Next week in parliament is Afghanistan week.
There is a full debate on Thursday preceded by a roundtable discussion earlier with the new Foreign Secretary. David Milliband has proved he has a working brain and condemns the dangerous previous policy of a ‘war on terror’.
Gone is Des Browne and John Reid. Both believe in the previous cretinous Bush policy of a military victory. Although no one now says that a military victory is possible, the rumours of new US and UK troops surge are still hot.
Obama may be committed to this because of his election rhetoric. But he is too intelligent to believe that it will work. He has rumbled Karzai and his corrupt family and is talks with a group who may replace him. The election has been postponed until August because ‘security cannot be guaranteed’. That excuse can keep Karzai in power forever.
What options will David Milliband offer this week?
• Troops surge. That will provide the Taliban with more targets. The price Britain is paying in blood and treasure will eventually destroy public support.
• Propaganda on the terrorist threat. This is difficult for Milliband, as he has described as a ‘lie’ the line that all terrorists are the same. El Qaeda are a terrorist threat to the UK. The Taliban are not. The pretence that the UK is defended by the war in Afghanistan is piffle.
• End corruption. This was a policy pushed by the last crop of ministers. As foolish as trying to bomb people into democracy. Corruption has been the lubricant for business and politics in Afghanistan for centuries.
• Winning hearts and minds. American bombs have lost hearts and minds by killing hundreds of civilians. Reconstruction is very difficult. It needed 3,000 troops and months of work to escort one turbine to a dam.
• Call for more EU troops. The French, German and Italians will not be persuaded to send their soldiers in as sacrifices in an n unwinnable war. The French have no past colonial interest and public opinion was shocked by the deaths of 10 French soldiers in a single action.
• Extend the war to Pakistan. A great folly to engage another unstable state-especially one with a nuclear bomb.
• Deals with the warlords and Taliban. This is the only practical step that will bring our troops home. Deals have already been done successfully. The situation after 8 years of war is that the Taliban control almost as much territory as they did in 2001, Osama Bin Laden has shifted his safe base to Pakistan, there are 100 new millionaires among the Karzai supporters and drugs crops have had three record years.
Stoned or drunk?
Professor David Nutt, who chairs the government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), says the risk to mental health from smoking cannabis is no greater than getting drunk. Men who take cannabis regularly have a one in 5,000 chance of developing a disease like schizophrenia.
"We've written three reports and read every paper published for the last 30 years. We do not believe the risks are going up," he said.
"When we look at the evidence, we have seen a huge increase in the use of cannabis but a fall in schizophrenia. Alcohol is probably more likely to cause dependence than cannabis.”
"It causes brain damage through vitamin deficiency and withdrawal can lead to psychosis. Overall the mental health risks of alcohol and cannabis are not dissimilar."
Not that the truth will stop he brigade of scaremongers from grossly exaggerating the risks. They include many MPs and Ministers. It would nice to see them at Wednesday’s meeting airing their prejudices. Not much chance of that, but we will invite them.