In the cover story of the September issue of Prospect, out today, Editor Bronwen Maddox makes the case for an inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan (£). Maddox asks five key questions:
1. Did the Iraq war doom the Afghan conflict?
2. Why did Britain take on the role of quelling the narcotics trade?
3. Why did the UK take on Helmand?
4. What has the conflict cost the UK?
5. What have we achieved in Afghanistan?
None of the answers to these questions are especially reassuring. The war in Afghanistan, which has lasted longer than any other in which Britain has become entangled, is, Maddox argues, the biggest “outright failure in British foreign policy since Suez. It was worse than that in Iraq, which prompted two parliamentary investigations: the Butler Review and the Chilcot Inquiry. The lessons of Afghanistan are even broader: they extend from military planning through aid to every part of Britain’s role in the world. That is the justification now for a thorough parliamentary inquiry which asks, above all: what did we think we were doing, and why did it go so wrong?”