Tag Archives: British

No Big Brother Say British Critics

British government plans to create a giant database which would contain information about every phone call, email and Internet visit was blasted by the man in charge of prosecuting terrorism in England and Wales. Sir Ken MacDonald, Director of Public Prosecution(DPP) warned about the dangers of allowing concern about terrorism to be used as a wedge in destroying the very freedoms his nation was fighting to preserve. “We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom’s back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security state. Technology gives the state enormous powers of access to knowledge and information about each of us, and the ability to collect and store it at will.” He urged that modern technology be used wisely to protect the rights of people rather than being used to emulate the very same people society is fighting.

Sir Ken MacDonald is concerned about the future as well as the present. Today, a government argues it needs the data base to fight “terrorism,” but doesn’t creation of such a database open the door for some government in the future to use it in other ways? No current government can provide assurances about the future.

More Troops Needed In Afghanistan Argue British Leaders

General Mark Carleton-Smith, who commands British forces in Afghanistan is arguing there is need for a significant increase in the number of troops assigned to that nation if any progress is to be made against Taliban militants. Senior military officers are reported to seek a growth in the number of British troops from about 8,000 to 12,000 which would represent a significant rise considering they initially consisted of 3,000 back in 2006. “One of the characteristics of counter-insurgency,”he told The Independent, “unlike conventional war, is the more successful you are in the short term,the more troops you require. The more ground and the more people you become responsible for, the more troops you need….there is no point thinking that aviation is going to make a strategic difference.”

Seven years have passed during which there was ample time to create a powerful Afghanistan army. Perhaps, someone could explain why it took seven years for this need to be recognized. However, in the long run, counter-insurgencies are successful if they can win the support of local populations and that entails economic development and political changes that reflect meeting local needs. More troops without the other factors will not succeed.

US Prevented British Pullout From Basra In March

According to senior British military sources, their troops were prevented from pulling out of Basra in March due to American pressure. “The decision to stay on was made in London, it was a political and not a logistical one. The Americans flatly refused to pull out their consulate and it was them informing us that they intended to send down a brigade which decided matters in London.” The British government had concluded earlier this year the presence of its troops in Basra increased rather than decreased violence in the area. They thought outside forces created a rationale for Shiite militia to fight and hoped by withdrawing fighting and violence would decrease. American military leaders insisted withdrawal would open the way for Iranian agents and al-Qaeda to enter the area.

It is somewhat ironic that Bush continues asserting we must turn over control to Iraq forces but he opposes an example of local Iraq forces being given an opportunity to handle the situation. Perhaps, a reason the United States opposed British withdrawal was it might set an example to justify arguments of opponents of the current Iraq policy who claim the United States must get out of Iraq. Bush continues using the al-Qaeda and Iran argument to justify America’s presence in Iraq.

US Companies Create Fear Among British In Afghanistan

British forces in the Helmand province of Afghanistan are concerned American security companies will be playing an increasingly vital role in the area. The British have worked to win the “hearts and minds” of Afghanistanis and do not with the heavy handed private companies entering the area. A diplomat noted, “The worry is that there will be a blast and some contractors will panic and open fire as happened in Baghdad.” DynCorp will play an important role, but they were heavily involved in programs to eradicate poppy fields which angered local farmers. USAID workers expressed their concerns that much of American aid in Afghanistan gets siphoned off to security companies rather than getting to the average farmer or worker in the country.

In prior wars, groups like the famous Seabees of World War II handled construction projects. There is a difference in having regular army soldiers handling every aspect of the military than allowing private companies which are not subject to military rules and procedures. Such is the Bush legacy.