By CASSANDRA WOOD
Paltalk News Network
LONDON - In an announcement in the House of Commons today, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he is prepared to make a commitment of an additional 500 British troops to join the 9,000 already in Afghanistan.
However, these troops will not just be sent without certain conditions being met. In his speech he listed those conditions as:
* The troops must be properly equipped
* Other NATO countries must step up to the plate and commit additional troops
* The government in Kabul must agree to and take part in the training of Afghan troops to take over from NATO forces.
These numbers of troops may not seem many when one looks at the 40,000 asked for by American General Stanley McCrystal, but what it does show is the UK's commitment.
There are several factors, however, that do need to be taken into account when looking at this story:
The Obama administration, despite having already undertaken some 18 hours of talks about increasing troop levels, still remains uncertain about what its action will be. One possibility is that Obama will look upon this as a counter-terrorism mission, rather than an effort to bring stability to a country that was wracked with strife following the over-throw of the Taliban.
Within the past week Holland has joined the ever growing group of countries who declare that they will, within the next year, withdraw its troops.
There has never been a greater public outcry against the war in Afghanistan.
Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrat Party (currently the UK's third major party) criticized Brown's decision. Clegg questioned the wisdom of supporting a corrupt government in Kabul. This is a growing theme in discussions about the British presence in Afghanistan.
As crowds line the streets to pay silent tribute to the fallen soldiers as their coffins are taken back to their loved ones for burial, there is an inevitable question about why British troops are still in Afghanistan. People are aware that somehow the goal posts have changed there and, while many saw the original incursion into the region as just when we went into the region in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, they are now questioning the "police" operation we seem to have become embroiled in.
The mood in the UK is changing, with the people losing a lot of faith in the government since the prime minister's expense scandal which still rumbles on. Now people are increasingly questioning the actions and motivations of those who were elected to represent them. Setting the stage for an interesting fight between the three major parties during the general election scheduled to take place in mid-2010.