Gordon Brown recently gave his backing to an international fund to raise $500 million to be used to pay Taliban Mujihadeen in Afghanistan not to fight – at least not to fight us. Cash-for-terrorists – a brilliant British contribution to modern military science. Instead of firing bullets at the Taliban, we fire bucks instead.
The video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, will have to be reprogrammed to show bank managers in camouflaged fatigues going into action in Helmand province armed with pocket calculators and ATM machines. Mercilessly hurling wads of cash at the enemy with all the skill that made the British fighting man the envy of the world. Special forces working under cover will be taking high-impact cheques deep into enemy territory depositing them in Taliban accounts in the high streets of Kandahar.
If this strategy had been used in previous conflicts, the whole media image of warfare would have been very different. Imagine what Green Beret, John Wayne, would have made of it during Vietnam. “Okay you commie scum – eat dollars!!” The Second World War would have been a very different story indeed. Not so much Saving Private Ryan as Private Ryan’s Savings being used to buy off the Germans. There would have been a whole new meaning to the Thin Red (bottom) Line. Films like the Longest Day would have to be remade as the Longest Pay Day.
And great political speeches in wartime would have been very different. Here’s Winston Churchill during the Battle of Britain on usinghard cash against Hitler. “We will pay them on the beaches, we will pay them in the streets and in the fields, and we will never surrender. And though the British Empire lasts a thousand years, people will say that this was our finest payout.”
But will it work. Will Ali Afghani really be prepared to lay down his Kalshnikov in exchange for bribes from Brown? And won’t this be seen as – well – a reward for terrorism? Al Qaeda will be asking for a piece of the action, and on the face of it, I can’t see why they should be excluded. If the Taliban can be offered money to go back to their fields to grow opium poppies, why can’t Osama Bin Laden be bribed to go back to building roads in Saudi Arabia, which was what he was doing before he became public enemy number one. Buy him a fleet of diggers and send over a contingent of crack labourers from Britain’s depressed construction industry.
The only ones left out would be the poor old British squaddies. They don’t get any cash-for-dying. Well, now they know what to do if they want a better deal, don’t they?