Here's a letter I sent to The Herald on 4/12/2010:
David Pratt's excellent article on Britain's occupation of Afghanistan in Fridays Herald [3/12/2010] records that 'Our forces have now outlasted the Russians'. This is of course no cause for celebration. We have after all missed a dozen previous deadlines for withdrawal during the last nine years and 57 days.
The first was set by the UK Defence Secretary John Reid, now of this parish, who famously forecast we would be out, and home, uninjured by Christmas 2002. Worse than that failed promise, as David Pratt rightly acknowledges, our occupation is now hated by 33million Afghans every bit as much as the Soviet one before it. And why?
Perhaps figures released last week by Channel Four News provide some clue. They showed a 163% increase in the number of civilian war wounded in Afghanistan over the past year. The second poorest country in the world is suffering excruciating misery and chaos with no end in sight. No wonder then the old man whom David Pratt interviewed screams out such hatred for UK and US forces occupying his country. They 'come, shoot, kill and destroy' just as the Soviets did before them he said.
It is impossible to under state the scale of our failure in Afghanistan if as the British Government claim we 'went in with the best of intentions hoping to deprive Islamic terrorism of a base and sanctuary and bring some kind of peace and stability'. It is not good enough to conclude as David Pratt does however that only 'political blundering stirred up resentment towards the occupying foreigner'. The truth is we invaded a country guilty of no crime. We have occupied it now, against the express wishes of its people, for nearly 10 years. We installed one of the most incompetent and corrupt regimes in the world to run it. Some 50,000 innocent Afghans have been killed and countless wounded and severely injured. So where is this peace and stability? Rather than deprive Islamic fundamentalism of a base we now provided it with a 'accelerant' to fuel its fires. Millions of civilians provide daily sanctuary for the Taliban who are rubbing their hands waiting for a US military defeat just as they did with the Soviets.
It is clear Britain and America paid little heed to the Russian experience. Their arrogant imperialist attitude with its lingering and misplaced belief in technological military superiority are leading inexorably to the same painfully obvious retreat of the Soviet experience in 1989.
The people of Scotland meanwhile have continued to make it clear in poll after poll after poll that they want no part of it and wish to see our troops brought home now and this senseless occupation brought to an end.