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Jul 21

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 6:27 AM 

This is a picture of Northern Ireland Lieutenant Neal Turkington, 26, who was one of three British soldiers killed by a "renegade" Afghan Army soldier at a British base last week. Afghan authorities say the attacker, who remains at large, "was Sergeant Talib Hussein, who was sent to the unit, part of 215 Maiwand Corps, eight months ago. They say he was probably already involved with the Taliban."

Fast thinking, Poindexter.

But guess what? Questions remain. The LA Times reports "the motive for Tuesday's attack in the Nahr-e-Sarraj district remained unclear."

Maybe the Times should consult with Afghan authorities and see what they can come up with.

The BBC calls this the third such murder of British soldiers by our Afghan allies. I well remember the bloodletting last November when an Afghan policeman killed five British soldiers who had just come into their base from patrol. Who could forget that? Or is that who couldn't forget that? I get them confused. Point is, today's stiff upper lip is all about standing firm against this enemy within.  

Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the [most recent] killings as "appalling" but insisted that the attack should not change the strategy of working alongside the Afghan army.

British Defense Minister Liam Fox called the attack "a despicable and cowardly act." But he said the training of Afghan security forces would continue because it is "vital to the international security mission in Afghanistan, and today's events will not undermine the real progress we continue to make."

But the British and American forces have to build up trust with the new army. Colonel Richard Kemp, one of the first British commanders in Afghanistan, told the BBC: “It will be very difficult if you now have to say the Afghan soldiers you are trying to train shouldn't have weapons on the base.”

Words well worth pondering. In fact, the more we ponder the implications -- namely, that a war/exit "strategy" which depends on training a native force whom we can't trust to carry weapons on a base -- the more evidence we have that the entire command, from top to bottom, from civilian to military, has lost its grip on logic, reality and, not least, morality.

This week, a similar incident befell the Americans when an Afghan soldier the AP described as a "group leader — an Afghan soldier selected to train other soldiers on the base" opened fire on a firing range amid an argument with American instructors, killing two Americans and one Afghan.

"It's a great tragedy," said British Col. Stuart Cowen, a spokesman for the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, the command responsible for building up the Afghan security forces.

I think the "but" is implied here. That is, the use of the word "tragedy" conjures a fateful inevitablity that somehow relieves command of responsibility, as though these men were lost to sunstroke, and not gunned down by an ever-suspect "ally."

Meanwhile, back in Oz, foreign ministers from around the world gathered for a photo op around the Tin Woodman ....


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