Nick: Government’s Afghanistan strategy “over-ambitious in aim and under-resourced in practice”

The BBC reports:

Gordon Brown has confirmed he will send 500 more troops to Afghanistan, taking the total UK deployment to over 10,000. He told MPs all conditions had now been met to send the extra personnel and that eight other countries had also offered additional troops. The UK force level will reach 9,500 but special forces takes this to 10,000.

Here in full is Nick Clegg’s Commons response to Gordon Brown’s announcement:

I join the Prime Minister in recognising and commending the enormously impressive work of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
Finally it has become mainstream to talk about the need for a big shift in strategy in Afghanistan.
When I first questioned the effectiveness of our action there six months ago and called for this kind of step-change, I was told it was unpatriotic.
The Prime Minister’s change of tone since then has been dramatic – and welcome.
The Liberal Democrat approach to Afghanistan has always been simple: we should do this properly or not at all.
Does the Prime Minister agree with me that success is not just about troop numbers?
And that focusing on troop numbers to the exclusion of all else is like putting the cart before the horse.
There is no point sending a single extra soldier unless the strategy they need to succeed in their mission is in place.
So why is the Prime Minister making any announcements at all about troop numbers when we won’t know until President Obama’s announcement tomorrow what the new strategy is, and what chances it has of success?
I have in the past criticised the Prime Minister for keeping quiet over Afghanistan, failing to speak out in support of our troops and their mission.
Has he not now swung a little too far in the opposite direction, making an announcement before we know whether things are in place which will make it a success or not?
We know from previous successful peacekeeping missions, such as in the Balkans, that you will not succeed unless you have buy-in from all the big regional powers.
In Afghanistan that does not just mean Pakistan, China and Russia – it also means Iran, which is now at loggerheads with the West over its unacceptable announcement of ten new nuclear facilities.
Can the Prime Minister tell us how he will find a way to take a tough stance with Iran while seeking to keep them engaged in securing peace in Afghanistan?
A centrepiece of the Prime Minister’s announcement today was his benchmark-setting for President Karzai on training the Afghan National Army.
But what is the alternative if Karzai doesn’t achieve these benchmarks?
What efforts are he and others in the alliance making to develop a Plan B of bypassing the government in Kabul and dealing direct with local and regional government?
Surely the Prime Minister agrees that, given Karzai’s record, in particular on corruption, we shouldn’t hold our breath for him to change, but work on finding ways to succeed without him if he will not.
Finally, let me address the issue of troop deployments from our NATO allies.
The Prime Minister himself said that the deployment of extra British troops would be conditional on other countries sharing the burden.
So will he now be clear and detailed in setting out what he expects:
Which countries are offering troops? When will they arrive in Afghanistan? And what will their role be on the ground?
Since our troops first stepped into Afghanistan, the Government strategy has been over-ambitious in aim and under-resourced in practice.
I hope today’s announcement and the one that will follow tomorrow from President Obama finally turn the situation around.
So that finally our troops have what they need for success and can come home as soon as possible with their heads held high.

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Europe / International and Parliament.

One Comment

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Christopher Haigh
    The prospect of a political head of stare would be truly frightening. The constitutional monarchy is there to provide ceremony and tradition and long may it con...
  • David Evans
    Although an interesting and important topic, I find the content of this article somewhat heavy on the rhetoric, but rather light on factual analysis. For examp...
  • Tom Harney
    I suggest we campaign for a way of writing a constitution for our country. We need to consider the best way of involving our fellow citizens in this. What exact...
  • Matt Wardman
    Over a period of 5 years, that does not to me look too bad. I think the more interesting short-term hit will be the removal of Hereditary Peers. Were I Mr...
  • John Barrett
    It would literally take only minutes to be courteous and to send an email to notify those who have applied, but have not been shortlisted. Whoever decided n...