Imperial daze

As the nightmare continues and my soldier son sets off on yet another tour of duty, I 
recall the old maxim: “It’s easier to march into Afghanistan than to march out again.”

Yet our political leaders’ absurd sabre-rattling and their gross interference in every “local difficulty” in the Islamic Crescent indicate few lessons have been learned. Our 21st-century military fiascos underline the need for legitimacy, for clear and realistic goals as well as an awareness that the fog of war has unintended consequences.

We also need to be conscious of the imperfections of Western democracy and to avoid creating the power vacuums which lead to communal violence and failed states.

Above all, we need to stop launching “wars” on terror, drugs, or anything else and realise that containment is a better option than the risible arrogance of “nation building”.


Howard Place

St Andrews