ANALYSIS | Arrogance and ignorance: this is why the West lost in Afghanistan

Storming into countries without insight into their ways cripples the West’s cause before the first shot rings out

05 September 2021 - 18:38 By Max Hastings

There have been many dark moments in the two decades since 9/11, some of them in Kabul, Afghanistan, last month. I remain especially haunted by a snapshot from 2007 Iraq. British political adviser Emma Sky was riding a Blackhawk with US commander Gen Raymond Odierno. She mentioned to her boss over the intercom a glimpsed graffiti on a building wall in Baghdad: “THE HERO, THE MARTYR SADDAM HUSSEIN.”

Odierno responded tersely that the hanged dictator was a mass murderer. Sky, who liked to live dangerously, said: “We still don’t know who killed more Iraqis, you or Saddam, sir.” There was a deadly silence in the helicopter and even the diplomat wondered if she had gone too far. “General O”, as she called him, then shouted: “Open the doors, pilots. Throw her out!”..

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