Tuesday, August 04, 2009

David Cameron's New Approach to Afghanistan

Afghanistan policies trickling out of British Tory leader

As British Conservative party leader David Cameron navigates his party ever closer to what some are speculating is almost certain to be a majority government in the next British federal election, the hearkened next Prime Minister of Britain is slowly beginning to showcase his party's foreign policies.

Cameron has already promised foreign aid policy that would allow British citizens to vote on which projects would receive funding.

More recently, Cameron has speculated about how his government would approach the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

Cameron has suggested -- although has not yet committ -- that his government may deploy more troops to Afghanistan.

"If what the military are asking for is more troops in Afghanistan to speed up the training of the Afghan national army, it does seem to me there's a very strong case for saying yes to that," Cameron explained. "Because the faster we can build up the Afghan national army and the police, the faster we'll be able to 'Afghan-ise' the problem and the situation and the more rapidly we'll actually be able to end that mission and bring our troops back home."

Whether or not the British army would need more troops to successfully complete its mission would be up to General sir Richard Dannatt to decide.

In another policy plank, Cameron also announced that he would appoint a special Minister for Afghanistan to his cabinet, underscoring the mission's pivotal importance for his government.

This announcement came as the British people have become more restless over the insufficient equipment of British troops in Helmand province, and as sir Dannatt has insisted that the British government hasn't properly focused its efforts in Afghanistan.

William Hague, the Conservative party's critic of foreign affairs, called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to institute such a policy himself immediately.

"The Prime Minister must make clear which minister has primary responsibility for our policy in Afghanistan and the government should make quarterly reports to Parliament, covering Britain's objectives, the progress made in achieving them and the resources required. This is the only way to establish the clarity and sense of direction which the Committees report calls for," Hague announced. "We need to know that the right strategy is in place, that Whitehall is working properly to deliver it, and that British troops have all they need to do their part."

According to Cameron's plan the Minister in question wouldn't necessarily have to be a sitting Member of Parliament or a member of the House of Lords, but would rather be invited into cabinet whenever Afghanistan was being discussed as a "peer" of the cabinet.

As Canadian troops in Afghanistan continue to suffer casualties, there is little question that an increased commitment by British forces will yield dividends for the Canadian forces as they look ahead to leaving Afghanistan in 2011.

With the United States already committing additional troops to the fight against the Taliban, an increased British commitment to Afghanistan under a David Cameron Tory government would only be one of many factors conducive to future success in Afghanistan.

David Cameron's proposed approach to Afghanistan may even be one that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper may want to emulate.


  1. Patrick,

    Not sure that highlighting how a politician is advocating holding a public referendum on Foreign policy helps this post (after all, we elect our pol's to lead... not poll) - otherwise good post - food for thought.

  2. Well, that's another foreign policy plank Cameron recently announced.

    The point is that Cameron is clearly getting set to govern. Of course the important thing he needs to do now is win an election first, right?


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