Those with military experience will know that AWOL = absent without leave! I did have some leave but I can’t claim that I did my duty as well as some other Peers who blogged from holiday and home and certainly not as well as ace blogger Lord Norton – when does he sleep?
Today I am going to hear the Prime Minister speak at the International Institute for Strategic Studies on Afghanistan. It has been billed as an important speech laying out the reasons for our involvement. The resignation of Eric Joyce MP has stolen some of the attention on this but it is part of the real concern about the strategy. It is never easy to persuade the public of international efforts of this type when British troops are dying. We have yet to find the best way on intervening in failed states and I fear these problems are going to be with us for a long time to come but I do believe the international community has a duty as well as a need to intervene. Refusing to intervene doesn’t mean the problem goes away.
At the core of this is the inability of some states to develop stable government and the rule of law to allow development to take place. Our opponents in Afghanistan have killed many aid workers and even more Afghans for trying to modernise their country. Development cannot easily take place in such a climate. When I was in Helmand province a sort time ago I saw how difficult the challenge was and the enormous burden we place on our troops. With the exception of helicopters our troops are well equipped and highly motivated but the tactics of the opposing groups do vary and are much more sophisticated then some people in the UK believe.
Sorry to come back on such a sober note but international problems deserve our attention at all times especially when our troops are engaged in such dangerous work.