Tony Blair warned that the return of the Taliban will see “all jihadist groups around the world cheering” as he said there was now a moral obligation for Western troops to stay until all eligible were evacuated from Afghanistan.
In a lengthy essay published on his website last night, the former prime minister who ordered British troops to join the US-led invasion said the hasty withdrawal was a “tragic, dangerous and unnecessary ”which undermined the objectives of the West. He accused US President Biden of being motivated by “a foolish political slogan about ending ‘Eternal Wars’, as if our commitment in 2021 was far comparable to our commitment 20 or even 10 years ago.” .
“The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, neither in their interests nor in ours,” he writes. “In the aftermath of the decision to return Afghanistan to the same group from which the 9/11 carnage arose, and in a way that seems almost destined to exhibit our humiliation, the question for allies and enemies alike is the next: has the West lost its strategic will?
“The world is now uncertain of the West’s position because it is so obvious that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in this way was not motivated by grand strategy but by politics. “
He called on the United States and the United Kingdom to fulfill their obligations to the Afghans who had helped them, fearing that there would be a window of a few more days for flights to leave the country. President Biden has given mixed messages on how long he will give the evacuation program and it is unlikely that the UK will be able to continue with its refugee process once the US military leaves.
“We must evacuate and give refuge to those to whom we have responsibilities – those Afghans who have helped and supported us and have the right to demand that we support them,” Blair writes. “There should be no repetition of arbitrary deadlines. We have a moral obligation to continue until all who need it are evacuated. And we shouldn’t do it reluctantly, but with a deep sense of humanity and responsibility. “
Blair said the lack of consultation Britain enjoyed before the US withdrawal showed its power on the world stage was diminishing. “For Britain, outside of Europe and suffering from the end of our greatest ally’s mission in Afghanistan with little or no consultation, we have serious thinking to do,” he said. “We don’t see it yet. But we risk being relegated to the second division of world power. Maybe we don’t mind. But we should at least make the decision deliberately. “
He said Russia, China and Iran would “see and benefit” and the West’s promises would be seen as “unstable currency”. He also admitted errors in the way the mission in Afghanistan had been managed since 2001.
“We offered a perspective supported by a substantial commitment to transform Afghanistan from a failed terrorist state into a functioning democracy on the mend. It may have been a misplaced ambition, but it was not despicable, ”he wrote. “There is no doubt that in the years that followed we made mistakes, some serious. But the reaction to our mistakes has unfortunately been other mistakes. Today we are in a mood that seems to view the establishment of democracy as a utopian illusion and intervention of virtually any sort as a wild ride.
He called on Britain, under his presidency of the G7 group of nations, to commit to coordinating aid to the Afghan people “and to hold the new regime to account.”