Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Did Raab really tell us the UK’s intelligence agencies were outsmarted by Arab terrorists?

Rattled: Dominic Raab tries to explain himself during his grilling by the Foreign Affairs committee. Look at the way his hands were twisting as he tried to justify his failures.

This will upset the racists and Islamophobes.

Foreign Secretary (by the skin of his teeth) Dominic Raab was interrogated on the fall of Afghanistan by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee yesterday (September 1) – and said information provided by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) had told him the Taliban were unlikely to take control of Kabul at all in 2021, even after international forces including those from the UK had left.

Well, they got that badly wrong, didn’t they!

The JIC is a civil service body comprising senior officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and United Kingdom Armed Forces, Home Office, Department for International Development, HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

It oversees the work of the Secret Intelligence Service, the Security Service, GCHQ and Defence Intelligence.

Are we to take it from Raab that none of these organisations were intelligent enough to notice that there were real problems with the Afghan government and military that UK forces were leaving behind?

Is he really saying that the UK’s entire intelligence community was outsmarted by a gang of desert-dwelling bandits?

The plan was to leave Afghanistan defended by its own National Army – but we have discovered that this organisation was badly-trained (by organisations including the British Army, it seems) and riddled with corruption. Was Raab telling us that nobody knew?

After the United States broke the Doha Agreement’s May 1 deadline for leaving the country, the Taliban simply walked into Kabul and took over. Yes, This Writer is oversimplifying, but the amount of resistance provided by the Afghan National Army was minimal – and UK intelligence should have known.

Indeed, it is unbelievable that our intelligence agencies did not.

Still, there it is: Raab said the “central assessment” provided to ministers was that Afghan security was likely to suffer “steady deterioration” after US troops pulled out last month, but Kabul was “unlikely” to fall this year.

That assessment was wrong, and now we need to know who made it, what information they used to make it, and what information they ignored. Then we’ll need to see evidence of reforms to the JIC, to make it more intelligent.

If Raab is going to blame other government organisations for the incompetence we have seen over Afghanistan, then we need to see him make improvements – or we’ll face more humiliations, possibly involving large-scale loss of life, in the near future.

As it is, the message has gone out to foreign powers and terrorists: the United Kingdom is vulnerable because it is run by fools who believed fairy tales rather than facts and who went on holiday when they were needed.

Worse, Raab admitted that the UK did not start planning for the end of military operations until April. This is even though he knew the Doha Agreement of February 2020 meant US troops had until May 1 to leave.

He went on to say planning for a possible evacuation did not begin until June – by which time the Taliban were already making deep inroads towards Kabul. He added that this was in line with the UK’s Nato allies but that is neither here nor there; the UK is not responsible for other nations’ actions. Evacuation plans should have been made from February 2020 onwards.

Raab was challenged on his claims by committee chair Tom Tugendhat, a former member of the armed forces who served in Afghanistan. He pointed out that a “key risk report” from late July had warned of a rapid Taliban advance that could lead to them returning to power in Kabul.

Raab seemed to know nothing about it and asked for the source of this information – to which Tugendhat responded, bluntly, “It’s your principle risk report.”

So it seems Boris Johnson isn’t the only imbecile in the Tory government who can’t be bothered with the details.

The failure of intelligence extends to the number of UK nationals who were left behind after the panicked, everyone-for-themselves evacuation. Raab told the committee he thought “hundreds, possibly the mid to low hundreds” were standed after the last plane left.

But this is contradicted by the evidence of the government’s own email account that was created to take applications for help to leave Afghanistan, so that a list of those who genuinely needed to be taken out could be created.

It was ignored. News reports over the last few days have shown that messages – including information from senior Tory government ministers – went unread while Raab and his colleagues were running around like headless chickens.

Some reports have suggested that the number of people left behind is more likely to stand at several thousand.

Raab also made the – fair – point that the precise number of people who deserve to be brought to the UK depends on eligibility, and this is hard to work out because of a lack of documentation. Is that because the relevant documents were left – unshredded, even – on the floor of the UK’s former embassy in Kabul?

Personal details of UK-linked Afghans were found by a Times journalist there, and Raab was reminded of this. He said three families were subsequently evacuated but evaded the question when asked if they were owed an apology. Weren’t they? What about details that were not discovered?

Raab contradicted himself by saying applications for Afghans who helped the UK to apply for resettlement here were sped up from April onwards. But why so late? Remember, the deadline for the US to leave was May 1, and it was unreasonable to believe that the Taliban would not advance from then onwards. And the UK had been aware of the situation since February 2020.

The BBC’s running analysis of the meeting reported: “The lack of specific numbers … will further fuel concerns from backbench MPs that the figures have been vastly underestimated and that there could be as many as 7,000 eligible Afghan applicants left behind – a claim Dominic Raab has previously rejected.”

The impression we get of Raab is of a man who has been very far out of his depth throughout this crisis – and, considering he had fair warning of it from February 2020 onwards, this means he has never been capable of handling his responsibilities as Foreign Secretary.

Important information was ignored in favour of mindless optimism; evacuation plans were delayed until too late and vital information was left behind for the Taliban, creating a danger to the lives of allies.

And Raab refuses to resign. Is this because he wants to find out whether he can cock up future crisis even more badly than this?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Tories had 18 MONTHS to evacuate Afghanistan, left it to the last minute, and messed it up

Boris Johnson: it’s all just a lark to him.

How did that work out for them, then?

For those who haven’t been following the news too closely, the UK government run by Boris Johnson knew it was on a deadline to move troops out of Afghanistan after then-US President Donald Trump signed the Doha Agreement with the Taliban in February 2020.

That was 18 months ago, but Johnson did nothing at all until July this year. We have only his word that any preparation was carried out at all – and we all know what Johnson’s word is worth: nothing.

According to the Doha Agreement, US troops had until May 1, 2021 to pull out of Afghanistan entirely. Incoming US President Joe Biden unilaterally pushed back the deadline to August 31 – presumably in the arrogant belief that the Taliban would let the World’s strongest country do whatever it wanted.

Well, that didn’t happen!

The Taliban started a widescale offensive on the day of the deadline and was faced with very little resistance indeed from a poorly-trained and corrupt Afghan National Army. They practically walked into Kabul on August 15.

That was more than two weeks ago. News reports have shown that the UK’s own withdrawal of troops has been unplanned, unprofessional and chaotic, despite the fact that Boris Johnson had been given a year and a half’s notice to leave.

Now, with the evacuation over, more than a thousand people (possibly many thousands of people) have been left behind, at the mercy of the Taliban; confidential documents including information identifying Afghan citizens who were employed by the UK government were left in the former UK Embassy for the Taliban to find and use; and Johnson’s government has been found to have issued a tissue of lies about what it has been doing.

Why did he make such a mess of it?

Here’s the apparently-prevailing view:

The government has tried to put a veneer of respectability on its potentially fatal incompetence, but we’re having none of it – as this exchange shows:

Johnson himself seems to have used Afghanistan as a prop with which to avoid facing his domestic failures:

Oh, and did you spot the reference to Pen Farthing, the former Marine who founded an animal rescue charity?

It turns out that the dispute between him and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace wasn’t resolved by Wallace putting him and nearly 200 dogs on a plane out of Afghanistan; it was not a military plane at all. So it seems the government took credit for something it didn’t do…

… or, if you prefer, falsely blamed Farthing for its own failure to get everyone out:

The facts of the Afghanistan evacuation grow worse, the more we know.

And I’m willing to bet we’ve only learned about a fraction of the cock-ups that Johnson has caused – because Johnson can’t be bothered with details and couldn’t care less about Afghanistan anyway.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Kabul was Boris Johnson’s Dunkirk. If Churchill had failed as badly, he’d probably have shot himself

The lucky ones: a packed plane leaves Kabul – no thanks to Boris Johnson and his gang of UK government ditherers.

What a mess. This was not a retreat; it was a rout.

It seems clear that Boris Johnson’s withdrawal of the UK presence from Afghanistan was unplanned, unco-ordinated, and left behind much information of interest to the Taliban who have taken over.

The decision to move the military and leave civilians behind means more than 1,000 of our people are still in Kabul – and Johnson’s promise to do something about it rings as hollow as all his other promises.

Isn’t that what he said about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who remains imprisoned in Iran, years after he involved himself in her case as the UK’s Foreign Secretary?

That’ll be a “yes”, then. As for his vow…

The UK evacuation is over and many have been left behind

As I said above, Kabul is Boris Johnson’s Dunkirk.

But whereas Dunkirk was carried out in comparative efficiency, with everybody working to help everybody else get out of France before the Germans arrive, it seems Kabul represented Boris Johnson’s “everyone for themselves” philosophy.

So:

Indeed. Also:

There is no “Phase Two”.

This refers to former marine and animal charity founder Pen Farthing, who has escaped Kabul with around 200 rescued dogs – but whose staff were not allowed to leave.

The fact that dogs were allowed to leave may seem like a huge victory for animal-loving Brits – but the fact that the UK allowed human beings to be left behind will almost certainly make a mockery of us in Taliban propaganda.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had claimed he would prioritise people over pets but it seems the huge amount of publicity Farthing had received via media and social media had forced him to change his mind. We’ll find out in the future if that was a wise decision.

Meanwhile, it seems communications sent to the government email address that was supposed to be used to work out which Afghan nationals needed to be taken out of Kabul have gone unread – including cases flagged up by ministers:

According to the article,

An official email address used to collate potential Afghan cases from MPs and others regularly contained 5,000 unread emails throughout the week.

In many cases, emails detailing the cases of Afghans who fear for their families’ lives appear to have been unopened for days. An email from the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, sent on Monday was still unread on Thursday. There also appeared to be unread messages from the offices of Victoria Atkins, the newly appointed minister for Afghan resettlement, the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the Tory chair of the defence select committee, Tobias Ellwood.

The revelation calls into question the suggestion from ministers that the number of Afghans left behind would be up to 1,100 in total.

So it seems the 1,100 figure for personnel left behind may be a huge underestimate.

Documents were left behind that could be hugely harmful for unevacuated personnel

British Embassy workers who did a runner from their compound to the relative safety of Kabul’s airport around two weeks ago failed to destroy documents identifying local workers and job applicants, according to reports.

Who knows what other sensitive documents were left lying around? And why did it happen? Normally, one of the key protocols in a sensitive diplomatic withdrawal is the shredding of sensitive and classified information, but this seems not to have happened.

Have I already put my finger on the problem – that Boris Johnson and his dimwit Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dithered so long about taking a decision that Embassy staff ended up having to scramble to save their own skins and weren’t able to do the necessary?

If so, then the Taliban may now have access to any amount of information that they could find extremely useful in the future. Depending on how they use it, we could be in for a lot of trouble – and ultimate blame will rest with our terminal b*ttf**k of a prime minister.

Look at this:

And how about this, in response to a tweet I sent about Johnson’s domestic disasters:

It reached the point where some people have satirised the situation, finding humour in the fact that the Johnson government employs people who are very good at losing documents – but didn’t put them in the right place:

Samuel Miller ought to know – he has been campaigning to raise awareness of the unfair, persecutory mistreatment of benefit claimants, particularly those who are sick and/or disabled – for longer than I have.

Hypocrite Priti Patel has been greeting refugees on arrival in the UK and talking down other countries who she says should do more

Even here in the UK, government ministers are doing everything they can to humiliate us as a nation.

So Priti Patel, the home secretary who has locked refugees in squalid concentration camps to catch Covid-19, and who wants to make it illegal to save refugees from drowning if they are trying to cross the Channel into the UK, has been greeting Afghan refugees at Heathrow Airport.

Why?

Apparently the woman who has been trying to seal up all legal routes for refugees to come here has now claimed that refugees must only travel to the UK through legal routes.

Do you think she is wondering why she received responses like this?

Possibly the worst news available for these refugees is the fact that, by throwing their lot in with the UK, they have now ended up in a poverty trap:

And Patel has apparently told other countries that they must do more to help refugees – because she has absolutely no sense of shame:

In a sane country, every government body involved in this monumental fiasco would be out of a job and possibly facing charges in the International Criminal Court – but the United Kingdom is now so riddled with corruption that Johnson and his gang are most likely to shrug it off.

They’ll go looking for the next crisis they can turn into a calamity. After all, their lives aren’t on the line.

If Winston Churchill had presided over such a fatal mess, This Writer feels sure that he would have done the decent thing and swallowed a high-speed bullet.

But Churchill, for all the faults that he did have, was not an indecisive incompetent. He would not have made Johnson’s (and Raab’s, and Patel’s) mistakes.

And, sadly, Johnson does not have Churchill’s quality of character – so we can’t expect him to do what Britain Expects of him. He’s too much of a coward.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

One person has been consistently right about UK involvement in Afghanistan. Guess who?

Jeremy Corbyn: this MP has been right about the war in Afghanistan for almost 20 years, but you won’t hear anybody in the UK’s mass news media admitting it.

It was Jeremy Corbyn, obviously.

He opposed the idea of the UK going to war in Afghanistan from the moment it was first suggested in 2001, after the 9/11 atrocity – for all the right reasons.

But you won’t hear mainstream media types – or anybody in the current Labour leadership – saying it because it casts them in a poor light.

They’ve spent more than half a decade dragging Corbyn’s name through the mud, so it would be hugely embarrassing for them to admit he has been right about the major issues of our times, all along.

The facts are obvious, though.

Way back in 2001, after Tony Blair decided that the UK would follow George W Bush’s Project for a New American Century US government into war with Afghanistan, to remove the Taliban government that had little or nothing to do with 9/11, Mr Corbyn was elected to the steering committee of the Stop the War Coalition, which was dedicated to opposing the decision.

“There is disquiet… about issues of foreign policy, varying between people like myself, who are strongly opposed to the deployment of troops to Afghanistan, and the threat of bombing Iraq, so there is a lot of disturbance, yes,” he said in March 2002.

Eight years later he made a landmark speech predicting how the warfar in Afghanistan would end – and he was right.

“The issue of Afghanistan goes on. The deaths continue, the soldiers continue to die, the war is clearly unwinnable,” Corbyn said.

“The expense in moral terms, financial terms and loss of life of Afghan people gets worse and worse.”

You can see the speech embedded in this Independent article.

Seven years later – and now as Labour Party leader, Mr Corbyn urged then-prime minister Theresa May not to support then-US president Donald Trump as he plotted to send more troops to Afghanistan:

He said: “The war in Afghanistan has failed. After 16 years of bloodshed and destruction, the Taliban are undefeated and terrorism is no less of a threat at home. In fact it has spread.

“The British Government should make clear to Donald Trump that his strategy of more bombing and a new troop surge will continue this failure, not obediently applaud his latest policy U-turn.”

When Boris Johnson announced that UK troops were pulling out of Afghanistan in July this year, Mr Corbyn called for an inquiry into this country’s reason for going to war there in the first place.

He said: “This has to be a day of reflection. We have spent billions of pounds in the war in Afghanistan, 450 British troops have lost their lives, thousands of Americans and other troops have lost their lives, many, many thousands of Afghan people have lost their lives and many more have been forced to be refugees in exile all around the region as well as in western Europe.

“While Britain is withdrawing, surely we need to recognise that when we make hasty foreign policy decisions to go to war, the consequences go on for a very long time. In this case, it is now the 20th anniversary of such a decision.”

(Incidentally, Boris Johnson’s speech on that day – July 8 this year – is, in retrospect, bitterly hilarious. His prediction for the future of Afghanistan after the UK pulled out its troops has proved so far off the mark that one has to wonder whether he was taking his intelligence from Christmas crackers.)

And now, with the refugee crisis that has followed the Taliban’s resurgent takeover of Afghanistan, Mr Corbyn has proved himself right yet again:

For those who can’t read text from image files, he said: “We must learn the lessons of a two-decade war which cost nearly a quarter of a million lives and failed to achieve security for the Afghan people or prevent the spread of terrorism.

“The War on Terror and its architects’ reckless use of force to deal with complex political issues has had profound, uncountable, and unacceptable human costs – whether to British and allied servicement and women or to the civilian populations of Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond.

“Invasions and occupations are not only wrong and violate the right to sovereignty, they also do not deliver viable and sustainable political settlements. We cannot allow ourselves to be led down such a disastrous road again.”

And, heading off a certain stripe of critic, he added: “Too often rejecting military intervention is conflated with taking no action at all. As well as resettling refugees, I will be making the case in Parliament this week for the UK to play its part in a robust diplomatic effort that engages regional powers to ensure stability.

“This will need to cover humanitarian support, a response to rising extreme poverty, respect for human and civil rights expecially those of women and girls, and real self-determination for Afghanistan.”

Contrast Mr Corbyn’s attitude with that of current Labour leader Keir Starmer, as depicted in the two representative tweets below:

Mr Corbyn highlighted the humanitarian emergency, saying the UK has an obligation to Afghan refugees.

Meanwhile Starmer could not care less about the Afghan people who have suffered 20 years of disruption (20? more like 40, if you count the resistance to Soviet occupation that the UK supported). His only concern was to evacuate British personnel and support staff.

The contrast encapsulates the reason Jeremy Corbyn is the best prime minister the UK never had – and the reason Keir Starmer must never be prime minister of the UK.

The arguments have been convincing, all the way down the line – more so in hindsight, because we can recognise that Mr Corbyn has been right. Yet there has been no recognition by the UK’s national news media.

They really don’t. Look at the reaction of James Ball of investigative news organisation The Bureau to comments by people pointing out that Mr Corbyn has been highlighting the mistakes that the Western powers keep making, year after year.

He responded with whataboutery – and falsehood – that Mr Corbyn doesn’t care about people being oppressed, if the oppressors don’t happen to be the United States.

Alex Nunns, below, wisely restricted his response to Mr Corbyn’s comments during 2001 alone:

The moral is clear: if you want the facts, go to Jeremy Corbyn – and avoid the mainstream media distortions.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

How did the West mess up Afghanistan so badly? Here’s a quick primer

Cycle of violence: are we seeing a permutation of this cycle now, in Afghanistan? [Image: Miki Henderson.]

You’ve probably been wondering why Vox Political hasn’t commented on the international clusterf**k that has happened in Afghanistan over the past few weeks.

Simple answer: I was trying to understand what has happened – which meant going into more than 20 years of background material.

Yes, more than 20 years. Western powers have been tinkering with the Middle East for centuries, trying to dominate, and we all know (don’t we?) that Afghanistan has been a particularly tricky nut to crack.

Anyone who has read George MacDonald Fraser’s first Flashman novel will have seen what a mess the British Army made of it in the 1840s under Lord Elphinstone. The army there wasn’t just defeated; it was obliterated.

We have a more recent example of failure to subjugate the natives (and I think this can be observed in such colonial-racist terms) in the Soviet occupation that ran from 1979-89.

That incursion followed a Communist coup by a repressive organisation that vigorously suppressed opposition and executed thousands of political prisoners, and whose leaders were themselves divided. This division, and the possibility that Afghanistan may start supporting the interests of the United States, prompted Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev to invade and install a puppet leader.

The intention was to secure towns and roads, stabilize the government under a new leader, and withdraw within six months or a year. But fierce resistance from insurgent groups (remember the Mujahideen?)  and difficulties with the harsh Afghan terrain pushed the Soviets into a war that lasted more than nine years and has been labelled the “Bear Trap” or the “Soviet Union’s Vietnam”. It ended with the retreat of Soviet forces in February 1989, after which Afghanistan remained in a state of civil war.

Guerilla fighters don’t get anywhere without help; they needed funding and weapons, and found both from a number of sources including – principally – the United States.

One might expect this to mean Afghans would be grateful to their US benefactors, right? Well, there’s a problem, and it is this:

After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghans started blaming the US for miseries caused in that country because it continued to fund rebels against the pro-Soviet administration that had been left in Kabul. Rebel rocket attacks in 1989 and 1990 went nowhere near military targets but killed civilians instead. And the US apparently had no interest in humanitarian aid to clear up the mess caused by a decade of conflict that it had supported.

Crucially to the current situation, many Afghans believed the US to be responsible for the rise of the Taliban. And who had been there all along, providing support to the US and acting in concert with the US government? The United Kingdom under Thatcher and Major – that’s who.

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York, on September 11, 2001, was believed to be “blowback”, or unintended consequences of supporting the Mujahideen, with principal planner of the attack Osama Bin Laden claiming the suffering of the Afghan people after the Soviet withdrawal was a consequence of US involvement.

Interestingly, while the US certainly funded guerilla organisations in Afghanistan, the question of whether it provided cash to Bin Laden’s group, Al Qaeda, is difficult to answer. Some say no; others say he had been their best general against the Russians.

Whether US relations with Bin Laden were good or bad, they soured when Saudi Arabia refused Bin Laden’s offer to fight the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, that happened in 1990. The Saudis turned to America instead and it is understood that Bin Laden never forgave the slight.

His organisation had been based in Sudan, but had been expelled, and returned to Afghanistan to take refuge with the Taliban.

This may seem contradictory to you. If the US was considered responsible for the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, why was 9/11 carried out by a Taliban ally?

The only answer I can offer at present is this: opportunism. Acting against a widely-perceived enemy offered a propaganda victory that might reasonably be expected to help win power. And hasn’t that turned out to be the case now?

Let’s backtrack a little, to the years immediately preceding 9/11. It seems a US thinktank called the Project for a New American Century had been building influence in the US government. This organisation’s stated aim was “to promote American global leadership”. In other words: world domination.

By the time of 9/11, members of the group had come to dominate the George W Bush administration, including Donald Rumsfeld (Defence Secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Deputy Defence Secretary) and others. They were in a position to put their aim into practice – but they needed a pretext. And 9/11 was it.

The hijackers who flew passenger planes into the World Trade Centre and tried to fly one into the Pentagon were all from Saudi Arabia, but they had been trained in Afghanistan – making that country the logical location for a response (or, in the words of then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a chance to “capitalize on these opportunities”).

But Afghanistan was only the second choice. Rumsfeld wanted to attack Iraq because “there were no decent targets in Afghanistan”.

They were easy targets, though – and attacking Afghanistan would make it possible to topple the fundamentalist Taliban regime there that had been obstructing US plans to build an oil pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.

So the troops rolled in, installed Hamid Karzai (allegedly an employee of Californian oil company Unocal, along with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad), got their oil pipeline and moved on.

The UN Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – ostensibly to train the Afghan military to a standard by which they could defend themselves, but mainly to defend the newly-installed government against attempts by the Taliban to retake the country. Principal troop contributors were the United States and the UK.

ISAF combat operations in Afghanistan were formally ended in 2014, with full security responsibilities being transferred to the Afghan government – but on the very same day, the NATO-led Operation Resolute Support was formed, in which thousands of troops remained in the country to train and advise Afghan government forces and continue fighting the Taliban. Again, US and UK troops were prominent among them.

Then in April this year, new US president Joe Biden announced that he would be withdrawing US troops from the country – because he could see no way of defeating the Taliban.

According to the Washington Post,

Biden’s decision comes after an administration review of U.S. ­options in Afghanistan, where U.S.-midwifed peace talks have failed to advance as hoped and the Taliban remains a potent force despite two decades of effort by the United States to defeat the militants and establish stable, democratic governance. The war has cost trillions of dollars in addition to the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members. At least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.

“This is the immediate, practical reality that our policy review discovered,” said one person familiar with the closed-door deliberations who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy planning. “If we break the May 1st deadline negotiated by the previous administration with no clear plan to exit, we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest.”

The goal is to move to “zero” troops by September, the senior administration official said. “This is not conditions-based. The president has judged that a conditions-based approach . . . is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. He has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown and will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.”

In other words, this was unconditional surrender to the Taliban. No wonder they swept in.

Everything else that has been said about the situation in Afghanistan was just talk, to cover up the fact that both the US and the UK were running away from that country with their tails between their legs.

So, for example, consider this:

My bet is that the UK intelligence on this was that the Taliban would be in control by mid-August, and Johnson was just blustering to stave off the international humiliation that the situation has caused to the UK – which has been America’s principal ally throughout this whole fiasco, dating back to the 1980s.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that Joe Biden’s decision was based less on the chances of military victory and more on projections of the kind of financial gain US commercial interests might enjoy by staying in Afghanistan; with no likelihood of profit, it was time to pull out.

At the end of the day, we see that Afghanistan has again defeated foreign attempts to assert control. As the British were ejected in the 1840s and the Russians in the 1980s, so have the Americans (and, again, the British) now.

It was never going to end any other way.

And now we in the UK are once again facing the consequences of our governments’ – successive administrations stretching back to Thatcher – interference in a place where we should not have been.

One of those consequences is the threat to lives posed by the Taliban, and the failure of the Boris Johnson administration to take anything like the necessary steps to save those lives.

And so the circle of violence turns. We invade a country, cause lives to be lost; we withdraw, and more lives are lost. Now people from that country are likely to come to ours hoping to kill some of us in return – and won’t that prompt our leaders to demand we go back and deliver reprisals?

We need a better solution.

But all we have are Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Dementia patient deported by Patel; Labour councillor wants ‘anti-migrant militia’ [Also in the news]

Border Force: while a Labour councillor calls for the creation of migrant vigilante groups, Priti Patel has deported a dementia patient.

Lots to get through tonight and no time for commentary:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.


The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

UK involvement in Ukraine is just a lot of gas

Battlefield: Independence Square in Kiev after clashes on February 20.

Battlefield: Independence Square in Kiev after clashes on February 20. [Image: AFP]

It isn’t often that Vox Political discusses foreign affairs; this would usually involve mentioning that national disaster, William Hague. But we’ll make an exception in the case of Ukraine.

If you don’t know that thinly-disguised Russian soldiers have occupied the Crimea, which is currently Ukrainian, you’d probably have to be living in a hole in the desert.

Russia says this is entirely justified, but the position is not clear-cut.

It seems this crisis started after a pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, decided to abandon plans for co-operation with Europe in favour of allying his country more closely with Russia.

At the time, Ukraine was deeply in debt and facing bankruptcy, with £21 billion needed to get through the current financial year and 2015. The country cannot call on the same financial levers as the UK, meaning this is a serious issue. How fortunate, then, that Russia was on hand to buy $15 billion of Ukrainian debt and reduce the price of Russian gas supplies by around one-third.

Gas. Ukraine produces around a quarter of its own supply and imports the rest from Russia and Asia, through pipelines that Russia controls. These pipelines continue into Europe, providing supplies to Western countries as well.

The alignment with Russia sparked huge popular protests which quickly escalated into violence. Even though Yanukovych gain office through an election that was judged free and fair by observers, it seems clear his pro-Russian policies do not have the support of the people. But Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, and most of its population are Russians.

Then on February 22, Yanukovych did a runner to Russia, from where – surprisingly – he has claimed he is still President of Ukraine. Politicians in Kiev thought differently and have named their own interim president until elections can take place in May. It is this action that sparked rival protests in Crimea, where people appear to support the previous, pro-Russian policies.

Troops, apparently in Russian uniforms, have appeared across the Crimea, besieging Ukrainian forces and effectively taking control. It has been suggested that Russian President Putin sent them in response to a request from Yanukovych, but Putin denies this. Crimea’s parliament has asked to join Russia.

There is also the matter of the Russian naval base on the Crimean Black Sea coast. This seems uncontroversial, though, as Ukraine had agreed to allow Russia to keep it.

To sum up:

It seems that most of Ukraine wants to keep Russia at arms’ length; but it must still find a way to pay back its debts.

It seems that most of Crimea wants to rejoin Russia. This will be tested in a referendum on March 16.

It seems that Western European countries like the UK are desperate to condemn Russia for interfering in Ukraine. Concerns were raised on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday that the referendum will be rigged, but we have no evidence to suggest that will happen – independent observers have reported that previous exercises of democracy have been free and fair.

It seems hypocritical of us to condemn Russia’s intervention in a place where that country’s citizens are threatened by violence. What did we do when the Falkland Islands were invaded in 1982 – and have we not stood firm against threats to those islands ever since? Nor can we criticise Russia for invading a country on a flimsy pretext – Iraq springs to mind.

So what’s it all about?

Gas.

It seems most likely that, because most of Western Europe’s supply of Russian gas comes through Ukraine, we are far more concerned about our energy supply than about local democracy in an eastern European country. The UK, along with France and Germany and no doubt many others, wants to ensure that this supply is not interrupted as this could seriously jeopardise our ability to generate power.

… And if that isn’t a powerful reason for this country to invest massively in renewable energy generation, it’s hard to find one. What possible advantage is there in putting ourselves at the mercy of another country – especially one that has been less than friendly to us in the past?

It seems the only reason the UK has for outrage is the possibility of violence. We know that military intervention in the affairs of another country doesn’t work; nobody can parachute in, effect regime change, and leave a stable democracy running smoothly behind them. We should have learned our lessons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Unfortunately, it seems that only a minority are willing to speak up and admit this – headed most visibly by Russia Today presenter Abby Martin, who delivered an impassioned denouncement of Russia’s involvement. “I will not sit here and apologise for or defend military action,” she said.

Nor should we.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

Vox Political is an independent political blog.
We don’t receive any funding other than contributions from readers.
Without YOUR help, we cannot keep going.
You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book,
Strong Words and Hard Times
in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Cameron in Afghanistan was no Lawrence of Arabia

131218afghanistan

How does one mark the passing of Peter O’Toole, if not by watching Lawrence of Arabia? It was his first film role and, some say, his greatest.

I’m sure I cannot be the only one to have drawn comparisons between T.E. Lawrence, as played by the great O’Toole on the silver screen, and David Cameron – who behaved like a tool when he said of British forces in Afghanistan, “Misson accomplished”.

In the film, Lawrence is shunned by his colleagues in the British military because of his unconventional ways, but accepted by the Arabs – firstly because he is able to quote the Koran to them, secondly because he goes out of his way to accomplish feats that seem impossible (like rescuing one of his Arab friends from The Sun’s Anvil) in order to give them hope of military success, and thirdly because he achieves these things for their good, not his own.

David Cameron is a different matter. Unlike Lawrence, he is not an original thinker – or indeed any other kind of leader. He is a follower. British military policy in Afghanistan was not his policy, and he made no effort to take control of it. He has made no effort to understand the admittedly-complicated history and culture of a country that has rightly been described as “troubled”, although few people bother to remember that much of that trouble has been caused by invaders including the British. And if he has gone out of his way, it was to avoid actions of distinction. But he’s happy to take the credit for everything that has been done.

This is why, when Cameron said the mission in Afghanistan will have been accomplished by the time the last British troops leave in 2014, so many commentators jeered.

Cameron is currently saying that the mission was to build up security in Afghanistan, to ensure it cannot become a haven for terrorists again, after our forces leave. This might seem reasonable if it were not merely the latest in a long list of mission statements provided for Afghanistan over the incredible 12 years since we arrived there in 2001.

Others, according to The Guardian, include “removing Al Qaida’s bases, eradicating poppy cultivation, educating girls and helping forge a form of democracy”. While we cannot comment on the first of these, the others either failed abjectly or have become the subjects of fierce controversy. The government of Hamid Karzai has long been criticised as corrupt.

Cameron’s choice of words also creates an unhealthy comparison with Iraq, which fell into chaos for a considerable period after then-US President George W Bush declared “mission accomplished” there.

Even the comedy Prime Minister’s attempt to put the soundbite across to the media seemed hesitant. “The purpose of our mission was always to build an Afghanistan and Afghan security forces that were capable of maintaining a basic level of security so this country never again became a haven for terrorist training camps,” he said.

“That has been the most important part of the mission… The absolute driving part of the mission is the basic level of security so that it doesn’t become a haven for terror. That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission,” he added, unravelling completely by the end. He mentioned security three times, “haven for terror” twice, and the mission no less than six times!

And the experts disagreed. The British ambassador to Kabul from 2010-12, William Paytey, said: “Afghanistan has got a long way to go and it could be many decades before we see real peace there.”

So Cameron cuts a poor figure in comparison with Lawrence – and even, returning to our starting point, in comparison with Peter O’Toole. In his hellraising days, Cameron and his Bullingdon friends used to smash up restaurants; Peter O’Toole and his buddies would have tried to buy them.

Vox Political needs your donations more than ever before! The site is funded entirely by donations and book sales.
This site needs YOUR support to continue.

You can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Alternatively, you can buy the first Vox Political book,
Strong Words and Hard Times
in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook

Have we forgotten how to care – or are we just fed up with a government that won’t listen?

No horses were harmed in the making of this article. But at least one ESA claimant died while it was being prepared. [Picture: Eater.com]

No horses were harmed in the making of this article. But at least one ESA claimant died while it was being prepared. [Picture: Eater.com]

Here we are again.

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote what in Vox Political terms was a blistering indictment, in which I tore metaphorical strips off of any reader who had failed to sign the government e-petition then known as Pat’s Petition.

This document, calling on the government to “stop and review the cuts to benefits and services which are falling disproportionately on disabled people, their carers and families” had secured around 60,000 signatures but had less than a day left to run when the article was written.

It would be nice to think that the piece acted as a prompt for at least some of the 3,000 people who signed in those last few hours – but this was not enough to save the petition, which failed to reach the 100,000 signatures needed for Parliament’s backbench business committee to consider taking its demands further.

Now we are in a similar position with the successor to Pat’s Petitionthe WoW Petition. It just happens that Yr Obdt Srvt had a hand in writing this one, along with a few others, and a lot of work was done to make it media-attractive and a magnet for signatures.

It was launched by the comedian Francesca Martinez, who is disabled, and the organisers went out of their way to find ways of publicising it throughout the year it was to be available for signing – for example, with ‘mass tweets’ on Twitter to attract tweeple who had not noticed it previously.

The petition calls for “a Cumulative Impact Assessment of Welfare Reform, and a New Deal for sick & disabled people based on their needs, abilities and ambitions.”

At the time of writing it has two months (and a few hours) left to run, and has just reached approximately the same number of signatures as Pat’s Petition. Unless around 1,000 people start signing every day, this one might fail as well.

Now, I’m not going to shout at you (not this time, anyway). There have been several developments which have affected my own thinking about government e-petitions, meaning my own position towards them has cooled considerably.

For starters, ask yourself: When was the last time the government changed its policy – significantly – in response to a successful e-petition on its website? Has it ever happened? I can’t think of one instance. But that is what this petition demands.

The simple fact seems to be that the e-petition site is a sop for people who want to effect change. They think it is a tool for them to improve the country when in fact it is a tool for keeping them under control; if you are spending a year promoting an e-petition, you won’t be undermining the regime in other ways.

My problem with this – if it is true, and not just a product of my own paranoia – is that, according to government figures that are now long out-of-date, 73 people are dying every week and nothing is being done about it.

Look at the government’s own response, published after the WoW petition received more than 10,000 signatures. It’s on the petition page and concentrates on the call for a cumulative impact assessment, claiming (wrongly) that such an endeavour is practically impossible. It isn’t. There’s no interest in the other demands at all.

Next point: If the 73-a-week figure is accurate – and more so if it is now a grave underestimation (which is my belief) – then the 62,792 signatures achieved at the time of writing is a horrifying indictment of Britain and its citizens. Are we all so apathetic that we are happy to sit around, eating our horseburgers and gossiping about whether the stars of our favourite soap operas are sex fiends (two of the year’s more popular scandals) that we can’t be bothered to spare a thought for people – perhaps people we know – who are suffering for no reason other than that the government we didn’t even elect demands it?

The horsemeat in our beefburgers received far more coverage than the fact that 73 people every week have been dying, even though (as far as I am aware) nobody has suffered fatal injuries from chomping on a bit of thoroughbred. What does that tell you about your fellow Brits? What does it tell you about yourself?

Moving on: Other petitions, on other sites, have attracted more attention (and many more signatories) – especially those with a topical theme that is embarrassing for the government on a personal level. When Iain Duncan Smith said he could live on the amount people receive on Jobseekers’ Allowance, a petition – calling his bluff by demanding that he actually do so – attracted something like half a million signatures within a few days.

On a more serious level, after Smith and Grant Shapps decided it would be fun to distort the truth about the number of people moving into work to avoid the benefit cap, a petition demanding that they make apologies and reparations for their claims also attracted more than 100,000 signatures within a very short period of time – and is to be handed in to Parliament very soon.

These considerations lead us to some uncomfortable conclusions.

First, it is unlikely that a petition focusing only on the plight of those in danger of joining the 73-a-week death toll will ever reach its target – and even if it did, it is unlikely to gain traction among MPs.

Oh, you think I’m wrong? Have you signed the petition? No? Then get across and sign it now – put your name where it will do some good! Yes? Have you told all your friends about it and pestered them until they’ve signed it too? No? Then do that. If you’ve already done both and you still think I’m wrong, go out and accost strangers in the street to do it. That’s how you get it to its target!

Second, any mass media campaign needs a convenient – and probably banal – hook to hang itself on, in order to make the lackadaisical public look up from their fish and chips and take notice.

So any future campaign needs to be timed to correspond with an embarrassing slip-up by a DWP minister. This should not be a problem.

Third, any future campaign should not bother with the government e-petitions website but should take advantage of other petitioning organisations in order to make a more immediate impact.

Got that? Good.

None of these conclusions is an excuse not to sign the petition that is currently running. If you have signed it, make your friends do so. If you’ve made your friends do it, make strangers do it too.

More than 10 people are dying every day, because of this government’s policy – and more will do so, as long as that policy remains in effect. In the time it has taken me to write this, one more will have passed away. Add those numbers up and they are far, far too many.

There has been news this week that the British Army’s final tour of duty in Afghanistan has begun – a country where almost 450 British Armed Forces personnel have died since hostilities began 11 years ago. That’s about as many as are dying here at home, because of government policy, every six weeks.

And the figures we use to calculate the death toll are nearly two years out of date.

Think about it.

Take a hard look at yourself.

And get that petition up to 100,000.

Syria: The right decision for the wrong reason?

A statesman emerges: Ed Miliband's decisions on Syria have revealed courage and determination to do what is right. They show he has the potential to be a great British statesman.

A statesman emerges: Ed Miliband’s decisions on Syria have revealed courage and determination to do what is right. They show he has the potential to be a great British statesman.

It looked as though we were all heading for another pointless adventure in the Middle East, but a day in politics really is a long time, isn’t it?

On Tuesday evening, there seemed to be consensus. The leaders of the main UK political parties had met to discuss the situation in Syria – in particular the evidence that an attack involving chemical weapons had taken place – and had parted in broad agreement that military action was warranted in order to discourage the use of such devices.

But then Labour’s Ed Miliband changed his mind. It seems likely he held a meeting with members of his own party who helped him devise an alternative plan.

In his blog on Tuesday, Michael Meacher laid down several reasons for delaying any new military adventure:

  • The UN weapons inspectors currently working in Syria have not had enough time to find conclusive proof of chemical weapon use. Attacking on the basis of the evidence we currently hold would be reminiscent of the attack on Iraq, where we were assured Saddam Hussein held weapons of mass destruction. We later discovered – to our shame – that he did not;
  • Where 100,000 citizens have already been killed by conventional means, it seems extremely odd to use the deaths of 1,000 by other means as an excuse to wade into the fray; and
  • What about international law? How would Russia and China react if the UN Security Council, on which they both sit, rejected military action but the UK – along with the USA and others – went ahead with it anyway? And wouldn’t this light a powder keg in the Middle East, kicking off a larger, regional conflict – the outcome of which cannot be predicted?

Mr Miliband concluded that it would be far better to wait for stronger evidence and he notified David Cameron that he would be tabling an amendment on Syria when Parliament is recalled today (Thursday). This would insist that a vote should be taken only after the weapons inspectors have delivered their report. He said Parliament should only agree criteria for action – not write a blank cheque (for those who want war).

This writer was delighted – the decision was almost exactly what I had suggested when I responded to a poll on the LabourList blog site, although I had added in my comment that the only decision open to Parliament was to offer humanitarian aid to non-combatants affected by the fighting between the different Syrian factions.

The decision indicated not only that Labour had learned its lesson from the Blair-era decisions to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, but that Mr Miliband had also paid attention to the will of the British people; those opposing another war outnumber those supporting it by around two to one.

Mr Cameron was now in a very difficult position as, without Labour’s support and with only limited backing from his own party, it was entirely possible that he would be defeated if he suggested military action in the Commons today.

Defeat in a major vote is, of course, something that no government voluntarily provokes. He had no choice but to change his mind, and now Parliament is being recalled to approve humanitarian aid and agree to the course of action put forward by Mr Miliband.

So now all my wishes appear likely to be granted.

It is the correct decision. But it was not the decision Cameron wanted. He wanted war.

It is also a decision that has been clearly dictated by the actions of the Opposition leader. Let’s make no bones about it, Ed Miliband called this tune and David Cameron danced to it.

Let’s look at what Michael Meacher had to say about this. It is illuminating because it comes from a backbencher who has been outspoken in criticism of Mr Miliband in the past. He wrote in his blog: “It singles out Ed Miliband as a man of inner strength and integrity who can take the gritty decisions when they are most needed, and this is undoubtedly one of those times… The hardest thing for a Leader of the Opposition to do, bereft of any executive authority, is to challenge the prevailing structure of power and change it or even overturn it. No other Opposition Leader has succeeded in this as well as Ed Miliband.

“We have already seen him take on Murdoch over BSkyB and stop the biggest concentration of media power in UK history in its tracks, and then almost single-handedly block the press counter-attack against Leveson which would have left newspapers as unaccountable as ever.”

So it seems we will see the right decision taken, albeit for the wrong reasons – thanks to the courage, leadership and statesmanship of Mr Miliband.

There’s just one further question: If the big decision is being taken after the weapons inspectors report back, and they are unlikely to do so until Monday (we’re told)… That’s after MPs were scheduled to return to Parliament. The emergency recall is therefore an unnecessary extravagance.

I wonder how much MPs will be allowed to claim for it on expenses?

(Note: This has been written while events continue to develop. All information was accurate at the time of writing.)