LibLink: Paddy – withdraw British troops from Afghanistan now

Writing in today’s Times (£), Paddy Ashdown says that Afghanistan is ‘not worth the life of one more soldier’:

The war in Afghanistan is lost and not worth the life of one more British soldier, Paddy Ashdown writes in The Times today. In a stark assessment of the 11-year campaign that has cost 438 British lives, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon urges Britain to pull out its troops as quickly as “decently” possible. The intervention comes as David Cameron finalises plans for Britain’s exit from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It will be dictated by US departures rather than local conditions. (Lord Ashdown writes:)

All that we can achieve has now been achieved. All that we might have achieved if we had done things differently has been lost. The only rational policy is to leave quickly, in good order and in the company of our allies.

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  • Tony Dawson 16th Nov '12 - 8:21am

    Paddy’s statement has been true for years.

    Every single brave serviceman who dies in Afghanistan is doing his duty. But he is doing nothing for Britain. He is helping an occupying army of foreigners headed up by a family of corrupt thugs to lord it over the land of the Western Pathans.

    But then, we do anything America asks us to, do we not?

  • Caroline Armit 16th Nov '12 - 10:31am

    I am prompted to write in response to Paddy Ashdown’s recent statements re. Afghanistan. My son is a territorial army soldier (Glasgow based regiment) and he is soon to be deployed to Afghanistan for the first time. I would be grateful if I could have an email address for Paddy Ashdown. I want to communicate with influential people to campaign for the earliest possible return of our troops – there is a “groundswell” of public opinion that should focus on the decision-makers. I fear for the physical safety and emotional/mental health of my son and all the troops . As an intelligent human being, I view the political decisions underlying this current set of conflicts as ill-considered, illogical and ultimately, futile.

    Is there any current campaign for the EARLIEST POSSIBLE RETURN OF OUR TROOPS? Please let me know if there are politicians who are in agreement with Paddy I can communicate with them.

    Thank you

  • Victor Harman 16th Nov '12 - 11:48am

    As a party member, I lobbied my MP, Norman Lamb, to get us out of Afghanistan two years ago. Perhaps the party will now start listening to Paddy, with all his experience in Bosnia. It is a cause, like several others, that is well worth breaking this crumbling coalition for. The sad question is “Has Afghanistan been worth the life of any British soldier?

  • Geoffrey Payne 16th Nov '12 - 12:56pm

    Caroline – there is a Stop the War movement although I would advise not to get involved with them as they are mostly interested in promoting George Galloway’s Respect party.
    I am sure that Paddy is making his case to Nick Clegg and hopefully this view is being discussed with David Cameron. Cameron is under pressure to cut public spending but he would also be concerned about how this will play in the media and how it will affect relations with the US.
    It would be highly unusual for the UK for a Tory prime minister to make a decision like this without the support of the US. Obama of course does not have to face another election but his party believes that in the face of the Republican opposition they have to look strong in government and for this political reason they may well decide to stick to their timetable and depart in 2014. If that is the case, then as Paddy says, it would be a pointless waste of money and lives.

  • Geoffrey Payne 16th Nov '12 - 1:10pm

    Someone called Paddy wrote on my blog about this 3 years ago. The style of writing makes me think it may well be Paddy Ashdown, and it is interesting to compare what he thought then to now.

  • I can’t get behind the paywall. Does Paddy have a prediction for what happens to the young Afghan men and women (and of course, their familes) who joined the military and the police when we leave the country to the Taliban?

    “Not worth the life of one more British soldier” – how much is an Afghan life worth against a British life, Paddy?

  • Vicky Smith 16th Nov '12 - 4:32pm

    At last someone who is talking sense and I hope that David Cameron listens. We have done all we can in Afghanistan, The green on blue attacks are becoming more frequent, I feel sick to the pit of my stomach each time it is announced another soldier has been killed, what these families must suffer for the rest of their lives, just to stop the politicians from losing face, if it were there children being sent out there, I am sure we would have pulled out along time ago. I echo Caroline Armit’s comments, if there is a petition for the pull out of Afghanistan, I along with thousands of others will willingly sign it. We need to bring our brave troops home now, David Cameron needs to act now.

  • Victor Harman 16th Nov '12 - 8:13pm

    To Mike Bird, and others, I say that British soldiers’ lives are worth more fighting for justice in Zimbabwe to get rid of Mugabe, and support people with links to our colonial past, than in Afghanistan. Any thoughts that the war in Afghanistan protects Britain are misguided – the war has provoked hatred and terrorist action against Britain, in Britain.

  • Charles Beaumont 17th Nov '12 - 10:23pm

    Paddy wasn’t saying this when he was in line for the senior UN job in the country. It’s not that I disagree, but why is he only saying this in late 2012? This is merely the lazy consensus, nothing radical.

  • Charles Beaumont 17th Nov '12 - 10:31pm

    Just looked at ‘Paddy’s statements from 2009. He says Taliban takeoverof Afghanistan=jihadi takeover of Pakistan. Why? No evidence that this would be the case and plenty that the war in Afgh is part of what makes things worse currently in Pakistan.

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