OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair broke his silence and ripped Biden’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan as “imbecilic,” before adding the debacle has “every Jihadist group round the world celebrating.”
He wrote: “The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours. In the aftermath of the decision to return Afghanistan to the same group from which the carnage of 9/11 arose, and in a manner that seems almost designed to parade our humiliation, the question posed by allies and enemies alike is: has the West lost its strategic will? Meaning: is it able to learn from experience, think strategically, define our interests strategically and on that basis commit strategically? Is long-term a concept we are still capable of grasping? Is the nature of our politics now inconsistent with the assertion of our traditional global leadership role? And do we care?
“As the leader of our country when we took the decision to join the United States in removing the Taliban from power – and who saw the high hopes we had of what we could achieve for the people and the world subside under the weight of bitter reality – I know better than most how difficult the decisions of leadership are, and how easy it is to be critical and how hard to be constructive.
“Almost 20 years ago, following the slaughter of 3,000 people on US soil on 11 September, the world was in turmoil. The attacks were organised out of Afghanistan by al-Qaeda, an Islamist terrorist group given protection and assistance by the Taliban.
“We forget this now, but the world was spinning on its axis. We feared further attacks, possibly worse. The Taliban were given an ultimatum: yield up the al-Qaeda leadership or be removed from power so that Afghanistan could not be used for further attacks. They refused. We felt there was no safer alternative for our security than keeping our word.
“We held out the prospect, backed by substantial commitment, of turning Afghanistan from a failed terror state into a functioning democracy on the mend. It may have been a misplaced ambition, but it was not an ignoble one. There is no doubt that in the years that followed we made mistakes, some serious. But the reaction to our mistakes has been, unfortunately, further mistakes.
“Today we are in a mood that seems to regard the bringing of democracy as a utopian delusion and intervention, virtually of any sort, as a fool’s errand.
“The world is now uncertain of where the West stands because it is so obvious that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in this way was driven not by grand strategy but by politics.
“We didn’t need to do it. We chose to do it. We did it in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending “the forever wars”, as if our engagement in 2021 was remotely comparable to our commitment 20 or even ten years ago, and in circumstances in which troop numbers had declined to a minimum and no allied soldier had lost their life in combat for 18 months.
“We did it in the knowledge that though worse than imperfect, and though immensely fragile, there were real gains over the past 20 years. And for anyone who disputes that, read the heartbreaking laments from every section of Afghan society as to what they fear will now be lost. Gains in living standards, education particularly of girls, gains in freedom. Not nearly what we hoped or wanted. But not nothing. Something worth defending. Worth protecting.
“We did it when the sacrifices of our troops had made those fragile gains our duty to preserve.
“We did it when the February 2020 agreement, itself replete with concessions to the Taliban, by which the US agreed to withdraw if the Taliban negotiated a broad-based government and protected civilians, had been violated daily and derisively.
“We did it with every jihadist group around the world cheering.
“Russia, China and Iran will see and take advantage. Anyone given commitments by Western leaders will understandably regard them as unstable currency.
“We did it because our politics seemed to demand it. And that’s the worry of our allies and the source of rejoicing in those who wish us ill.
“They think Western politics is broken.
“Unsurprisingly therefore friends and foes ask: is this a moment when the West is in epoch-changing retreat?
“I can’t believe we are in such retreat, but we are going to have to give tangible demonstration that we are not.
“This demands an immediate response in respect of Afghanistan. And then measured and clear articulation of where we stand for the future.
“We must evacuate and give sanctuary to those to whom we have responsibility – those Afghans who helped us, stood by us and have a right to demand we stand by them. There must be no repetition of arbitrary deadlines. We have a moral obligation to keep at it until all those who need to be are evacuated. And we should do so not grudgingly but out of a deep sense of humanity and responsibility.
“We need then to work out a means of dealing with the Taliban and exerting maximum pressure on them. This is not as empty as it seems.”
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Article Source : TheConservativeOpinion.com