"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Monday, August 09, 2010


I doubt I can add anything original to the debate/furore surrounding Ms Gopal's appalling screed for Comment is Infuritaing but like most bloggers my view is that while novelty is certainly desirable, its absence isn't going to deter me from venting my spleen. So here it is. Let me try it from this angle...

Operation Active Endeavour is NATO's only active anti-terrorist operation invoked under article five - the clause in the original settlement that commits member states to the duty of 'mutual defence'. Its original purpose was to patrol the Mediterranean to detect and deter terrorist activity, with an obvious and explicit focus on the transport of WMD. NATO claim, and most observers agree, that one of the unexpected side-benefits of this has been that the enhanced security has had a positive impact on trade and economic activity.

Now, if and when Operation Active Endeavour is terminated, I think I should be able to ask the question, "What will become of the vessels accustomed to safe passage?", without the following assumptions being made: that I think this was the original justification for this operation; that I think this is a sufficient justification for the continuation of this operation; that I assume all acts of piracy or trafficking have been eliminated by said operation.

And so to the war in Afghanistan. Ms Gopal considers it positively immoral for the hacks working in Time Magazine to draw anyone's attention to the Stone Age brutality of the Taliban towards women - because the only possible motivation that anyone could have for doing such a distasteful thing is to shore up support for an increasingly unpopular war.

I have to say I am growing more than a little tired of those internet sages who describe the war in Afghanistan as 'unwinnable'. The actual situation is this: regardless of whether the war in 'winnable' or not, Washington and London have decided that this country is not worth the blood and treasure that has been spent on it. It is in realisation of this that Time poses its question and it should be permitted to ask it without the avalanche of sneers from people who despise the system that made their miserable lives possible.

The analogy with the Mediterranean operation isn't quite fitting because one assumes that while the people who were originally the targets of Operation Active Endeavour aren't necessarily the same as those engaged in acts of piracy, those hacking the noses off young women are one and the same as those whom the ISAF are currently fighting in the battlefields of Helmand.

To argue that this shouldn't have been attempted in the first place, or that it should no longer be done now, is one thing. It is quite a different matter to suggest that the freedom that is at stake - for girls to go to school, for example - is as trivial as a bikini wax.

NB: In the interest of deterring superfluous comments, I should clarify:

1) I supported the invasion of Afghanistan.

2) I have never, ever, accused anyone of being a fascist for taking the contrary view.

3) I haven't changed my mind about 1).

Anyone unhappy about any of the above, particularly 1 and 3, is cordially invited to kiss my ass.

See also: Shiraz Socialist, Norm, Flying Rodent, and Chris Dillow.
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