Afghanistan: Paddy ‘s right

Paddy Ashdown has (behind the Times paywall, so you’ll have to pick up a copy left on a train somewhere) written that British troops need to get out of Afghanistan as soon as decently possible, amid a broadside at the international community.

I have – at times unpopularly – always opposed what had it succeeded would have been a Pyrrhic victory, a campaign in the most inhospitable territory from which the Soviet army withdrew defeated. The priority, as Paddy said, should always have been about protecting people rather than chasing an enemy. However much we in the West might find the views of the Taleban offensive, we have failed politically, and have probably succeeded only in reinforcing their values.

Back in 2001, along with Jonathan Calder and possibly one other, I alone on the Lib Dems’ Federal Policy Committee opposed us entering this war. Ming Campbell played somewhat fast and loose with Party policy passed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 which called for any reaction to be precise, proportionate and in accordance with international law. I take no pleasure in having been proved right.

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