Afghanistan is historically a place of political and military unrest. It is a place where foreign powers in the past have been categorically ejected from the land by the tribal Afghan peoples. This is largely thanks to foreign powers throughout history, including the present UN occupation, which have tried to change views to promote a centralised form of government. The rebellion of tribal elders in the area simply makes the problem worse. Secondly, the ideological reason behind the presence. In the past, occupation and rule have been the goals, but this UN ratified operation is in place to improve lifestyles and to remove oppression by Taliban rulers. British troops are able to have such a positive effect because they are not fighting a mobilised Afghan public, but rather Taliban forces.
We are now at such a stage that we are not even fighting Afghan Taliban forces any longer, but forces imported from Pakistan and other neighbouring states. The local young men are much less willing to sign up to fight against us as they see the benefits gained from the British, and the other 36 countries’ troops, in the area. Projects to boost security, rebuild infrastructure, and provide humanitarian aid are both massive and effective in the country, even in the most dangerous area; British led Helmand. Many people forget that the British Army is one of the largest aid organisations in the world.
At the start the objectives were clear: Remove Taliban forces, and training camps, and to capture Osama Bin Laden. That goal has now changed. Taliban rule has been; for the most part; overthrown so the role of our troops has changed. They are there to make lives better. They do this by administering aid, but also by protecting those wishing to help.
Long term goals are set as the eventual withdrawal of troops to leave a stabilised democratic state of Afghanistan, our troops are moving more towards a mentoring role. Afghan people are policing the streets and sending out military patrols, slowly taking over from British Forces in the area. Each day bringing us closer to our eventual goal, but also closer to the ‘150 troops lost in Afghanistan’ mark; which we perilously approach. A terrible price to pay, but it is buying us far more than a warm fuzzy feeling. It is holding the fledgling democracy in place; it is denying area and opportunities to the Taliban. Through that, it is denying financial resources to many terrorist organisations worldwide, which largely rely on Afghan opium to fund their activities.
Many people believe that even the mighty NATO would be caused to fall if Britain leaves Afghanistan. We would be saying “no” to the new President elect Barrack Obama and in that, withdrawing our large contribution to NATO. This would allow several European nations currently on the fence concerning their involvement to slope away; NATO becoming an ineffective shadow of its former, very important entity.
We cannot permit leaving Afghanistan within the next year, nor even within the next five years. It would be a catastrophic mistake, leading to a reduction in the security of the area around Afghanistan, a reduction in the security of our country and a massive political boost for extremist groups who have been calling for this withdrawal for so long.