Tuesday, June 1, 2010

UK Faced With Limited Options in Afghanistan

In the name of war on terror, the United Kingdom's mania to occupy Muslim world in alliance with the United States has finally led the United Kigdom to financial bankruptcy. It has been admitted in the British Government's produced statistics that the United Kingdom had to bear an expenditure of £7.34 billion ($10.6 billion) in war on Iraq and has to bear an expenditure of £12 billion ($17.29 billion) in Afghanistan annually. Consequently, the country is running in a debt of £156 billion ($224.8 billion) and the fiscal deficit is mounting with every passing day. Moreover, the life loss of the British soldiers is never less than this deficit. In Afghanistan, 287 British soldiers have been killed during the past nine years; whereas, in Iraq, the death toll hikes to 179.

Deceleration of Economic Recovery
The biggest agenda during the last electoral campaign was how to get rid of this debt. Tory Party (TP) was of the opinion that public expenditures be cut down by £6 billion ($86,47 billion). However, the Labor Party (LP) was against such a massive cut down in public expenditure. Their rationale was that a massive cut down in public expenditure would result in deceleration of economic recovery, and there is a threat that the economic crisis may turn even graver. However, new Finance Minister George Osborne in the incumbent coalition government, in accordance with the manifesto of TP, has declared a cut down of £6.20 billion ($8.9 billion) in public expenditure, whose biggest sword would fall on the head of civil service.

Budget in this area would be cut down by £120 million ($172 million) because of which thousands of government employees would be laid off. Budget of the municipality departments would be economized by £331million ($477 million) which would hit hard on the provision of public services and largely add to unemployment. Cut down in education budget would lead to a reduction of 10,000 in the number of university students. Moreover, it is feared that taxes would be massively increased in the emergency budget that would be announced after two months.

Process of Deficit Reduction
However, it is being emphasized at this time that the process of deficit reduction would not have any effect on the defense budget. However, financial experts say that a saving of £60,00,000,000 ($8647200,000) in the running year is just the beginning and much more would have to be saved next year in order to get rid of the heavy burden of debts and it is highly probable that expenditure on defense, health and education have to be largely cut down. This is the reason why the new British Foreign Minister William Hague, rushed to Washington just two days after assuming charge of his office and held talks with US secretary of state on ways to get rid of war in Afghanistan.

Anyhow, Democrats in the coalition government hold the stance that the United Kingdom should immediately withdraw from war in Afghanistan and 9000 British troops, who are fighting in Afghanistan, should be called back into the country. Influential circles in the government are of the opinion that it is very difficult (for coalition forces) to win the war in Afghanistan and solution to the prevailing situation lies in a political arrangement. However, under military expediency and due to ego reasons, the United States is bent upon continuing war in Afghanistan.

From the time the new coalition government has come to power in the United Kingdom, pressure from the United States is increasing pressure on the United Kingdom that its forces should withdraw from Helmand to assume positions in Kandahar, where the US forces plan to launch a massive operation in June, and in the same connection, the United States is pressurizing Pakistan to launch an operation in North Waziristan.

This is the reason why the new British Defense Secretary Liam Fox and Andrew Mitchell, secretary of state for international development, joined new Foreign Minister William Hague to pay an emergency visit to Helmand where British forces are based. The visit had two objectives. One was to boost the morale of British troops and second was to make the United States realize that Britain is equally participating in the war with the same.

The United Kingdom is faced with a dilemma in case of war in Afghanistan. It has the feeling that it would have to make attempts to declare a lost war as a won war in order to preserve its ego. A joint military operation was launched with full strength and clamor in Marjah, South Afghanistan, in recent March and an attempt was made to prove that the coalition and Afghan forces are liberating this area from the Taliban. A lot of publicity continued for this operation for some time but gradually reports stopped coming about the same. Now, there are again reports of the Taliban regrouping in this area and offering stiff resistance to the US troops.

Continuing US Pressure
Thus, for the United Kingdom, on one hand, there is the problem of special relations with the United States and with it is the US pressure to continue war in Afghanistan. However, there is the problem of mounting war expenditures, and on the other, it has the problem of eliminating the fiscal deficit. In this situation, the gravest and biggest challenge before new British Prime Minister David Cameron is the war in Afghanistan.

Given its financial interests, Britain cannot afford to dismiss US pressure in relation to Afghanistan and assume a different stance (on this issue). However, persistently mounting war expenditures of the British forces is dragging the United Kingdom toward a point of no return. The United Kingdom has the realization that in order to rescue the country out of the financial crisis, it is necessary to eliminate this mountain like fiscal deficit. Thus, United Kingdom faces a dilemma in rescuing itself from the fiscal deficit and war in Afghanistan.

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