Tom Tugendhat on the Value of Patience

In an Aug-18-2021 speech to House of Commons, Tom Tugendhat emphasizes the need for patience and persistence to achieve peace.

Tom Tugendhat on the Value of Patience


The mission in Afghanistan wasn’t a British mission, it was a NATO mission. It was a recognition that globalisation has changed us all. […] That connection links us also to our European partners, to our neighbours and our international friends.

And so it is with great sadness that I now criticise one of them. Because I was never prouder than when I was decorated by the 82nd Airborne after the capture of Musa Qala. It was a huge privilege to be recognised by such an extraordinary unit in combat. To see their commander-in-chief call into question the courage of men I fought with — to claim that they ran. It is shameful.

Those who have never fought for the colours they fly should be careful about criticising those who have. Because what we have done, in these last few days, is we’ve demonstrated that it’s not armies that win wars. Armies can get tactical victories and operational victories that can hold a line. They can just about make room for peace, make room for people like us, parliamentarians, to talk, to compromise, to listen. It’s nations that make war. Nations endure. Nations mobilise and muster. Nations determine, and have patience.

Here we have demonstrated, sadly, that we, the West — the United Kingdom — does not have patience. Now, this is a harsh lesson for all of us and if we are not careful it could be a very, very difficult lesson for our allies. And it doesn’t need to be. We can set out a vision, a clear articulated vision, for reinvigorating a European-NATO partnership, to make sure we are not dependent on a single ally, on the decision of a single leader, but that we can work together with Japan and Australia, with France and Germany, with partners large and small, and make sure we hold the line together.

We know that patience wins. We know it because we have achieved it, we know it because we have delivered it. The Cold War was won with patience. Cyprus is at peace with patience. South Korea, with more than ten times the number of troops that America had in Afghanistan, is prosperous through patience.

Excerpts from a speech by Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) to British House of Commons on Aug 18 as reported by the Spectator

Earlier remarks on Aug 18 by Keir Starmer (MP for Holborn and St Pancras) (Labor)

“More than 150,000 UK personnel have served in Afghanistan. They include Members from across this House, including the hon. and gallant Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat), my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), the hon. and gallant Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer), my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwich South (Clive Lewis), and the hon. and gallant Members for Aldershot (Leo Docherty), for Isle of Wight (Bob Seely), for Filton and Bradley Stoke (Jack Lopresti) and for Wells (James Heappey). They and the tens of thousands of others deployed in Afghanistan served in difficult and challenging circumstances, and the Labour party and—I am sure—everybody across this House thanks each and every one of them and of the 150,000. Many returned with life-changing injuries and, tragically, 457 did not return at all.”

Remarks by Keir Starmer on Aug-18-2021 in British House of Commons (from Hansard 669 / Afghanistan)

SKMurphy Take

Foresight and the courage and patience to see it through are in short supply.


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