Instant Opinion

‘Was Afghanistan worth it?’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press



Timothy Kudo in The New York Times

I fought in Afghanistan. I still wonder, was it worth it?

on withdrawing from Afghan

Timothy Kudo, a former Marine captain who served in the Afghanistan war, recalls a letter he wrote on the eve of his deployment in case he was killed. “The first paragraph reads, ‘It was worth it’, then it continues about honor, duty and patriotism before closing with a final farewell and a request for burial at Arlington,” he writes in The New York Times. “‘It was worth it’. The words reverberate. The weight feels a little heavier, and I whisper them like a mantra and continue marching. But now the war is ending, and those words are enigmatic.” As the US pulls its troops out of Afghanistan, Kudo fears that “the most meaningful part of my life – and only its prologue – is being erased by time, by the enemy and even by my country”. He wonders: “Was it worth it? Everything has been because I’d been able to answer yes to that question. But what if the answer is no?”


Jemima Kelly in the Financial Times

Forgiveness should also extend to the living

on celebrating the living

The late Prince Philip and American rapper DMX have this week been “more celebrated for what they achieved than chastised for what they got wrong”, but “back in the land of the living, it’s a different affair entirely”, says Jemima Kelly in the Financial Times. Whether or not you believe cancel culture exists, we live “in world of moral absolutism and censoriousness, at least online”, argues Kelly. “In the end, humans are complicated, messy and hypocritical beings, who contain bad bits as well as good bits. We would all be happier, it seems to me, if we learnt to accept – even to celebrate – one another before we reach the grave. It seems a shame to reserve redemption for the dead.”


Christabel Nsiah-Buadi on The Independent

Why exactly do you think BLM founder Patrisse Cullors shouldn’t live in a million-dollar house?

on black wealth

The vilification of Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, for buying a million-dollar house in an affluent neighbourhood “speaks volumes about what we think Black people should fight for, and what Black people should have access to”, says Christabel Nsiah-Buadi on The Independent. “There is no reason why a person can’t have personal luxuries while running profitable businesses and also advocating for racial justice.” Nsiah-Buadi concludes: “Black people have been continually shut out of places where they might be able to generate their own wealth over the past hundred years, and that means that demanding they prove their virtuousness by staying poor is completely absurd.”


Ross Clark in The Daily Telegraph

Vaccines are the answer to this crisis. Why won't the Government admit it? 

on underestimating vaccines

“Ministers seem determined to pooh-pooh their one great success while throwing huge sums at the things which haven’t worked well,” says Ross Clark in The Daily Telegraph. He takes aim at Boris Johnson’s “bizarre” insistence that lockdown is the main reason for the drop in coronavirus cases and deaths rather than vaccinations, which contradicts a study out today. “The Prime Minister acts as if he doesn’t trust the data on vaccines, and as if he believes that you can’t inoculate your way out of a pandemic – in spite of the world having successfully suppressed all manner of infectious diseases by such means,” says Clark. Persuading young people to get vaccinated was never going to be straightforward, but “the government has made it a lot harder than it needs to be”.


Tom Cheshire on Sky News

A battle for green supremacy between the US and China could help save the planet

President Joe Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, is in Shanghai today to discuss climate change – “the biggest challenge the world faces” – with Chinese leaders. But “perhaps China and the US don't need to agree on much, or take part in any horse trading”, says Tom Cheshire on Sky News. “Instead, each country could seek to do more than the other on climate change – in the same way as they are, very publicly, competing diplomatically and economically.” Cheshire concludes: “Cooperation has its uses. But if the two preeminent powers in the world start competing to save the planet, that could be even more useful.”


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