Thursday, September 04, 2008


I heard on the radio this morning a sad tale of a young soldier who'd been refused a room at a hotel because the management said that soldiers weren't welcome. I don't know any more about the circumstances of that individual case. What struck me was that sometimes the people who are risking their lives to carry out the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan are being treated as though they made the political decision to start the campaign. They didn't - it was the Labour Prime Minister who took us into those wars on the coat-tails of the US president. Now, in September 2008, the campaign in both countries is to try to get to the point where the people of those countries feel safe and secure enough to go about their ordinary lives and rebuild their infrastructure from the debris of wars. An example was given in the news yesterday of the 6 days of fighting which it took to get a vital turbine to a dam in Afghanistan so that electricity generation can build up and people will have some of the basics we take for granted. At the end of the 6 days the officer in charge said it was the first time in 20+ years in the army that he'd needed to use every single resource available to him to achieve a goal. That included soldiers, missiles and helicopters.
I recently finished reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini. If you haven't read it I recommend it - the voice of ordinary Afghans seems to leap off the page, full of hope but also of desperation. I have a particular interest because the first asylum seeker I ever met came from Kabul and was followed by several more, all with harrowing tales but also with a great love of their country and hope that one day they'd be able to return and live in peace. Let's give our armed forces the support they need to help both Iraq and Afghanistan to that stage. And let's make sure that no future government can send them into conflict on such flimsy grounds as the last one did.

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