On Afghanistan

Lawrence of Arabia DocumentaryWe are accustomed to seeing Afghans through bars, or smeared windows, or the sight of a rifle: turbaned men carrying rockets, praying in unison, or lying in pools of blood; boys squabbling in an empty swimming-pool; women in burn wards, or begging in burqas. Kabul is a South Asian city of millions. Bollywood music blares out in its crowded spice markets and flower gardens, but it seems that images conveying colour and humour are reserved for Rajasthan.

Barack Obama, in a recent speech, set out our fears:

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TED Talks: Time to end the war in Afghanistan

British MP Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan after 9/11, talking with citizens and warlords alike. Now, a decade later, he asks: Why are Western and coalition forces still fighting there? He shares lessons from past military interventions that worked — Bosnia, for instance — and shows that humility and local expertise are the keys to […]


Time to be honest about Afghanistan

Whatever the west feels it should do, it cannot bring a political or military solution, says Rory in his newest article. More than 50 US and British soldiers have been killed by their Afghan partners this year. The attacks have been described as Taliban infiltration of the police, which could be addressed by better vetting. But the […]

National Army Museum, London/Bridgeman Art Library

Lessons from Afghanistan

  Diana Preston’s The Dark Defile describes the disastrous occupation of Afghanistan by Britain from 1839 to 1842. This is a well-known story—depicted in grand nineteenth-century canvases (Remnants of an Army), 1960s comedies (Flashman), and a flurry of books with Victorian titles, published or republished to coincide with our current Afghan mess: Signal Catastrophe, Crimson Snow, The Last Man, Retreat and […]

The Great Game: A personal view

This Monday and Wednesday, at 9pm, BBC 2 is showing a documentary I made about the Victorian and Soviet invasions of Afghanistan.  I’m not sure I’m ever going to make a documentary again.  I began it before I was elected to parliament.  The editing was finished last year. And it was cancelled just before it […]

Rory in Kabul museum

kabul museum

From INTELLGENT LIFE magazine, September/October 2011   Two vast and mostly trunkless legs of stone stand in the hall; near them sits a shattered Bodhisattva, whose hunched shoulders and sorrowful gaze are the work of an Afghan sculptor from 1,700 years ago. In 2001, the Taliban broke it into a hundred pieces. And the Bodhisattva […]

22-10-2013 11-11-12

Rory Speaks on Afghanistan

Transcript We are leaving, and that is a very difficult and painful fact. We are not leaving entirely, but we are leaving combat operations, as the Prime Minister has made clear. It is the correct decision, but it has troubling implications, because the underlying logic is that we will cease combat operations by the end […]


rory meets hamid karzai in house of commons

Rory met the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, at the House of Commons yesterday, 1st March 2011. Mr Stewart and MPs from the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committees met with Mr Karzai in the House of Commons to discuss the current issues facing Afghanistan and to debate the wider repercussions of instability in Northern Africa. Rory’s meeting with Mr Karzai came […]

House of Commons Armed Forces

Rory’s speech on the UK armed forces in Afghanistan

Transcript I find this a very powerful, very troubling and very worrying motion. It states: “That this House supports the continued deployment of UK armed forces in Afghanistan.” If one were to remove the word “continued”, there is nobody in this House who would oppose the motion. Every Member, day by day, feels more admiration […]

Richard Holbrock

Tribute to Richard Holbrooke, Huffington Post, 20th December 2010

Last January, Richard Holbrooke called my cell phone at midnight, although we were both in DC. He had been Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan for a week and he wanted to quiz me on Afghanistan. After each reply he paused and then — just as I suspected he was texting someone else — growled […]