The head of Britain's military Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup insisted the Taliban were losing as 16 solders are killed in a week in Afghanistan
Afghanistan: This bloody war
By Kim Sengupta and Andrew Grice
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Five British soldiers were killed yesterday in a devastating roadside bombing, the largest number to die in one single attack, bringing to eight the number killed in the most deadly 24 hours of the Afghan campaign.
Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:52 am Post subject: Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Troops 'fighting for UK's future'
Foreign Secretary David Miliband has defended the UK's continued military presence in Afghanistan, after eight troops were killed in 24 hours.
Some 184 troops have died there since 2001, more than the 179 killed in Iraq.
With Britain's role being called into question, Mr Miliband said UK forces were stopping Afghanistan becoming "a launch pad for attacks" by terrorists.
He said safety at home needed security in Afghanistan. "This is about the future of Britain," he added.
The UK Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, insisted "real governance" was emerging in Afghanistan.
British Troops Suffer Heaviest Casualties Since Falklands
News Brief – July 10, 2009
Eight British soldiers were killed Friday during operations against the Taliban in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
Their deaths bring the total number of British servicemen killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of July to 15.
News of the latest casualties came as Gordon Brown was attending the G8 summit in Italy.
In a statement on Thursday, a seemingly emotional prime minister insisted yesterday that Britain would not change its strategy.
"We knew from the start that defeating the insurgency in Helmand would be a hard and dangerous job, but it is a vital one," he said.
In a gesture that cynics might say was meant to appease mounting public anger over operations in Afghanistan, Mr Brown praised the "incredible professionalism, courage, bravery and dedication" of the soldiers involved.
Although the prime minister said operations in Afghanistan were necessary for Britain’s securty he didn’t elaborate on exactly how.
Nor did he explain why opium production was now at record levels – after the Taliban had all but shut down the drugs trade in Afghanistan, before they were overthrown by the US and Britain.
Casualties have mounted steadily since this most recent offensive against the Taliban began. The first was the death of Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe, the highest ranking British soldier to be killed since the Falklands conflict.
The deaths of the eight today were the single heaviest daily death toll since the Falklands War, over 25 years ago.
The latest deaths have also brought into question the level of Brown’s commitment to the war in Afghanistan.
It has been suggested that the government turned down a request from the Army to send an additional 2,000 troops earlier this year ahead of next month's elections, limiting reinforcements to an extra 800.
It's thought that this was done to avoid alienating potential voters. In other words the government jeopardised the army’s fighting prowess ln order to win over potential voters.
So apart from helping open up the drugs trade from Afghanistan, the ruling Labour Party has put its soldiers there at risk to garner extra votes.
The Afghan Resistance is clearly developing a sophistication
in use of asymmetric warfare. Including roadside bombs.
Meanwhile this article:
Afghanistan: The Irresistible Illusion
of an Unobtainable Victory
Rory Stewart, who served as a British Government official in Iraq and Afghanistan, has written eloquently of the difficulties of intervention. However, his latest article, in The London Review of Books, is exceptional. It is a lengthy examination both of the impulse to expand the current political and military approach and of the difficulties, if not futility, of doing so: “After seven years of refinement, the policy seems so buoyed by illusions, caulked in ambiguous language and encrusted with moral claims, analogies and political theories that it can seem futile to present an alternative.”
The Irresistible Illusion
We are accustomed to seeing Afghans through bars, or smeared windows, or the sight of a rifle: turbaned men carrying rockets, praying in unison, or lying in pools of blood; boys squabbling in an empty swimming-pool; women in burn wards, or begging in burqas. Kabul is a South Asian city of millions. Bollywood music blares out in its crowded spice markets and flower gardens, but it seems that images conveying colour and humour are reserved for Rajasthan.
Barack Obama, in a recent speech, set out our fears. The Afghan government is undermined by corruption and has difficulty delivering basic services to its people. The economy is undercut by a booming narcotics trade that encourages criminality and funds the insurgency . . . If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al-Qaida to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can . . . For the Afghan people, a return to Taliban rule would condemn their country to brutal governance, international isolation, a paralysed economy, and the denial of basic human rights to the Afghan people – especially women and girls. The return in force of al-Qaida terrorists who would accompany the core Taliban leadership would cast Afghanistan under the shadow of perpetual violence.
When we are not presented with a dystopian vision, we are encouraged to be implausibly optimistic. ‘There can be only one winner: democracy and a strong Afghan state,’ Gordon Brown predicted in his most recent speech on the subject. Obama and Brown rely on a hypnotising policy language which can – and perhaps will – be applied as easily to Somalia or Yemen as Afghanistan. It misleads us in several respects simultaneously: minimising differences between cultures, exaggerating our fears, aggrandising our ambitions, inflating a sense of moral obligations and power, and confusing our goals. All these attitudes are aspects of a single worldview and create an almost irresistible illusion.
It conjures nightmares of ‘failed states’ and ‘global extremism’, offers the remedies of ‘state-building’ and ‘counter-insurgency’, and promises a final dream of ‘legitimate, accountable governance’. The path is broad enough to include Scandinavian humanitarians and American special forces; general enough to be applied to Botswana as easily as to Afghanistan; sinuous and sophisticated enough to draw in policymakers; suggestive enough of crude moral imperatives to attract the Daily Mail; and almost too abstract to be defined or refuted. It papers over the weakness of the international community: our lack of knowledge, power and legitimacy. It conceals the conflicts between our interests: between giving aid to Afghans and killing terrorists. It assumes that Afghanistan is predictable. It is a language that exploits tautologies and negations to suggest inexorable solutions. It makes our policy seem a moral obligation, makes failure unacceptable, and alternatives inconceivable. ...
Right, which suggests that the forces don't stray too far from their base typically or it suggests that a lot of the taliban have been paid off and that the problem now is the resistance they encounter from those who aren't so easy to pay off. Since like you said half a million russians couldn't do it and the contingent of British forces is small. However these wars aren't meant to be won there always has to be a justification for them to stay there so they like it this way. These type of headlines actually further peoples support to the troops. I think it's important that to the typical person Afghanistan is synonymous with September 11 so they will never clamour to leave there.
Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:24 pm Post subject: Half Million Russians failed - So UK sends 140 more men
Half Million Russians failed - So UK sends 140 more men
LONDON -- Britain will send 140 more troops to Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, as the bodies of eight soldiers killed in recent fighting with Taliban forces were flown back to England.
The additional soldiers will be transferred from a British base in Cyprus to join more than 9,000 British troops already fighting in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province.
With other European nations unwilling to send more troops -- and Afghan forces not ready to take up overall security -- Britain's support has been crucial to the international coalition battling Taliban insurgents seeking to regain power.
Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 4:55 am Post subject: Afghanistan: 'We are fighting ghost soldiers'
Afghanistan: 'We are fighting ghost soldiers' Will the the US surge in Afghanistan help the British army get the resources it has been hoping for?
Uphill struggle: Members of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards being briefed after a hard day in the field Photo: NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX/EYEVINE
History might record that the summer of 2009 was the pivotal moment for the British mission in Helmand. It has been a bloody few weeks with 15 dead in a 10-day period, including the most senior Army officer in three decades. These deaths, and another yesterday, and the eight coffins, witnessed by a few hundred of us in Camp Bastion and later by thousands in Wootton Bassett on Wednesday, has, after three years of evasion, produced the necessary debate about what we are trying to achieve in Afghanistan.
The resolve of politicians and military commanders is being tested as never before – as indeed is public support for the mission. But the harsh reality is that we must be prepared for more deaths if we are to succeed in Operation Panther's Claw, which began four weeks ago to clear a Taliban stronghold in central Helmand, and in the longer campaign in general.
We are dealing with a hierarchy of prices, from the farmgate price in the producing country, upwards, to the final retail street price. The latter is often 80-100 times the price paid to the farmer.
In other words, the opiate product transits through several markets from the producing country to the transshipment country(ies), to the consuming countries. In the latter, there are wide margins between "the landing price" at the point of entry, demanded by the drug cartels and the wholesale prices and the retail street prices, protected by Western organized crime.
The Global Proceeds of the Afghan Narcotics Trade
In Afghanistan, the reported production of 3600 tons of opium in 2003 would allow for the production of approximately 360,000 kg of pure heroin. Gross revenues accruing to Afghan farmers are roughly estimated by the UNODC to be of the order of $1 billion, with 1.3 billion accruing to local traffickers.
When sold in Western markets at a heroin wholesale price of the order of $100,000 a kg (with a 70 percent purity ratio), the global wholesale proceeds (corresponding to 3600 tons of Afghan opium) would be of the order of 51.4 billion dollars. The latter constitutes a conservative estimate based on the various figures for wholesale prices in the previous section.
The total proceeds of the Afghan narcotics trade (in terms of total value added) is estimated using the final heroin retail price. In other words, the retail value of the trade is ultimately the criterion for measuring the importance of the drug trade in terms of revenue generation and wealth formation.
A meaningful estimate of the retail value, however, is almost impossible to ascertain due to the fact that retail prices vary considerably within urban areas, from one city to another and between consuming countries, not to mention variations in purity and quality (see above).
The evidence on retail margins, namely the difference between wholesale and retail values in the consuming countries, nonetheless, suggests that a large share of the total (money) proceeds of the drug trade are generated at the retail level.
In other words, a significant portion of the proceeds of the drug trade accrues to criminal and business syndicates in Western countries involved in the local wholesale and retail narcotics markets. And the various criminal gangs involved in retail trade are invariably protected by the "corporate" crime syndicates.
90 percent of heroin consumed in the UK is from Afghanistan. Using the British retail price figure from UK police sources of $110 a gram (with an assumed 50 percent purity level), the total retail value of the Afghan narcotics trade in 2003 (3600 tons of opium) would be the order of 79.2 billion dollars. The latter should be considered as a simulation rather than an estimate.
Under this assumption (simulation), a billion dollars gross revenue to the farmers in Afghanistan (2003) would generate global narcotics earnings, --accruing at various stages and in various markets-- of the order of 79.2 billion dollars. These global proceeds accrue to business syndicates, intelligence agencies, organized crime, financial institutions, wholesalers, retailers, etc. involved directly or indirectly in the drug trade.
In turn, the proceeds of this lucrative trade are deposited in Western banks, which constitute an essential mechanism in the laundering of dirty money.
A very small percentage accrues to farmers and traders in the producing country. Bear in mind that the net income accruing to Afghan farmers is but a fraction of the estimated 1 billion dollar amount. The latter does not include payments of farm inputs, interest on loans to money lenders, political protection, etc. (See also UNODC, The Opium Economy in Afghanistan, http://www.unodc.org/pdf/publications/afg_opium_economy_www.pdf , Vienna, 2003, p. 7-
Sorry that it's globalresearch, but assuming it's a vaguely accurate estimate, 50-80 billion dollars a year is a load of dosh. Maybe it's even more now.
Mr Biden said Guantanamo Bay would be closed by January 2010
US Vice-President Joe Biden has told the BBC that the war in Afghanistan is in the interests of the US and the UK.
"It is worth the effort we are making," he said, warning that the terror groups on the border with Pakistan could "wreak havoc" on Europe and the US.
The number of foreign troop deaths has jumped recently, sparking questions in the UK over its involvement in the war.
Mr Biden suggested more sacrifice would have to be made during what he termed the "fighting season".
Mr Biden was speaking during a European trip in which he has visited Ukraine and Georgia.
Another 125 British troops in Afghanistan to replace killed and injured soldiers
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Last updated at 12:30 AM on 25th July 2009
Britain is sending another 125 troops to Afghanistan to replace the large number who have been killed and injured recently - 19 in the past month alone.
The deployment, which includes specialists to tackle the Taliban's deadly improvised roadside bombs, follows requests from officers in the field.
The Ministry of Defence said it would keep troop numbers in Afghanistan at about 9,000, following a recent rise from from 8,300.
More than 150 UK casualties in a week in Helmand
• Figure in addition to 17 soldiers killed this month
• Field hospital has to break rules to treat wounded
The Guardian, Tuesday 21 July 2009
Recent fighting in Afghanistan led to a record number of British casualties since the start of the war against the Taliban, with more than 150 badly wounded within a week, defence officials said yesterday.
May 1, 2009
What the New York Times unwittingly reveals about the war in Afghanistan
Over last two weeks, the New York Times has published a series of articles on conditions facing US soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.
In describing soldiers’ lives and calling attention to the hellish conditions in Afghanistan, the Times articles reveal considerably more than what one suspects their authors set out to explain. For anyone reading them with a degree of historical consciousness, they depict a colonial war waged against an entire population, by US troops who see little purpose behind the violence they are unleashing on the Afghan population.
Another British soldier killed in Afghanistan
bringing death toll to 20 in just one month
1:18 PM on 25th July 2009
A soldier from the 40th Regiment Royal Artillery has been killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said today.
He was killed on a vehicle patrol in Lashkar Gah District, central Helmand Province. Lieutenant Colonel Nick Richardson, spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said: 'He was one soldier, who was here for one cause, to help the Afghan people.
The soldier is the 20th British serviceman to die in Afghanistan this month.
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