The disaster now unfolding in Afghanistan is the consequence of a twenty-year long failed military intervention. The responsibility rests with the US, British and other NATO governments which plunged into a war that was always doomed to fail. The starting of the conflict, not the manner of the ending of it, was the problem.
Twenty years ago, at the moment of its foundation, the Stop the War Coalition, representing a broad range of political and social movements and organisations, warned against the rush to war and urged other ways of responding to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In particular, we argued that military occupation of Afghanistan could not lead to stable governance, and would be rejected as a foreign imposition by many Afghans.
We asserted then and believe now that democracy and human rights can rarely be imposed externally, and must be the product of the efforts of the peoples themselves if it is to prove durable.
The defeat of the US and British militaries in Afghanistan means that this intervention joins those in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen as a calamity that has cost tens of thousands of lives and vast resources to no purpose. It is time that the “war on terror”, the pretext for these interventions, is declared over.
The British government should take a lead in offering a refugee programme and reparations to rebuild Afghanistan, an act which would go a great deal further in advancing the rights of the Afghan people, women in particular, than continued military or economic intervention in the fate of the Afghanistan.
We urge politicians of all parties to learn the lessons of the failed wars of intervention and turn to international cooperation as the means of resolving disputes and tackling problems of poverty and underdevelopment.