'the election of Mrs Thatcher'? Really???

  • Comment number 47.

    Rockrobin - you need a lesson in assesing the value of any source.

    It is the same lesson I used to teach 10 year olds in a state primary school.
    Briefly, when you cite a source, you need to consider the possible attitudes of the author and their intended readership. I doubt if there have been many articles in the Telegraph in praise of the actions of the Labour party and its leaders. Just as I doubt you would find many articles in the Guardian in praise of the Tories. You are entitled to your opinions, but if you want to cite supporting evidence a single source which is closely identified with your attitudes hardly strengthens your arguments.

  • Comment number 48.

    jobs @ 37

    Don't quite understand your comment, Jobs, you seem to be implying that my 'brand' of politics is somehow dated. It certainly isn't, it's constantly renewed and refreshed. The American rapper Jay Z (Beyonce's bloke) is famous for breaking out a brand new set of trainers every day - just pops the box and puts them on - so that his feet never ever smell. That's as good an image as any for my politics.

    (still at least you're not like Robin, forever demonising latte drinkers).

  • Comment number 49.

    Robin 34

    I have to say i trust the BBC rather than the Telegraph for unbiased political comment. You still don't explain how going from a distant third on 34 seats to a close second on 117 whilst almost anhialating the usual alternative party of goverment is an example of being in decline. As for thursday, keep your head in the sand boy and your wallet in your pocket, not a time for you to visit the bookies me thinks.

    It's not a great time to be a tory candidate.

  • Comment number 50.

    Is this really one of those "Peace in our time" moment that all the media head lines seem to be implying
    Why on earth would one mans death make such a big difference. Its unlikely Bin Laden had done any active service for the last 5/6 years while he was holed up in Pakistan, yet acts of terrorism still carried on.
    .
    How many hundreds of thousands of people have been killed after 9/11 in the Wests war on terrorism, would be a better question to ask.

  • Comment number 51.

    BluesBerry wrote:

    My dear Nick, how many Afghans do you think believe the American fabrication about Bin Laden's death?

    #########

    Strangely, just like here in the west, many people in Afghanistan do not believe every idiotic internet rumour that is circulated by the ignorant. But I am sure there are plenty of people that believe every conpiracy theory there, just like here.

    What is the proof that your daft conspiracy is just an invented idiocy? Simple, like every other idiotic theory there is absolutely no reason for it to be true.

    So, back to reality, many in the region will be relieved at this news not because they especially wanted Bin Laden dead, but it was an added complication to an already increadibly complicated situation.

    It will not change things hugely, but it is one thorn removed. There will be others, no doubt.

  • Comment number 52.

    BoilerBill 477

    How about this then. From the New Stateman a few months ago.

    ''Everywhere, and not just in Britain, liberal social democracy is in retreat. In Sweden, the Social Democratic Party vote share is back to where it was in 1914. In Italy, ­Silvio Berlusconi still commands the political stage, despite repeated scandals and gro­tesque vulgarity. In 2009, the German Social Democrats achieved their worst result since the foundation of the Federal Republic. In France, the Socialists are in demoralised disarray. In Spain, the odds are that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will lose the next election. In the United States, the only question is how much damage the Republican resurgence will do to the Obama administration.'

  • Comment number 53.

    Sagamix 42

    A blogging prune, for goodness sake. If you want to insult me please use a little finesse.

    I break issues down to what they really mean. Unlike yourself, who talks endlessly about the subject matter and still ends up with the wrong answers.

  • Comment number 54.

    11. At 13:50pm 3rd May 2011, Graphis wrote:
    Some countries are still stuck in the Stone Age mentality where the man with the biggest stick gets to tell everyone else what to do. Thankfully, many Islamic countries are now waking up to the fact that they've been left behind by progress as a result of outdated ideologies and ideals: their people, especially the young, would prefer to have the life of comparative peace and wealth that they see us enjoying.

    -----------------------------------------------------
    I have cut out this piece for a reply. I wish I could agree with this view as it would suggest that history moves forward from darkness to enlightenment. Yes, some countries are stuck in the stone age, but they are stuck because they have returned there. Check out You Tube films of life in Afghanistan during the 1960s. Women in Kabul, faces uncovered, working with men, fashionable clothes, modern music, education for young women, and so on. People talk of a backward nation; they are being taken back! And we seem powerless to stop it, and now Cameron offers the Taliban a chance to negotiate for this objective.

  • Comment number 55.

    Cameron is a lightweight and has little grip on any of today's issues. The sooner he and his friend Clegg leave British politics, the better it will be for all of us.

  • Comment number 56.



    13. Jobs.

    Over 45 million Americans are living in poverty.
    2009 saw the largest year increase in poverty since poverty figures have been recorded in the US (1959)
    The US poverty rate is the third worst recorded among developed nations tracked by the OECD.
    The number of Americans on food stamps has surpassed 41 million, at record levels.
    One out of every six Americans are on at least one government anti poverty programme.
    One out of seven mortgages in the US is either in arrears or in repossession.
    One out of every five children in America is living in poverty.
    The United States of America has an incarceration rate of 743 per 100,000 of national population (as of 2009), the highest in the world
    The USA has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners
    The United States has the world's highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics. It's 4 times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England, and 20 times higher than Japan.
    Drug abuse and addiction in America are at record levels.
    Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 24 million people.
    More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (17 million), cancer (12 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million).

  • Comment number 57.

    'SP' @ 44

    Unfortunately I didn't see it. All the rage though, I gather, so perhaps I ought to make the effort next time. Dr Who these days is always played by a person with pronounced left wing views funnily enough - a big change from the old regime of Jon Pertwee and Colin Baker - and this could well be a highly marginal factor in its renaissance.

  • Comment number 58.

    You're out of touch, you're out of time, Jobs (52); you and the New Statesman (and needless to say, Robin). Sarkozy is toast, for example, plus Obama is nailed on. And the Tories here in Blighty? ... well you don't need me to tell you.

  • Comment number 59.

    'SC' @ 53

    That sounds like an accusation of waffle, Susan. You seem to be implying that I go round and round the block whereas you home straight in on where the party is. And maybe you do. Wonder how long you stay for, though, before you're spotted and questions get asked.

  • Comment number 60.

    'Distant' @ 46

    No of course I don't, different order of magnitude entirely! Just offered both up as examples of important events with serious and negative consequences. Let's do another utterly inappropriate sporting analogy: Lionel Messi and Stan Bowles - both wiry little strikers with good close ball control and a hazy dribble, but can they be equated? Nope. No way. Stan's the man.

  • Comment number 61.

    Brighton is WANTED.

  • Comment number 62.

    War in Iraq followed by negotiations with Gaddafi

    War in Libya, followed by negotiations with the Taliban.

    He wasn't joking when he said he was the natural heir to Blair.

  • Comment number 63.

    # 55 MikeS wrote:

    "Cameron is a lightweight and has little grip on any of today's issues. The sooner he and his friend Clegg leave British politics, the better it will be for all of us."

    Not quite sure how your comment relates to the Afghanistan issue - but a 'NO' vote on Thursday will at least reduce the chances of more coalitions in the future. Hung Parliaments are unusual under FPTP. However, a 'yes' vote will ensure we see a lot more of Clegg in the future.

  • Comment number 64.

    #60 saga

    The positive or negative 'consequences' are often in the eye of the beholder. Most people see the removal of Bin Laden from the terrorist equation as a positive thing - but inevitably Hamas condemn this, describing him as a 'martyr' and 'Holy Warrior'.

    http://bit.ly/m9wdWs

    Even more worrying is the support for Hamas from Egypt's newly empowered Muslim Brotherhood movement - which was previously described by the former head of MI6 as being "at heart a terrorist organisation".

    The press has portrayed the 'Arab Spring' as an uprising against totalitarianism and a movement for democracy. I'm sure we all hope that is true, but in reality the situation now unfolding in the Middle East is far from certain.

  • Comment number 65.

    32 Susan

    Absolutely correct interpretation of this minor news story.

    The most striking reporting on the local English news juxtaposed two statements.
    Obama and Clinton proclaiming the world a safer place now Bin Laden is no more.
    Immediately followed by massively increased security in key terrorist targets following news of Bin Ladens death.

    World safer - a Royle family comment springs to mind.

  • Comment number 66.

    sagamix...


    'Sarkozy is toast' ... and who is his biggest threat? Another right wing candidate.

    The left is toast and you know it.

  • Comment number 67.

    57 sagamix

    "...... Dr Who these days is always played by a person with pronounced left wing views funnily enough ......and this could well be a highly marginal factor in its renaissance."
    ================================

    You may be right here, certainly the Dr Who plots were much better when New Labour were in power. Now they are mis-mash of unconnected points which everyone assumes must be very clever because no one can understand them - a bit like the current coalition policies. Perhaps Ed Miliband's clean sheet of paper is the way to go - his party are certainly in need of a Dr Who -like re-generation.

  • Comment number 68.

    48. At 18:19pm 3rd May 2011, sagamix wrote:

    jobs @ 37

    Don't quite understand your comment, Jobs, you seem to be implying that my 'brand' of politics is somehow dated. It certainly isn't, it's constantly renewed and refreshed. The American rapper Jay Z (Beyonce's bloke) is famous for breaking out a brand new set of trainers every day - just pops the box and puts them on - so that his feet never ever smell. That's as good an image as any for my politics.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thing is with JayZ, regardless of how fragrant his feet may be, so far as his music (ie, his professional raison d'etre) is concerned, scratch the surface and its the same old derivative stuff, tracing its lineage back to the early 80's. Same with your politics mate. You might profess to be down wid da yoof in da Hampstead Clear Finking Progressive Massive (innit?), but underneath, at the root of it, at the heart of it is the same self loathing middle-class self-appointed elite metropolitan plastic champagne socialism.

    But for you, its all about the (w)rapper, huh? Not about the rap?

    I could possibly be excused for opining that poor ol' REd Milliband's got 99 Problems But A ... Aint One... but that might be stretching it a bit. :o)

  • Comment number 69.

    FS

    A touch of brilliance in your rhetoric this morning but indifferent content.I speak as one for whom the world of Jay Z is foreign so I had to ask my daughter.

    What is it with you about the conjunction of metropolitan with socialist? It has always been an essentially urban movement,you won`t see the countryside alliance waving red banners,unless they`re foxes..

    As for champagne,very overrated tipple.It`s only taken as the standard for luxury because a few Edwardian toffs got themselves into racy novels drinking it.Before that Mosel and Hock was the wine of choice, reflecting the taste of the Saxe-Coburg dynasty whose putative heir is just married.

    Finally we`re not guilty,not in the slightest,We`re the heirs to Marrie England and its maypole dancing,ale drinking,hay romping tradition.As Sir Toby Belch says to Malvolio," Because thou art virtuous,should there be no more cakes and ale."

    I address the same question sir to you? Guilt belongs to the anal retentive,profit accumulating,humourless, puritan-capitalist tradition of Calvin and John Knox.

  • Comment number 70.

    Sagamix 59

    That sounds like an accusation of waffle, Susan. You seem to be implying that I go round and round the block whereas you home straight in on where the party is. And maybe you do. Wonder how long you stay for, though, before you're spotted and questions get asked.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    I like parties and usually I am one of the last to leave. I do get spotted but thats ok, unless it is by some boring leftie trying to impress me with his so called progressive politics. You know the sort, those that find politics in everything you say, every piece of music that is played and every thought you may have in your head that you did not know about. He usually believes every joke has hidden meaning, such as it must be racial or is against some minority group. That is why a great deal of comedians are lefties these days you know, and are so unfunny, because only they understand their jokes. They have limited material because they must stay within the bounds of political correctness. Of course this guy at the party gets the brush off from everyone and in the end is the one who leaves early.

    BTW Most actors are lefties because they are too lazy to get a proper job and they think it makes them more popular with the public if they have views that are outside of the establishment. Dr Who is now only watched by people who like to pretend they understand complicated issues which actually make no sense at all. So they sit through the nonsense on the screen nodding knowingly. Dr Who has had its day, much like your politics.


  • Comment number 71.

    9. bryhers wrote:
    Finally we`re not guilty,not in the slightest,We`re the heirs to Marrie England and its maypole dancing,ale drinking,hay romping tradition.As Sir Toby Belch says to Malvolio," Because thou art virtuous,should there be no more cakes and ale."


    That doesn't chime with what New Labour was about; seem to recall a few old traditions being banned or discouraged. Unless you are suggesting New Labour was an aberration, not really what socialism is about, and that Blair and his marrie men and women were a stain on a proud and culturally significant movement?

  • Comment number 72.

    #5
    "Um, I was not aware of an alliance beteen the Taliban and AQ"

    Bearing in mind the whole reason for us going into Afghanistan was that the Taliban were sheltering AQ and allowing them to run their training camps, how is that not an alliance?

  • Comment number 73.

    70. Susan-Croft
    "BTW Most actors are lefties because they are too lazy to get a proper job and they think it makes them more popular with the public if they have views that are outside of the establishment."

    Brilliant, Susan.
    The performing arts aren't proper jobs. Can't be that difficult to learn a few lines and stand in front of a lens under burning lights or on a bare stage in front of a few hundred people. Money for old rope.

    Now don't let that tongue get lodged in your cheek.

  • Comment number 74.

    And just in case sagamix isn't yet convinced...

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/clear-tartan-water-after-disastrous-labour-gaffes-2278573.html

    Seems like Thursday is far from headed for the blow out the labour apologists are predicting...

    It's a great time to be a tory....

  • Comment number 75.

    Bryhers 69

    One has to wonder at the tripe you wirte which others let you get away with. Or is it just that they don't read them. You don't understand Shakespeare, which you distort to your own advantage. History is used by you as a mere tool to be misinterpreted by you to support your views.

    Calvin and John Knox were seen as revolutionaries in their day.

  • Comment number 76.

    72. Peter White wrote:
    "Bearing in mind the whole reason for us going into Afghanistan was that the Taliban were sheltering AQ and allowing them to run their training camps, how is that not an alliance?"

    More a marriage of convenience perhaps?
    If you read their respective histories, beliefs and past relationship they aren't exactly a natural alliance.

  • Comment number 77.

    69#

    I always thought guilt belonged to the Catholics. :o)

    The conjunction of metropolitan with socialist? An unfortunate series of events, one might call it.

    Do you know, I even spotted such behaviour in Disney's Mary Poppins when I saw it again for the first time in ages a few weeks ago... an attachment to a cause to break into a social circle which effectively ends at ones front door.

    I guess you could argue that it always has been an urban movement. Not sure the likes of the Tolpuddle Martyrs were urban, were they? But, you dont have to have experienced something directly yourself to gravitate towards a particular cause though, do you? So, what the heck are Polly Toynbee, PennyRed and Bevanite Ellie (amongst numerous others) all about then, eh?

    Regardless of what the Edwardians thought of it, times have moved on, yet the perception for some remains the same. Champagne=Money=Status=Above Themselves/Better Than You. Factually inaccurate, I know, but sometimes, it still rankles. It rankles most amongst those for whom it touches a raw nerve. Those who know in their hearts that their political affiliations or connections or ideals are insincere, those who know that their politics is just a means to an end for personal gain, not borne of true belief and altruism.

  • Comment number 78.

    71. At 09:38am 4th May 2011, TheBlameGame:

    I'll say that if no one else does: The Labour party are not, and haven't for a long time been socialist. I reject their claims on the basis of them failing to meet the definition of socialism (or really left-wing economics as a whole), which can be put as 'collective ownership and control of the means of production by the workers'.

    I argue that a small number of ministers controlling state expenditure for 5 year periods generally without recourse does not count as the workers having any real control, and as for ownership - well, I don't know many people who feel they 'own' the money they pay in taxes in the same was as they do the money in their current accounts. Perhaps they feel an understandable right to a say in how that money is spent, but ownership is pushing it.

    Being left of the Conservatives doesn't make you left wing on the economic scale. I prefer to characterise Labour's economic policy as 'irresponsible capitalism'.

  • Comment number 79.

    74. rockRobin7

    The old anti-Tory strategy is history in Scotland now, as are the Tories. Now Labour have had to change to being anti-SNP focussed and an 'independence bad, Westminster good' strategy... which doesn't make them the party for the Scots. But I doubt if that has any bearing on English local elections although it will obviously have an effect on Parliament if Scottish Independence ever comes around.

  • Comment number 80.

    74. At 09:51am 4th May 2011, rockRobin7 wrote:
    And just in case sagamix isn't yet convinced...

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/clear-tartan-water-after-disastrous-labour-gaffes-2278573.html

    Seems like Thursday is far from headed for the blow out the labour apologists are predicting...

    It's a great time to be a tory....

    You really should stop shooting yourself in the foot Robin. You are suppossed to be arguing that the left is in retreat yet produce evidence of Scotland moving in that direction. You're beginning to sound as confused as goverment policy.........

    As for the results tomorrow i stand by my prediction of over a thousand tory losses, look forward to you putting your prediction where your postings are, presumably with the left in retreat you are expecting tory gains?

  • Comment number 81.

    Can't say that I'm concerned that Bin Laden was unarmed when shot. Capture and trial would only have led to hostage taking so I suspect capture was never on the agenda.

  • Comment number 82.

    70. Susan-Croft


    "BTW Most actors are lefties because they are too lazy to get a proper job and they think it makes them more popular with the public if they have views that are outside of the establishment."

    Or it may be that the actors have weighed up their options under this government and have gone for job security.



  • Comment number 83.

    80 "As for the results tomorrow i stand by my prediction of over a thousand tory losses, look forward to you putting your prediction where your postings are, presumably with the left in retreat you are expecting tory gains?"

    You're probably right about the results. When the last comparable elections were held, Labour's popularity was at its lowest for decades. Didn't make much difference though, did it? Local councils do little more than decide what colour coat the lollipop lady should wear. Most councillors are just puffed up busy-bodies anyway. The sort who actually want to be called "councillor Lardy" as if the title was important.

  • Comment number 84.

    81 Andy

    Bit surprised that the Americans didn't go in for a bit of waterboarding first.

    cheeseburgers Yes - Waterboarding definately a No No!

  • Comment number 85.

    84#

    Thats how they got the name of the courier who led them unwittingly to the scene...

  • Comment number 86.

    82. At 10:44am 4th May 2011, Mr N wrote:

    "Or it may be that the actors have weighed up their options under this government and have gone for job security."

    Should people expect the government to provide them jobs directly, to the detriment of the finances of the whole country?

  • Comment number 87.

    alexpo 80

    The reason the SNP is doing so well is easy to see actually. The SNP grab the business vote for a start. The reason being that there is no Scottish Conservative party in Scotland that could win power. However, they also know Salmond will never be able to bring about Scottish independence because it is unaffordable. Therefore, their best position is to get as much out of the UK Government as possible, which they know Salmond on past record can achieve. Also recent events such as the oil windfall tax, though it is not being seen much in England, has had a massive effect on how the Lib/Dems and Conservatives are percieved in Scotland. Long term damage has been done to the oil industry by this extra tax. In the last few years oil companies tax has doubled whether it be CGT or PRT, the higher being at 81%. This will see fields sold or abandoned and drilling projects deferred causing unemployment. This has already began to happen. What was once the golden goose has been killed in greedy tax grabs. This will become a more high profile subject as the weeks go on, when the effects become more obvious.

    Scottish Labour have a very poor leader in Gray, as compared to Salmond who is well know and admired. Keeping Salmond as First Minister is seen as the main vote winner for the SNP.

    The future looks very good for the SNP in the short term as Labour and the Lib/Dems decline in Scotland. However, the SNP are not being truthful about the cuts that are needed as the public sector is massive in some areas of Scotland. All this is unaffordable and unless the SNP makes cuts and bring in reform for the NHS and Universities such as England has, the money will run out and decline is inevitable.

  • Comment number 88.

    78. At 10:28am 4th May 2011, Marnip wrote:
    'I'll say that if no one else does: The Labour party are not, and haven't for a long time been socialist.'

    Best description of NL or even the current form (NL Lite) is perhaps a curate's egg. Some good, some bad. Unfortunately if even part of an egg goes bad it tends to stink the place out.


    ps I see a jury of the people have chosen to disagree with the DPP, the AG and the IPCC on the Tomlinson case.

    Cue hand-wringing and backtracking.

 

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