A very interesting interview:
October 29, 2008
Interview: James Fergusson speaks his mind on the brutal war on terror
James Fergusson is pissed off. As a freelance journalist, he's reported from Algeria, Cuba and Haiti, but, today, as he sits sipping a pint in a west London club, it's Afghanistan he's reflecting on.
Troop activity there "is the ruination of that country," he says. "I also think we are going to lose and I think we are losing."
His bleak assessment has been informed by travelling to Afghanistan several times since his first visit in 1997 and from interviewing serving veterans of the British campaign for his new book.
Fergusson is no radical peacenik though...
Regarding solutions to the fighting, Fergusson makes a number of, some may say contradictory, suggestions.
On one hand, he believes that "we need the military there for sure - a strong central army if the country is going to work as a state. That means training up the Afghan national army.
"You need to pour money in to military training. I think you also keep your special forces and you go after al-Qaida, because they are around and maybe you do go over the border to Pakistan."
On the other hand, he says that "a conventional occupation in Afghanistan's case will be a disaster. It's part of the problem and not part of the solution." ...
Despite the huge amount of sympathy, he so clearly holds for both the war-weary Afghan people and the British troops sent on a "fool's errand," Fergusson is pessimistic about the future of the conflict.
As I take my leave, he tells me: "It's all over. We've lost the consent of the people. It's finished. I'm very depressed about it."
- A Million Bullets: The Real Story Of The British Army In Afghanistan by James Fergusson is published by Bantam Press, priced £16.99. (link)
- See this post (and links there) on the numerous journalists and experts who say that NATO/US forces are now unwelcome in Afghanistan.