Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Whilst the staff at the Independent and producers of Radio 5 Live's morning phone-in are busy squawking about the death of the 100th British soldier in Iraq, today's Times carries a particularly fine editorial: Death and numbers - Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are increasingly interrelated.

Here's a taster:
London was yesterday the host to a big international conference on the future of Afghanistan. Although there are, as Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, accurately outlined, real signs of progress, there is not much doubt that elements of the Taleban and al-Qaeda are seeking to turn the continuing conflict in Iraq to their advantage. Britain will become more deeply committed in Afghanistan soon and that involves the prospect of additional casualties.

To which, some voters here will respond, why invite that danger? Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are a long distance from these shores and present no obvious immediate threat to British security. Both on the unreconstructed Left and the isolationist Right, the cry of Not in Their Backyard is rising.

It is a fool’s siren. Iraq has become the most significant front in the War on Terror and the best hope for the advance of democracy in a region that desperately needs it. Iran’s determination to put nuclear missiles in the most unreliable of hands is today arguably the principal menace to international order. The folly of regarding Afghanistan as a distant country of scant consequence should surely have been shattered on September 11, 2001. In truth, Mr Blair and Dr Reid would, ideally, not want British troops to be sent to regions in which they operate in grave danger. But to ignore the crucial importance of these states is not an option at this time.
Have the ideas of a certain Mr Kamm been rubbing off on the rest of them?


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