The full withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, scheduled for 2014, has been overshadowed by the US proposal to subsidise the Afghan army and police. The USA intends to support the Afghan army and police for at least the next ten years.
The military costs at present are £4.3 billion a year, which surpasses the rest of the entire Afghan budget of £3.1 billion. The US is looking to its NATO allies to provide financial support, and in Britain’s case a figure of £620 million for the next decade.
A House of Commons research paper analysing the costs of the war estimates that it has cost £62 million for each individual Taliban (Afghan) fighter, which it describes as an “expensive waste of equipment and manpower”.
This is the fourth major intervention by Britain in Afghan affairs in the last 160 years. All have ended in disastrous loss of life and pointless destruction if not outright defeat. G.R.Greig, a British military chaplain writing about the First Afghan War of 1839-1842 described it as “a war begun for no wise purpose•brought to a close after suffering and disaster. Not one benefit, political or military, was acquired with this war. Our eventual evacuation of the country resembled the retreat of an army defeated.”
Not another penny should be spent in Afghanistan, not another day should pass with the British military (or any foreign national) being on Afghan territory. No intervention in the sovereign affairs of Afghanistan. Getting the troops out now should be the order of the day. ■