Robert Oulds is the author of Montgomery
and the First War on Terror: What a British Military Hero Can Teach
Those Fighting Today's War on Terror published by Bretwalda Books and
Director of the Bruges Group. Follow them on Twitter
Churchill thought that if he were still Prime Minister he would not have begun the Suez Operation, but he recognised that cutting and running before the job was done was a major mistake. Clearly history does repeat itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The latest shambles has been British military involvement in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. This comes soon after the abject failure to defeat the insurgency in the Basra Province of Southern Iraq (2003 - 2009).
Such defeats have long-term consequences - and not just for the local population who are exposed to the rule of the Salafist Sunni extremists that are in league with the criminal enterprises that are flooding many nations with cheap heroin. In 1983, U.S peacekeeping forces based in Beirut were attacked by a massive truck bomb leading to much loss of life. This led to the political decision to withdraw from the Lebanon, an act which was to convince Osama Bin Laden that America lacked resolve and was susceptible to terrorism.
Where has Britain gone wrong? Some have pointed to too few troops and not enough helicopters, and the use of vehicles that offer little to no protection from improvised explosive devices. Clearly, these are factors, but at the heart of the failure in Afghanistan is something that is perhaps more deeply ingrained and fundamental. The strategy employed by the Ministry of Defence and the army’s top brass makes them directly culpable for handing the initiative to the Taliban.