Boris Johnson made the right decision to pull out of Afghanistan. Britain is not the police force of the world.
171,000-174,000 people. Those are the numbers of people killed in Afghanistan during the international conflict between 2001 and 2021. These are the numbers Joe Biden will use to justify his withdrawal from the country on August 31st. With its biggest coalition partner pulling out, Boris Johnson and Britain have no choice, but to follow. Britain cannot be the police force of the world alone.
Johnson has been attacked on all sides for his handling of the Afghan crisis since the Taliban took over last Sunday. Former Prime Minister Theresa May says it is “incomprehensible” that the UK is not doing more to maintain a presence. Ex-minister Johnny Mercer calls for more help for veterans and Keir Starmer has accused the Prime Minister of “staggering complacency”. There was also silence in the Commons when Conservative MP and Afghanistan veteran Thomas Tugendhat said it was shameful of Biden to question the willingness of the Afghan army to tackle the Taliban.
Amongst the biggest Biden sceptics is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - a man ridiculed for being a war criminal for his involvement in the 2003-2011 Iraq War and who led Britain into Afghanistan in 2001. He calls Biden’s withdrawal “tragic” and “unnecessary”. These are harsh words from the man supposedly responsible for 460,000 deaths in the Iraq War.
Tony Blair resolutely stands by his decision to invade Iraq with the line “I did it because I thought it was right”. I’ve always thought Blair was a man of integrity and genuinely believed he thought with his heart rather than with his head. He saw the wreckage left by Saddam’s regime which had supposedly been harbouring weapons of mass destruction. At the time, this seemed like an alarming reality that could have led to a far bigger Nuclear war on a global scale. That’s why I defend Blair over Iraq. It wasn’t the right decision, but it was what he thought was right.
Similarly Johnson stands by his withdrawal from Afghanistan because the “core mission” to extinguish the country of terrorists succeeded. The country is now clear of Al Qaeda terrorists and the population have enjoyed better education, women’s rights and free lesions since 2001.
Johnson has regularly been accused throughout his Prime Ministerial career of acting too early or too late. He lifted restrictions last summer only to have to impose them again in the autumn and winter. And, now, he’s accused of pulling out of Afghanistan too early and not foreseeing the current Taliban threat which threatens to drag the country back to pre-NATO era 2001.
I still stand by Biden and Johnson’s decision to leave the country. 457 deaths of UK armed forces personnel have taken place in the conflict. That’s a staggering number that bodes badly for the mums, wives and children at home. Low twenty billions have been spent on the conflict - figures that threaten to bankrupt current recession Britain. And now the UK has plans to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees.
I’m all for giving homes to genuine refugees fleeing war-torn countries, but I question the extent. We have a few hundred thousand people homeless in the UK and up to 14.5 million living in extreme poverty. Shouldn’t we think about housing them before giving homes to hundreds and thousands of refugees?
Biden and Johnson have made the right decision. It’s a decision made by their head and not their heart. Ironically the opposite of the one Tony Blair made from his heart to invade Iraq. Afghanistan is now under an oppressive regime, but terror threats have been vanquished and we need to look after our own before we can think of looking after others. Britain and America can no longer be the policemen of the world.