Okay, I may have some problems with Rory Stewart’s general perspective on things, but I was taken by surprise to find that he was elected MP of Penrith and the Border in this month’s UK election.
A former diplomat, army officer and tutor to Princes William and Harry, Stewart was a deputy governor in southern Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, founded a charity in Afghanistan and has made the New York Times bestseller’s list with a book about his hike.
He’s already regarded as a possible successor to Cameron, even though he only joined the Conservative Party last summer.
Yet, only last year, Stewart thought a political career was out of reach. [AP]
A possible successor to Cameron–isn’t that something. I wonder how much influence Stewart will end up having over the Ministry of Defence.
Steve Coll wrote today about the new British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and Stewart’s advice to David Cameron going forward on the matter of Afghanistan:
During his visit to Washington, Hague spoke cautiously about Afghanistan and emphasized his government’s desire to forge unity with the United States. He said the new government saw no need to “rush into a disagreement” with the U.S. about the subject of talking to the Taliban. Acknowledging that American commanders prefer to postpone serious consideration of such talks until after they have carried out their military push into Kandahar during the next six months, he added, “You can easily see that people would have different views about timing.” Nonetheless, he made clear that “it will be a big part of our job to support the peace process” and that the British push for more politics in Afghanistan, and less fighting, would persist.
Ah, but six months will go by quickly–it doesn’t even mark the end of the calendar year. As Germany finally steps up to the plate and the infil of soldiers and civilians from US agencies continues, how long before inside opinion in Parliament becomes a matter for the floor? Particularly given recent polling that indicates 52% of the British populace are against the war. I can’t help but be chary of what this means, exactly:
Hague was asked to define success in the Afghan war. He replied, “To arrive at a point where Afghans can look after their own affairs without presenting a danger to the rest of the world.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s one long-term, large-scale project right there.
In other news, the Security Crank has returned from hibernation. Let the verbal savagery begin again.