British Leadership Without a Clue

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 4 months ago

We have previously discussed the unilateral surrender of both Secretary David Miliband and Secretary Des Brown to the Taliban.  Continuing the parade of the confused is Britain’s top military officer, who initially does a very good job of advocating the implementation of soft power.

Britain’s top military officer described Afghanistan as “medieval” on Tuesday and said it could take decades before the country shows steady development.

Air Chief Marshall Jock Stirrup said it would be 15 years at current growth rates before Afghanistan reached the level of Bangladesh. Civilian reconstruction efforts would have to continue long after military operations.

“This is not something that could be done in one, two or three years because we are talking about a country that is essentially medieval, that has very little in the way of infrastructure, very little in the way of human resource, that has an endemic culture of corruption,” Stirrup told journalists.

“This truly is a long-term endeavour. I don’t think it is that long-term an endeavour for the military. I think we are talking about some years but we are not talking about decades,” said the chief of the defence staff.

“In terms of developing the country from an almost medieval status, that has to be an enterprise of decades.”

Okay, so far, so good.  The Captain’s Journal is good to go with this.  Now, slick your hair back and hold onto your breeches.

Stirrup said the major threat in the country was not necessarily the Taliban or al Qaeda, but building up a level of governance that allowed the country to function properly.

Can this man really be that clueless?  There are many countries which need infrastructure.  There are many countries which need investment for two or more decades.  There are many countries close to medieval status, or worse (perhaps some tribes in the Amazon delta, or Haiti, and some locations in Africa).  And it is certainly true that soft power needs to be applied to remove whatever incentive there is for those who are not hard core religious fighters to join their ranks (e.g., money as a replacement for poverty).

But many countries suffer from poverty, and yet there is no Taliban or al Qaeda present to foment attacks upon Western civilization.  Can this man really believe that the major threat to Afghanistan is anything but al Qaeda or the Taliban?  Can he really believe that proper infrastructure will cause al Qaeda and the Taliban to stand down in their efforts to undermine Afghanistan?  If so, then he doesn’t understand their motivations.  If not, then who other than the Taliban would be more dangerous to the people?  Has Stirrup asked himself even these basic questions about his beliefs?

  • Warbucks

    There is another strategy touching on hard power versus soft power that seems too late to employ right at the moment for Afghanistan but early on I thought it should have been employed. I’m not certain it would work but here is the theory right or wrong.

    HARD POWER: When we first went into Afghanistan, we seal it off and clean it up. We focus just on this one country.

    SOFT POWER: We then spend our resources to maintain the peace while we turn Afghanistan into the jewel of the Middle East. We set one example for everyone else making the statement: Look at what freedom and democracy brings.

    One of the biggest problems in the entire middle east is countries are either rich or poor. Afghanistan is poor. Poor Islamic countries currently are encapsulated inside Islamic religious constraints and have no access to Western financial markets and Western Banking systems. We break this mold and build a new mold. Bring in (a) street smart western bankers, (b) open minded clerics, and (c) government representatives and hammer out new economic structures and procedures for poor Islamic countries to gain access to Western financial markets. Without compatible banking systems poor countries will always be encapsulated inside the Islamic tribal dependencies and inside the religious factions, and inside the common restrictions against paying interest (sabat). Change the element and soft power becomes feasible.


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This article is filed under the category(s) Britain and was published June 24th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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