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MP Rory Stewart, OBE, spoke some time ago on a subject very near to his heart:  Afghanistan.  Here is a column on it from ConservativeHome.  Stewart takes a humanitarian but generally non-interventionist position on continued UK troop involvement in the nation.  Here is a quote from the cited article of Ian Parker in the New Yorker (subscription required):

“An added complication is that his views about Afghanistan are not the Conservative Party’s views.  Stewart believes in a long humitarian commitment to the country but in a greatly reduced military presence: only 10 or 20,000 troops, ‘so that the Taliban are at least facing a stalemate’, as he recently put it.  He summarises his stance in a dense sentence that seems to be looking for a piece as the epigraph in a future biography: ‘If we can do less than we pretend, we can do much more than we fear’.”

Stewart seems to suggest that fighting al-Qaeda, not nation-building, is the objective sought.  I agree.  So does the Prime Minister, too, if you accept what he said in Parliament on May 14.  Stewart also is not shy about challenging the assumption that any fall of Afghanistan would affect Pakistan:

Rory Stewart (Penrith and The Border) (Con): How exactly would the collapse of Afghanistan affect Pakistan? Why is the hon. Gentleman so confident that a failed state in Afghanistan would have calamitous effects for Pakistan?

Mike Gapes: [Author’s note – a Labour/Co-op MP from Ilford South] When the Foreign Affairs Committee visited Pakistan last year, we were in Islamabad when the Pakistani Taliban got to within 80 miles of Islamabad. At that point, the Pakistani Government got out of denial and started a very difficult process of taking on the insurgents from the FATA, or federally administered tribal areas, and other areas. They pushed up the Pakistani Taliban towards the Afghan border. There is an area on that border, on both sides, where the insurgents can regroup, hide and get training. If the Pakistani state is faced with a failure by us or the Afghan forces to press on the other side, there will be an easy way for the insurgents to work on both sides of that border without having sustained pressure from both sides. That is a fundamental dilemma for the Pakistani Government and I do not think that we appreciate quite how many Pakistanis have died in recent years and the great sacrifice that Pakistani people have made because of terrorism, because of outrages within their society such as those in Islamabad, Karachi and other parts of Pakistan, and because of the potential threat to the state imposed by Islamist radicalism and extremism.

Stewart did not follow up on this comment but may not have had time to do so.

MP Stewart also spoke in January on local government.  He sounds vaguely libertarian here:

“This is a strange time and place because all hon. Members believe in that decentralisation, whether we call it localism, hyper-localism or double hyper-localism, but we are obstructed by our anxieties about power, knowledge and legitimacy. Let us remember the basic instinct and work together. We should support the Bill because we know that communities know and care more, and that they can and ought to do more than distant officials in Penrith, Carlisle, London or Brussels.

Stewart has however not been a eurosceptic or one of the Tory rebels I admire very much fighting for liberty and sovereignty.  Perhaps it is because Stewart realizes he must pay his dues in order to be a frontbencher and a potential PM.  That means no troublemaking!  Paul Waugh says as much in 2009 (before Stewart was elected MP) that Stewart, besides being the Tories most eligible bachelor, is a future PM:

“‘Do you think I should be a politician, Emily?’ he asks. I say ‘why not?’

“‘Do you think I should be prime minister?’ I tell him that I think he should try being a politician first.”

The new MP seems very open about his intentions.  I’d watch for Stewart in the future.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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