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   Friday, December 19, 2003
Quite a good article from Steven here, where he fulminates against the tranzi agenda.

I think I'm even more worried about the tranzi agenda than he is, myself, given that while the USA is in no danger of being gobbled up by anybody, the UK is right now teetering on the edge of the tranzi/EU abyss.

What can I say. Read the whole thing. All of his political points, and his analysis of the politics attached to the War on Terror, I agree with.

One point of contention, nothing to do with his analysis of current events - it's not exactly true that the British got their asses handed to them in Afghanistan, though I know it's currently fashionable to say so. Indeed, I was arguing, before Afghanistan started, that history already taught us how to deal with Afghanistan, just as much as it taught us how not to.

There were three Anglo-Afghan wars, the first around 1840, the second around 1880, and the third around 1920. The third Anglo-Afghan war, nothing more than a few skirmishes, is not considered in the following rant. Some background to explain the reasons why the wars occurred is also necessary, so you can properly understand the British war aims.

The reasons behind the Anglo-Afghan wars was the British desire to form a buffer state to protect British India against the ever-expanding Russian Empire. Afghanistan, and especially the Khyber and Michni passes into India, were deemed to be of strategic importantance in protecting India.

The first Anglo-Afghan war was a straightforward attempt to annex Afghanistan, and it was an unmitigated disaster. The Afghan leader, Dost Mohammed, was easily deposed (his son, also called Dost Mohammed, took over at the end of the war), but the British expeditionary force was forced to retreat in the face of Afghan resistance, and while retreating they were massacred on the way back to India. The expeditionary force consisted of about 4500 soldiers, and another 8000 or so camp followers. Following this loss, the British made a punitive strike against Kabul, with a force entering the city and burning it, before cutting their losses and pulling back to India. The Russians, meanwhile, continued their expansion southwards towards India, and by 1850 the Russians were beginning to encroach on Afghanistan itself. The British war aims had evidently not been realised.

The Second Anglo-Afghan War was still more political, and was a much larger and more serious affair than the first. The British had reopened diplomatic relations with Afghanistan in the intervening years, and had also concluded a treaty with the Russians, agreeing that Afghanistan was to be considered outside Russian or British influence. Thus, during the time between the Afghan wars, the British were satisfied that India was secure from Russian expansion.

In 1878 the Russians sent a diplomatic mission to Afghanistan. The British, feeling threatened, also wished to send a mission, but the Afghan leader, Sher Ali, refused it and threatened that any diplomats would be stopped upon entering the country.

The viceroy of India at the time called Sher Ali's bluff, and a British diplomatic mission was dispatched - the Afghans duly turned it back, thus sparking the second Anglo-Afghan war.

40,000 British troops were sent into Afghanistan in a three pronged attack. Sher Ali attempted to appeal to the Russian tsar for assistance, but was unable to do so given the difficulties of travel in 19th century Central Asia, and the British soon occupied most of the country, with Sher Ali dying in 1879.

Sher Ali's son signed the Treaty of Gandarmak with the British, which relinquished Afghan foreign policy to the British in exchange for no further British encroachment on Afghan lands. An Afghan uprising late in 1979 was put down, but Ali's son then abdicated, probably fearing assassination.

Things then went sour, with the British garrison at Kabul being massacred, and in a replay of the first Afghan war a British retaliatory punitive expedition (the Battle of Maiwand) was a victorious slaughter for the British. After this, the British began to pull out in order. However, before pulling out, the British installed Abdur Rahman Khan as amir of Afghanistan, a master stroke - Rahman being acceptable to the Afghan people, but also to the British.

In the years after the Second Afghan War, it became clear that this time around, the British war aims of creating a buffer state had been successful. During Rahman's reign, the northern border of Afghanistan with Russia was demarcated during the Pandjeh Crisis of 1885, which stopped further Russian advancement towards India. On the southern border with India, the Durand Line was established (not entirely with Rahmans support), with the British claiming a number of militarily significant areas as the buffers they wanted (the Wakhan Corridor) and also deliberately slicing hostile Pashtun tribal lands in two. Thus, the Second Anglo Afghan War was really a tactical loss (a costly military stalemate), but a strategic victory for the British - the Durand Line still marks the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan today, and Afghanistan's foreign policy from that point on was broadly in line with British interests until full independence in the Third Anglo-Afghan war in 1920, by which point the Great Game had begun to move away from Afghan lands.

History tells us that it's quite easy to bring about "regime change" in Afghanistan - in the First and Second Anglo-Afghan wars the amir was killed and a new one put in place. If that's all the war aim is, it's one relatively easily accomplished. That was the war aim of the United States recent intervention in Afghanistan, and it was accomplished, fairly easily. Creating a lasting stability broadly favourable to a foreign power in the area is much harder. I think this was accomplished by the British in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Annexing the area, history teaches us, is an extremely perilous course of action. The Soviets and the British the first time around both tried this, and failed.

The United States learned about the importance of having realisable war aims from Vietnam. It was a lesson hard learned, and also well learned. The US success in Afghanistan is largely a part of "not biting off more than you can chew". But just as the US can rightly claim victory in Afghanistan, even though the nation has not been annexed and is largely lawless because their war aim was topping the Taliban, not taking the place over - the British can claim victory in the latter half of the 19th century, for realising their war aims of setting up a buffer state against Russian advancement, and in delineating the northern borders of British India to British advantage. Annexing Afghanistan was not a war aim for the 19th century British, either.

   Tuesday, December 16, 2003
I found a classic article in the Guardian today. It amazes me that Moonbat Monbiot can write this stuff with, one presumes, a straight face. The Guardian is well known as a creator of utter tosh, but this is high grade, refined tosh as it's best.

One wonders if Monbiot has ever flown in a plane before? And one wonders if he has since seen the error of his ways and sticks to using the bus in future? Hypocrisy aside, theres just so much wrong with this that the mind boggles.

All throughout you get the undercurrent of anti-Americanism, a hatred of all things across the sea for it's own sake. Why else is there this snide bullsh*t about the Wright Brothers being frauds?

And as for the evils of the aeroplane, I think soldiers today should thank God for the inventions of those two pieces of military hardware, the aeroplane and the tank. After all, without those, we'd still be using chemical weapons and human wave attacks, probably the most horrible tactics in the history of human warfare, responsible for many an abbatoir in WW1. Ultimately the aeroplane and smart weapons have cut the human costs of warfare, even human costs to an enemy, to an incredible low. In fact, if anything negative can be said about these weapons it's that they are too humane, making war an easy option. "It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it." as General Lee once said. In fact it seems to be an accepted strategy of the modern kleptocrat to use his own people as political weapons to appeal to Western sensibilities, as we've got used to relatively bloodless wars.

And finally, my pet peeve is brought out - an assertion by Moonbat that global warming kills 150,000 people a year, and that aeroplanes represents a large chunk of that cost. Lies, damned lies and statistics as Disraeli said (I'm full of quotes today), and statistics from dubious, contested science is even worse than the sort of guff that Eurostat puts out. The thing that irks the most is the way he brings up this figure, as if it is an absolute, undisputed fact, which is anything but the truth. In any case, if global warming is going to kill us all, I think we should pack Monbiot off to Mars, where all the hot air he produces could do some good.

Anyway, read the article, have a laugh. It amused me, anyway.

   Monday, December 15, 2003
Blogging will still be pretty much in hiatus, but I have to make a small post to cover two things...

Firstly, of course, the capture of Saddam. Wonderful news. Perhaps more important to the US than the UK however. In fact, if anything it might make Blair's life even more miserable than it already is. It seems to me that Saddam's capture means the pressure will be on even more than before about the WMD issue. Blair doesn't have any more excuses anymore, they've bagged the Top Man, so where is the nerve gas? If, even after having Saddam interrogated, they come up with nothing, it'll be bad for Blair. Better that Saddam was never found, thus leaving some ambiguity over the WMD question.

And the other comment is - there is a new blog about, specialising in a subject dear to me own heart. EURSOC is an anti-EU blog which looks very interesting. One for the blogroll, definitely.

   Thursday, December 11, 2003
While reading my friend Porphyrogenitus' blog, I found this gem from him.

Update: One other thing. One of the reasons I didn't know about this was the fact that I never heard the BBC EUBC report it on their World Service radio news hour.

Of course, the BBC practically is the EUBC these days. But on reflection, I thought that maybe thats not such a bad thing. I have a suggestion.

We allow the BBC to continue being the "EUBC", but in exchange, the BBC doesn't charge me their onerous license fee. After all, I hate their propaganda, and seeing my hard earned cash going on such things turns my stomach. However, presumably the various Eurocrats love it, so I think -they- should pay for it.

I'm sure d'Estaing would appreciate that, an opportunity to make a selfless donation to the Voice of the People.

They can pay for their propaganda out of their own pocket, not mine.

   Wednesday, December 10, 2003
If it's possible, I'm even more busy than I was in October. A shame, as I would like to blog more (specially as the work I am doing, assisting in a small way with the BTC oil pipeline which will run from Baku in Azerbaijan to Ceyhan in Turkey via Georgia has been in the news of late, with instability in Azerbaijan and Georgia). However, I have a spare moment, and so would like to link to this article written by Steven Den Beste.

I'm a European but I am stunned by the gaulle displayed by the likes of the French here. Remember that the cash on offer here originates mostly with the United States itself, who the likes of France have been moaning about for literally years. And now they are complaining that the USA has frozen them out of the potentially profitable Iraqi reconstruction.

I always knew the French had gaulle but this really astounds with it's sheer brazenness. And now the Frogs are complaining to the WTO about how the USA isn't allowed to spend it's money this way, while pulling the EU's puppet strings for a bit of extra clout.

Unbelievable. Hanging is too good for Chirac et al. If these egomaniacal continentals keep it up we'll be in a state of nuclear stalemate with the USA in a decade.