Letters: Sturgeon should steer clear of virtue-signalling on Afghanistan

I HOPE I am not the only one tired of pontificating, virtue-signalling politicians who, safe in having no responsibility for the immediate situation in Afghanistan today, say Nato troops should remain in Kabul airport “for as long as is necessary” – as you report Nicola Sturgeon doing today (“Sturgeon says troops should stay but Taliban rejects any extension”, The Herald, August 24). Does she mean beyond the Taliban deadline? I think it fair to presume so, otherwise why use those words?

Two things matter in the situation in Kabul: who is really dominant and logistics. Regrettably, having won the war, the Taliban is dominant, possesses the weaponry that makes holding out in the only part of Kabul city in Nato hands, the airport, impossible if not evacuated on their stated date.

If our First Minister, who has got her intended headline, was actually in charge and her policy implemented, she would realise that the only way to reinforce, and supply, Nato troops if they stay there, is by aircraft – free targets for the Taliban to shoot down.

It is unfortunate, to say the least, that Joe Biden’s decision to scuttle leaves his Nato allies no option but to leave when the Taliban tell them to. No amount of virtue-signalling can alter that brutal (for the Afghans) piece of realpolitik. Welcome to the real, uncomfortable, world, Ms Sturgeon.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.

LESSON WE SHOULD LEARN

LORD George Roberson (“This has been a failure to learn from history but something can still be done”, The Herald, August 24) wants us to “learn from history”, but disappointingly uses the “stab-in-the-back” mythology from Germany (the First World War), and the United States (Vietnam). No government or force has ever controlled the whole of Afghanistan, so this was never a conflict that could be won, either in the field or “hearts and minds”. The longer it went on, with Al-Qaeda long since defeated and displaced, the less support the public in the West had; one reason politicians here seldom mentioned it.

The events of 9/11/2001 is one seared into our minds, yet secrecy surrounds most of the story relating to the nationality of most of those involved, and the circumstances of their pilot training whilst resident in America. Nor is Afghanistan a special case. Syria, North Africa, Yemen and other places harbour Jihadists, many with a grudge against the West. The lesson we should learn is to stay away from military adventurism, and foreign involvement in regions far from home, unless there is a specific, verified threat.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

SO WHY DID WE DO IT?

SINCE I painted my kitchen not a single terrorist organisation has flown airplanes into tower blocks. As asinine as that statement may sound it’s the same logic as Lord George Robertson uses to suggest that the invasion of Afghanistan produced the same result.

He ignores the fact that after 20 years of armed struggle resistance in the country was never completely subdued, the Taliban’s capabilities would appear to be unaffected and that internationally “terrorist” activities have continued to take place. He also conveniently ignores that none of the 19 hijackers involved in 9/11 was from Afghanistan and that 15 of them were from Saudi Arabia. Also missing from his piece is any reference to the poorly-reported civil suits taking place in the United States involving the alleged official suppression of information allegedly linking Saudi Arabia and its agents with active involvement in the affair.

The unanswered question is why the West really invaded Afghanistan. Does he know or was he duped as well?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

US DESERVES OUR SUPPORT

BEFORE we look for agreement as to future policy in Afghanistan, perhaps we need consensus as to what has happened in the past. What I have seen is that the West, mainly the Americans, entered Afghanistan about 20 years ago in order to disperse international terrorist organisations. This objective was achieved and it became clear that some of the Afghanistan people wished the Western forces to remain in the country and others wished them to leave and many lives were lost in that dispute.

Then, after about 20 years, it was seen that (a) during the Western presence Kabul was transformed from an impoverished prison city of torture and murder into a peaceful, relatively liberal and prosperous city, albeit subject to financial corruption and (b) those Afghanistan people who wished the Americans to leave the country were more powerful than those who wished them to remain.

Given the level of support for the occupation among the peoples of America and Afghanistan and the extent of the contribution to the operation from potential allies, the American Government made a decision to cease its occupation. A date for departure was agreed with the Taliban but, nevertheless, before that date arrived, the Taliban forces swept through the country and took over Kabul in pickup trucks with machine guns and whips, brought terror and death back to the streets of the city and prevented the orderly evacuation which would have avoided the carnage which is now threatened.

For the misdeeds of the Taliban, President Biden has been labelled treacherous and his policy as imbecilic. If that indeed is what has happened and given that there is no rational alternative, it appears that the US remains and deserves support as the only viable guardian of international liberal democracy, the survival of which cannot be taken for granted. In the absence of a present terrorist threat it is not for the Americans alone but for the international community to decide whether to intervene in the internal affairs of Afghanistan and the G7 is meeting today to discuss that very issue.

Michael Sheridan, by Strachur.

UPHOLDING PRINCIPLES

I AGREE entirely with the letters from Catriona Clark and Ruth Marr (August 24). Both these contributions demonstrate a much more principled ethic than that of Clark Cross (Letters, August 23), as do the following quotes from the articles penned by your journalists over the past week or so: Alison Rowat, August 16 (“the West can walk away from Afghanistan, but in cannot in all conscience look away”); Uzma Mir, August 17 (we must “help, through humanitarian measures, those who flee persecution…); Neil Mackay, August 17 ( “…. every country which sent troops into Afghanistan should take its fair share of refugees who need a home. No ifs, or buts.”).

Rebecca McQuillan, August 20 (“This is Britain. We do everything we can to help the vulnerable in their hour of greatest need”), along with her colleagues, reminds us of our country’s principles your paper so effectively seeks to uphold.

John Milne, Uddingston.

GREEN DEAL NOT JUST ABOUT INDY

I WRITE as an ordinary member of the Green Party. My concern is that the Scottish Government does all it can to combat climate change. So far its response has been patchy – strong on targets and aspirations but often weak in terms of programmes that would deliver the necessary outcomes. If the proposed agreement between the Green Party and the SNP leads to significant improvements in Scottish Government action, then I support it.

Even though we have to agree to disagree on aviation policy, the agreement holds out real hope of a much stronger move towards decarbonising transport. It also sets clear dates for tightening up building regulations and improving house insulation standards which had previously been fudged. This will lead to many more jobs being created.

The section on the marine environment is particularly good.

There is, at last, some sort of timetable to look at alternatives to council tax.

To view the agreement through the lens of Scottish independence is to miss the point. The Green Party and the SNP are in accord on this and no further agreement is required.

My worry is with the appointment of two junior ministers. Unless they are in departments where the relevant cabinet ministers are positive about Green participation and unless they are given clear areas of responsibility then there is a risk that they will be used as greenwash. I would have preferred a Green minister at cabinet level with responsibility for one of the main areas involved in combating climate change.

Nonetheless, the agreement is not a coalition and if it helps towards averting global warming, then I support it.

David Mumford (The Rev), Dunbar.

JOHNSON’S MASTERSTROKE

THE appointment of David Mundell as a UK trade envoy (“Mundell joins ranks of trade envoys with appointment to New Zealand role”, The Herald, August 24) is surely a masterstroke by Boris Johnson. Presumably, his first task will be to explain to New Zealanders that they’re too wee to be an independent nation and that they would be better off in a world-encompassing Union of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and New Zealand.

John Jamieson, Ayr.

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The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992