All Greek to Me

The orators of ancient Greece were judged on their ability to put forward both sides of an argument at the same time with equally dexterity and aplomb. Most of the leading politicians of the West seem to be going through the same acrobatic contortions without even realising it.

On one side we have Afghanistan a washed up pre modern expanse of land, you  can hardly call it a State, ruled by corrupt  feudal warlords constantly fighting each other and anyone else if the money is right. United Nations forces have been given the impossible task of drag the country kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

On the other side sits Iran. Very much a unified state, all be it by terror, with a leadership driven by a messianic vision.. Despite the religious rule this is a modern State possessing military hardware which is the fear and envy of its neighbours.
It would now appear, despite denials, Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons and as such threatening to turn the Dr Strangelove scenario from fiction to fact.

These are two intractable problems which on the surface would appear to require similar solutions. But wait a minute that’s not how Greek oratory works. Lets have a quick, and I mean quick refresher course, of why the West is in Afghanistan at all. Remember its now been more than a decade since Western troops under a United Nations umbrella invaded Afghanistan to route out Al Quada terrorists who planned and executed the Twin Towers bomb outrage. It killed more than 3000 people from all religions and none from all the world’s continents.. Just as important the troops went after those who gave the terrorists safe haven and training facilities, The Taliban. Deaths of Western soldiers over the past few years have become all but an every day occurrence which has almost ceased to shock the general public. Like rush hour trains never arriving on time or rain every day of your holiday.

The goal of decapitating Al Quada has long been achieved. Its leader Osama Bin Laden, and most of the founding hierarchy have been caught or killed.  The UN troops now face the Taliban, backed by sections of the Pakistani intelligence and military services, who continue to deny their involvement despite incontrovertible proof  to the contrary. The country seems firmly stuck in the seventh century, and has a Government, on whose behalf we are fighting that is both venal and corrupt. Its only saving grace is it is not the Taliban. It is really hard to choose the lesser of the two evils. But Greek Speak means we have chosen our side and here we stay until we go. A magic date has been set for 2014 when the politicians tell us the Taliban will be on its knees. But who is listening?

We seem to have moved from fighting terrorism to nation building.  If we stayed in Afghanistan for a thousand years I doubt it would turn out like Switzerland. If our fear is really of terrorism and we have genuine nightmares about the kind of people the Taliban might ask to share their country then there is an alternative solution.  It would not be the most difficult task to hermetically seal off it off from the outside world. Afghanistan is hardly an international hub, and we could use satellite technology, drones in the sky, and feet on the ground organising copious pay offs to protect the West from the worst they could throw at us. All this would be cheaper than the treasure of blood and human life being sacrificed now.

Now to Iran. This is a sophisticated country with an educated people. It has large towns a well developed hinterland and is rich in oil. The Mullahs undoubtedly have strong minority support but we must put the emphasis on the word minority. It is clear that most of the population are suffering under the yolk of the dictators and would like nothing better than to be part of the free world.

Non interference in the affairs of another State is one of the better rules of the United  Nations but there are exceptions to every rule.  The fact that the Iranian leadership appears ever closer to developing nuclear weapons seems in to have caused little real concern though much breast-beating in the capitals of the Western world. Sure there has been a lot of invective and bluster but its more akin to a parent telling off a naughty child who we believe in the end will grow up and see good sense.

Well this child shows few signs of growing up. In fact the more conciliatory and concerned Western Governments are to Iran the naughtier it becomes. We are again having talks about talks which in the end might lead to….talks. Will anything change though that’s the million dollar question.

I think I am beginning to understand the art of politics and diplomacy now. In the modern world what you do is wait for the enemy to turn their words in to deeds by igniting or being caught trying to blow you to Kingdom Come and then you act, as per Afghanistan.. Then once you have embarked on your mission by occupying the country and trying to reshape it in your own image you outstay your welcome until such time the local people turn against you and start killing your soldiers.

So here we are then .We stay in Afghanistan because it poses a threat to us and we stay out of Iran because it poses a threat to us. Oh how those ancient orators would have loved to have been around now.  As for myself, I am puzzled. Its all Greek to me.The orators of ancient Greece were judged on their ability to put forward both sides of an argument at the same time with equally dexterity and aplomb. Most of the leading politicians of the West seem to be going through the same acrobatic contortions without even realising it.

On one side we have Afghanistan a washed up pre modern expanse of land, you  can hardly call it a State, ruled by corrupt  feudal warlords constantly fighting each other and anyone else if the money is right. United Nations forces have been given the impossible task of drag the country kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

On the other side sits Iran. Very much a unified state, all be it by terror, with a leadership driven by a messianic vision.. Despite the religious rule this is a modern State possessing military hardware which is the fear and envy of its neighbours.
It would now appear, despite denials, Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons and as such threatening to turn the Dr Strangelove scenario from fiction to fact.

These are two intractable problems which on the surface would appear to require similar solutions. But wait a minute that’s not how Greek oratory works. Lets have a quick, and I mean quick refresher course, of why the West is in Afghanistan at all. Remember its now been more than a decade since Western troops under a United Nations umbrella invaded Afghanistan to route out Al Quada terrorists who planned and executed the Twin Towers bomb outrage. It killed more than 3000 people from all religions and none from all the world’s continents.. Just as important the troops went after those who gave the terrorists safe haven and training facilities, The Taliban. Deaths of Western soldiers over the past few years have become all but an every day occurrence which has almost ceased to shock the general public. Like rush hour trains never arriving on time or rain every day of your holiday.

The goal of decapitating Al Quada has long been achieved. Its leader Osama Bin Laden, and most of the founding hierarchy have been caught or killed.  The UN troops now face the Taliban, backed by sections of the Pakistani intelligence and military services, who continue to deny their involvement despite incontrovertible proof  to the contrary. The country seems firmly stuck in the seventh century, and has a Government, on whose behalf we are fighting that is both venal and corrupt. Its only saving grace is it is not the Taliban. It is really hard to choose the lesser of the two evils. But Greek Speak means we have chosen our side and here we stay until we go. A magic date has been set for 2014 when the politicians tell us the Taliban will be on its knees. But who is listening?

We seem to have moved from fighting terrorism to nation building.  If we stayed in Afghanistan for a thousand years I doubt it would turn out like Switzerland. If our fear is really of terrorism and we have genuine nightmares about the kind of people the Taliban might ask to share their country then there is an alternative solution.  It would not be the most difficult task to hermetically seal off it off from the outside world. Afghanistan is hardly an international hub, and we could use satellite technology, drones in the sky, and feet on the ground organising copious pay offs to protect the West from the worst they could throw at us. All this would be cheaper than the treasure of blood and human life being sacrificed now.

Now to Iran. This is a sophisticated country with an educated people. It has large towns a well developed hinterland and is rich in oil. The Mullahs undoubtedly have strong minority support but we must put the emphasis on the word minority. It is clear that most of the population are suffering under the yolk of the dictators and would like nothing better than to be part of the free world.

Non interference in the affairs of another State is one of the better rules of the United  Nations but there are exceptions to every rule.  The fact that the Iranian leadership appears ever closer to developing nuclear weapons seems in to have caused little real concern though much breast-beating in the capitals of the Western world. Sure there has been a lot of invective and bluster but its more akin to a parent telling off a naughty child who we believe in the end will grow up and see good sense.

Well this child shows few signs of growing up. In fact the more conciliatory and concerned Western Governments are to Iran the naughtier it becomes. We are again having talks about talks which in the end might lead to….talks. Will anything change though that’s the million dollar question.

I think I am beginning to understand the art of politics and diplomacy now. In the modern world what you do is wait for the enemy to turn their words in to deeds by igniting or being caught trying to blow you to Kingdom Come and then you act, as per Afghanistan.. Then once you have embarked on your mission by occupying the country and trying to reshape it in your own image you outstay your welcome until such time the local people turn against you and start killing your soldiers.

So here we are then .We stay in Afghanistan because it poses a threat to us and we stay out of Iran because it poses a threat to us. Oh how those ancient orators would have loved to have been around now.  As for myself, I am puzzled. Its all Greek to me.

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