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Those who do not learn from history..

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Two more British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan yesterday. Worryingly they were attacked in their headquarters and were from the internationally famous
Paratroop Regiment . These were not pith-helmeted policemen sorting out traffic problems but hard, proud fighters who attracted the Taliban's attention. That is 5 in 2 weeks.

Even more worrying was the response from Brit politicians. All shades of opinion from right wing to extreme right wing were calling for better protection ,better resources, have they proper support etc. etc. No one was openly saying we have stepped deep in muck.

Only one Member of Parliament, Mike Gapes, a Labour chap, was at all critical of our role but firstly also stressed the need to look after our own. 'I certainly feel that our forces there need proper protection and equipment'. However he noted that 'We need to have a clear explanation of what we are likely to be in over the long term here.' He added. 'There are signs that the tactics that have brought such devastation to Iraq are being replicated in Afghanistan.'

The general acceptance that we will follow the Americans and being so closely linked to them is a double edged sword. They will get more flak than us as the prize enemy. However we cannot escape being seen as an easier target and Brit deaths less likely incur catastrophic responses from bombers in retaliation. Having said that a village or two bombed with a few photos of more civilian deaths is pretty good for the cause of anti coalition forces every where.

The history of British involvement in Afghanistan is not reassuring. We lost an entire army in the late 19th Century. Just disappeared ..gone. This was when we were a whole technology ahead of them..our training was way better..our troops motivated..in fact ..a bit like now.

I have already discussed the brutal way we devastated that part of the world a century before the Russians repeated our example. At least the Russians did not last in the area Our rule lasted over a hundred years and extended into poor India as well. The famine in the Indian sub continent at the end of the 1800s killed ten million people. This lasted into the 20th Century.
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We planned for it, ensured they grew cotton etc. and not food, exported a lot of goods out of India, which may have bought food, continued receiving profits from our many ventures there and basically carried on, business as usual.

I never quite got why Ghandi sided with the British during the Second World War. Whilst our policies were nothing like as nasty as Hitler's we were simply more subtle and not particularly morally different.

We had done the same in Ireland, of course. There were less dead there, only 4 million, but the Irish had the added thrill of watching their beef being driven onto boats for Bristol and Liverpool.

Want to hear an Irish joke? Cedric goes to a pub in Dublin and meets Paddy. He says "We should forget the past. What we did was inexcusable. None the less I must say I am proud to be British and despite our history I will always be British." Paddy says "Ah, but have you no ambition?"
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'Hamish ' is an antiwar writer socialist- scientist and musician living in Scotland.

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