“WHAT THE HELL DID THEY ALL DIE FOR”; This was the sombre lament of yesterday’s Daily Mail headline. Contrast this sobering concession to their Doomsday September 2002 headline twenty years earlier, “45 Minutes from Attack” parroting the now famously refuted claims from Tony Blair’s Government that Saddam Hussein’s autocracy in Iraq had the military capacity to wage Weapons of Mass Destruction upon Anglo-American frontiers within 45 minutes. The alleged WMD’s did not exist and a Ministry of Defence official, namely Dr David Kelly, sought to sound the alarm by revealing to the then BBC Radio 4 Today Show defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan that such intelligence had deliberately been ‘Sexed Up’ by elements of the Blair administration.  

By Garrett Byrne    

Yesterday, the Islamist – formerly US backed – Taliban usurped the Afghan Government in what seemed an uncontested victory. Later the militant fanatics were filmed parading around the Presidential Palace in Kabul as exclusive images surfaced from Qatari satellite Al Jazeera. Incredulous for some – the US Pentagon perhaps? – and far more credulous and palpable for others namely downtrodden Afghan citizens. Yet this time round, the tenor of newspaper coverage in Britain echoed desistance and reflection. This marked a deviation away from the sabre-rattling and rhetorical anti-western aggression which historically characterised the propensity of British publications to advance the cause of foreign intervention.  This seems something of an epochal moment. The bastions of opinion forming in Liberal and Conservative publications alike seem no longer wedded (for now) to the moribund ideas of Western hegemony being fruitlessly exercised in overseas combat to export ‘Democracy’ in vain. The public has awoken to the aggregate of ugly realities culminating from the series of botched Anglo-American interventions of the last two decades.  

Acting Sgt Sean Binnie was killed in Afghanistan in May 2009; his mother has proclaimed his death to be in vein after the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan, BBC

Thousands of working-class Britons die, punctuating an already seething sentiment wherein the have nots of this country seem more readily prepared to relinquish their lives for service in unedifying juxtaposition to their Etonite Governors. Suicide, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and homelessness are amongst the myriad of socio-psychological challenges which typically skyrocket upon the return of valiant UK veterans from the gruesome battlefields in the gulf.  Last April, Scotland’s flagship Tabloid newspaper the Daily Record reported a 15-year statistical high in military related suicides. To contextualize, the spike reported 15 years ago incidentally coincided with the aftermath of the Iraq War….   

The terror experienced abroad becomes a domestic terror for those British families of who powerlessly see far too many loved ones succumb to the emotional wounds upon their return to the motherland. Indications that the incumbent Conservative Government are prepared to make fundamental realignments in its posturing on the international stage in the context of capriciously shifting global power balances seem scarce. Envision a fleet of Russian ships encircling the English Channel on a sweltering day in June with British tourists watching nonchalantly from Brighton Pier. Reckon the Ministry of Defence would buy that Russia was inoffensively conducting ‘Freedom of Navigation operations as prescribed by International Law’?  Or would the conceivable response from Britain be threats of a strong Anglo-American response, mass expulsion of Russian diplomats, and a 10-page Daily Mail feature detailing the events resonances of post-war Soviet expansion? Perhaps with Jeremy Corbyn’s face also superimposed on the Russian vessel decorating the front page.  

The Daily Mail’s Front Page, The Daily Mail

This week’s Taliban victory over NATO, America and Great Britain has become something of a microcosm which is signifying the broader failure of Western military flexing and nation-building in the most conflict-plagued region in the world. Given the emergent multi-polar world settlement, Britain should start opening new diplomatic channels to reap the greatest dividends post-Brexit and pivot away from the wars of old.  After leaving the supranational trading body – The European Union – they are now behind their Eastern counterparts, who have forged strategic trade alliances. Britain must follow the multipolar avenue to see Truss successfully join the Trans-Pacific pacific partnership. That will shut Merkel (albeit outgoing) and the commissioners at Brussels up!  

The war on terror is over. And the medieval militia’s ascent to Kabul’s Presidential Palace proves that the very war charged with defeating terror has inadvertently restored it. With the Taliban now in charge, and thus far little indications on the extent of radicalism they will apply to its regime and beyond, there could well be a security situation that overshadows the Pivotal ‘last chance’ Cop 26 Climate Summit in November. Never mind Stratton’s comments about dishwashers; neuralgic neighbours such as Iran, Pakistan, China, and India could suffer collaterally. This would not be a formula for regional stability in what is already a geo-strategic tinderbox. 

If this materialises? Well, it does not look like Washington or Westminster will have the perfect solutions given their previous endeavours….. 

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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