Mark Mardell – Anti-War Correspondent

Sometimes Mark Mardell just can’t help but express his opinion on world affairs. This time he’s expressing his disdain for the way US troops will continue to engage in military action in Afghanistan even though a decision has been made by the President to hand full military control over to the Afghan Government in 2014. The fact that he simply doesn’t understand what this means shows just how naive and ideological the man is.

Mission, sort of, accomplished

After the obligatory dig at George Bush, Mardell gives us an analogy to show us what he thinks about the whole state of affairs. He likens the troop draw-down and continued military policing of the country to the pointless butchery in the last few hours of World War I after the armistice had been signed. No, this highly-paid, world-traveled, expert journalist actually doesn’t know the difference between a cease-fire and the gradual handing over of power to a new government after military reconstruction.

I have been asking some of those involved whether the end in Afghanistan amounts to a prolonged version of much the same thing.

For the next two years British and American soldiers will be risking their lives for a war that we know will end in 2014, no matter what.

See what I mean? He really doesn’t get it. And he’s not done expressing his opinion. Of course, being a clever, trained journalist, he uses the rhetorical device of asking a question behind which to hide his opinion.

Has Nato masterfully spun an acceptance of defeat and subsequent retreat into something that looks a bit like victory?

Defeat? Al Qaeda has long been broken into the tiniest of pieces, really no longer existing, the Taliban we’re fighting bears little resemblance to those who ran much of the country 12 years ago. This is obviously a definition of “defeat” I wasn’t previously aware of. It’s not a perfect, obvious victory in that we haven’t created a stable environment like we did in Germany or Japan after WWII. But Mardell doesn’t see any of that. He sees only continued fighting, ergo it’s a defeat.

So outraged and confused is he by the fact that young men will continue to die for what he sees as someone merely hitting the “off” switch, that he goes to Ft. Bragg to question the last batch of US troops preparing for their tour of engagement. Fortunately, most of the soldiers seem to understand what they’re up against, and can grasp the larger picture better than the man the BBC expects not only you to trust about US issues, but expects their own young journalists to trust for lessons on how to be a correspondent.

The soldiers seem to understand that there are larger issues at play in the long term, but also realize that doesn’t discount everything that’s gone on the whole time. To Mardell, though, the fact that there are larger issues at play is proof that this war never should have happened, and needs to be shut down. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Mark Mardell report without the reflexive praising of the President, and he doesn’t disappoint:

It seems obvious to me that Obama has been pretty hard-headed, deciding to end a war when it was clear to him that it couldn’t be “won” in a conventional sense.

This view is supported by an important article by David Sanger in the New York Times.

Here we see the appeal to authority. Because he realizes most of his readers won’t know who Sanger is, he even explains that authority for us.

Sanger’s record is impressive. He gets the inside story more often than any other Washington journalist.

People who do know who Sanger is, though, will know that he mostly just likes hands-on, authoritative Presidential behavior in this matters. He like Clinton’s quasi-personal approach, mocked Bush as “Incurious George”, and expressed his disappointment when the current President dithered on Libya and then led from behind. Funny how Mardell wasn’t appealing to Sanger’s authority then, eh? So now when the President has acted decisively, Sanger is pleased. Mardell is especially pleased because on this occasion his beloved Obamessiah has done something with which he agrees.

Next comes the required “balance”. Mardell quotes John McCain’s disapproval of setting a date for withdrawal. Never mind how so far this piece is really two against one – Mardell and Sanger in support of the President’s decision to withdraw, and McCain against. And it’s about to get much worse. Where does Mardell go for the final say on the matter? Does he seek out a foreign policy expert? A military historian? A seasoned diplomat? No, becaue none of them with any credibility would call this a defeat, which is what Mardell thinks. To find somebody who agrees with him, he asks an Occupier:

The many anti-war protesters who gathered on the streets of Chicago believe the real problem is the exact opposite.
Riot police and protesters clash in Chicago The Nato summit has attracted many anti-war campaigners to Chicago

Among them is Occupy Washington’s Kevin Zeese. He says soldiers are going on fighting their way towards a deadline for one reason.

“That’s what happens when you lose a war. It is like Iraq. This is how you get out when you lose.

Mark Mardell: BBC anti-war correspondent, and dishonest Beeboid. Why am I calling him dishonest this time? Because Kevin Zeese isn’t just an Occupier or merely one of a number of anti-war protesters: he’s also executive director of the anti-war activist group, “Come Home America“, and co-founder of “Voters for Peace”. The man the BBC expects you to trust most on US issues doesn’t want you to know that, because it would detract from the credibility of his piece, so he left that out. Neither he nor his editor want you to know the truth, because it’s with Zeese that Mardell agrees most of all.


OK, I can’t let this pass. How on EARTH does the BBC get away with calling Afghanistanis a “deeply religious and deeply conservative” people when we witness atrocious events like those in Mazar-e-Sharif? The savagery, the dark ages barbarism, are outrageous and yet the BBC are doing everything to suggest that the “deeply religious” savages were virtually obligated to kill and decapitate the poor people involved because of “the burning of a Koran in a US church.” Blame Bush?


Listen to John Humphyrs doing everything possible to suggest that the British Army is running away from Sangin in this interview with Major General Gordon Messenger. I find it repulsive listening to the mocking and hectoring tone from Humphyrs and his ilk knowing the gallantry and self-sacrifice that characterises our Armed Forces. The Taliban must tune in to Today regularly for this Brit-bashing Taliban worship.


Have a look at the BBC main news portal today. It leads with the headline that there is “progress” by British Forces against murdering Islamic Jihadists…sorry, I mean “insurgents” in Helmand province of Afghanistan. Then just under is the link “Can the Taliban be defeated” I think I catch their drift…  Allahu Akhbar.

BBC Silent on Wikileaks Fingering of the Coalitions Covert Afghan Helpers

BBC World Service on Wikileaks: “Are you glad this information is public?” (No bets being taken on how the BBC would answer that question – almost all the reporting has been solemn but with that classic BBC edge of implicit approval. The Beeb loves leaks unless, of course, they are about their top level salaries, bonuses and expenses…)

The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel have published more than 92,000 secret military files from the website Wikileaks detailing the war in Afghanistan. The news has got you divided.

mmmm….no need to read the comments, almost all from Dave and Deirdre Spart.

But so far haven’t noticed much about this aspect of the leaks from the lovable Swede, Julian Assange, in the BBC.

Hundreds of Afghan civilians who worked as informants for the U.S. military have been put at risk by WikiLeaks’ publication of more than 90,000 classified intelligence reports which name and in many cases locate the individuals, The Times newspaper reported Wednesday.

Expect Taliban revenge attacks on many individuals soon. Moreover how many Afghans would now be willing to work covertly with coalition forces now they realise that Mr Assange will always be willing to finger them?

Never mind, although many individuals and their families will die as a result of this (quickly if they are lucky, more slowly if the Taliban stick to their preferred modes) the chattering classes in NW1 who the BBC exists to serve will rest easy. As the Coalition weakens in its resolve (the main aim of the BBC over Iraq and Afghanistan for these last few years) an exodus of pro Coalition Afghans will provide a nice source of cheap labour for the chattering class’s servant pool


I found it interesting that a man who says he is the renegade Afghan soldier who killed three British troops in Helmand province in Afghanistan has contacted the BBC.

The man said he had been angry at the conduct of British troops and that he had acted alone. He said he joined the Taliban after the attack.

Well, he sure knew who to phone, didn’t he? Wonder do the Taliban have the BBC on speed-dial?


Mark Mardell is, predictably, reverting to type – what a surprise. He is now focussing his laser like mind on Afghanistan and – yes, you guessed it – Viet Nam keeps popping up.

“That’s what Obama will be worried about,” says Gary, adding that if a bad economy destroys presidencies, an unpopular war does the job even more effectively. “Vietnam” is simply shorthand for “quagmire”.

Gary is ABC’s chief pollster, Gary Langer (ABC of course – how did I know that Mardell would not be chatting to anyone from Fox News…)

He naturally delves deeper into the 1960s

This interesting article argues the world would be different if LBJ had listened to writers, not generals, and that Obama should be listening to free thinkers.

By writers he means Norman Mailer and the implication that military men are so blinkered in their thinking that they can only come up with the idea of more troops whereas if LBJ had only listened to Mailer rather than his generals then the US would have got out of Viet Nam in 1965 and everyone would have been much better off.

Mardell’s line is beginning to conform to the general BBC playbook on Afghanistan – it’s a quagmire, like Viet Nam, it can’t be won so let’s get out now and leave the place to the Taliban. As long as the Talib concentrate on executing dissidents and flogging women and closing schools for girls the Beeb will just look the other way – unless they start blowing up Buddhas – then that will be a real tragedy.

This theme was hammered home in a Newsnight piece several days ago when a book called “Lessons in Disaster” by Gordon M Goldstein was described as the current must read in the White House. It is said to describe the LBJ administration in 1965 being marched into an escalating war by a military viewing the conflict too narrowly to see the perils ahead. In other words it conforms to the accepted mythology that the whole venture was doomed from the start and the generals were wrong and Jane Fonda was right – and that, of course, fits fair and square into the BBC student union mindset.

But what Mardell and the BBC don’t mention (I wonder why?) is that, according to the WSJ, another book on Viet Nam is circulating widely in Washington – “A Better War” by Lewis Sorley. Originally published in 1999 it points out that the replacement of Gen. Westmoreland by Gen, Adams in 1968 was a big key turning point in the war.

Gen. Abrams abandoned the “search and destroy” tactics of his predecessor for a policy of protecting villages, and began to push for Vietnamese institutions to take over tasks once run by Americans — just the policies Gen. McChrystal has advocated in Afghanistan.

Sorley’s book on Abrams influenced the thinking of Gen Petraeus, the architect of the Iraq surge. It also argues that the final conquest of South Viet Nam by the communist North was definitely not a foregone conclusion.

By the time of the enemy’s 1972 Easter Offensive virtually all U.S. ground troops had been withdrawn. Supported by American airpower and naval gunfire, South Vietnam’s armed forces gallantly turned back an invasion from the North amounting to the equivalent of some 20 divisions, or about 200,000 troops.
Critics were quick to attribute the successful defense to American airpower. Abrams would have none of it. “The Vietnamese had to stand and fight,” he said. If they hadn’t done that, “ten times the [air] power we’ve got wouldn’t have stopped them.”

However in 1974 the new Democrat controlled Congress refused President Ford’s plea for extra support for South Viet Nam, instead voting for deep cuts in military aid. The North Vietnamese, always concerned about a resumption of US bombing, took this as a green light and launched a massive invasion in 1975. Even in the face of this onslaught some ARVN units stood firm but with the USA’s cut and run the end was inevitable. Sorley’s premise is that with longer term US support South Vietnam might well have been able to resist the Communists and developed into a viable state.

Unfortunately, just as the US military had worked out how to counter the communist insurgency, the politicians in Washington ignored the evidence and gave up the fight.
It’s clear that the BBC had made up its mind about Afghanistan, just as it did about Iraq and the Falklands. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they are as wrong about the first as they were about the other two.

The BBC and Afghanistan – Every Little Helps..

• US in Afghanistan failure warning
• Italians mourn Afghanistan dead
• UK army ‘rotten’, Iraq probe told

Full marks for BBC News today – three of the top online headlines fitted neatly into one of the key items on the Corporation’s agenda which appears to be to do everything possible to build up the Taliban as the genuine voice of the Afghan people and to undermine the NATO mission in Afghanistan (and also to remind us of previous problems in Iraq). Remember a few weeks ago when Paxman was haranguing the Afghan ambassador to Britain about electoral “corruption” and a proposed law allowing an Afghan husband to starve his wife to death if she refuses to have sex with him. Paxo forgot to mention that corruption was rife under the rule of the Taliban, that the wife starving law was designed as a political titbit to attract Taliban supporters and that the Taliban are explicitly opposed to elections or, indeed, any form of democratic political structure.

Keep tuned in for many further “failure”, “quagmire”, “probe” headlines unless, of course, the McChrystal/ Petraeus surge starts to work then Afghanistan will disappear from the BBC headlines just as it Iraq did during the Bush surge in 2007/2008 (derided and disdained by every talking head until it started to work…..)


I am no fan of Afghanistan but the relentless attacks from the BBC on the recent election have been staggering. The State Broadcaster has given the allegations from Abdullah Abdullah (Lack of parental creativity?) massive publicity and whilst I carry no candle for Karzai I believe that the BBC is doing everything it can do undermine any sense of progress in this distant land. The fact that there has been fraud and imperfection is not the real news but the BBC is determined to make it so. The meme is that everything we do in Afghanistan is doomed and this sustained campaign to take away any legitimacy from the results is all part of that in my view. Do you agree?


The BBC has been relentlessly trying to undermine any legitimacy to the recent Afghan election and once again today we have another tribal elder “admitting” to the BBC that he tampered with hundreds of ballots in favour of incumbent President Hamid Karzai (Note the image that the BBC chooses to use to illustrate this story) The meme is that we should NOT be in Afghanistan and every BBC story follows this line in one form or another. Of course when it comes to electoral fraud, those intrepid BBC journalist to not have to travel to Kabul to find systematic cheating at the polls, they could simply try Birmingham.