David Loyn talks 200 years in Afghanistan

[video:brightcove:1847310960] David Loyn talked about the 200 years of intervention in Afghanistan at the club last week. If you missed the talk, click the video above it’s well worth watching or listen to the event in iTunes. In The Independent Kim Sengupta follows up with a discussion on engaging with the Taliban,

The war this time also has intrinsic differences from previous conflicts. It is no longer just an Afghan problem. The Taliban are sustained and reinforced by elements in the Pakistani military and secret police and the jihad is spreading through Pakistan. Any solution to the conflict will have to include that country as well – a dauntingly difficult task. There is one further point. Three years ago I interviewed five women in Kandahar and Kabul who had gone into public life with the vision of creating a new Afghanistan. Since then three of them have been killed by Islamists and a fourth, the MP for Kandahar, is in hiding. link

While Mike Innes, who was in the audience at the event, writes about the experience on the Terraplexic blog,

Frontline’s intimately spaced events room, with its exposed brickwork and iconic media images of past and present wars, amplified the sense of relevance, and as I looked around, I could see members of the audience, veteran journalists, soldiers, and other Afghanistan hands among them, who were simply captivated. If nothing else, this was good history, the kind that tells a tale worth listening to. link

Lastly, here’s a review in The Telegraph of David’s latest book – Butcher & Bolt – by the interviewer at the event, Saul David,

The simple narrative of “Mujahideen good, Taliban bad”, believes Loyn, had “a profound impact on political and military planning” in the wake of the 2001 invasion. The solution, he feels, is not to pour in more troops but to sit down and talk to the Taliban, to work “with the Afghan grain, rather than imposing an external model”. link

John Sweeney reviewed the book in The New Statesman,

The solution for people who have spent a long time in Afghanistan was a different one: to work with the Taliban and somehow to uncouple the Afghan fighters from al-Qaeda. Seven years of killing later, it feels a bit too late to try that now. So, western policy seems glued to fighting a war that many people in the know are now saying the west is never going to win: “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here…” link