John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, October 13, 2006
  "Troops Out" - in the Daily Mail ?
It is not surprising to have people calling for the withdrawal of Troops from Iraq. It is not surprising to have people saying that the presence of British Troops:

a) Makes the security situation worse in Iraq
b) Causes problems for Britain around the world
c) Causes further difficulties in the UK.

What is surprising is that it is the Army Chief of Staff Sir Richard Dannatt and it is in the Daily Mail.

The article is a good article that I almost agree with entirely. However, I do have a disagreement about Afghanistan. I think that the actions of the Troops in Helmand could have a long term impact. It is important to remember that there is a sort of "Gremlin" effect whereby when you kill an Afghan their Cousin-Brothers are duty bound to obtain revenge. You therefore get a "Gremlin factor" where for each one who dies two or more take their place.

This is the difficulty with a military strategy of occupation. You cannot win "hearts and minds" by killing people. If the objective is to win "hearts and minds" then approaches such as that in Helmand are destined to add to difficulties.

It is also important for occupying forces to remember that people will very rarely tell them to their faces to go. After all they don't want to be shot and the occupying forces hold the guns. The UK Government's argument about the Iraqi government's wish for UK forces to remain in Iraq fails on this point.
 
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