The British formally ends its final military mission in Iraq today – a Navy training operation in the Gulf. Interesting how CNN marks the occasion with a Snatch Land Rover, while Hague says the mission has left Iraq "a better place".
In all probability, Iraq is indeed a better place. But Hague claims too much in taking the credit. The British expedition in southern Iraq was a failure, and only the combined efforts of the Iraqis and the US Forces salvaged something from the wreckage, but not before many people – and especially Iraqis – died unnecessarily.
Ironically, the Snatch Land Rover is the symbol of that failure, representing the inability of the military to adapt to circumstances, and handle a vicious but ultimately beatable insurgency. But to this day, neither the military nor the politicians have to grips with their failures. They are still in denial - a sure recipe for continued failure, of the nature we are currently experiencing in Afghanistan.
Interestingly, the Tories could have started with clean sheet, but they have also bought into the cover-up and are no more able to cope with acknowledging failure than their predecessors. As with so other issues, all we get is the closing of ranks. "Face" is more important to the establishment than success - and certainly more important than the lives of soldiers.
Coalition plans to pull out of Afghanistan are being hampered by theft and fraud totalling nearly $1bn, The Independent on Sunday is telling us. It adds that "hopes of a timely withdrawal of British troops from the region have been dealt a critical blow by revelations about massive bank frauds which have forced donors to suspend vital international aid".
In a country that is possibly even more corrupt than either India or Pakistan, and where it is known to all but the blind, deaf and the stupid (i.e., most of our politicians) that the élites of Afghanistan have been enriching themselves at the expense of international taxpayers, this really can come as no surprise.
And where the people of Afghanistan see daily the lack of progress (being unable to read the ISAF press releases), knowing full well that the bulk of the aid money is being ripped off, the Taliban are seen by many as the only hope for the beleaguered country. Any idea that we are going to walk away, bands playing, to leave a settled, stable, country, is pure fantasy.
When we leave, as leave we must and will shortly, the money spent will have been wasted, the dead soldiers and the broken bodies and minds of the survivors a testament to the egos and stupidities of successive politicians and military geniuses who thought they could waltz in and make a difference without doing the homework.
Collectively, they should hang their heads in shame. But they won't.
This is the narrative being thrown up by The Daily Fail and others this morning, telling us the Ministry of Defence "wasted a shocking £718million on plans for thousands of properly-protected battlefield trucks which were then scrapped or delayed".
Look behind the headlines and you will see FRES – about which we have written a word or two. But the MoD/Army narrative is that the MoD purchased a fleet of mine-resistant vehicles - including Mastiffs and Ridgebacks - to stop troops being maimed and killed. These were bought as "urgent operational requirements' using Treasury cash. But because they were built specifically for Afghanistan, they are unsuitable for wider use".
In other words, we are being told that FRES would have been a better option – which is pure, distilled BS. The mine protected fleet was bought instead of FRES – in the face of stiff resistance from the Army. Had the Army been given its way, there would have been carnage.
But there is something more fundamental here. Apart from Korea, the Falklands and the first phases of the Iraqi war, every significant conflict in which the Army has been deployed has involved elements of irregular warfare, for which these mine protected vehicles were designed. But the Army hates this type of warfare, refuses to accept that this is the rule, rather than the exception, and hankers after the free-style, war of manoeuvre for which FRES is designed.
Classically, the Army is seeking to equip itself for the wars it would wish to fight, instead of the warfare it is most likely to meet - a triumph of hope over experience.
But FRES, as they say, is the narrative, and the MSM buys it hook line and sinker. The real story is here ... in my book, but we don't want anything like the truth sullying the minds of the public, so let's forget all about that. These people are idiots.