“We must not turn our backs on the Afghans” says William Hague in The Times today. Can he really not see that in the post-war era Western interventions in the internal affairs of independent countries have been an unmitigated disaster? With one or two exceptions American and often British military action in pursuit of some specious high-sounding goal like “freedom” have resulted in outcomes which were worse than the start point.
In my lifetime Korea, Vietnam, Suez, Iraq, Afghanistan and countless other adventures have been long on pompous rhetoric but short on effectiveness – often tragically so. America has in theory the military strength to be the policeman of the Western conscience but, as we saw in Asia and the Middle East more than once, not the strategic nous to know how to win.
The Taliban is like the Vietcong a flexible pragmatic force which can disappear into the hills whenever it needs to, regroup and fight another day. In Iraq the sheer power of America backed by Britain’s largely token forces overthrew Saddam alright. Leaving still unresolved chaos behind, tens of thousands dead and continuing instability. Not to mention hundreds of bereaved American and British families.
President Biden is right to recognise that the American dream of honourable defence of liberty, articulated so eloquently in John Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1960, has proved to be bunkum. And the British Government should get real as well and realise that our obligations extend no further than the defence of our own borders. No more body bags returning from far away countries of which we know nothing please.