The Government Must Learn the Lessons of the Failed Wars of Intervention – Claudia Webbe MP


“The bombing and invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was wrong. This was a war without a just cause, underpinned by neo-colonial ambitions, which set in motion a cycle of unimaginable suffering.”

Over 80 MPs who requested to speak in this week’s parliamentary debate on Afghanistan debate could not be called to make remarks before it closed. This was Claudia Webbe MP’s planned contribution:

“The bombing and invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was wrong. This was a war without a just cause, underpinned by neo-colonial ambitions, which set in motion a cycle of unimaginable suffering.

The crisis in Afghanistan demonstrates that western interventions only serve to create power vacuums that exacerbate the suffering of innocent people. The racism and Islamophobia of such military interventions also cannot be ignored. Neither can the enduring legacy of the British Empire which left a legacy of instability in the region that persists to this day.  

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. A total failure. It is time that these neo-colonial interventions are abandoned for good.

Considering the UK’s role in destabilising Afghanistan and the wider region, we now have a unique obligation to welcome as many refugees as possible from the country by providing safe, open passages, rapidly processing asylum claims, relaxing all restrictions and protecting existing Afghan asylum seekers in the UK.

The desperation and trauma of those Afghans clinging to a departing aeroplane is real. We must never ever underestimate what we’ve all witnessed for ourselves.

In Leicester we have a proud history of welcoming refugees, including East African Asians from Uganda so quite frankly, the Prime Minister’s announcement today goes no where near, far or fast enough. In putting in place specific safe and legal asylum routes. It is especially vital that we provide routes for family reunion and permanent settlement for Afghan nationals who are currently working and studying in the UK.

It is also essential that all Afghan refugees here in the UK are immediately released from detention centres. It is foolhardy to continue such inhumane detentions as even by the government’s own dire standards it is obvious there is an inability to carry out removals safely. The Government must also ensure the safe return of all recent Afghan deportees is secured.The government must change its rhetoric and treatment of refugees.

The devastating Nationalities and Borders Bill, which will not protect those Afghans fleeing fear, persecution and violence must be withdrawn and abandoned and replaced by a fair and welcoming asylum system.

There is also a real risk of a humanitarian disaster, particularly for women and girls, for religious minorities, for independent journalist, for trade union leaders and those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Their voices must never be silenced. They must never become invisible. 

It is utterly shameful that the government has slashed development support to the country by 45% just as it faces a grave crisis. The government must restore foreign aid spending to at least its previous levels, as this has a crucial role in supporting wider humanitarian work within Afghanistan and the region.

The UK must also show it is taking immediate steps to ensure aid can reach those in need, end all arms sales that can be used against Afghan civilians and prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Yes, we owe a duty of care to our veterans and to all who served and never returned- to never ever again send British personnel to die in wars built on lies and to no purpose.

Above all else, the government – and indeed everyone in this house – must learn the lessons of the failed wars of intervention and turn to international cooperation as the means of resolving conflicts and disputes.”

Claudia Webbe MP. Photo: Labour Outlook Archive

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