Wednesday, December 19, 2001
The House of Lord’s debate on Afghanistan is worth a look. Lord Guthrie was not as critical of the adventure as had been feted in the media. His last few lines were worth noting:

The defence programme was underfunded before 11th September. There is now a new commitment. Is there anything that can sensibly be given up now that we are involved in Afghanistan and the struggle against terrorism?

Priorities--particularly spending priorities--are always difficult. But we must avoid falling into the trap of becoming so mesmerised by Osama bin Laden and Al'Qaeda that other key parts of defence are neglected and underfunded and we are found unprepared when confronted by a new threat. For we live in dangerous times and we can be absolutely sure that new threats will appear.

And IDS's little intervention on the policing of Kabul is also worthy of note:

I thank the Prime Minister for his statement on the Laeken summit and his words on the proposed United Nations peacekeeping force. If I may, I shall address the issues around peacekeeping first, as they perhaps have the most immediate significance for our troops.

The Prime Minister is right to talk about the success of the coalition against the Taliban. Events are still going on and clearly it is too early to say that the coalition has been fully successful, but so far it has been a dramatic success. Throughout, I believe rightly, we have supported the objectives laid out by the Prime Minister and by the President, and we remain committed to those objectives.

Our United States partners are cautious about deploying their troops in a peacekeeping role, as they think that that may be inconsistent with much of what they are doing in search and destroy on the ground in southern Afghanistan. The Prime Minister knows that I have deep misgivings about British deployment on a peacekeeping mission such as he described. My misgivings are based particularly on the reality that we already have troops on the ground with the Americans carrying out search and destroy against remaining elements of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. What concerns me and, I think, the House is that elements of the Pushtun are still unhappy about the settlement, and that members of the Taliban will find an opportunity to pick a target in the peacekeeping process to get their own back.

It goes on, and it is worth reading.


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