In a day when more nonsense about Defence fills the newspapers, "Britain and France to share Carriers," (what are we going to do, time share the bloody things?), Nick Clegg pops up in Camp Bastion to reiterate the 2015, "it'll all be over by Christmas statement."
As I live and breathe I have no idea what goes on in the minds of these idiots. How can Clegg announce with such certainty that,
"We have been very clear, we have put a full stop at the end of our engagement," Clegg said. "By 2015 there will not be any British combat troops in Afghanistan."
Apparently, thats going to happen because,
"The choice (for the Taliban) is this: they can either carry on fighting ... or they can put down their arms and recognise the Afghan constitution, they can turn their backs on al Qaeda and they can play a role in creating a stable Afghanistan."
Well Mr Clegg, much as I dislike raining on your parade Terry Taliban might have other ideas... then what? Many have already observed that these silly pronouncements of "end dates," started by the US over recent years, may be interpreted by political advisors as showing a firm political hand but to anyone connected to the real world they just sound childish and naive. Critically, they give succour to the enemy; he's just been given a four year timeline for victory.
This is all very reminiscent of Nixon's, "Silent majority," speech of 1969 in which he announced the process of Vietnamisation and ultimate US withdrawal. Nixon indeed succeeded in withdrawing US troops but his speech to some also marked a decline in Army morale, when conscript soldiers began to realise that if they died or not, the result would be the same.
What might be of interest to the British public Mr Clegg, is if you might have the courtesy of explaining just why you believe that the,
"the military campaign in Afghanistan is "turning the corner."
It's just the rest of us are sitting blind in what is one of the most under reported engagements in our history, yet the casualty numbers continue to rise alarmingly. We could all be mistaken for thinking that we're stuck in a quagmire there and no one has the first clue how to extract us from a situation which is far from improving.
That no one is able to clearly articulate why we're still there and exactly how we are going to put in place national institutions which are brand new to a medieval society, when it took us in this country the best part of 300 years to do the same, to enable our withdrawal is simply not acceptable. The 400 or so young men, at current rates, who will die between now and 2015 deserve much, much more.
Perhaps the best thing that could happen to some of those dead men walking is that they are chopped on paper by the forthcoming Defence Review, long before they step on the plane. There is a strong and lingering distaste though, in watching Mr Clegg exploit front page photo opportunities with troops shortly before he and the rest of his tofu munching friends achieve their long awaited ambition to stick the knife into Defence.