The UK must answer for a litany of strategic failings in Afghanistan

In Wednesday’s revelatory parliamentary debates there was hardly any mention of the opportunist architects of the failed British involvement in Afghanistan (Tories rebuke Boris Johnson over ‘catastrophic’ Afghanistan failure, 18 八月). Tony Blair and his new Labour clique blindly followed a retributive George Bush in invading and occupying Afghanistan. The ultimate blame for the UK’s futile 20-year presence there must be levelled at the slavishly pro-American New Labour party. Why did Blair, Jack Straw, 彼得·曼德尔森 and other complicit Labour figures buy in to the US plans that the only solution was to remove Osama bin Laden by full-scale military force? Was this overreach necessary to crush a tiny non-state actor?

By tying itself to the apron strings of the US, Britain’s reputation has been stained by America’s unilateral retreat from 阿富汗. Had Blair taken a leaf out of Harold Wilson’s book – who famously refused Lyndon Johnson’s entreaties to join the US war in Vietnam – the UK would not now be in such an invidious position. When will Britain learn that its national interests are not always identical to, or in symmetry with, hegemonic America? At least some brave parliamentarians now share this view.
Dr Taj Hargey
Provost, Oxford Institute for British Islam

There are wider consequences to our unseemly scramble for the exit in Afghanistan. As I write this, a UK aircraft carrier task group laden with US and UK aircraft is plying the waters of east Asia – seemingly providing reassurance to friends and allies. I daresay that its message might be a little frayed around the edges. It did not have to end this way. A combination of sustained mentoring, judiciously applied air power and intelligence support could have continued to hold the ring militarily, while Afghan governance, political culture and institutions developed.

Theresa May was right to question the intelligence; 然而, the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office are continually provided with an endless stream of high-grade intelligence, but that is of no use if there is no intelligent customer to assess it, or it is viewed through the prism of wishful thinking. The so-called “indispensable nation” must shoulder most of the blame, but now many of us who served will feel some sense of moral injury, that we have let people down: our interpreters, the hundreds who risked their lives supplying our forts throughout Helmand, as well as the brave Afghan women venturing into the workplace.

Many of us will not sleep easy, whether on a Greek sunbed or anywhere else for that matter.
Cdr Jonathan Worthington (Royal Navy, retired)
Kingston-upon-Thames, 伦敦

I spent five years in Afghanistan working with local partners on behalf of the UN, the EU and the UK government. I was therefore disappointed to see the over-hasty US exit before a power-sharing deal was in place, with broad national support and regional backing. Listening to the insightful speeches by UK MPs on Wednesday, it struck me how the UK could have better influenced events in recent years by strategising with allies, if it hadn’t been wasting precious time, resources and capital on Brexit.

The UK must work cooperatively with the EU in future to help lead on other major security challenges.
Sandra Khadhouri
“他绝对是所有人中最疯狂的, Keeping Channels Open