British Military Chief: U.S. Strikes in Pakistan “Don’t Help”

 In Afghanistan, Pakistan

Wounded Afghan woman Safia (C), 27, lies on a bed at a hospital in the
western Afghan city of Herat, on August 25, 2008 after she was
allegedly injured in US-led air strikes in Azizabad village in Herat

In today’s Sunday Times in London, Britain’s chief of defense staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, said what Peace Action West has been saying for awhile. Sir Jock argued that civilian casualties are making things worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that political solutions are the way forward. The Times writes:

Stirrup says: “Just as in Afghanistan, that kind of insurgency cannot be defeated by conventional military means. It can only be dealt with, in the long term, through politics.”

Here’s the rub: there is a widely held perception in Pakistan that all would be well if only Nato troops were not in Afghanistan, a belief which grows stronger with every US Predator attack that kills innocent civilians.

The Times also highlights differences between the British and the U.S. about restraint in the use of military tactics:

Stirrup is clearly aware that some of his men are concerned that the Americans are coming in too hard and heavy, all too ready to call in ground attack aircraft regardless of the dangers to civilians. “We would expect, where the Americans are operating in Afghanistan, that they might do things a little differently from the way that we do them,” he says, still carefully choosing his words. “But nevertheless we will be aiming towards the same objective.”

Stirrup also addresses the role of the Pakistani military and government in the conflict spilling over the Afghan-Pakistani border:

“It’s very important that the Pakistan government starts to shift that
opinion [among Pakistani’s about the fight against the insurgents],” Stirrup says, “because, while they shouldn’t be driven just by
public opinion, they can’t operate in the face of it. The Predator strikes
don’t help in that regard.”

You can read the whole article at Times Online.

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