'We are now witnessing the grim cost of a failed strategy in Afghanistan'

It must be our priority now to protect those people left behind, writes Labour MP and former Territorial Army infantry officer Clive Lewis

Shadow Minister for Sustainable Economics Clive Lewis
Clive Lewis served in Afghanistan for three months

There could have been a much better exit strategy but instead we have had a foreign policy disaster.

We left combat operations in Afghanistan in 2013 so have had more than seven years to comprehensively prepare the Afghan government for the allies’ withdrawal.

We could have spent more time developing Afghanistan but the UK Government drastically cut its aid budget to the nation.

The priority was not to get this country ready for troops to pull out.

The whole mechanics of leaving Afghanistan was incredibly poor – the Government thought it would be out of sight, out of mind.

What they didn’t expect was a re-enactment of the 1975 Fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.

The mechanics of leaving Afghanistan have been incredibly poor, writes the Labour MP


POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

And the bombing of the airport has shown the possibility of civil war in Afghanistan is very high again.

I served in Afghanistan 12 years ago with the Territorial Army.

Back then, I questioned Britain’s part in the war but the scale of the human cost that I have witnessed first-hand has made me fully reject it.

I saw civilians caught up in crossfire between our troops and the Taliban. Civilians were used by the Taliban to hide behind and I saw some terrible injuries and abandoned towns.

Seeing the latest images of terrified people has definitely brought back painful memories for me.

Military intervention has cost trillions of pounds and an immense number of lives. It must be our priority now to protect those people left behind and prevent further needless deaths.


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