Friday, 17 July 2009

We're losing Afghan war

THERE’S nothing funny about the war in Afghanistan. As still more British troops are lost and injured, and as the politicians throw mud at each other about whether we’ve got enough helicopters out there, the harsh reality is—we’re losing the war. This is a tough admission. But many in that troubled land are not only sympathetic to the Taliban, they’re actually working with them to defeat the “occupying” forces. The argument used to justify the war is that if we pulled out, it would become a hotbed for terrorism. But I believe our presence there is provoking some to side with the very forces we’re trying to defeat. If we worked harder to win the hearts and minds of the local people, it would probably make a great deal more difference. As it is, our military activity prompts terrorist responses —it’s a vicious circle. It’s tragic so many soldiers have paid the ultimate price but more tragic still if we learned nothing. The grim fact of history is that using force, nobody has EVER conquered the Afghans.
FORTY years ago on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon—the greatest technological accomplishment in history. The world held its breath as he went down the ladder, before uttering those immortal words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”— marking a milestone of our time. My grandad, Ernst Opik, was involved in the moon landings. He was an astronomer, and was responsible for helping to work out if the “Lunar Lander” would sink into the dust or not. Luckily, he got it right, otherwise there would have been a lot of apologising to do afterwards. But perhaps the least known fact about the whole thing was that Neil Armstrong actually fluffed his lines. He MEANT to say: “That’s one small step for ‘a’ man, one giant leap for mankind.” It could have been worse. He could have said: “Hello Elvis,” or: “How did that World War II bomber get here?”
I HAD two meetings with Flash Gordon Brown last Wednesday – after which a miracle occurred. The meetings were on different subjects—one on human rights in Iran, the other on UK drugs policy. Busy Gordon had just 10 minutes, so it was a hectic logistical operation involving two staff members, half a dozen representatives of the Bahá’í faith (it’s a religion), a drugs policy expert and two reporters. Unfortunately no one had told Gordon any of these people were coming. Ooops! It’s an easy mistake to make. Gordo thought it was a one-to-one meeting. Just when I thought he was going to have me sent to the Tower, he laughed like a lion and told me I’d been crafty. If the public saw him like that, they’d realise he’s a likeable and very engaging fellow. Cheers, Gordon—next time we meet for a pint I’ll make sure I TELL you I’m bringing half my constituency and a couple of Daily Sport girls.
WHAT is art? That’s the question I found myself asking as I popped down to Tr afalgar Square to see what’s going on at the “fourth-plinth.” Ordinary people are taking turns standing on top of the giant plinth for one-hour each. It’s part of a 100-day long “work of art.” Some are making political points. The first lady up there released balloons to promote the NSPCC. One chap brought up a bike to encourage eco-friendly travel. Another fella dressed up as a giant turd to raise awareness of the fact that billions of people in the developing world live without proper sanitation. The “artwork” is going on for a few months and people can still apply to stand on the plinth. Perhaps Daily Sport stunna Tommie Jo should apply. Her campaign? “The naked truth”.
A BERLIN brothel is offering discounts to customers who go there by bike or public transport in an attempt to cut carbon emissions. But have they considered the carbon dioxide produced while people are “at it”? Like looking at the pictures in the Daily Sport, some things are just never going to be carbon neutral.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I like the bit about the Berlin Brothel. Might just do a post on it!