As America's envoy prepares to confront the ‘mess', a former soldier draws some hard lessons from his experience in Northern Ireland.President Obama's special envoy Richard Holbrooke visits Afghanistan this week believing that the new Administration has inherited a “mess... like no other problem we have confronted, and in my view it's going to be much tougher than Iraq”.
At his inauguration the President spoke of forging “a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan”. The British Army has been trying to cope with that mess for three years, and knows how hard-earned peace will be.
When Gordon Brown visited Afghanistan late last year he told the troops: “There is a line of terror that leads from the Pakistan and Afghanistan mountains to the streets of our capital city and our towns if we allow the Taleban and al-Qaeda to flourish.” Holding the line in the mountains means that the Army will be there for a long time; senior officers believe it will be for as long as troops were in Northern Ireland.
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