Seems the ruling classes of Britain and America were so eager to get into Iraq, they thought there’d be no trouble occupying Afghanistan…
(And notice how Ashdown confuses the Taliban with Al Qaeda – accidental or what?)
Tony Blair said privately that he wanted the UK to get out of Afghanistan “very quickly” after the 2001 invasion, ex-Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown claims.
Lord Ashdown said the then prime minister was anxious not to become entangled in a lengthy conflict.
Britain deployed troops to Afghanistan shortly after the 11 September attacks.
Since then 108 British troops have been killed in fierce fighting as part of Nato’s International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF).
The government has not officially said how long it believes British troops will have to stay in Afghanistan.
But in confidential government papers leaked to The Daily Telegraph earlier this month, Foreign Secretary David Miliband warns cabinet colleagues of a “long hard struggle” against the Taleban and opium trade that could last many years.
“I just happened to be looking through – actually this morning – the notes of a meeting I had with the prime minister on the 6th December 2001, and what he says to me is, ‘Paddy, we are going to have to go in and do this’. And I said of course he’d have our support.”
Lord Ashdown says Mr Blair went on: “But it’s going to be in and out very quickly. We’re going to go into Kabul, we’ll take Kabul and then we’ll leave straight away.”
The peer, who was recently blocked from being UN envoy to Afghanistan by President Hamid Karzai, recalls telling Mr Blair that avoiding becoming entangled in a conflict there was a “good idea”.
He goes on: “There’s no doubt that we started off actually wanting to go in, remove Al-Qaeda and get out quickly, and that plan changed.
“I guess it changed because somebody said, if you get out, Al-Qaeda will take over again. But there’s no doubt that it has become bigger than we thought it was.”