Thursday, December 11, 2008

Welcome

The Foreign Policy Centre is pleased to join the blogosphere with the new FPC blog. The blog will be an opportunity for the FPC team and some of our associates to post short pieces about global issues that might be of interest to our readers. We hope you find it useful and interesting and most importantly, please let us know your thoughts by posting your comments!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Revolution without Rights? Women, Kurds and Baha'is are searching for equality in Iran

By Stephen Twigg. Source: Progress (www.progressonline.org.uk)

On 10 December 2008, the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but sadly there will not be much celebration in Tehran. Cyrus the Great, the Persian emperor from 559-529 BCE, is widely credited with producing the first known human rights charter and defending the rights of minorities. Yet in modern Iran women and minorities continue to be treated as second-class citizens.

While the world is focused on the Iranian nuclear programme, people in Iran are calling on its government to protect the human rights of its citizens. Many Iranians face routine persecution and discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnic or religious identity. A new pamphlet by the Foreign Policy Centre looks at the experiences of women, Kurds and Baha'is to highlight this challenge for equality in Iran.

Iran's constitution declares "the abolition of all forms of unjust discrimination and the provision of equitable opportunities for all." Iran is not living up to its own promises. The government regularly sidesteps its commitment to equality, especially when it comes to women and minorities.

As a theocratic state, Iran's government is influenced by a narrow interpretation of Shi'a Islam. This version of Islam provides women with fewer rights than men and it brands Baha'is (the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority) as heretics with little protection under the law. Ethnic Kurds are prevented from teaching their language and culture for fear that it will undermine Islamic unity. The marginalisation of these groups predates the Islamic Republic, but the ideology of the regime has institutionalised a pattern of discrimination.

The government regularly creates exceptions to principles of equality enshrined in human rights. It has increasingly used the pretext of national security to detain innocent women, Baha'is and Kurds. A cursory look at many of these cases shows the lack of credibility of such charges. Recently, Hiwa Butimar (a Kurdish historian), Esha Momeni (a student from California and women's rights petitioner) and the entire Iranian Baha'i leadership were separately arrested under 'national security' charges. The authorities have been unable to present any credible evidence to back these claims.

Other charges used to prosecute women, Kurds and Baha'is are ambiguous, such as 'acting against the regime,' 'enmity with God,' or 'insulting the sacred institutions of Islam.' The application of the law by judges is often unpredictable and arbitrary.

Members of all three groups are regularly denied their due process and detainee rights under the law. Legal processes are outlined in the Iranian constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure, but many are not adhered to in practice. Detainees are often held incommunicado for long periods of time without any knowledge of the charges against them.

Hard-line clerics and government-sponsored media also promote a culture of prejudice against minorities and women. They frequently use the label 'anti-Iranian' to discredit marginal groups. Baha'i youth engaged in community service, women promoting women's rights education, or Kurds teaching in their own language have all been branded with this defamatory label.

The state places obstacles to education and employment that prevent social advancement by members of these groups. It is official state policy to deny Baha'is access to universities, far fewer Kurds than the national average get places, and women are restricted in their choice of courses (even if they dominate numerically overall). All three groups have difficulty gaining employment in the public sector (Baha'is are officially banned).

Women, Baha'is and Kurds are far from the only groups that are marginalised, but their experiences highlight an issue that is gaining ground among Iran's human rights activists. The struggle for equality is happening on the street corners and in the seminaries of Iran. National human rights organisations like the Campaign for Equality argue that Islam is fully compatible with human rights. Prominent clerics such as Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and Ayatollah Yousof Sanei are challenging the rigid interpretations of the ruling clerics.

Iran says it has a sovereign right to acquire nuclear weapons, but it has misunderstood what it takes to be a leader in the international community. For 60 years, the Declaration of Human Rights has been the universal standard for what it means to be a respected state in the community of nations. If Iran wants to play its part in the international community, it needs to revisit the noble principles set into motion by Cyrus and protect human rights at home.

Stephen Twigg is Director of the Foreign Policy Centre and Chair of Progress


Obama and Iran: A Victory for an Enlightened Foreign Policy?

By Mariam Ghorbannejad.

November 4th 2008 was by all accounts an historic day for the United States of America. Not only had the nation elected their first African-American president but they had done so by a landslide in the popular vote unseen since Democratic nominee Lyndon Johnson's win in 1964.

A twist of fate just six weeks or so before had swung the electorate in Obama's favour. His popularity soared as the American economy worsened. Perhaps if the economy had not taken centre stage, attention would have shifted to healthcare, education and foreign policy where the margin separating Obama from McCain would have been much smaller. George W. Bush had made a point of his role as commander-in-chief and he may have been passing the baton onto John McCain had events panned out differently. But that is what a matter of weeks can do in politics.

It may not have been Barack Obama's foreign policy that got him elected by the US electorate. But in the international arena, it was his stance on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and openness to dialogue with Iran without pre-conditions that appealed to world leaders.

In particular, the letter of congratulations sent by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Obama seemed to garner much media attention. According to the Iranian President's spokesperson, Gholam-Hussein Elham who was quoted by the Tehran Times, a similar letter of congratulations had been sent to Bush back in 2006, proposing a return to religious principles as a means of restoring confidence.

But this time, the act of sending a congratulatory message was seized upon as representing a fundamental shift in foreign policy direction. It was touted as having the potential to resurrect some kind of diplomacy between Iran and America that had been abruptly halted in 1979 after the US hostage crisis.

Was it overly-optimistic to presume that the United States would reach out to Iran? After all, it was Republican President George W. Bush who had named the Islamic Republic part of the 'axis of evil' alongside Iraq and North Korea in February 2002.

Given one of the key themes of Barack Obama's foreign policy is to start a withdrawal of combat troops from neighbouring Iraq, trying to engage in 'aggressive personal diplomacy' with Iran and other regional powers looks to be a sensible move. In order to ensure Iraqi stability, he has pledged to develop a new relationship with Iran.

In exchange for cooperation on terrorism and nuclear issues and an end to Iran's involvement in Iraq, the American president-elect has said that he would meet the country's leaders (at a time and place of his choosing) and offer them economic inducements.

Should the Iranian government refuse to collaborate, stronger unilateral sanctions will be applied, alongside multilateral sanctions at the Security Council and 'sustained action outside the UN to isolate the Iranian regime' will be taken.

Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has had sound economic growth hovering between about four and five percent since 2004, high consumer inflation and unemployment coupled with a forecast decline in oil revenues* suggest that economic inducements could prove tempting.

The incoming American president's carrot of membership of the World Trade Organisation and economic investment may encourage some conservatives in the Iranian government to soften their stance to US diplomatic engagement.

Both Barack Obama and vice-president-elect Joe Biden oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, passed by Congress, which says that the US should use its military presence in Iraq to counter the threat from Iran. Obama made his opposition to the Iraq war clear from the outset and he believes that it would be reckless to extend it into Iran. As such, he has introduced a resolution in the Senate declaring that no act of Congress gives the Bush administration authority to attack Iran.

Obama has even gone so far as to say that he may not seek 'regime change' in the Islamic Republic. This could possibly allay fears in Iran that the West is only willing to engage with an Iranian government they do not view as hostile.

Memories of the coup d'etat that deposed Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in the early 1950s, an operation funded by the Americans and the British, are still fresh in the minds of many Iranians.

However, Obama's rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, called talks with Iran, North Korea and Syria with few pre-conditions a propaganda victory for America's international foes.

Her recent acceptance of the post of US Secretary of State could therefore prove significant in the future course of American foreign policy. Initial expressions of delight from Iranian quarters at a new era of Iranian-American relations may have been a little premature.

  • Figures obtained from the Economist Intelligence Unit

Obama faces the toughest challenges since Franklin Delano Roosevelt

By Adam Hug. Source: Public Servant

As the celebrations die down, and the ticker tape is cleared away, the political reality of Barak Obama's transition is becoming clearer. Pundits argue with some accuracy that President-elect Obama will enter office with a daunting in-tray, perhaps as tough a set of problems as any new leader has faced since FDR. Two unresolved wars, a financial crisis, an economic slump, an unstable trade deficit and large portions of US debt owned by China and other countries, not exactly top of the US's Christmas list, are just some of the challenges the new administration has to look forward to. However, he faces these challenges with a level of goodwill internationally that has no recent comparison.

After years when even committed Atlanticists have nervously tried to keep their distance from a politically toxic Bush Administration, with British ministers such as Lord Malloch Brown announced that the incoming Brown Government would be 'no longer joined at the hip' to the Americans, politicians from around the world are now jostling to stand as close as possible to the President-elect.

One of Obama's first challenges is to translate his political capital into European troops on the ground in Afghanistan where he is committed to a 'surge'-like policy of increased troop deployment and political engagement of Pashtun groups previously sympathetic to the Taliban. This at a time when there are growing calls for the deployment of an EU force in the DRC and with the countries who have already made significant deployments such as Britain are facing overstretch.

Similarly, following the inconclusive G20 talks, there will be the need for the new US administration to take a leading role in coordinating the fiscal stimulus packages and overhaul the global financial architecture. This will involve swiftly building a strong working relationship with Gordon Brown who has taken unofficial leadership of the global response to the crisis as Bush fades away. Promisingly, Obama and Brown share favourite tools. Obama's pledge to cut taxes for 95% of Americans by reversing Bush's tax cuts, likely to form the major plank of any Obama fiscal stimulus, will in fact largely be driven by tax credits, the Clintonian mechanism heavily favoured by the Prime Minister.

The choices Obama makes on his economic team will be critical not only to the response to the economic and financial crises. The protectionist language used on the campaign trail by Obama and his fellow Democrats have given some cause for concern that the US may seek to pull up the drawbridge in an attempt to save US jobs. While there is likely to be a cooling of support for free trade, particularly in light of the current economic situation, the centrist track records of all names floating for senior roles at Treasury or on the Council of Economic Advisors such as Tim Geithner, Jamie Dimon, Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and Paul Volker would suggest that a radical retrenchment is unlikely.

Similarly the international community will hope that the Poznan Climate Change Conference in December marks the swan song of an obstructionist US position on climate change and that the incoming administration will join the race to a final deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol at next winter's Copenhagen Summit. It has yet to be seen if the economic crisis will limit some of Obama's ambitions for tackling climate change but there are encouraging signs in some of the strangest places. The proposed $25 billion bailout for the motor industry would be tied by Democrats to helping the US car giants to develop new fuel efficient vehicles, looks like an example of how Obama will try to use fiscal stimuli to support the development of green technology as well as kick start the economy.

Given the bailouts for the financial services sector and Detroit, commentators have been questioning the ability of the new administration to deliver the comprehensive package of healthcare reforms it campaigned for. Many of the proposed mechanisms in the Obama healthcare plan are familiar to British observers: an overhaul of IT systems including the transfer of medical records from paper to computer, publishing performance data and encouraging competition between providers. However the more radical element of the plan is to enable universal coverage through the creation on a National Health Insurance Exchange, offering a new state backed insurance scheme based on the Federal Employees Benefits Programme used by members of congress alongside existing insurance packages. This would be supported with a range of tax credits for families and small businesses and requirement on larger firms to provide insurance or contribute to the costs of the national plan. DC chatter sees campaign co-chair and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as the front runner for the position as the new administration's Secretary for Health and Human Services. It will need an experienced hand such as Daschle to manage the legislative obstacles likely to be thrown in the path of reform by the health insurance industry and manage expectations with the likely delays to elements of the package enforced by the economic crisis.

The challenges Obama faces are grave but the combination of international goodwill, a promising team of built from Obama's savvy campaign operatives and experienced Clinton hands and a sense of purpose borne from adversity gives hope that these challenges can be met.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turkey, Europe's future

Source: The Guardian Comment is Free

Turkey's bid to join the EU offers Europe the choice of embracing its internal diversity or resorting to an insular idea of itself.

Drowned out by the acclamation for the Obama victory last week, the European commission quietly released its progress report on Turkish accession to the EU. While it welcomed Turkey's economic performance and the progress it had made strengthening its legal system, the commission's message was that there was a lot done but a lot still to do.

The road towards Turkish membership is long and rocky but I believe that Turkey is central to the future development of the EU. The eventual decision to accept or reject Turkey will have significant ramifications for the type of organisation it will become.

Put crudely, Turkish membership will signify a choice for Europe between becoming an outward-looking union at peace with its internal diversity that prioritises the economic and security needs of its members, or an insular, almost parochial grouping, searching for an imagined cultural homogeneity. This is why the Foreign Policy Centre has released a new pamphlet to coincide with the report arguing that we have to clearly lay out the practical case that both the EU and Turkey would be more prosperous and secure if accession is successful.

Turkish membership is often described as a "win-win" situation for the EU and Turkey but it is clear that victory will be hard fought. The majority of European public opinion opposes Turkish membership and leading politicians in member states including France, Germany and Austria have publicly stated that they do not see Turkey as a future member and have pushed for a nebulous "privileged partnership". Turkish support for membership has also waned in recent years due to the sluggish progress of the accession process and the opposition of some EU leaders.

The challenge set before advocates of Turkish membership then, is to transform a climate of cynicism and opposition to ensure membership is granted once Turkey meets the strict criteria required for entry.

Prosperity and security form the twin pillars of the case for Turkish membership. Turkey has been at the bedrock of European security since the cold war, joining Nato in 1952 and guarding Europe's south-eastern flank against the former Soviet Union. Today it sits at the gateway to the Middle East, the Caucasus and central Asia, a key strategic player in all three regions. Turkey can play a critical role in our energy security, where it is the key alternative transit route to Russia for Caspian oil and gas and the swiftest route for Iraqi crude.

The key dynamics of the economic relationship between Turkey and the EU are clear. The EU is the market for 56% of Turkish exports, ten times that of any other export destination, while Turkey is the EU's fifth largest export market. European firms annually invest over €3bn in Turkey. After economic setbacks in 1994 and at the turn of the millennium, Turkey has grown at an average annual rate of 6.8%. According to the World Bank, eventual Turkish membership should boost its GDP per capita growth by 1.5% per year, and allow it to expand as a market for European goods.

There remain significant political challenges that Turkey must face up to if it is to be ready for membership. This summer prosecutors in Ankara came within a whisker of removing the current Justice and Development (AKP) government on charges of undermining the secular state that included the decision to allow women to wear the hijab in universities. Had it succeeded, it would have dealt a hammer-blow to hopes of Turkish membership in the foreseeable future. Other outstanding issues include restrictions on freedom of speech, the future of Cyprus and the challenges faced by the Kurdish community over language rights and identity. These issues must be fully resolved prior to Turkish membership, but in these and the other main challenges Turkey faces, the rigorous criteria provided by the EU accession process act as an immense force for change.

At its core, the argument must be that if Turkey succeeds in fully implementing the EU's accession criteria, the toughest given to any candidate country, it will have earned the right to join the EU. If Turkey has undergone the massive economic, political, social and legal transformation required, the denial of its right to join would be an affront to the principles of fairness that must underpin the EU and could lead a spurned Turkey to re-orientate itself away from the West, forming new alliances in the Middle East and central Asia to the detriment of Europe.

Although Turkey has already benefited from economic and political reforms necessary for accession to take place, the pace of change needs to increase, improving the quality of life in Turkey, and strengthening support for membership, both among Turks and EU citizens. Turkey must also reach out to EU citizens with effective public diplomacy, busting myths and raising awareness of Turkey as a modern European society with deep roots in the continent's history. These steps must be reciprocated within the EU through cultural exchange and the use of economic links to break down barriers.

The European business community has an important role to play in standing up for Turkey and this must include leadership at the European level.

European companies operating in Turkey should take the lead in educating their workforces about the country and show the benefits that closer co-operation with it can bring. Similarly Europe's trade unions can play a proactive role in informing their members and dampening fears over Turkish migration damaging employment opportunities.

Failure to grant Turkish accession would be one of the greatest strategic mistakes the EU could inflict upon itself, one that would be hugely harmful to business and undermine European prosperity and security. The path to accession is challenging for both the EU and Turkey, but advocates of an open and progressive Europe need to stand up and make the case that it is a challenge that we must not fail to meet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hutton and Afghanistan: To surge or not to surge?

John Hutton chose Remembrance Day to deliver his maiden speech as Defence Secretary, and as the subject, a conflict described only just over a year ago as Britain’s ‘forgotten war’: the conflict in Afghanistan. In an address titled ‘Afghanistan – Worth the Sacrifice,’ Mr Hutton asserted that the war may yet become the ‘defining conflict of this century.’
The situation that British servicemen and women find themselves in in Afghanistan can no longer be described as ‘forgotten’. The conflict has increasingly found itself in the headlines, and the subject of numerous documentaries, debates and public discussions, and not necessarily (although not exclusively), for the right reasons. This has been in part due to the decrease in size and prominence of British operations in Iraq, but also due to the number of British lives that have been lost in Afghanistan, and the increasing frequency with which they seem to be being lost.

124 British troops have died in Afghanistan since 2001, including two Royal Marines in Helmand Province this week. Just over 8,000 British troops are currently serving in Afghanistan, compared to half that number – around 4,000 – in Iraq. The number of British lives lost in recent times as a result of the conflict was no doubt uppermost in Mr Hutton’s mind as he prepared to speak on 11 November to justify the ‘sacrifices’ Britain has made thus far in pursuit of her political and military aims in Afghanistan.

As one might have expected then, at least half of Mr Hutton’s speech constituted a detailed explanation of the UK national security imperative driving the political objectives which keep British troops in Afghanistan; in short that, should the Taliban be allowed to regain power of the country, it would once again provide a ‘secure refuge’ which would allow Al Qaeda to re-group there and to plan and implement terrorist acts upon countries including the UK.

While this argument is compelling and undoubtedly persuasive when justifying why British troops remain in Afghanistan seven years almost to the day after the Taliban were ousted from Kabul, and why the government intends for them to stay ‘until their job is complete’, those that were hoping for a more detailed exposition of how the sacrifices that have already been made will not be in vain, and how future sacrifices might be avoided, or at least minimised, were disappointed.

General Petraeus’ review and predicted overhaul of US operations in Afghanistan is widely regarded as acceptance that something needs to change strategically in order for quicker progress to be made. However, the Defence Secretary did not mention in his speech an issue that could prove to be key; the suggestion of a 30,000-strong troop surge, 5,000 of which would be made up of British forces. The idea has recently been linked with high profile figures including President-elect Barack Obama, and General Sir David Richards, the incoming Head of the British Army. Both of them, if recent reports are true, believe that a change in military strategy, in the form of a massive troop surge will be key to achieving military and political objectives and precipitating the eventual withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan.

Mr Hutton has indicated that he believes the role of Ministers to be to take the advice of their generals on issues of military strategy and act on it, rather than formulating such strategies themselves. While this is surely something to be welcomed, it appears that strategic advice on a surge has yet to be sought, and much less received. But, unless General Sir David Richards changes his mind, or is ‘uninstalled’ by the Ministry of Defence between now and next August, this seems likely to be his advice to the Defence Secretary, and Mr Hutton, it appears, might be wise to take it. Indeed, there were already reports emerging at the time of writing, that a request for a further 2,000 British troops was being anticipated by the Prime Minister from President-elect Obama’s new administration, but the exact number and timing of their deployment, would be dependent on the draw down in Iraq.

It is well known that the Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, does not believe that British troops returning from Iraq should be sent straight on to operations in Afghanistan, and for good reason. This perhaps provides an indication as to the division of opinion amongst the generals, which Mr Hutton will find himself facing when he does seek their advice on the future of British military strategy in Afghanistan. It will no doubt prove infinitely more complex than simply seeking and acting upon advice – there will be stark and difficult choices to be made, as one would expect in matters of war and peace. And, given the backdrop of the approaching general election, which must take place before the summer of 2010, making those choices could prove even more difficult. Yet, as Nick Clegg, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has pointed out, ‘…the worst option is to do nothing, because at the moment we have too few troops fighting an enemy that cannot be defeated by military means alone.’

The Defence Secretary freely admitted in his speech that ‘it would be a huge mistake for any politician to take [public] consent for the deployment of our armed forces for granted. Politicians have to earn and re-earn that consent.’ And yet, in a poll of just over 1,000 members of the British public conducted by ICM and released by the BBC this week, more than two-thirds of those questioned (68%) believed that British troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan within the next year, and less than one quarter (24%) believed troops should stay. This is perhaps no surprise given the increased profile of the conflict itself and of the deaths which it has brought about. Whether the respondents believed that a troop surge was likely to take place in the next year, and that troops would therefore be able to withdraw more easily afterwards, is unknown, but that would perhaps have been a more useful, if less ‘poll-friendly’ question. The Ministry of Defence rebutted this, quoting their most recent MORI poll which indicated that over 50% of the public supports the UK armed forces’ presence in Afghanistan, and that a recent Chatham House survey found only 37% of people favoured a withdrawal. Despite this, the MoD admitted that they do ‘need to do more to explain to the UK public why it’s so important that the UK continues to support the Government… and the international presence in Afghanistan.’ It seems Mr Hutton would do well to keep his own words at the forefront as he seeks strategic advice from his generals and decides whose advice to take, should he face a difference of opinion. The old adage that, in the midst of war, winning hearts and minds at home is as important as winning those abroad has never been truer.

Even if a surge were to be advised, the advice taken, acted upon, and successfully sold to the British public, opinion will still need to be convinced that the government is honouring the Military Covenant, or duty of care, that it owes to the armed forces. The British public needs to be reassured that British troops are adequately prepared, equipped, renumerated, supported and rested both before, during and after their deployment on operations, not least those in Afghanistan. Though Mr Hutton confirmed in an earlier interview, that he was happy that all equipment now being used by British forces in Afghanistan was up to the job in the majority of cases, he did concede that mistakes had been made in the past. The Ministry of Defence has indeed made much progress in terms of both equipment provision and reforming defence procurement procedures to enable ‘off the shelf’ emergency purchases to be made, now categorised as Urgent Operational Requirements or UORs. And while no-one would deny that unforeseen equipment malfunctions do occur in the heat of battle, and that such occurrences are an unfortunate fact of war, the number and extent of avoidable equipment inadequacies – both in terms of the availability, quantity and quality of equipment – has been borne out recently by a high profile catalogue of testimonies from serving and ex-service people, as well as coroners’ conclusions identifying preventable deaths and injuries suffered by British servicemen and women. These will have no doubt done nothing to instil the public with confidence in the government’s ability to properly prepare and equip British troops for the job it is asking them to do. Admittedly, inquests follow actual events with a considerable time lag, so if Mr Hutton’s optimism is to be believed, one might expect the number of preventable deaths and injuries to drop considerably in the future.

To properly address the equipment and other Covenant-related issues, Mr Hutton needs to be open about the overarching issue of government funding for the armed forces. The level of funding that may or may not be available, given the government’s current economic commitments in other areas, needs to be, if not debated publicly, then certainly taken into consideration in any strategic choices and that consideration needs to be articulated to the British public effectively. Furthermore, the fundamental and related issues of recruitment and retention, especially as they affect the British Army, also need to be addressed, and be seen to be addressed, as a matter of urgency.

To ensure that past and future British sacrifices in Afghanistan will not have been in vain therefore, and to enable public support for the operation to be re-established and maintained, Mr Hutton and the government will need to move decisively. They must be seen to be tackling the conflict itself directly and efficiently, both in terms of lives lost, and from an economic point of view. Avoiding an ever-longer, more drawn-out, bogged down, expensive and bloody conflict than has already occurred is imperative. The effectiveness of the operation, in all senses, will now be publicly scrutinised as never before, and this against the backdrop of an unprecedented global economic crisis. Furthermore, what might be considered as issues slightly outside the scope of the conflict, but nonetheless integral to it, must also be addressed, and be seen to be being addressed, as a matter of urgency – equipment, retention, rest and recuperation, etc. It would perhaps be prudent for Mr Hutton to adopt a more holistic approach in his justification of the British presence in Afghanistan in the future. As well as providing a thorough outline of the national security imperative behind the operation, which is no doubt important, addressing the wider issues outlined above, as well as tackling head-on the issue of whether to ‘surge’ or not, will undoubtedly help to improve the public’s perception of the value of a more sustained British effort in Afghanistan, and perhaps of the accompanying sacrifices that such an effort might entail.