Although this blog's name is inspired by Sauti Kubwa ("Big Voice"), the late lead singer of Rumba Japan, a band that played in Nairobi in the early years of this century, it won't focus unduly on Swahili nicknames, rumba music or indeed any other African issues.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Afghanistan - a sense of doom

I felt today a sudden slide in the West's position in Afghanistan.

Not so much the position on the ground - though that is hardly encouraging - more a sense of woe and disarray at the top.

The past 24 hours have seen a rush of bad news. The top US general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, has been ordered back to Washington following an indiscreet magazine interview.

The UK's top official on Afghanistan, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, has gone on "extended leave" amid reports that he has lost faith in NATO's strategy and is at odds with other top officials.

Congressional investigators have reported that the US military is paying tens of millions of dollars in protection money to security firms, which pass on the money to warlords and the Taliban. (This last story is not new - but the report looks authoritative and damning.)

Coincidence, yes, but together these stories create a mood that we're losing, that we don't know what to do about it, and that we are preparing for failure. From being a "never-ending" war, perhaps it will end (for us, at least) sooner than we thought.

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