Fall of Kabul brings shame to the West - Scotsman comment

Abandoned to its fate, the fall of Kabul to Taliban forces yesterday shames the West. Twenty years of military endeavour to bring democracy to Afghanistan have come to nothing because of a disastrous political decision to withdraw troops fast.

It seems the world has woken up to why we were there in the first place. With the passing of time and the loss of so many lives, perhaps we had lost sight of how the Taliban treats those unfortunate enough to fall under its rule, particularly women and girls. We can now expect to be brutally reminded.

More than 3,500 coalition troops – 455 of them British – have been killed since the US-led invasion to oust the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11. Thousands more have suffered life-changing injuries.

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As the US led the invasion, so too have they led the politically-motivated withdrawal.

Taliban fighters sit on a vehicle along the street in Jalalabad province yesterday. (Photo by - / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump took the populist decision to end American involvement in the run-up to the 2020 US election. Joe Biden accelerated the withdrawal. It was always going to be a vote-winner, given the casualty numbers and fears of “mission creep”.

But it has become painfully apparent the withdrawal was done in haste, and Afghan forces were nowhere near equipped to deal with a resurgent Taliban.

As in Iraq, it seems the West has decided to simply walk away with no effective exit strategy in place. A proper long-term strategy could involve a presence in Afghanistan for decades to come. If we were not prepared to play such a peace-keeping role, why go in in first place?

Politicians will have a lot to answer for as this humanitarian crisis unfolds. Many of those protesting loudest now about the fate of Afghanistan were the same people clamouring for the West to pull out.

From the outset, we should have firmly committed to the Afghan people for the long haul. The alternative would have been to do nothing. Instead, we have fallen between two stools to catastrophic effect.

We have failed the people of Afghanistan and the servicemen and women who gave their lives in the fight for democracy.

It is to this dawning realisation that MPs will be recalled to Westminster this week. The very least we can do now is offer sanctuary to those seeking refuge from the terror we have allowed to return.


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