Sunday, July 01, 2007

The forgotten lessons of Afghanistan

"Afghanistan has a fatal attraction for the imperialist default mode in London foreign policy. It will doubtless work its magic on Brown and Miliband. Already the largest British embassy anywhere is being built in Kabul, like the American one in Baghdad. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the new ambassador, said last month that 'we are going to win this…but it’s not a three-year sprint, it’s a 30-year marathon'. He sounded like a Victorian governor of the Punjab. A Russian who witnessed his own country’s occupation of Afghanistan told me incredulously: 'I can hardly believe that you are making every single one of our mistakes.' Cowper-Coles seems to think he can hold Afghanistan for 30 years with 30,000 mostly reluctant Nato troops. What century do these people inhabit?" —Simon Jenkins

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