I’m delighted that the PM has set a target date for leaving Afghanistan.I too am delighted that we will finally be extricating ourselves from Afghanistan, but I don't share Hannan's enthusiasm for the original invasion.
We were right to go in in 2001. It is worth recalling that we had been attacked: more British subjects died in the Twin Towers than in any terrorist atrocity in our history – more than at Lockerbie or Omagh. When our soldiers arrived, they found a nest of terrorist training camps containing a surprising number of British passport-holders who, we might reasonably surmise, were being prepared for missions in the United Kingdom. We were right to depose the black-turbaned tyrants who had sheltered al-Qaeda: an objective we had secured within two months.
A group of murderous criminals in a loosely-organised international terror gang perpetrated an act of violence in which Britons were killed. Afghanistan did not attack Britain.
Though I cannot regret the downfall of the Taliban, there are plenty of loathsome regimes around the world. Even if we could morally justify overturning them all, it is a task beyond our capability.
Similarly, though I abhor terrorism, it is folly to assume that we can eradicate it by invading the countries that harbour terrorists. Already al-Qaeda have moved across the border into Pakistan, and to countries across Africa.
I cannot believe that Britain is safer for having invaded Afghanistan. If anything, the resentment incurred by the occupation, together with the Bush-Blair war on Iraq, has made us less safe.
And we should not forget that 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks were Saudis. If America and her allies were justified in turning up the pressure on a foreign state following the mass murder of 11 September, that state would surely be Saudi Arabia.
Our primary focus, however, should be domestic, as Jeff Randall explained back in October 2009:
The world has plenty of "failed states" with an open door to our enemies.Labour's approach was a catastrophic failure: we are less free, but we are not more secure. Ordinary law-abiding citizens are harassed, while dangerous criminals enjoy spurious 'rights'. We must refocus our society on legitimate rights, we must ruthlessly prosecute those in our midst who attack our way of life, and to the greatest degree possible, we should leave other countries to look after their own affairs.
Reza Aslan, an academic at the University of California, makes the point in his book How To Win A Cosmic War that appears to have been deliberately ignored by Downing Street: "This battle will take place… not in the mountains of Afghanistan but in the suburbs of Paris, the slums of East London, and the cosmopolitan cities of Berlin and New York. It is a battle that will be waged not against men with guns but against boys with computers."
If we are to protect ourselves, we need to confront a domestic embarrassment: we have allowed, indeed encouraged, a radicalised version of Islam to grow within our borders. The bombers who brought devastation to London's public transport system in July 2005 came from Aylesbury, Dewsbury and Leeds. Securing safety at home requires effective policing and round-the-clock focus by intelligence agencies.
We must re-establish authority over who comes to this country. Labour's shameful abandonment of border controls has led to tens of thousands of "undocumented" asylum seekers settling in the United Kingdom. Who are these people? How do we know that they wish us no harm? I'm sure that the vast majority are law-abiding, but it takes only one to create mayhem.
A well-meaning desire to be an open and civilised society has stripped us of powers of self-protection. As The Sunday Telegraph revealed last weekend, dangerous foreign criminals, including killers and sex attackers, cannot be deported, even though the Home Office seeks to do so. They claim that life would be intolerable in their native hell-holes and, thanks to the legal perversion that is the Human Rights Act, we have to put up with them.