Mark Steel: Brown can't even stick to his own nonsense on Afghanistan

As with Iraq, the reasons for staying are sliding slowly into gibberish

Share
Related Topics

Bit by bit, as happened with Iraq, the reasons for staying in Afghanistan slide into gibberish. So Gordon Brown's reasons for the war seem to change every week.

At one point we were there to stop the opium, then to install democracy, now to prevent terrorist attacks in Britain. Next week he'll tell us the Taliban must be defeated as emissions from burqas are the greatest cause of climate change, or the plan is to buy the Taliban with public money until Afghanistan is back on its feet, and sell off the profitable sections such as Jihad training camps at a rate that makes sound economic sense.

At least Tony Blair used to come up with a pile of nonsense and stick to it. In his latest speech, Brown promised, "Early action on corruption". How early is this likely to be, given that even if he starts this morning that will be eight years after we arrived? Even the shabbiest of builders, if they'd been round for eight years, wouldn't have the cheek to say, "Right, we'll have one more cup of tea and then get started 'cos it's nice to get some action in early."

Their most important ally in this early crusade against corruption is Hamid Karzai, who became President in an election that had to be re-run because of corruption, and will now take place again with only one candidate. Still, it's always best to have someone in charge who is familiar with the subject.

The scale of the task is such that yesterday the human rights group Transparency International published a league table of the world's most corrupt countries, with Afghanistan coming second after Somalia. And Karzai will probably feel offended by this, saying "WE should have come first," blaming the Somalians for cheating by bribing the judges.

This isn't just a matter of Afghan fiddling. Private militias are employed by the US army, so The Asian Times reports – "US and NATO contingents spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on Afghan security providers, most of which are local warlords guilty of human rights abuses." This must be part of the plan to open up the country to the free market. The next step will be a version of Dragon's Den on Afghan television, in which a warlord stands before some Nato officials and insists with just one million dollars backing he can torture anyone he's told to on the hills north of Kandahar, and a narrator says: "The British don't think the warlord's figures add up, but General McChrystal is about to make an offer."

Nor can the British Government believe their own argument that the war is essential to destroy the bases of terrorism. The group that bombed London came from Leeds, so presumably we'll be paying warlords to take control there next, gunning down the odd wedding party to make extra sure. Al-Qa'ida aren't tied to one country, so even if Nato took over Afghanistan they'd just move somewhere else, unless we think they'll say: "There's no point in carrying on, the facilities in the Helmand Province were marvellous, with all the latest explosives, wonderful editing facilities for making pre-suicide video messages, it just won't be the same anywhere else, we're giving up."

Brown also claimed there was a plan to take control of the country, "District by district." What have they been trying up to now then? Isn't that always how an army wins a war? For example the allies got Normandy, then the rest of France and then Germany. They didn't yell: "Never mind hanging about like that, let's get everywhere at once."

Perhaps he'll tell us the district- by-district strategy wasn't possible before, because we didn't have the postcodes to put into the sat-nav, but we've finally heard back from the Post Office so we can get going with some early district action.

The war, it's often forgotten, was begun by George W Bush in response to the attack on the Twin Towers. Later it became clear the war was part of an overall strategy for "A New American Century," and was one step on the way to Iraq. So the real reason, and even most of the fake reasons, that the war was initiated have become redundant.

So the next move will probably be to revert to an early favourite, the claim we're fighting for women's rights, which is why we only sell a billion dollars worth of weapons to places that respect women, like Saudi Arabia, where it's just feminism feminism feminism. Indeed we were so keen for that women's regime to be properly armed we did most of it through international corruption, so there's sure to be some early action on that any day soon.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss