Rory Stewart apologised for clashing with a fellow guest on appearing BBC Question Time over the government’s role in the Afghanistan crisis.
He was hitting back at broadcaster Mehdi Hasan who questioned whether the UK and the US’ 20-year presence in Afghanistan was at all effective considering the Taliban have just stormed through the country in less than 10 days.
Acknowledging his impassioned reply on the BBC show, Stewart later tweeted: “Apologies for losing my cool on …@bbcquestiontime but we have [to] stop [saying] ‘either it was a disaster or it was a triumph’.
“You can be a strong critic of the surge in Afghanistan [and] still accept how much was achieved and how much we have needlessly thrown away.”
The former soldier, Conservative MP and one-time candidate for Tory leader has become a prominent voice criticising Downing Street and the White House over the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in recent weeks, even describing the move as a “betrayal” to all those who served in the war-torn country.
Speaking on Question Time, Hasan also hit out at the UK and US governments, but he claimed they had “lied” over the last two decades when they promised the situation in Afghanistan was “turning a corner”.
Hasan continued: “At what point do we say enough is enough, we have to end this, even if it’s done, and I think it was done in a horrific way, but it has to end.
“We cannot have an endless war and do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”
Stewart interrupted Hasan, and claimed: “You’re massively misrepresenting the situation, combat operations finished in 2014.”
Stewart, who spent several years in Afghanistan, claimed for the last seven years, the west was conducting air operations with the support of the Afghan national army.
He continued: “You’re living in the past. There have been very few US or UK casualties and this is one of the problems of the line that Biden is selling.”
He also dissected US President Joe Biden’s claim that the west had become involved in Afghanistan’s civil war, and so now had no alternative but to leave.
Stewart described this as a “totally false” allegation, and said there had been a significant improvement in the country over the last 20 years due to the presence western forces pushing the Taliban back.
He added: “Millions of Afghans [have seen] their lives improving over the last few years, you’re much too pessimistic about what’s been happening in Kabul.”