On 10 December, the former minister Kim Howells, who was in charge of Afghanistan at the Foreign Office for over three years before he stepped down in October, spoke up in the House of Commons, and lambasted the war effort.
Howells accused Afghanistan of corruption at the “institutional, provincial and personal level”. There are “few signs that the chaotic hegemony of warlords, gangsters, presidential placemen, incompetent and under-resourced provincial governors and self-serving government ministers has been challenged in any effective way by President Karzai.”
“On the contrary, those individuals appear to be thriving, not least because Hamid Karzai has convinced himself that he cannot afford to sack or challenge the strongmen who, through corruption, brutality, power of arms or tribal status are capable of controlling their territories and fiefdoms.”
Howells was too polite to mention the role of Britain and the US in placing these “strongmen” in power following the 2001 war. Howells said the government had to change its “daft” rhetoric and “nonsense” about the war.
The solution? Howells proclaimed that “the only hope of peace lay in Nato countries being more willing to fight, especially the Germans”.
Howell’s hope for Teutonic saviours may be doomed: according to official reports cited in The Times, the 3,500 German troops in northern Afghanistan “drink too much and are too fat to fight.”