Five Military Misadventures

With the Afghanistan war now ten years old, we take a look at some other misguided military operatio

In this week's New Statesman we ask what the war in Afghanistan has achieved. Ten years in and Operation Enduring Freedom, as the war is officially known by the US government, is certainly living up to one part of its name. So far it has claimed the lives of 383 British servicemen and its original operational goals are still no closer to realisation. The British and American fight against the Taliban looks increasingly unwinnable, evoking memories of another ill-fated, decade-long conflict in Afghanistan, waged by the Soviet Union 30 years ago.

The persistent threat of war continues to loom large, with headlines just last week proclaiming that the US and Britain were making preparations for war in Iran. Below we take a look at five other misguided conflicts from history that we in the west would do well to learn lessons from.

1.Gallipoli: A First World War folly that damaged the reputation of Winston Churchill.

2.Suez: Conflict turned crisis which heralded the end of British pretensions to Empire.

3.Cuba, Bahía de Cochinos: The CIA made a real pigs' ear of this failed coup.

4.Vietnam: The 20 year long war became a barometer against which subsequent ill-advised invasions are judged.

5.Iraq: The war that left a legacy of death and mistrust.

Getty
Show Hide image

Jeremy Corbyn shows his support for a campaign asking him to change his own cabinet

The newly re-annointed Labour leader was shown holding a sign calling for a shadow minister for mental health.

Phew. So Jeremy Corbyn got his expected victory. This mole, neutral in Labour party factional matters, has little opinion on the result, although I am of course heartily relieved to see the end of all that hustings kerfuffle. Labour can get on with discussing policy.

It seems now, then, is the perfect time for activists and MPs to put their proposals to the leadership. The timing is particularly good with every political journalist in the country currently installed in Liverpool for Labour Party conference.

One set of savvy campaigners evidently felt the same. They managed to get their sign, asking Corbyn to bring back the shadow minister for mental health post he scrapped in July, in front of the man himself  who promptly posed with their request.

Now, this mole is sympathetic. Of course, to some it may seem ludicrous that Corbyn posed with a sign calling for something entierly within his power to achieve.

But after so many years as a backbench provocateur, could it not be that posing with signs is just second-nature for Corbyn, and groups of activists near-impossible to avoid? Could it be that he, trotting across the conference floor, could not help being pulled towards the nearest placard, caught in its pull like a moth to a socialist flame? Is he suckered by slogans? Magnatised by movements? 

With such an affliction, party conference must be a minefield.

I'm a mole, innit.