The Taliban is experiencing a renaissance and now has a permanent presence in more than 70% of Afghanistan: so claimed a report published yesterday by an independent thinktank, the International Council on Security and Development. Some of its conclusions appeared exaggerated, enabling the government to rubbish the lot. But few would quarrel with the underlying message, not least Britain's top brass.
They are on the warpath. Not against an enemy on the battlefield. Not against any military force. Their anger is directed at civilians - on their side.
Let us read remarks made by Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the chief of the defence staff, earlier this month.… Seguir leyendo »
Lawyers acting for Binyam Mohamed, a British resident incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay, are asking the high court to order the government to disclose information that, they say, would show the evidence against him was obtained by torture.
The government is fighting the case. Of course, it does not want to reveal what Britain's security and intelligence agencies knew about the US secretly transporting "enemy combatants" to places where they were likely to be tortured, the practice known as extraordinary rendition. To bolster its case, it has used its last resort, hoisting the flag of "national security". We have seen it before, most recently over the decision to stop the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into allegations of bribery in the sale of warplanes to Saudi Arabia, and we will no doubt hear it again.… Seguir leyendo »
Today the government will officially announce the go-ahead to build the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales, two new aircraft carriers, the biggest and most expensive ships in the long history of the Royal Navy. They are due to enter service in 2014 and 2016, and are estimated to cost £3.9bn. That does not include the multibillion cost of equipping the ships with US Joint Strike Fighters. But, as ministers will doubtless point out, the deal should guarantee thousands of jobs at English and Scottish shipyards for years to come.
While the navy is purring over the prospect of sailing large new carriers, a new fleet of destroyers, and nuclear-armed Trident submarines, and the RAF gets 144 long-delayed and increasingly costly Eurofighter/Typhoon jets, with the prospect of 88 more, the army is desperate.… Seguir leyendo »
Sunday's handover of Basra province, the last of four controlled by UK forces since the 2003 invasion, was heralded by the British and Iraqi governments as a great step forward. Local forces were now capable of looking after the security of the entire south-east of their country, potentially one of the Middle East's richest regions.In truth, the decision was dictated by British domestic politics and by the demands of British military commanders. Britain's continuing presence in Iraq was becoming increasingly unpopular and counterproductive. More than a year ago, General Sir Richard Dannatt, newly appointed head of the army, said that Britain should withdraw from Iraq "soon" because its troops were regarded with growing hostility, with their presence exacerbating the difficulties Britain was experiencing around the world.… Seguir leyendo »