David Cameron just got slapped in the face. David Cameron is a simple man with simple tastes. Had he not Algernon’d his way into politics, he may be the type of British gentleman to tend to his garden day after day, pottering about and mumbling to himself as content as a simple man can be. But sadly he is actually an integral actor upon the world stage and responsible for several hundred British soldiers’ deaths as well as several thousand dead Afghanis. Which is why his speech this weekend in Afghanistan — where he declared “victory” in the “war on terror,” at least in Afghanistan — was completely and near-offensively wrong.
Usually this kind of complete ineptitude would get you a slap on the wrist or more than likely a slap in the face: there isn’t so much a “victory” in Afghanistan as much as there is an international and palpable feeling of regret for ever having been in this “war” for a dozen years. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, we were told within just 18 months that it was “Mission Accomplished,” but the war continued on for a decade after. In fact, there’s talk of troops remaining in Afghanistan until 2025, which seems downright idiotic given that most people in America and indeed the country of Afghanistan itself have no real idea what the war is even about anymore.
Yes, the region is in turmoil. It was in turmoil before Osama Bin Laden flew planes into buildings, and it will most certainly be in turmoil after we leave (whenever that is). Leaving in 2025 — some 24 years after the war started — is the equivalent of having an epic divorce with someone and then signing 24 yearlong leases to live with them.
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While it is a good sign that England is leaving the beleaguered nation, it’s perhaps not best to say “mission accomplished,” per se. Four thousand American soldiers have died. Four hundred and forty-six British soldiers have died. And over 132,000 Afghani civilians have died. If the mission accomplished is ruining lives for generations, then you can say “mission accomplished.” From The Telegraph:
“By the end of the year troop numbers in Afghanistan are expected to be 5,200, down from a high of 9,500.
Mr Cameron was asked: ‘Do they come home with mission accomplished?’
He replied: ‘Yes I think they do.’
‘To me the absolute driving part of the mission is the basic level of security so that it doesn’t become a haven for terror,’ he said.
‘That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done.'”
David Cameron has made a career out of saying whatever he needs to say to make people happy without actually doing anything about it, and this latest misstep is no different. It cements him as a complete wazzock with an overdeveloped political gland, which has somehow gotten himself into a place of power without actually deserving any of it. Mister Cameron, of course, flew back home soon after making those remarks, sleeping on a massive bed under a safe, massive roof. The people he said those words to, however, had to sleep another night wondering if they’d make it through to see the next day.