Alastair Stewart: Biden backs Trump’s 'American first' with an 'America alone' twist
The rejection from Biden was brutal and humbling for European leaders, ours included.
It is the eve of President Biden’s deadline for departure from Afghanistan: the end of a twenty year incursion to crush the terrorists whose act of terror humbled the US with murderous and spectacular attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Allies - ourselves included - begged for an extension to get more of their own people out, to offer freedom and safety to Afghans who had worked with and for us, and to offer hope to other Afghans who preferred the status of refugee to that of hunted enemy of the Taliban.The rejection from Biden was brutal and humbling for leaders, ours included, stark.
And with it came a brutal lesson. The US has changed: Biden backs Trump’s “American first” with, if needs be, a twist: “America alone”.
In the immediate term, the seeds of a familiar civil war blossom in the form of ISIS-K suicide bombers seeking to attack an airport, which, for a few more hours, is under joint Taliban-Allied control.
As one group of US service personal shuffle the last Afghans to go onto mighty transport planes - and then themselves - others, in the Nevada desert, pilot drones to take out those anti-Taliban ISIS-K terrorists and, with them, their suicide vests.
ISIS-K see the Taliban as softies but, in truth, are bit part players. Many who fought in Afghanistan say the Taliban will likely welcome, with open arms, bigger, more sophisticated terror groups again to plot, plan and deliver their brand of mayhem across the world. It is Jihad; it is what they do.
Nevertheless, Boris Johnson is not alone in dangling the prospect of diplomatic recognition to the Taliban - of aid and the release of huge amounts of money, currently locked up by sanctions, if they respect human rights, offer free and safe passage to those who remain after tomorrow and basically play it by the rules.
The evidence on the ground for optimism is not promising, amid many reports of revenge killings, beheadings of traitors, and the return Sharia punishments of whippings and amputations… China and Russia, however, seem to have no such qualms over such caveats: it is more than ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’; neither have such troubles over human rights and ultimately, as with the Mafia, it’s ‘business’. There’s the second biggest copper mine in the world and reserves of precious metals, vital to much of the new manufacturing from smart phones to electric cars.Chinese and Russia relations with Afghanistan, even under new management, grow stronger by the day…
So two questions, then:what can we expect from and within Afghanistan in the future? And how will the democratic world reset the structures of the old, post-war era into something more viable with a semi-isolationist America and a new heir to second world war fascism and cold war communism - jihad?
I've lived with that post-war settlement and reported on it for 40 years. Gradually it became clear that it no longer reflected the world we now live in . What's more the supremacy of democracy and of free markets is no longer absolute. As China grows and grows what is the point of system that excludes them but won't challenge them? Russia's bandit economy and oppressive foreign policy leaves it sanctioned and accused, too, of state sponsored murder. Under Gorbacheve they become friends; under Putin they've become a dangerous and corrupt spectre.
I'm not sure what system, if any can, can deal with all of that but surely the world needs something, not only to address a resurrgent Jihad but also those two powerful outsdiers making friends and cutting deals with those vert people.