British Forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001 - that's 11 years ago. Once they withdraw in 2014 they will have been in theatre for 13 years. Is it possible that 50 years from then the war will be virtually forgotten by the British people? The war in Malaya has been.....
The Malayan Emergency lasted 12 years (from 1948 to 1960) and now, just over 50 years later, it has been largely forgotten (except by those who took part or whose lives were affected by it). I was browsing in Waterstones at the weekend and was unable to find a single book on the subject in the Military History section. That being said I could only find a couple of books about WW2 in the Far East. A week or so ago, on Radio 2, Jeremy Vine briefly discussed the Malayan Emergency - but only because of the alleged massacre by the Scots Guards of 24 civilians at Batang Kali in December 1948. Mistakes are made in war, for which atonement should be made, but such mistakes should not overshadow a campaign in which people laid down their lives for the freedom of others.
In March of this year a US Army Staff Sergeant entered a civilian home in Afghanistan and began a killing spree that ended in the deaths of 16 unarmed civilians, 9 of them children. Can you imagine that in 50 years this might be the only thing remembered about the war?
At the end of the Malayan Emergency, the Malayan Federation was a free and democratic country - those who died in the fighting gave their lives to fend off a threat from communist insurgents. When the Coalition Forces pull out of Afghanistan, I wonder if the results will be so clear.