By Frank Ledwidge
During this follow-up to his much-praised publication Losing Small Wars: British army Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, Frank Ledwidge argues that Britain has paid a heavy expense – either financially and in human phrases – for its involvement within the Afghanistan conflict. Ledwidge calculates the excessive expense paid by way of British squaddies and their households, taxpayers within the uk, and, most significantly, Afghan voters, highlighting the hundreds of thousands of deaths and accidents, the big sum of money spent bolstering a corrupt Afghan govt, and the long term harm performed to the British military’s foreign acceptance.
In this hard-hitting exposé, in keeping with interviews, rigorous on-the-ground learn, and respectable details acquired in the course of the Freedom of data Act, Ledwidge demonstrates the folly of Britain’s prolonged participation in an unwinnable warfare. Arguing that the single real beneficiaries of the clash are improvement specialists, foreign palms buyers, and Afghan drug kingpins, he presents a robust, eye-opening, and infrequently heartbreaking account of army adventurism long gone horribly mistaken.
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Extra resources for Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain's Afghan War
Indd 36 17/04/13 12:58 PM Helmand and the ‘Angrez’ 37 Body counts would feature regularly as a measure of success. 37 The next brigade might again concentrate on body counts, and so on. All claimed to be ‘doing counterinsurgency’, a 1950s vintage tactic supposedly focused on ‘protecting the population’. Clearly the six-month rotation did not lend itself to awareness of what was an almost impenetrably complex political ecosystem. But the population wanted primarily to be protected against heavy fighting.
This was the ‘Helmand Lozenge’ – an unwitting rehash of the Soviet ‘cummerbund’ we saw above. The ‘Helmand Plan’ was not the only one: it formed part of a vast network of plans and strategies. 29 It was, incidentally, to get far larger. indd 33 18/04/13 8:01 PM 34 INVESTMENT IN BLOOD The journalist and author of No Worse Enemy, Ben Anderson, writes: The comprehensive approach looked perfectly feasible in PowerPoint presentation, when the beneficiaries, who weren’t consulted, were viewed as automata.
Like so much else in this country, these are the sorts of places that make one think ‘if only it were safe enough, tourists would love it’. indd 22 17/04/13 12:58 PM Helmand and the ‘Angrez’ 23 The glory days did not last long. The Ghaznavids went the way of all Central Asian dynasties in the late twelfth century – destroyed by invaders. Over the centuries, various Mongol or Persian armies passed through or across what is now Helmand; but none stayed. Although situated on some fairly well-used and ancient smuggling routes from the badlands of Baluchistan and the Arabian Sea, Helmand has never really been on Afghanistan’s beaten track for travellers, save for a few hippies in the 1960s and 1970s.
Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain's Afghan War by Frank Ledwidge