David Cameron today described the 300th British fatality in Afghanistan as “no more or less tragic” than the other 299 dead in this war. In a national sense he is right, partly at least.
If it’s your loved one who has been killed or maimed you will see it very differently, and there’s one family in South Shields who have found out the hard way this last couple of days. This is what brings a far away war into the heart of our community and conveys how close the destructive power of conflict really is to us.
As well as the deep shock at the felling of young people fighting someone else’s war, every extra British death will be a stain on our collective soul, unless there is a just outcome. Rather than a single tragedy that David Cameron claims, every death and injury (British or foreign) adds to a cumulative and increasing tragedy.
Cameron missed this when he dipped into the banal when he said:
“We are paying a high price for keeping our country safe”
This war was never about our safety or justice. Despite UN and NATO involvement, Afghanistan was always about satisfying America’s blood lust and need for revenge after 9/11.
Our forces were always fighting an array of guerilla enemies, but the current strategy has resulted in little more than a stalemate, and an inventive enemy using homemade devices and thirty year old weapons has put a heavy cost on every inch of ground taken.
Whilst most of those serving in Afghanistan, if not all, love their job and are proud to be serving their country, it’s time we investigated alternatives, and got our troops out. Brute force and technological superiority aren’t working.
For those in South Shields who are having another hard night, I’m thinking of you.