David Blackburn

The Tories’ support for the war in Afghanistan owes nothing to neo-conservatism

The Tories’ support for the war in Afghanistan owes nothing to neo-conservatism
Text settings

In his column in the Mail, Peter Oborne writes that Cameron’s stance on Afghanistan represents the same mistake made by IDS in his unstinting support for the Iraq war. Oborne fears that neo-conservatism has gripped the Tory leadership.

‘The ‘Neocons’, despite being discredited by the Iraq war, have furtively regained their position at the heart of the Tory party.

Almost without exception, Cameron’s senior team are passionate Atlanticists who seem committed to the policy of ‘reinforcement of failure’ in Afghanistan.

Both the Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox are ‘Neocons’. As are Cameron’s two most trusted Shadow Cabinet colleagues, Michael Gove and George Osborne.’

By their own admission, the Shadow Cabinet’s Neocon element “stays silent on foreign policy”. Cameron himself is emphatically not a Neocon: “You cannot drop democracy from 10,000ft” is his favoured catchphrase. Tory support for the Afghan war is based on the assumption that it is stabilising the benighted region, forcing jihadism to become nomadic and improving global security. Their policy is not inspired by an ideological commitment to export democracy and Atlanticism at the end of a bayonet.

Therefore, Oborne is correct that ‘on matters of overall strategy, there is not a cigarette paper between Cameron, Brown and Obama’. Nato's strategy is unfocussed, confused and counter-productive - jihadists around the world to flock to Afghanistan with murderous and chaotic intent, and not even the warlords can contain them. It is conceivable that perpetuating a failing and very costly strategy might cost Cameron in the long run; he should consider alternatives.