A pointless waste

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The Afghan war is now in its 13th year. It has taken more than twice as long for Nato to defeat the Taleban as it did the Allies to defeat the Axis powers. Afghanistan has historically been known as the graveyard of empires for good reason. Not even Alexander the Great could conquer it.

The Afghanistan war has been allowed to slip down the memory hole yet the disastrous policy of intervention which took us there is still with us today. In 1979 Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski started arming Islamists in Afghanistan in order to draw the Soviet Union into a long drawn-out conflict, which would eventually destroy it. Brzezinski later boasted this was his most important achievement.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher intensified this policy. Under Operation Cyclone, Reagan gave Afghan rebels training and equipment worth $4 billion.

There were complaints from CIA officers on the ground that the local Afghan mujahideen were not ruthless enough so ­volunteers from the Arab world were recruited, funded and trained by the US and Britain. One of those trained was the Saudi Arabian, Osama bin Laden.

Afghanistan was then abandoned in 1989 by the West. The result was chaos. These circumstances gave rise to the Taleban, who brought order of sorts.

That first interference in Afghanistan was a disaster. Culpability for Afghanistan today lies with every US president since Carter and every UK prime minister since Thatcher.

All Nato forces should leave ­Afghanistan and let its people sort themselves out.

Alan Hinnrichs

Gillespie Terrace