Leader: Learning from Afghanistan

The UK government no longer speaks of victory in Afghanistan. Ten years on from the fall of Kabul and the flight of Mullah Omar, the Taliban have confidently regrouped, having fought the US and its allies to a standstill, just as the US-funded mujahedin before them forced the Soviet Union to make a humiliating retreat in the 1980s. From the beginning, the New Statesman was sceptical about the Afghanistan misadventure. Now, all these years later and with so many dead, we ask: what has been learned? The Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Alistair Burt, writing on page 31, says that we are in Afghanistan "to protect our own national security by helping the Afghans take control of theirs". But no Muslim terror group had attacked Britain before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars radicalised a generation of British Muslim youth. We will be living with the consequences of this for decades to come.

This article first appeared in the 07 November 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The triumph of the Taliban