As the last troops left Helmand today it was striking hearing the lack of public support for what we had been doing there for the last 13 years. I heard long term critic of the war Paul Flynn MP on Radio5Live outlining why he still thought the war had been a failure and disaster. Listening to Ministers defending our involvement and setting out what we thought had been achieved could not be further apart.
At the time it was the first time I had the chance to vote on military action int he Commons. Like many I had my concerns, I had a heavy heart and wondered about not supporting the action. It did seem as though there was a stretch in the argument about stopping terrorism by taking on the Taliban in Afgahnistan. But hindsight is wonderful thing, and even given what I know now I am uncertain as to whether I would have supported the action as the outcomes are still so uncertain. There is always the impossible certainty of what may have or may not have happened if we had taken a different course. But this along with Iraq certainly put down the need for greater parliamentary scrutiny of Prime Ministers taking us into military action abroad. Iraq was a disaster. We bottled Syria because of these failures. Yet we intervened in Libya & now turn a blind eye tot he disatser this country has become. How long after we leave Afghanistan before it becomes another failed state?
Of course during this time the nature of our war against the enemy that is now terrorism has changed. The fixed battles were replaced with IEDs and the terrorists became global and unlimted to the old borders.
In hindsight I don’t think the cost has been worth it. But as I say hindsight is a wonderful thing and I honestly hope that our past failures do not prevent us from intervening in the right situations in the future.