Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has attacked the Biden administration’s Afghanistan policy as little more than sacrificing Afghan allies for the sake of political posturing at home.
“The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours,” Blair, whose troops fought side by side with U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, wrote in an essay on his website, adding that the manner of America’s flight under President Joe Biden appeared designed “to parade our humiliation.”
Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, reminds a world that has forgotten the raw horror of 9/11 that “the Taliban were given an ultimatum: yield up the al-Qaeda leadership or be removed from power so that Afghanistan could not be used for further attacks. They refused. We felt there was no safer alternative for our security than keeping our word.”
Acknowledging that between 2001 and now, mistakes have been made, Blair, 68, wrote that “the reaction to our mistakes has been, unfortunately, further mistakes. Today we are in a mood that seems to regard the bringing of democracy as a utopian delusion and intervention, virtually of any sort, as a fool’s errand.”
Blair said Biden’s decision to run from Afghanistan “in this way was driven not by grand strategy but by politics.”
“We didn’t need to do it. We chose to do it. We did it in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.’”
Blair urged those who think nothing changed during the efforts to transplant democracy to Afghanistan to “read the heartbreaking laments from every section of Afghan society as to what they fear will now be lost.”
Biden’s claim: “We know of no circumstance where American citizens—carrying an American passport—are trying to get through to the airport.”
FACT: The Islamic State issued a terror threat against Americans trying to go to Kabul airport.
He was lying or he is incompetent—or both.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) August 21, 2021
Do you agree that Radical Islam must be stopped?
America’s headlong retreat came “with every jihadist group around the world cheering,” Blair wrote in his essay. “Russia, China and Iran will see and take advantage. Anyone given commitments by Western leaders will understandably regard them as unstable currency.”
The pullout went the way it did, he wrote, “because our politics seemed to demand it.”
Blair said Biden’s pullout of contractors who maintained the Afghan Air Force’s planes was a factor in the collapse of resistance to the Taliban, writing that “any army would have suffered a collapse in morale when effective air support vital for troops in the field was scuttled by the overnight withdrawal of maintenance.”
Blair said Americans cannot forget that the global war against Radical Islam must still be fought — and won.
“Islamism is a long-term structural challenge because it is an ideology utterly inconsistent with modern societies based on tolerance and secular government. Yet Western policymakers can’t even agree to call it ‘Radical Islam,’” he wrote, adding, “If we did define it as a strategic challenge, and saw it in whole and not as parts, we would never have taken the decision to pull out of Afghanistan.”
Blair likened that fight against Radical Islam to the 70-year war to contain communism.
“We knew we had to have the will, the capacity and the staying power to see it through. There were different arenas of conflict and engagement, different dimensions, varying volumes of anxiety as the threat ebbed and flowed. But we understood it was a real menace and we combined across nations and parties to deal with it,” he wrote in his essay.
“This is what we need to decide now with Radical Islam. Is it a strategic threat? If so, how do those opposed to it including within Islam, combine to defeat it?”
To do that, he wrote, Biden’s America must have a “commitment to those values and interests” that “needs to define our politics and not our politics define our commitment.”