As over 9,000 ex-service personnel and civilians marched past the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, two Anglican bishops were questioning the Government’s policy in Afghanistan.
On the Wednesday before, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Rev Peter Price, asked Baron William Brett in the House of Lords if he agreed “that the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism strategies have resulted in serious civilian casualties and the alienation of the population, producing angry recruits for terrorism, and that together with the Americans we should now, with development, using our military resources, provide security exclusively to protect the strategic rebuilding of the country that is urgently needed?” Lord Brett replied: “I cannot agree with the first part of his question; I do not think there is evidence that the vast majority of Afghans are alienated by what the United Kingdom and its allies seek to do. There is broad support.”
The rationale behind the campaign was further undermined by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, in his Remembrance Sunday sermon in Stoke Minster. The Bishop questioned whether the values the UK had sent its troops to uphold in Afghanistan were in fact valued domestically.
Bishop Gledhill said: “We are throwing our soldiers at a nation where the structures are endemically corrupt. We are trying to train up police in a society which is divided and where terrorism reigns. That is a difficult task for our troops and we salute them….”