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May 04, 2007

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Airpower

Dear Tony

I think what you mean is – that for most people in the *United States* the war is distant and irrelevant – harsh words indeed, but true.

In the UK, the rest of Europe and the entire surrounding region events in Afghanistan are reported daily and followed with interest not simply because of the deployment of European forces there, but because the significance of what goes on in Afghanistan is very well understood.

It is good to hear that AvWeek is now discovering that, five years after the story broke.

The use of military force in Iraq has run its course. Operations there are empty and discredited. The ‘war’, such as it is, is lost and every day that Western troops stay in Iraq is another day wasted.

In Afghanistan there is still a chance that military intervention can help a nation and its people. That intervention needs to be wielded with caution and backed up by great political attention, oversight, intervention – and money.

Afghanistan was always the front-line in the fight against extremism and remains the place where that fight will be won or lost. The failure by the US to recognise and deal with the threat of Bin Laden et al in Afghanistan, to properly support the Afghan people once the B-2s had done their job, and to instead pursue reckless adventure in Iraq will haunt us all for decades to come.

But today in Afghanistan there is still a society that wants progress, one that is not riven by ethnic strife and that has, for the most part, a good relationship with the foreign forces there.

They have powerful enemies – most of them streaming in over the border from Pakistan (our valued ally in The War Against Terror). That is why the military is still needed and can still have an effect – but the real solution to the problem will never be delivered by AH-64s.

I will be very interested to read what you write. Come back safely.

Sean Meade

Airpower,

is your comment about AvWeek discovering Afghanistan sarcastic hyperbole? we have certainly covered the news stories there.

yes, we tend to come from a US perspective, but we are broadening that. i think you'll agree that having Bill and Joris on DTI staff is a major asset in this regard.

while Americans are often accused of simplistic views, your characterization of the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq and US blame in both places surely also qualifies as simplistic.

i wholeheartedly agree with you that the final solution in both countries will not be military.

Michael Bruno

European criticism of the U.S. management of post-invasion Afghanistan is valid. In fact, Washington itself is finally full of recriminations these days of how it took its eyes off Afghanistan for Iraq years ago and now must work harder, spend more and follow through to guarantee success.

Still, thanks for the criticism, but what have you done for us lately - that's how more than a few in the U.S. see much of Europe and Europeans should try to understand why. NATO allies have disappointed, in general, in how their armed forces have been limited in Afghanistan. The recently retired NATO military commander went as far to assert, albeit still diplomatically, that many allied governments don't yet quite get the military exigencies of the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world. I'm not saying Europe is to blame at all, but it certainly could help the U.S. more to help Afghanistan.

Frank Jackman

Tony, Godspeed and good luck. Frank

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