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.
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.”