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Nov 12, 2014

Network Front | The Guardian: How a decade of misguided war has corroded the idea of Britain

Network Front | The Guardian
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How a decade of misguided war has corroded the idea of Britain
Nov 12th 2014, 17:48, by Ali Ansari

Persistent unease about the legitimacy of military action in Iraq and Afghanistan has left a toxic political legacy

Few would deny that for all the wanton slaughter of the first world war, the conflict acted as a catalyst for profound change. The experience of war on such a scale had an immense and lasting impact on social relations and political ideas. Britain was shielded from the worst of the consequences that affected the continent, not least because victory provided a justification in itself for war, and because British values appeared to have been vindicated.

For over a decade now, Britain has been apparently engaged in another war for civilisation. Though different in character and intensity, this engagement is at the same time more protracted, less tangible in its aims, and perhaps more important in its consequences. While the British withdrawal from Afghanistan last month closed a chapter, it did not provide a conclusion. If the British like their wars short and sharp, with a clear cause and a victory they can celebrate, then Iraq, Afghanistan, and its associated interventions, along with the seemingly open-ended commitments they represent, have been a major source of disaffection.

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