I tell you what, George Galloway must be scundered. He’s been all happy since his mate Barack O’Bama won the US presidency, and now what? Barack wants an extra 2000 British troops for Afghanistan.
Well, at least he can’t say he wasn’t warned. We’d be talking here in terms of selective vision. It’s the same way that O’Bama won the Democratic nomination largely because of his opposition to the Iraq war, while at the same time promising anyone who’d listen that he’d escalate the war in Afghanistan. A lot of folks ignored that on the basis that he was electable in a way that the genuinely antiwar Dennis Kucinich wasn’t. But it was plain to see for anyone who looked.
How he’s going to do this is a different matter. Afghanistan is a classically unwinnable war. The Afghan state only exists in theory, to the point where the supposed president, Karzai, has to have American bodyguards. And, although Gordon Brown has used the spectre of the Taliban to try and make the Afghan war popular, most of your insurgents are village-based and aren’t particularly fundamentalist – in other words, they aren’t the Taliban.
And where are these troops going to come from? The US military is at the point where it’s sending detachments of National Guard and border guards on tours of Iraq. The Brits are in an even worse state. When you have serving generals talking about overstretch, you know things are bad. Recruitment is low, and every time some crusty conservative talks about conscription, the brass react with horror at the prospect of their professional army being flooded with hoodies.
Here’s a modest suggestion. On the basis of the popularity of the recent RIR homecoming parade in Belfast, why not recruit amongst Ulster loyalists, who are dead keen to prove how British they are? You could have a populist campaign in the News Letter. You could rerun those “Your country needs you” posters, with Peter Robinson in the place of Lord Kitchener. Orange lodges could run recruitment fairs, and Protestant grammar schools groom potential officers. You know how much the good folk of North Down love someone with a military rank.
You know, it couldn’t possibly fail. I can’t imagine the Norn Iron populace being unwilling to put their money where their mouth is. Can you?