LONDON: Defence Secretary John Hutton has compared Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to the Nazis, saying British forces are defending Western values rather than borders as they did in the Second World War. Mr Hutton said that the military campaign in Afghanistan was “a vital national security mission” just as the battle against Hitler was.
He also appeared disposed to sending more troops to the wartorn country, saying that the Taliban could not be allowed to outlast foreign forces. Following a trip to Afghanistan in October, he admitted that a “poisonous cocktail” of extremism, 30 years of civil war, a thriving narcotics trade and powerful warlords mean British forces could remain committed to the country for “decades”.
“The argument is very clear. This is where our national security is determined. We must tackle the threat at source, it’s not just going to go away,” he told The Times this week. “It is a struggle against fanatics that may not challenge our borders but challenges our way of life in the same way the Nazis did.”
He admitted that Operation Herrick, in which 134 British soldiers have died, has been “much tougher” than expected, but insisted it had produced “significant” results already.
“We have to stay the course,” he said. “The key thing now is not that the Taleban or al-Qaeda can defeat us in Afghanistan, their tactic is to outlast us. That’s what we’ve got to deal with. That’s the nature of this counter-insurgency operation. It doesn’t lend itself to instantaneous results. This is a very complex, challenging environment for us to be operating in.”
As to whether there is any likelihood of peace in a country with such a history of war, he said: “You’ve got to understand history but you can’t be a prisoner of it. “We make history. History doesn’t set precedents. You’ve got to be prepared to get involved when something is wrong.”
His comments will be seen as a sign that the Government may be preparing to announce a surge of troops in Afghanistan once 4,000 are withdrawn from Iraq in June.-SANA