· Nato commander’s view in stark
contrast to ministers’
· Forces short of equipment and
‘running out of time’
Saturday July 22, 2006
The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan yesterday
described the situation in the country as “close to anarchy” with
feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies
compounding problems caused by local corruption.
The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of
Nato’s international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that
western forces there were short of equipment and were “running out of
time” if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.
The assumption within Nato countries had been that the environment in
Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2002 would be benign,
Gen Richards said. “That is clearly not the case,” he said yesterday.
He referred to disputes between tribes crossing the border with
Pakistan, and divisions between religious and secular factions
cynically manipulated by “anarcho-warlords”…
One thing we all must understand about mucking around in complex
systems: It is a lot easier to screw things up than it is to
fix them. That is why physicians use force only with prudence
and restraint. Politicians need to learn this, too.
I am no fan of my colleague, Bill Frist. One of the reasons
is that he does not seem to be able to generalize what he learned in
medical school, to
what he does in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a likely
candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, denounced the
Levin proposal as “cutting and running.”
“Let me be clear: Retreat is not a solution. Our national security
requires us to follow through on our commitments,” Frist said in a
statement. “Artificial deadlines are not the solution….
Cutting and running is bad policy that threatens our national security
and poses unacceptable risks to Americans.”
Dr. Frist, there are times when you cannot finish the surgery you
planned, and the best course is to get out as safely as possible.
And when you consider that Iraq is even worse off than
Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is “near anarchy,” you need to
admit that we simply are not helping the situation in Iraq.