The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): "We should be in no doubt about why we are operating in Afghanistan. It is for one overriding reason: to protect our national security. Atrocities on the scale of 11 September 2001 must never be allowed to happen again. We seek an Afghanistan able to effectively manage its own security and prevent its territory from being used as a safe haven by international terrorists to plan and launch attacks against the UK and our allies."
That was yesterday. It's the old lie. Repeating the same untruth is not alchemy that transforms it into a truth. In my hearing the same lie has been at least a dozen times in the past three months. Pointing out that it is untrue costs me suspension from the Commons. Even that was not enough to persuade Government Ministers to rethink.
There has not been a sliver of the truth in the claim for the past ten years. This is not just a politician's exaggeration or deception. It's a giant lie that has sent 438 of our brave soldiers to their deaths. 2,000 more have returned from Afghanistan broken in body or mind. For what? What there a threat of terrorism from Afghanistan?
Al Quaeda were all expelled by 2002. The Taliban have no interest in terrorism in the UK. They are attacking out troops because we are in their country. Al Quaeda are in Pakistan, North Mali, Somalia, the Yemen and they are part of the insurgency in Syria. We have no plans, I hope, to invade any of those countries. They are safe havens from which Al Quaeda can operate.
Government ministers cling to the lie for self-preservation. If thy admit the truth, they will have to face the guilt that they have sent soldiers to die in vain. Yesterday a promise was made to bring 3,500 troops home. The momentum will lead to a complete withdrawal if the USA allow it. Then, the country will probably revert to rule by the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. Corruption and the narcotic trade will prosper. It will be a very similar country to the one we invaded in 2001.
Will the ministers responsible for carnage then confess their lie?