Whether or not more 'civilised' nations should go to war for the down trodden in 'less civilised' nations is a question I still find vexing. If the ostensible reason 'aiding the down trodden' is not the real reason but 'oil and/or power' is, then the answer to the question should be 'no'. However where protecting the down trodden or self defence is the main aim of the war then the moral argument may be less clear. Even so the atom bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the end of WWII was in self defence but with the benefit of hindsight the inevitable killing of so many innocents caused by those nuclear weapons should have precluded their use.
Civilised nations have for many years made plain their grave concerns about the down trodden of Burma but did not declare war on that country's oppressive regime. Now at last patience both within and without Burma ise being rewarded with the indication that Aung San Suu Kyi may join the reformed government's cabinet. If so that could be a sign of progress towards reform and civilistation in that country although of course she and many of her fellow down trodden citizens have had to pay a heavy price over many decades.
I am begining to conclude that mostly nations should be left to their own birth pains of civilisation even though the hideous atrocities that can result are gut wrenching and tempt all but the hardest of hearts to try to intervene. That largely is what occurred over the centuries within the UK though I am far from convinced that this country is in C21 still on the path to civilisation - we appear to be straying but perhaps I too digress...
That there are millions of down trodden in Afghanistan is clear especially for the millions of people in that country who happen to be female. Even so I have had considerable doubts as to whether the UK should have joined in the war to protect them. I should have thought that for us to join such a war to aid the down trodden we should give priority to the down trodden in a nation where as the former colonial power we have a more direct responsibility - as in Zimbabwe for instance where the Mugabe regime regards keeping its citizens down trodden, as a virtue.
However having decided to join battle in Afghanistan 'civilised' nations should at least try to do the job properly. Obviously there will be casualties in a war even a just one . That inevitability does not diminish the need for understanding and compassion for those who are killed or suffer dreadful injuries and of course for their families and friends - both of soldiers and non-combatants on all sides. In that context one stands shoulder to shoulder with the French whose combatants suffered such grievous hurts this week. However the decision of the French president to suspend all military operations with the NATO forces there because of the four French fatalities which have just occurred, is in my view, weak and disrespectful not least to all of the deceased and injured soldiers in this war.
Many NATO countries including the US are contemplating pulling out of war torn Afghanistan but this should be done in as dignifed and orderly fashion as possible and with a view to minimising the adverse effects on the down trodden who will remain well after the troops pull out. Simply suspending military operations in the light of 4 tragic deaths is hardly dignified or orderly.
Furthermore the message sent to that Taliban that killing soldiers will cause the political will to collapse is hardly minimising adverse effects on the down trodden. I accept that the President of France might feel that the involvement of his nation's military in Afghanistan was a mistake and indeed as the question posed at the start of this blog post illustrates, the involvements of NATO and the UK too in the war might well be mistaken but is not the French response especially if a unilateral one, akin to hoisting the white flag?