Speaking as an American, which means Britons will take less notice of what I have to say, I am saddened to find that there are many Britons who seem to want to cut ties with the US.
The Afghanistan war has been in the press lately due to issues with the lack of military equipment. Many people, from politicians to the regular public, have spoken out against the war in various ways. Some are angry at what they see as Britain being “America’s whipping boy” behaviour. Others are frustrated because wars in Afghanistan have historically been poorly fought.
I’m not going to talk about military tactics because it is definitely not in my arena. Those on the ground there are the ones with the experience to talk about it. What I’d like to touch on is the belief that this is “America’s war” and that the rest of the world should leave it to them to deal with.
I won’t dispute that the war was in retaliation for 9/11. The US responded by showing the terrorists that they were not going to be cowed by their actions. Perhaps, it was not as well thought out as it should have been. Perhaps, it was too knee-jerk. The Americans had never been in there before – they could not have known what they would be facing, from the terrorists as well as the civilians and the government.
But was it only Americans killed in the Twin Towers? I think not. But, it definitely was on American soil. Should the US have just closed the borders and dealt with suspected internal terrorists? Or, should they have gone after their leaders acting from afar? It’s not enough just to close the barn doors after the horses have bolted. You need to go find the horses.
Many people are opposed to fighting a war that is not on their own soil. So, if the Germans had decided to leave Britain alone in WWII, then Britain wouldn’t have entered the war? If people in every country felt the same way, we would end up with another dictator attempting to rule the world.
The same ones who oppose the Afghanistan war suggest that the 7/7 attacks are a direct consequence of that war. Would they suggest that Al-Qaeda did not have members already installed in this country, ready to do damage when they least expected it? Can they believe the words of the terrorists when they threatened retaliation against any country that helped the Americans? Can they believe that these terrorists would only carry out retaliation under said circumstances? Can they believe that all it takes is to root out the terrorists existing in Britain and remove them?
The US was attacked first because they are the predominant economy in the world. If the UK was attacked first, how would the people here feel about it? Would they have apologised to the terrorists and begged them not to attack again? Or, would they have have raised their arms and gone on the defensive? If they chose war, would they have expected to go it alone?
I do not advocate war. In fact, if there was any way, I would promote peaceful negotiations. Unfortunately, you cannot negotiate with terrorists or any other belligerent groups.
I would have a very hard time dealing with a loved one entering the armed services, but I realise that it is absolutely necessary. I can only appreciate that there are many willing men and women who sacrifice their lives for their country. They may not all have altruistic motives, but at least they are doing something worthwhile.
To show our appreciation for the services of such men and women, we do need to provide them with everything possible to make their work easier. Everything is not always possible, but what is possible should be provided. That is the gist of the current issue. Do we have enough equipment for the armed services?
We should not be going off on the tangent of questioning the war, though a rethink on the strategy may be contemplated by those in command. We, the public, should accept that the military leaders are the ones to make the decision on whether or not to pull out of Afghanistan. They were not wrong to go in, but they have to decide whether or not they can reasonably win it or create some better order in the country.
Terrorism has to be fought on many levels. And, even if we are successful in Afghanistan, it does not end there. There are terrorist cells all over the world. We have to tackle them as best we can or we will lose our freedom.