Here’s what I think: The mess in Afghanistan The scenes in Afghanistan over the last … The scenes in Afghanistan over the last few days have been devastating. With the Taliban wrestling back control of the country, pictures and videos of Afghan people desperate to flee at the airport have been everywhere you look. Aeroplanes full of people with nothing but the clothes on their back, people scrambling to try to board the last flights out of the country, the disappearance of women from front-facing public life. Most poignant to me were the images of people clinging onto the outside of aeroplanes as they took off. I put myself in their shoes, imagining that they must have known there was basically no chance of them surviving a flight on the outside of a jet, but that with the Taliban advancing, they had no other choice. Then, the inevitable, as they fell to their deaths shortly after takeoff. One by one, small specks in a photograph, lives lost. There was, in those images, a dark symmetry to the day that started the modern war in Afghanistan. My mind was immediately cast back to the images of those who jumped from the World Trade Center in New York as it burned around them twenty years ago. The terror and the helplessness doubtless the same at Kabul Airport this week as it was in New York twenty years ago. It was the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001 that began this war, the United States electing to overthrow the Taliban’s de facto control of Afghanistan in order that Afghanistan would no longer be a safe refuge for Al-Qaeda. They also invoked NATO’s “Article 5”, bringing every other country in the organisation into the war with them. They then spent over a trillion dollars and twenty years on an operation that as of today achieved precisely nothing and cost thousands of lives at least. So, how did it end like this? The answer is a catalogue of errors from start to finish. First of all, the United States attacked without any real strategy for what they would do once in Afghanistan, or once they got relative control of it. It was a hastily- and poorly-thought up operation, that without proper planning had little chance of success from the start. It was in all probability a knee-jerk “do something!” response to the September 11th attacks, rather than a planned mission of any kind.

The Afghan Armed Forces were a bunch of delinquents, village idiots, and drug addicts

The second problem is who was chosen to build and defend a post-Taliban Afghanistan in the intervening twenty years. The “Afghan Armed Forces” numbered some 280,000 men earlier this year — more than the United Kingdom or Germany’s armed forces — and on paper should have been able to defend the young Republic. In reality, however, they had recruited a bunch of delinquents, village idiots, and drug addicts who had no hope of putting up any kind of fight against the Taliban. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, too, is a useless who deserted the country in a helicopter at the first sign of trouble, and fled to an as-yet-unknown location. Having recruited a terrible army and overseen the election of a terrible leader to organise it, why did the United States elect to leave Afghanistan now? The short answer is boredom. They have been putting the feelers out as regards to leaving since as early as the Obama administration, with John Kerry engaging in “talks” with the Taliban, and NATO leaving the southern Helmand Province in 2014. However, it was Donald Trump in February last year who signed the agreement for a full withdrawal of United States troops, and Joe Biden who finished the job this year. The response from Joe Biden on Tuesday night was nothing short of infuriating, effectively blaming the Afghan people for their duff political class and the pathetic armed forces that the United States recruited and trained for them, and condemning them to live under religious fundamentalists from the middle ages simply because he can’t be bothered to engage any more. The rest of the “west” should of course hold their heads in shame, too, having followed the United States’ lead at every turn and lacked the gumption or intelligence to think for themselves, but the bulk of the blame for this tragedy lies with the United States. A tragedy is what this is, too. Let’s not equivocate, or believe those who are for some reason pretending that the Taliban might return to power and be somewhat liberal. The Taliban are religious extremists, fundamentalists, who just took control of the country by force and are by their very nature uncompromising. This is a tragedy for women in Afghanistan, it’s a tragedy for human rights, and it’s a tragedy for anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the Taliban’s set of beliefs. The blood of all those who may be executed will be on the hands of successive American administrations, and the lost futures should forever be on their consciences. Of course, it would also be remiss not to point out that the United States supported and funded the Taliban’s ancestors in the 1980s while they were fighting with the Soviet Union, but keeping matters to just this current mission, I see this as a shameful abdication of duty. If you enter a country with a specific objective, and one that despite its potential flaws was a justified one in my opinion, you have an obligation and a duty to achieve that objective, and to not give up until you do. The United States have shown cowardice in running away from this fight when the job clearly wasn’t done, and any of the progress made in Afghanistan over the last twenty years has already been erased.

Taking as many refugees as can physically be rescued is the least the United States can do

The United States should have re-engaged. They should have re-deployed their forces before it was too late, and before all of the work from the last twenty years had been undone. However, that boat has now sailed, any any operation in Afghanistan now would have to start from scratch again. In this case, the task is now different. The United States, and every other country that followed them into Afghanistan and then followed them out when they got bored, have a duty to accept, house, and home as many refugees as pour out of Afghanistan while it is under Taliban rule. This, at the very least, is what they owe to the people of Afghanistan. Those people in the airport, desperate to find any way to get out of Afghanistan, most if not all of them with nothing but the clothes on their back, left to either try to escape or live under the Taliban because the United States got bored. If they refuse to clean up the mess they have created, then they must provide a safe refuge for those who would otherwise be forced to live in it. Quotas and target numbers are inappropriate and crass in this context. The only target should be as many people as can physically be rescued from the emerging hellscape in Afghanistan. It is the least they can do, because they have failed at every turn up to now. #911 #Afghanistan #donaldtrump #HereswhatIthink #JoeBiden #Taliban #TomCleaver #UnitedStatesofAmerica #WarinAfghanistan



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