BY SCOTT CRESSWELL
President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, seen at the G7 in June have taken criticism for the chaos in Afghanistan.
Since 2001, all US Presidents have had Afghanistan weighing them down on their backs. After the horrific and terrorising events of September 11th 2001, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 innocent people, the world had to act. America, first under George W. Bush, followed by Barack Obama, then Donald Trump, and finally Joe Biden, had to not only fight the Al-Qaeda-supporting Taliban, but also liberate Afghanistan, its people, and democratise the country. It took twenty years for slow progress to be made. It took the Taliban twenty days to reverse it.
Politically, this will be incredibly damaging for the President. Already, Republicans like Marco Rubio have scolded the President over the crisis, and it’s more than obvious that the party and whoever they select as their nominee for the 2024 Presidential Election will use this situation in an attempt to defeat Biden and the Democrats. Since his selection in 2016, Trump has become the face of the Republican Party and even he, a staunch anti-internationalist and protectionist, would use Afghanistan and shout one of his usual soundbites about how under Biden, America is no longer great. He would utter those two infamous words, “fake news”, in response to anybody who raises that the point that the plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan was actually devised by Trump himself.
As of 17th August, Joe Biden’s average approval ratings have fallen just under 50% for the first time since he assumed the presidency. It’s still too early to tell how much of an effect this will have on his reputation and popularity, but as the Taliban will undoubtedly take Afghanistan back to the brutal days of the 1980s, then expect those approval ratings to fall. It’s unfortunate that Biden’s claim that the war’s mission was “never supposed to have been nation-building” is complete nonsense and the BBC proves it. This isn’t the same Joe Biden as the one we saw victorious earlier this year. Biden needs to admit his huge error and when it comes to withdrawing troops, a Taliban-controlled government and its impending, disgusting actions will simply reinforce Biden’s misjudgement.
When it comes to Boris Johnson, he too must take responsibility for this humanitarian crisis. It seems all-too clear from his previous comments he made and the prominent belief in the Conservative Party that troops should have remained in Afghanistan. His weak leadership and his failure to convince Biden otherwise has damaged his own standing further. Tory backbencher John Baron has also criticised his leader and demanded a full apology to be made to the grieving families of dead Afghanistan soldiers. Another Conservative, former Defence Minister Johnny Mercer has responded similarly to the crisis, and with the Labour opposition attacking Johnson for his lack of leadership, Afghanistan too may be an Achilles heel if Johnson even makes it to the next general election as Prime Minister.
Political upsets and the damage done to those in power living in first-world countries is one thing, but the displacement and suffering that the people of Afghanistan feel and will continue to experience is something else entirely. On this day, the international community should bow its head in shame and only pray that the Taliban has learned their lesson from the past, even if the cold answer is already known to us all…
Image - Flickr (Number 10)