Under pressure as the bodies of more British military victims arrive home from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has defended the UK’s mission there.
He touched on concerns expressed by a ministerial aide who quit yesterday, urging the government to say many of its allies are not pulling their weight. “I want to remind people that what we are doing in Afghanistan is part of an international strategy,” Brown said in a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London. “It is right of course that we play our part … others, too, must take their share of the burden of responsibility. 42 countries are involved and all must ask themselves if they are doing enough, for terrorism recognises no borders.” After the United States, Britain has suffered the highest number of military fatalities in the Afghan conflict, with 212 deaths. France’s total stands at 30, its latest soldier killed today. Former army major Eric Joyce, who resigned as a parliamentary aide to Britain’s Defence Minister Bob Ainsworth, criticised the contribution of NATO allies. In a stinging attack on Gordon Brown’s Afghan policy, he said: “For many, Britain fights; Germany pays; France calculates; Italy avoids.”