Main Image Credit Former US President George W Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at a joint news conference in 2002. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
There will be a great deal of national soul-searching as the tragedy in Afghanistan unfolds before us. Even as Parliament is recalled this week, anger, guilt, cynicism, weasel words and historical comparisons will echo loudly through the national debate. For all the good that UK military and aid personnel did over 20 years in Afghanistan – and they certainly did quite a lot – there will also be many ugly truths to confront. One of the most unpalatable may not emerge very easily. The fact is that for two decades UK national leaders pretended, to themselves as much as to everyone else, that they were enacting a national strategy for Afghanistan. In reality, they were operating little more than the UK’s tactics within a US strategy over which they had next to no influence.