Afghanistan: Labour MP in candid reflection on UK occupation ‘I wanted to believe’

LABOUR backbencher and former soldier Clive Lewis has spoken out passionately over Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.

The Norwich MP was not selected to speak during the emergency sitting of Parliament on Wednesday which featured a number of speeches from Veterans from all parties.

Lewis took to Twitter to pen his thoughts on Britain’s 20-year war in Afghanistan and the conflicts futile outcome.

He wrote: “I was disappointed to not be selected to speak in the debate on Afghanistan today. I served there in 2009.

“This doesn’t makes me an expert on that country but it does – like others who’ve worked or served there – give a perspective I hoped would be useful in deliberations.

“I have intense pride in the good and decent men and women I served with, both British and Afghan.

“Many of them paid physically and mentally for their efforts on our behalf. And of course others – too many – never returned home at all.”

Lewis went on to admit having doubts over the UK’s role in Afghanistan while surviving on deployment

“Unlike some that spoke today, I was never certain of the legitimacy of our precence in Afghanistan,” he said.

“I wanted to believe I was there for the right reasons – but it’s hard to convince yourself of that cause when you witness first-hand the human toll of your presence.

“Like the 15 year-old Afghan boy and his father I met seeking medical treatment, a bloodied stump where his foot should have been, accidentally shot-off by NATO forces.

“His is one story, but it is etched into my memory. A vivid, human face of the suffering of so many.

“And yet he was lucky, if such an injury can ever be described as such. According to Brown University, a quarter of a million people have died as a direct result of the last twenty years of war in Afghanistan.”

The MP went on to blast the lack of development and prosperity provided for ordinary Afghans during the occupation.

Mr Lewis wrote: “Our failure doesn’t end there. I remember telling myself before deploying that I was going to help rebuild Afghanistan and in so doing help its people.

“And yet Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

“It has the second highest level of emergency food insecurity in the world. 40% of the population are without a job and almost 70% live below the poverty line.”

Mr Lewis also warned that as the Taliban tightened their control throughout the country, the crisis could spark a further humanitarian catastrophe.

Thousands of desperate refugees have already flooded Kabul airport in a bid to escape Taliban rule.

Mr Lewis argued: “So here we find ourselves: hundreds of thousands dead, a brutal Taliban regime and its ideology again in control, a broken country on the brink of starvation, and a refugee crisis that will destabilise the entire region yet further.”

Lashing out at those defending liberal interventionist, he added: “We can wrap that harsh reality up however we wish. We can tell ourselves it was the right thing to do – like we told ourselves in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and countless other military interventions.

In conclusion the former Labour leadership candidate said: “Or we can face the honest truth that we must find new and better ways of solving the world’s geo-political problems.

“With the climate crisis upon us and the instability it will cause, failure to do so will be a terminal error.”


Featured Image: Kinversam @Wikimedia Commons

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