British media blew up yesterday following the publication of an op-ed in a prominent think tank publication by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who calls Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan “imbecilic.”
Blair, a darling of the left while he was in office, says Biden’s decision to pull the troops out was not based on any grand, strategic objective, but rather “in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.’”
Blair, who was prime minister during the 9/11 crisis and subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, noted in the article that no coalition troops had died in combat over the last 18 months.
In a thinly veiled attack on the Democratic president, whom Mr Blair had praised in January as “the right man in the right place at the right time”, he writes: “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 10 years ago, in circumstances in which troop numbers had declined to a minimum and no allied soldier had lost their life in combat for 18 months.”
Although Mr Blair avoids mentioning Mr Biden by name throughout the 2,700-word article, the “forever wars” slogan he attacks was at the heart of the former vice president’s election campaign last year, with his official website from the election stating: “Biden will end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure.
Other UK politicians are equally incensed at Biden’s arrogant stupidity. Labor Party Leader Keir Starmer calls the decision to bug out a “catastrophic error of judgment.”
After receiving a briefing from the government’s national security adviser, the Labour leader said the White House was wrong to blame the Afghan government and security forces for the outgoing regime’s collapse, adding there was a big question the US and UK needed to answer about why the resilience of the Taliban was so underestimated.
The Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, said Biden and Johnson had been left “frozen by events and negligent, unprepared”.
Davey told the Guardian that the paralysis in Washington meant the UK should turn its attention to building a coalition in Europe prepared to take tougher action. He urged Johnson to convene a security summit with allies on the continent “to respond to this crisis” and stop Afghanistan becoming a “breeding ground” for the training of terrorists who carry out attacks in the west.
Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Foreign Minister Dominic Raab are reluctantly turning to Russia and China for assistance in attempting to “moderate” the Taliban’s behavior.
“We’re going to have to bring in countries with a potentially moderating influence like Russia and China, however uncomfortable that is,” said Raab. The British prime minister has suggested the formation of an international “contact group” of countries that would attempt to hold the Taliban. A similar group came into being during the Bosnian conflict.
It’s not just the American withdrawal that’s eliciting this reaction from America’s friends and allies. It’s the manner it’s being carried out — stupidly, and leaving the impression no one is in charge.