By now, even President George W. Bush admits things aren’t going well in Afghanistan. Just yesterday, UN special envoy Kai Eide said the insurgency “has spread beyond Taliban strongholds in the south and east while the number of attacks in the country has reached a six-year high”.
But even when the ship is sinking, you can always count on a Finn to stand up and loudly claim it was built as a submarine in the first place.
Sure enough, in today’s Helsingin Sanomat, my hometown newspaper, Lt. Col. Manu Tuominen, who heads ISAF’s tiny Finnish contingent in the north, heroically came out against practically everyone else in the world (translation mine):
[…] Rather than being a sign of a spreading insurgency, spectacular suicide attacks by extremists show the insurgents are getting desperate as their popular support dwindles.
You might wonder why I take issue with such obvious nonsense. Here’s why: Tuominen may only have 100 troops at his disposal, but he wields enormous political clout in Helsinki. For all practical purposes, he’s the commander of the first Finnish military force to fight a war since 1944. What he says makes big headlines, and politicians listen to him carefully. Many MPs can see through his bullshit, but it’s irresponsible nevertheless, because sooner or later it will end up in a memorandum somewhere and influence our already incoherent Afghan policy.
(An English translation of the Helsingin Sanomat story is here.)