When I was an MP I shared many a rebels' voting lobby and attendance at Socialist Campaign Group meetings with Jeremy Corbyn (left, as always). I now mainly follow his political moves by reading his regular column in the "Morning Star" - indeed for a period in ye olden days I also had the privilege of having a column in the paper which describes itself as the "daily paper of the left". Although I have always seen it as the "daily paper of a left".
On 18 June, Jeremy's article was entitled "Afghanistan: the next Iraq?" and it was highly critical of a statement which the Defence Secretary, Des Browne had made in the Commons two days earlier about the Government's actions in Afghanistan. The flavour of Jeremy's approach is to be seen in his conclusion -
"The Afghan war is anything but a war of peace in the 21st century. It is likely to be the starting point of similar wars.
The government seems unable to break away from the huge mistakes that the Bush presidency made on 2001.
Bush might be going, but his legacy of illegal wars, occupation and death linger on."
Nevertheless, in the body of the article Jeremy did offer a partial criticism of the Taliban in stating that "no-one on the left would support the oppressive nature of the previous Taliban regime in relation to women or education."
In response to Jeremy's article, I immediately e-mailed the following enquiring letter to the editor. It is published in today's issue of the paper and is given the following heading -
What is the correct way forward in Afghanistan?
In his article "Afghanistan: the Next Iraq?" (June 16)*, Jeremy Corbyn points to the oppressive nature of the Taliban when they were in power. How does he feel that the left should now act to try to contain or remove their current influences?
Does he feel that proposing negotiations is a way forward? Does he feel that we should give moral and practical help to alternative progressive forces in Afghanistan and who does he see these as being? Should we help in a genuine rebuilding of the social fabric of the nation and how do we further this?
Above all, if there is scope for pursuing these or alternative avenues, will this be easier or more difficult if British troops are withdrawn or retained? And why?
In short if Des Browne's approach is counterproductive, then what will be productive?
Note: * = This should read June 18. The error is mine.
OVER TO YOU JEREMY
I hope that Jeremy will respond to my questions. Just in case he misses my letter in today's "Morning Star", I am e-mailing him a link to this blog entry.