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Blog

What is the scandal of Afghanistan?

By Dr Owen Thomas

This blog is based a talk given as part of the “Reflections for “Twenty Years of the Global War on Terror: Looking back, looking forward” event, jointly hosted by the Secrecy, Power and Ignorance research Network (SPIN) and the South West Doctoral Training Partnership on 8th September, 2021.

This month, two parliamentary select committees have announced that they will hold inquiries into aspects of the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. An ‘Afghanistan Inquiry’ has been called for many times in 2021.1 But reaction to the Taliban’s unexpectedly sudden seizure of Kabul and the West’s rapid evacuation has hastened and sharpened these calls, such that both the Defence Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee will use much of their inquiries to focus on that withdrawal. A striking feature of the British reaction to that withdrawal was the shock experienced by those who had been involved in two decades of Western operations in Afghanistan. During the BBC’s Question Time, for example, a British military veteran who served in Afghanistan told the panel: “the only way I cannot be utterly embarrassingly humiliated about my service is if we, a democratic nation, hold those responsible to account and have a full parliamentary inquiry.”

Categories
Events

State-Led Inquiries Workshop

On 9th September 2021, we held our virtual workshop ‘State-Led Inquiries as Political Devices: Lessons Learned and Lost from British Interventions, 1853 to the Present Day’ with fascinating contributions from Dr James Strong, Dr Max Drephal, Dr David Saunders, Leyla Belle Drake, Dr Huw Bennett, Dr Louise Kettle, Dr Glen Rangwala, Dr Alan Ingram, and Hannah Richards. We were also incredibly luckly to welcome Professor Richard Toye, Professor Martin Thomas, Dr Tom Bentley, Professor Andrew Williams, and Dr Elspeth van Veeran as discussants for our panellists.

Categories
News

Weekly recommendations from WFTA

A quick update on what the Warnings from the Archive team have been listening to/reading/watching this week. The pieces that have caught our interest and develop the themes and topics explored by the project.

Categories
News

Iraq, War Economy, and Cultural Restitution

On 28th July 2021, the United States agreed to return to Iraq some 17,000 archaeological treasures dating back 4,000 years and looted in recent decades in an “unprecedented” restitution, the culture minister in Baghdad has said. A diplomatic arrangement had been arranged when Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met with US President Joe Biden in Washington, DC last week.

Categories
Blog

Why Blair really went to war

This blog post is republished from a piece published on 5th July 2016 in The Conversation and Newsweek.

As Sir John Chilcot’s Iraq Inquiry findings are published, we should resist what’s become the easy refrain: “Blair Lied. Thousands Died.”

If we actually want to learn from what happened, we should recognise that Tony Blair has been remarkably consistent in his view that the removal of the regime was necessary, whether or not Saddam Hussein actually possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Blair, it seems, genuinely believes that the war was in our best interests because it may have prevented an unlikely (but not impossible) catastrophe. This way of thinking has not gone away.

Categories
Blog

Lineages of Aerial Policing in the Middle East

This spring, the Ministry of Defense acknowledged enlisting the RAF and other coalition planes to engage in air raids across the Makhmur (or Makhmour) mountains, an independent region to the north of Baghdad. The mountains contain a series of limestone caves, thought to be a favoured Isis hideout by British intelligence services. These air attacks targetted the caves to destabilise the Isis stronghold in the Makhmur region and demonstrate a sustained interest in regaining control of north Iraq. The Guardian reported that the number of civilian casualities killed in the spring 2021 air raids have not been authenticated as the cave complexes have yet to be cleared by Iraqi ground forces.