If this is success in Afghanistan and Libya, what would failure look like?
If this is success, it is hard to imagine what failure would look like. Despite British government declarations of progress in the various wars it is conducting, the facts tell a very different story. The killing of the pro western mayor of Kandahar by a Taliban suicide bomber today follows the deaths there of the police chief, President Karzai’s half brother and one of his closest advisers all in recent weeks.
While talk from western politicians and military is of an orderly transition to Afghan rule and of Nato troop withdrawal by 2015, the Taliban is growing stronger and is in control of significant parts of the country. Talks between representatives of the US and the Taliban are a sign of this.
Even more schizophrenic are latest developments over Libya. The decision today by the British government to recognize the rebel TNC as the official government of Libya, expelling Libyan diplomats from the London embassy, comes just a day after foreign secretary performed a u turn by saying that a settlement in Libya did not necessarily require Col Gadaffi to leave the country.
What both decisions demonstrate, despite the best intentions of government, is exactly what an impasse they face in Libya. The airstrikes and a no fly zone are nearly five months old but have not achieved the neat and tidy victory the politicians expected. Indeed, enthusiasm for the war has waned from the Arab League to Italy. In Britain opinion is growing against the war.
Neither side in Libya is breaking through. BBC correspondent John Simpson said on the 6 o’clock news that fighting is difficult because of the extreme heat. In addition, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts next week. Simpson also implied that the western powers do not want the rebels to take Tripoli even if they could, because this would involve many civilian casualties -- the avoidance of which was the supposed point of the original intervention.
The Nato powers have been very quick to go into wars only to find it is much harder to get out. British troops did leave Iraq, but large number of US troops, advisers and mercenaries remain. Afghanistan is limping towards some kind of withdrawal although not for four years, while the situation worsens.
A recent UN report put civilian casualties as at their highest in the first six months of this year than at any time since 2001. Five children were injured by gunfire from a British Apache helicopter as they worked in the fields of Helmand last weekend.
Militarily the only honest conclusion is that both operations are failures. There is no question of victory in Afghanistan, but only about the nature of the deal which will eventually be made.
In Libya, Britain and France seemed to imagine that a few airstrikes would oust Gadaffi. Since that manifestly has not happened, the searching around for a plan B has become ever more desperate.
Various international attempts at a settlement, especially the calls for ceasefire by the African Union, have been dismissed out of hand by the US and Nato. But now we find this is the direction the interventionist powers are travelling. They are keen to do a deal, even if this means leaving Gadaffi in Libya -- as long as he is not in power -- and as long as they do not lose influence or have to admit that the decision to take sides in a civil war was wrong.
There is nothing decent or principled about the wars in Afghanistan and Libya: there is only the western desire to keep control, to avoid admitting another failure like Iraq, and to decide which rulers it will back and which it will not.
Behind the bravado and tough talk, William Hague and David Cameron are stuck in wars they cannot win. It is the task of the anti-war movement to increase the pressure on them to do what the majority of people in Britain want: bring the troops and bombers home.Watch: Stop the War's Lindsey German on RT