On the 27th of October 2014, the Welsh Cavalry Regiment marched out of Camp Bastion, being the last British force to leave the region, their departure officially ended Brittan’s involvement in Afghanistan. The valour and courage of those who fought will never be forgotten, as will the memories of those who sadly didn’t return – 453 British casualties total, 32 of those being Welsh.

Yet the emotions felt at that moment could not possibly compare to what is being felt now as those soldiers and families now watch the enemy they fought long and hard against retake Afganistan. As of this moment, the Taliban control 65% of the country. While most of the said territory is countryside and mountains, the government forces can only last so long hiding in its urban centres.

Therefore as we watch the unfolding chaos, it is only natural to ask, “What was it all for”? The calls for an answer to this question will become all the more louder as the Taliban’s advance continues, and should they succeed, it will forever taint the memory of those who fought and died in region.

So after these seven years, what can be said? Well, looking at it from a world perspective, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq can be argued to of been the first test of United States to show it had moved past its Cold War attitudes and could survive the 21st century. Although after seeing what has happened these past decades in the Middle East, it can be said the US has failed resoundingly.

This can largely be attributed to the ignorance of US political leaders, who blatantly ignored the apparent issues surrounding intervention in the region. Specifically, the warnings of Pakistan, who, in an effort to avoid encirclement by their rival India, had spent the previous decades supporting any pro-Pakistani faction in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda satisfied this strategic concern, but of course, this arrangement did little to satisfy the Americans, Pakistan’s other close ally.

As a result, when George Bush addressed the nation after 9/11, declaring war on Al-Qaeda, Pakistan was put into a challenging position, which the Americans were ignorant to. Yet if there is any better illustration of this, then it was the exchange between Mahmoud Ahmed, head of the ISI, the Pakistani government agency responsible for supporting the Taliban and American Deputy Sectary of State Richard Armitage.

Ahmed employed the Sectary of state “to understand the region’s complex history,” to which Armitage simply replied, “no…the history begins today”. The Pakistani minister was saying to the Sectary’s face that under no circumstance would Pakistan stop supporting the Taliban, even if it officially renounced its support, a strategic reality that has continued to this day with the Talibans recent success being facilitated by a renewed effort by ISI agents.

The assassination of Osama Bin Laden may have satisfied America’s domestic desire for revenge. However, the bungled occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan has ended up taking an enormous toll on the United State’s diplomatic reputation and global prestige. For Afganistan is now a testament to what it means to be supported by America. So the Super Power may have to content itself with remaining in its traditional sphere of influence, which in light of this possible retreat may other nations now start to re-evaluate their own positions.

Wales for one, could be forced to take such an action in relation to its position within the union in light of this failed conflict. Suppose Britain continues to throw away lives and resources in un-justified wars? An attitude of distrustfulness towards London will inevitably grow, which means that if Britain cannot guarantee the peace and prosperity of its citizens, then perhaps someone else can-an. Independent Wales for example, which would be able to decide its own foreign policy and guarantee its own citizens prosperity.

This shouldn’t be considered an inevitable outcome and a lot of speculation is involved in such a prediction. However, the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq will have far-reaching consequences that we cannot yet see in the short time that has passed. But what we can be sure of is that if the lack of belief in the ideas both Britain and The Western World stand for is allowed to continue, then we may find these problems addressing themselves in the future.

Blog by William Kelly

Pictures Credit to Walesonline