“This has in many ways been a chronicle of an event foretold...we’ve known for a long time that this was the way things were going.”

Boris Johnson, Interview with the Daily Mail

August 15, 2021

Facts

Following the seizure of Afghanistan by Taliban forces in August, Boris Johnson told the Daily Mail: “This has in many ways been a chronicle of an event foretold...we’ve known for a long time that this was the way things were going.”

Just over a month earlier, Johnson had said: “There is no military path to victory for the Taliban”, adding: “I do not believe that the Taliban are guaranteed the kind of victory that we sometimes read about.”

Chronicle of an Event Foretold is the title of a novella by the great Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, based on a real-life honour killing. 

Marquez’ tale differs from a traditional detective story in that it does not concern the investigation of a murder. Marquez emphasises that the murder was predicted — "there had never been a death more foretold"  — yet no one was able or willing to stop it. The real mystery, therefore, concerns how an entire community allowed a murder to occur without trying to stop it, even warn the victim. Johnson’s imaginative deployment of a Marquez novel to suggest collective complicity in a universally foreseen outcome is interesting in the context of the fall of Kabul in August 2021.

Verdict

Johnson’s claim that his government had “known for a long time that this was the way things were going,” while using the title of a Gabriel GarcíaMarquez novel to hint at collective complicity in a universally foreseen outcome, is thought-provoking. However, it contradicts his earlier claim in the House of Commons that “There is no military path to victory for the Taliban.”

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