Letters - Tuesday, August 31, 2021
We are not getting US-style health care
I must take issue with some of the claims made by Catherine Waring (Your Say, August 27).
We do not have a two tier health system and we are not losing the NHS.
Some procedures are no longer available on the NHS or are restricted to patients who meet certain criteria.
This is because they were deemed clinically ineffective or unnecessary and there are better and more suitable services available.
With ear wax for example, microsuction which is a safer and more effective procedure than syringing is available on the NHS.
The NHS hasn’t been cut and isn’t being privatised. We are absolutely not getting an American healthcare system but sadly this myth seems to live on.
The New Hospitals programme is about modernising ageing facilities not taking away the NHS. It’s going nowhere.
Coun Christian Cox
Lessons to be learned from war
l believe it is possible to draw lessons from the Afghanistan debacle. This long war, more than twice the combined length of the two World Wars, was lost because of logistical failures, intellectual shallowness, arrogance and sheer ignorance. Hubris ended in nemesis.
George Bush and Tony Blair’s illicit invasion of Iraq emasculated the Afghan operation by 2003 by moving troops and equipment from that country. Since then ISAF forces have been fighting the Taliban and some 18 other insurgent groups including Isis.
Key lessons include:
a) You evacuate people first and only then do you withdraw the military, not the reverse; a truly inept decision.
b) The UK and other NATO members are incapable of major military operations without America. This has been true since 1945.
c) The USA must, and will, cease trying to act as the world’s policeman. Polls show the American people are extremely anti and with good reason given the cost in lives and money, and the fact their country seldom gets any thanks for its sacrifices.
d) No matter how advanced your military technology, you will not defeat a determined and ruthless force of insurgents by conventional military means alone. Vietnam, Somalia and now Afghanistan clearly demonstrated the need for political primacy and first class intelligence.
e) Two great philosophers of war; Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz said the most important thing in war was: ‘To know your enemy’. Sadly, this key maxim was forgotten in Whitehall and Washington. We had little understanding of Afghan culture, the crucial importance of the tribe and history.
f) Few if any of the military spoke the Pashtun language. British counter-insurgency tactics based on a ridiculous six month rotation of brigades were grossly inadequate. Likewise, our experience in Northern Ireland proved to be of little use. We must stop fighting the last war.
h) Terror cannot be defeated by conventional warfare. It can only be beaten by excellent intelligence , police operations and special forces.
i) We must learn from the errors of others. Amazingly, our staff colleges ignored the experience of the ten years the Soviets were in Afghanistan.
j) We need to learn that military missions cannot solve societal problems. Stability doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun. Democracy has to come from within based on a set of values shared by the governed and the government. Unfortunately, the Afghan government was riddled with fraud, drugs and corruption as were the police and the Afghan military.
After 20 long years at horrendous cost to say we have a moral duty to stay in Afghanistan is utter unrealistic nonsense. How much longer? A month, ten or another 20 years? Critics of course, can never give you an answer. The West cannot and should not continue propping up failed states with blood and trillions of money.
The Taliban have a saying: ‘You may have the Oyster watches but we have the time’.
Colonel (ret’d) Barry Clayton
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