Time to end the war in Afghanistan?

Yesterday was the deadliest day so far for the United States of its 10-year war in Afghanistan, as thirty members of the American special forces were killed when the Taliban shot down a Chinook helicopter.

That brings the US death toll since the start of the conflict to over 1,000. The UK has lost over 300. Afghanistan: countless thousands (ISAF / NATO hasn’t cared to count too closely).

This year, the projected total cost to the US relating to Afghanistan is expected to be $118.6 billion.

As the rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US top-notch AAA rating to AA+, China took the opportunity to say another downgrade would be inevitable unless the US slashed, among other items, its “gigantic military expenditure”, of which Afghanistan is a huge chunk.

Timely, then, to listen to what Rory Stewart has to say on the matter in this TED Talks speech from a couple of weeks ago: ‘Time to end the war in Afghanistan’.

I don’t think Stewart has all the answers, but he certainly has some of them and meanwhile manages to pose some pretty uncomfortable questions for the war leaders in Washington and Whitehall.


I am the Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International UK and an occasional human rights blogger at Amnesty Blogs: Belfast & Beyond.

I’m on Twitter at @PatrickCorrigan