Dan Wootton: The Western Alliance’s long-term attempt to establish respect for human rights in Afghanistan is a catastrophic failure.
Here is Dan's view of the world tonight.
Next month it will be 20 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks – a day that will go down in infamy for anyone who can remember them. A day that defined the lives of so many millions.
One of the most chilling images from that hellish day that will live me forever was the Falling Man – a New York office worker plunging to his death after planes driven by Al-Qaeda terrorists, who had been given a safe haven by the Taliban, were purposely smashed into his workplace at the Twin Towers.
I know the images today of equally desperate Afghanis falling to their death as they failed to cling onto the last planes out of Kabul – now back in Taliban hands – will also forever live with me. Two decades, £22 billion spent, 2,000 horror injuries to British troops and 456 military deaths, and this is how we leave Afghanistan. No wonder the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was in tears this morning.
The consequences of the complete capitulation to the Taliban in a matter of weeks will be vast – to the future of international terrorism, for the legacy of the holidaying US president Joe Biden and the lives of those poor souls in Afghanistan.
Forget the Taliban spin, the reintroduction of Sharia Law will mean routine stonings and beheadings, the capture of young girls as sex slaves, the assassinations of any serious opponents or journalists doing their jobs, and the removal of basic rights for women.
And in this environment it’s hard to believe that it will not be fertile ground for the next breed of terrorist looking to destroy the West to be developed, trained and sent to our shores.
The Western Alliance’s long-term attempt to establish national reconciliation, lasting peace, stability and respect for human rights in Afghanistan is a catastrophic failure.
I have some sympathy with Boris Johnson and the UK government who knew the importance of remaining part of an international coalition. But if only the Prime Minister had spoken up louder, unafraid of annoying our US allies, with whom relations are frosty thanks to the new administration anyway.
His words from the past prove he knew what was coming and the importance of avoiding the exact quagmire we now find ourselves. After all, it was 12 years ago that Boris Johnson declared that abandoning Afghanistan would be a betrayal of the fallen.
As he wrote in his Daily Telegraph column in July 2009: “Be in no doubt that what British troops are doing in Helmand is heroic, and it is very far from futile. If Nato forces pulled out, the Taliban would probably overrun Kabul in three weeks, with catastrophic consequences for Pakistan and for global stability.”
And it was the same Boris Johnson who as foreign secretary in February 2017 declared to the House of Commons that: “Hundreds of thousands of women in Afghanistan are now being educated as a result of the sacrifice made by British troops and the investment in that country by the British people.”
And later that year he rightly pointed out that part of the way to defeat ISIS terrorism was to continue the fight in Afghanistan. He said: “It will ultimately be defeated in Afghanistan as well … we, and moderate Muslims everywhere, will win this struggle.”
Sadly, he was wrong. Or how about in June this year when Boris as Prime Minister said this: “I confirm that we see the education of girls and young women as one of the great achievements of the UK presence in Afghanistan over the last two decades. We do not want that to be jeopardised now, which is why we are working with our friends in the G7 and NATO to make sure that we leave a lasting legacy.”
Whatever way you look at it, whoever is to blame, that legacy is now in tatters.
So to the USA, where President Biden has just tried to justify his country’s withdrawal in a live TV address to the world. For weeks, I have spoken on this show of a President who seems to be in cognitive decline. A President who relies far too much on his advisers. A President wanting an easy life not prepared to make the truly difficult decisions but given a free pass by a media who are so delighted that he is not called Donald Trump.
But in recent years there has been no bigger public failure than President Biden’s complete lack of foresight when it comes to Afghanistan. I am going to share with you now footage from a few weeks ago showing just how of touch Biden was when it came to the situation in the country.
The guy couldn’t have been more wrong. Comparisons with the 1975 evacuation from Saigon are now inevitable and largely accurate. Biden remained on his holidays at Camp David, without his top advisers by his side, as Kabul fell yesterday, showing a calamitous lack of judgement that should consign him to being a one-term president.