Drawing the line against the Taliban

November 4, 2009

afghan1Fight them there or fight them here?

Former Foreign Office minister Kim Howells poses the question in the Guardian in a piece made grimly relevant by Wednesday’s shooting dead of  five British soldiers by an Afghan policeman.

Howells says troops should be brought back from Afghanistan and that the billions of pounds saved should be used to beef up homeland security in Britain – drawing the front line against al Qaeda around the UK rather than thousands of miles away in Helmand province.

He accepts that such an approach would result in “more intrusive surveillance in certain communities,” a tacit acknowledgment that Britain’s Muslims would be subject to greater scrutiny by police and intelligence services.

His “Fortress Britain” theory takes into account indications that a growing number of experts feel the war against the Al Qaeda’s supporters the Taliban in Afghanistan is unwinnable.

It also makes the point that not all Al Qaeda training camps are in Afghanistan anyway.

Howells is Gordon Brown’s intelligence and security watchdog and his theory goes counter to the prevailing wisdom in Washington and London, both of which are preparing to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Do you agree with him?

9 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

YES, ABSOLUTELY. THE SHOOTING OF 5 BRITISH SOLDIERS BY OF ALL THINGS AN AFGHAN POLICEMAN IS THE LAST STRAW. I DON’T THINK THE BRITISH PUBLIC WILL TAKE ANY MORE OF THIS.

Posted by Pietro | Report as abusive

I believe this is a worthwhile option.

The Patriot Act pretty much blew all our privacy out of the water anyway. How much more intrusive could it get?

Definately worth looking into for the safety of our own troops as well.

Posted by Kristen | Report as abusive

“It also makes the point that not all Al Qaeda training camps are in Afghanistan anyway.”

Are there ANY Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan???
It’s hard to believe they could exist now..

Well I guess the two latest invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have been the best training imaginable for these fighters. Who needs a training camp when you can practice in the real thing.

The “War on Terrorism” was a farce… an intangible concept and a propaganda curtain between us and the REAL situation. Since its conception by undoubtedly the worst president the US has ever seen, it has vastly increased anti-Americanism, anti-Western sentiment, militancy, attacks and religious fundamentalism.
Afghanistan right now represents a culmination of truth and lies, a pivotal test for historians and a turning point for world powers and global security.

Will we press on as usual and escalate this abstract war in the vain hope that we’ll eventually define what we are fighting and win the ‘hearts and minds’ of our perceived enemies, or pull back from the brink and correct the mistakes of our past and our predecessors to strengthen and preserve our own democracies and regain our integrity despite our pride.

If WWII should have taught us anything it’s that the allies created their own enemy after they won WWI “The war to end all wars”.

Unfortunately there’s also a lot of pride on the line for our leaders.. the war is now spreading into Pakistan, and invading Iran is still an option with pre-war stage setting and public enemy profiling of Iran at an advanced stage.
If this happens the consequences will be catastrophic for the world.

Posted by brian | Report as abusive

if the survailence is used and implemented for the right reason and can proceed with this and can withstand the accusations of the PC brigade,the majority of the population will buy into it.If this is implemented and not transparrent,then it could be the tipping point in people’s perception of privicy concerns.

Posted by graeme | Report as abusive

Kim Howells has stated what a gathering majority of people think, that this is a war that cannot be won, when we leave, whether now or in years to come the Afghans will quickly revert to their old feudal ways.
We should withdraw our forces now and use the manpower and the billions spent on strengthening our borders to stop terrorist getting in and our internal security forces to search out those that are already amongst us. even if it means putting our freedom of rights on hold for a few years.

Posted by Ramon | Report as abusive

A deteriorating Afghanistan will only endanger the British state and the Middle East. Brown is right to at least try sending more troops. Analysis on Afghan deliberations is at asiachroniclenews.com

Posted by Dersu | Report as abusive

I cannot believe that UK ministier suggest to pay for empheral security with even more loss of privacy. This is the way to different kinds of political speculations and even witch hunt amongst the UK muslim community. Forward to the dictatorship.

Posted by Alkey | Report as abusive

The only problem with leaving afganistan is that it would be a monumental morale boost to the taliban and al queda because once again, they have “managed to drive out the invaders” the same way as they see that they did against the Soviets and against the British all those many years ago. They really will think that they are invicible, and can beat off any foe in the country.

Pulling out won’t work.

Posted by Stephen | Report as abusive

British troops in Afghanistan are fighting for safeguarding the British interests, not only within the UK but all over the world; a sensible British government wouldn’t want to isolate itself from the rest of the world. There are British companies’ operating in Central Asia, Middle East, Russia and the rest of the world. If Afghanistan is allowed to return to the Taliban era, it will endanger the surrounding countries immediately and the rest of the world in a short while. It should be mentioned that the next country facing the danger of Taliban invasion is a nuclear armed, and located just next door to Afghanistan.

So now tell me which option would you go with, barricade ourselves within our borders or defend our interests all over the world???

Posted by Siddiq | Report as abusive