James Fergusson is the author of A Million Bullets – The Real Story of the British Army in Afghanistan. In my view this is the clearest account of the reason why the Taliban are fighting. It's nothing to do with terrorism. It's all about Jihad, expelling the Farengi out of their country. Today he writes:-
"Democracy is a fragile seed: if you want it to take root, it is probably best not to plant it in a hurricane. That, however, is what the Western allies have just tried to do in Helmand. In Babaji district, we learned this week, four British soldiers died for the sake of 150 votes. Has any sacrifice seemed more futile?
Operation Panther's Claw, a bloody offensive specifically designed to drive the Taliban out of central Helmand ahead of the presidential election – a Nato-Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) version of the lauded US troop surge that helped turn the tide of the Sunni insurgency in Iraq – was a failure.
Nato did not "secure the elections", as promised. Instead, there has been ballot-stuffing and fraud on a massive scale, particularly in the south. Votes have been so cynically manipulated by the incumbent, Hamid Karzai – the former darling of the West, now definitively exposed as a man more interested in power than the principles of democracy – that the credibility of Isaf, never mind the final election result, is in jeopardy."
Gordon Brown is quoted by the Observer as moving towards talks with the Taliban. The Tory Liam Fox talked recently about an exit. The conflict is moving to a conclusion. It will not be a democratic, corruption-free or drugs-free Afghanistan. It will be a country that is very similar to what it always has been.
The sooner we realise this the better. The last thing we should be doing is sending troops on patrols that put them n deadly peril. Someone should explain to the military, we will not be there for forty years - or forty months.
Two of our £40 million helicopters have been destroyed by our own troops in the past fortnight. Both were damaged - one by Taliban gunfire. They were both blown up to stop them falling into Taliban hands. That's the measure of our security situation. We cannot mount a guard on these Chinooks until the engineers arrive. After the eight years of combat, we are in control of little but military compounds.
Rogerstone and Pill
Tomorrow afternoon the Pillgwenlly Carnival and the Rogerstone Carnival take place. Both are great days out. In previous years I have taken pictures of the carnival. Some from high on the Transporter Bridge. Both events are well worth a visit. They can be reached without risking the Bank Holiday Traffic chaos.