Saturday, July 11, 2009


John F. Burns writes in today's The New York Times web page on the growing casualties suffered by British troops over the last week in Afghanistan.

Reports Burns:

"Just as President Obama’s plan to nearly double American troop strength in Afghanistan gets into high gear, Britain’s involvement in the war has come under the fiercest criticism yet at home as a result of a steep increase in British casualties, including the deaths of 15 soldiers in the past 10 days.

"The latest losses are the heaviest British forces have suffered in any comparable period since the 1982 Falklands war. With the Defense Ministry’s announcement of eight soldiers’ deaths on Friday, Britain’s toll in Afghanistan is now 184 killed, five more than its total losses in Iraq, where Britain’s combat commitment ended this spring."

Why the U.K. has sent troops to fight in Afghanistan must be reexamined. I would argue that no one, not Gordon Brown, not Barack Obama, not Angela Merkel, has come up with a reasonable and cogent answer to this question. And the more time that foreign troops including those of the U.S. and the U.K. are stationed there, the more loss of life and the more maiming injuries, not only of American and British troops but of ordinary Afghanis.

Burns writes:

"The deaths have generated grim images that have led the nightly television news, of slate-gray transport aircraft carrying coffins landing at a military air base in Wiltshire and being driven slowly in hearses past crowds lining the high street in Wootton Bassett, a nearby town. When five coffins passed down the street on Friday, on their way to a mortuary in Oxford, women wailed.

"Britain’s casualties are far lower than those suffered by American forces, who have lost 732 troops in Afghanistan and 4,322 in Iraq, according to, a Web site that monitors the military losses in both wars. But with Britain’s far smaller population and troop deployments, the latest deaths — from a force of 9,000 that makes Britain’s the second-largest troop presence in Afghanistan after the United States’ — have been as much of a shock here as the heavy American troop losses in Iraq at the height of that conflict were in the United States."

There is no justifiable reason why British soldiers are fighting in Afghanistan. And whom are they fighting? Ordinary Afghan villagers and believers in jihad, people who think and really believe that they are doing God's work killing infidels.

So why does PM Gordon Brown continue to defend and support the enigmatic war that has caused such a large loss of life for British troops? Brown seems to be like George Bush who once the killings of American soldiers began to mount nevertheless stubbornly refused to reconsider his awful and erroneous decision.

John Burns writes:

"Speaking at the Group of 8 summit meeting in Italy on Friday, Mr. Brown said the increase in British casualties during an offensive in Helmand, where Taliban fighters have concentrated a summer offensive of their own, was part of a mission that aimed at breaking “a chain of terror” that ran from southern Afghanistan and Pakistan to the streets of Britain, and contributed to the transit bombings in London in 2005. “Britons today are safer because of the courageous sacrifice of British soldiers in Afghanistan,” he said.

"But his faltering voice as he predicted further casualties reflected a political reality he could not avoid. Although Mr. Brown voted for Britain’s involvement in Iraq in 2003, when he was chancellor of the exchequer, he made no secret in following years of his profound discomfort with the war, and he moved decisively after he succeeded Tony Blair as prime minister in 2007 to lay down a schedule for British withdrawal, which will be completed later this month.

"But like Mr. Obama, a vigorous opponent of the Iraq war during the Bush years who has become a proponent of a more vigorous American military commitment in Afghanistan, Mr. Brown has made the Afghan conflict his own. On Friday, as often before, he made an unequivocal commitment to staying the course. “We knew from the start that defeating the insurgency in Helmand would be a hard and dangerous job, but it’s a vital one,” he said."

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