The BBC news report:
"Col Rupert Thorneloe, commanding officer of the Welsh Guards, died alongside Trooper Joshua Hammond when their Viking armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device",
Again made me reflect on the issue of whether or not a country like the UK 'should' be involved in a war in another country thousands of miles away. That word 'should' is I think the key as it raises further questions about the criteria for doing battle within another nation, by whom are such criteria determined, after what consultation and with whom?
The imprisonment of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the arrest of British Embassy staff in Iran following the regime's theft of the people's votes, the ongoing brutality in Darfur and the firing of missiles by North Korea, all seem to strike against the human spririt to such an extent that feelings of human solidarity with the victims are evoked in many (myself included) irrespective of how close or far we are from the epicentre. That this solidarity is a huge hallmark of being human is evidenced by the world's reactions to such natural disasters like the Tsumani a couple of years back, the more recent Italian earthquakes and famine in Africa. The profound difficulty lies not in the generosity of others but in the inability of getting the fruits of that genoristy to the oppressed.
However in the same way as no one human being is important or good enough alone to determine the life choices of the rest of us, it seems to me that no one nation is important or good enough alone to rid other nations of those within who aim at the heart of their citizens' human spirit. It must also be true that however deep the feelings of solidarity and sympathy there is for the victims of despotic regimes, there will always be physical and financial constraints on attempts to go to their aid.
Having tried to crstallise above some previously rather vague personal thoughts about these profound issues a difference that occurs to me, between the situation in Afghanistan and the other tragic situations outlined above is that the repression in the other countries is largely targeted at the whole population or ethnic group within that population. Hideous though the effects must be on the population, maybe by and large they can all be said to be in the same boat. Ultimatly those in the boat will have to determine the means with God's help, of changing its captain or course in due time. In Afganistan however half of population seems to be at risk of being subjugated in a far worse way than the other half simply because they are female - girls and women. Historically as well as biologically, saving the lives of women and children first has been the instinctive reaction. This is because they were considered and indeed usually are phsically weaker than men.
In Afghanistan women and children first can only apply if men and women from other countries go to their aid. In that war at least the UK is in my humble opinion properly involved and with chilvalry; the USA of course also.