Nick Boles MP was right to point out in last week’s column that the 404 soldiers who died is a tragedy.
It deserves mourning, and it is for this very reason that I oppose the war.
What Nick failed to mention is that, since the invasion, more than 12,000 Afghan civilians have been killed.
That’s a ratio of one British soldier for every 30 Afghan civilians.
We don’t know their names, hobbies, likes and dislikes, who they wanted to be, what they did. We know all of this information for the average, British soldier.
So, when people like Nick Boles say things like, “Death is a tragedy.” Perhaps what they mean is: “This person’s death is a tragedy, however, that person’s death is an irrelevance.”
Whereas Mr Boles may have us believe that ‘staying the course’ is the only decent option in light of all this death and destruction, I say that it is because of all of this death, all of this destruction, that we are right to leave Afghanistan altogether.
Who likes war? Is it worth ‘staying the course’ if more people die in the process? What is the aim of staying in Afghanistan? Is sacrifice really a good thing if the point of that sacrifice is unachievable?
Support for the war is and always has been incredibly low, in Afghanistan. And this isn’t surprising. If you see your children blown to pieces, or your home destroyed by the RAF, you’re not going to support the war. People living in these situations, who have experienced these horrors, often prefer the stability and safety of a harsh government.
This isn’t an ideal choice, but peace with the risk of an end, is better than war without end.
Afghanistan is known as “the graveyard of empires”. Let’s hope that our minds, too, do not become graveyards of intellect, of courage and of doing the right thing.
by Tim Johnston, Grantham Labour Party Secretary