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I spent yesterday with a retired History teacher. We were watching the news before the World Cup. The latest death in Afghanistan was announced. Another guy from the Paratroopers. My friend waited and said... 'The Russians couldn't hold it ...they were next door... no embedded journalists from 'Izvestia' to spill the beans on some atrocity.... why on earth do we think we can? ...These people cannot be defeated.'

He said 'In my old school, we used to use Afghanistan as an example of ..a different place....where life is so uncomfortable ..that you should put up with your silly little 'hardships' and ..get on with your life.'

He continued ' The Afghan fighter is semi-mythical ...almost the boogeyman... People are hard. ..they live half way up mountains or in scorching deserts. .life is tough... They expect treachery... and they will be well prepared for our lot.'

The debate in the House of Commons, later yesterday, became the same as for Iraq: how to protect our soldiers, who have an annoying habit of being hurt, by placing themselves in the line of fire. Not why we are there. I have lost track of that one. ...something about keeping President Karsai, with the beautiful Italian suits and ethnic shawls, in power?

My friend said 'Democracy?. Firstly, why do we think the Afghan people want it as opposed to some decent food and a home.. Secondly.. Karsai?...was he not an oil industry executive before? ..No disrespect but surely a politician or great social reformer would be more appropriate.... an oil executive would not become president in a democracy'.

Our finest troops... men who could defend Edinburgh when required.. with bravery and honour .. are being sought out by hard, determined men and are being killed. The bad guys no longer choke their victims, or flash knives. They have Kalashnikovs and rocket grenades. Our kids are being killed at a disturbing rate, too much for our smooth, PR conscious Labour leadership.

The Labour Party just might debate this.. eventually. 'This house calls for the killing of our soldiers to be delayed until we have had a proper vote in the House of Commons!'...And you criticise the Democrats ..at least they were not in power when the killing started. I'd like to rejoin Labour just so I could resign again!

Today's Guardian reports (the Taliban) 'are proving a tenacious, daring and tactically sophisticated enemy.' Conditions are dreadful for the Brit Army which, like its US ally, has complained of poor equipment and lack of preparation caused by the dash for war.
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'There is no escape from temperatures that regularly touch 50C. Neither is there any respite from the threat of attack. Most soldiers try to snatch a few hours rest during the daytime, sleeping inside their flak jackets.'

A local commander was honest and blunt. "We thought we would play the 'British not American' card," said Major Williams. "But it hasn't been so easy. There's a lot of history here and a danger that people will see us like the Soviets."

Not the same Soviets that gave us..the wall....sputnik ..bald guys kissing on the lips.. ..banging shoes..you remember them! Well that says it all. We are being compared to the evil empire. By someone who knows what he is talking about.

A decendant of the men who charged the Russian guns when the Light Brigade were the equivalent of the Paras during the Crimean war.

'Half a league half a league, Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
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It was blindly obeying orders. It gave us centuries of rule... by being prepared to murder entire creeds of people. ..We were no better than the Soviets. At least they knew when they were beaten. Time to disobey orders. Time to get out while we can.

My friend said 'The Himalayan Range to the north? Do you know what 'Hindu Kush' means?.... it means 'Indian Murderer'. Ever wonder why the Indians or Pakistanis did not try to conquer depopulated Afghanistan? ... A billion people in India, 160 M in Pakistan...

..Both short of space....both nuclear powers... gigantic armies...They could have used some lebensraum of their own... but they both chose not to invade this empty country next door to them. ...Ever wondered why?'

 

'Hamish ' is an antiwar writer socialist- scientist and musician living in Scotland.

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