Letters - Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Dining area in square is like an army camp

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 3:45 pm
St John's Square alfresco dining

I have just seen the photo of the now restructured St John’s Square.

The council is spending millions on the refurbishment on the centre of Blackpool for the benefit of the day trippers.

I am not criticising the idea of utilising the square, but it looks like what you would see in an army camp. Who thought of using table/seats like that?

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If this is supposed to make the centre more attractive to the eye, then the person who is responsible should be looking for another job!

You see outside pubs etc the white plastic tables with parasols, which look lovely.

So why the wooden benches on the square?

But this is Blackpool Council... demolishing the wonderful Abingdon Street Market, which looked lovely from the outside to rebuild a tourist market.

Keep paying your council tax and they will find a way to squander it!

PB

Via email

AFGHANISTAN

So-called war on terror is a disaster

I write to correct the misinformation about the Afghanistan war contained in the convoluted letter by John Riseley (Your Say, 16 July), a letter sprinkled with irrelevant comments about the Vietnam War, and displaying a shocking lack of understanding about air power.

For 20 years America plus Britain and other NATO allies have fought the Taliban and other insurgent in order to prevent them imposing a tyranny on the country. The ill-named war on terror has proved to be a disaster.

Our Chief of Defence Staff has described the end product as dire and ‘grim’. It is not what we expected, he says.

Some 475 British soldiers have died, hundreds of American personnel and thousands of Afghans. The financial cost is an estimated $4 trillion. The poppy production has actually increased despite one of the original aims being its eradication.

After 10 years fighting the Soviet forces had to retreat from Afghanistan with their tails well and truly down. We, unfortunately, learned little from their experience.

Riseley’s letter apparently has been provoked by Biden carrying out his long held desire to evacuate all US troops by September. In fact some 850 will remain to help protect Kabul and embassies. The enormous Bagram base has already been abandoned leaving behind hundreds of valuable items.

Most British troops have been withdrawn apart from a small number. Hence, it is ridiculous to talk of fighting between us and the insurgents. The peace talks over the past weeks ended fighting.

Despite years of training Afghan forces are of poor quality. Drugs are rife as is corruption. The same applies to the police force. Already hundreds of both have fled the country.

The most astonishing part of Riseley’s letter is the assertion that air power is the solution to the problem, what problem? Our commitment his ended : the war has finished.

What does the writer think has been happening for the past 20 years? The Taliban have been bombed and strafed relentlessly but to no avail. Many innocent civilians have died. Air power has never won a war and it never will. Is Biden going to spend eye watering sums of money bombing the Taliban from aircraft carriers as Riseley suggests? I think not. Congress would forbid it any way. The Taliban like all insurgents are not afraid of air power. As they have said an ‘IED is much cheaper and far more effective’.

Thanks to Bush and several incompetent senior officers the Afghanistan venture has proved to be another example of how that country has proved to be the graveyard of Western hopes. We failed because: intelligence was inadequate, we lacked personnel who spoke Pashtun, our knowledge of local customs, culture, geography, history and tribal power was woeful, and shoddy counter-insurgency tactics that changed every six months.

Civil war is now a certainty. The country will fracture along tribal lines. The Taliban will soon control the vital provinces. It and al-Qaeda plus their supporters in the Yemen and Pakistan will continue to pose an existential threat to world peace.

Insurgents will not be defeated by conventional forces. In 30 years two superpowers have been forced to give up the fight and go home.

The flea has beaten the elephant. You need high and reliable intelligence plus police and special forces to combat an enemy who has time on its side and is not under pressure from a democratic electorate.

Trying to pin an insurgent down is like trying to eat soup with a knife - try it.

Colonel (ret’d)

Barry Clayton

Thornton Cleveleys