Nod to Biden? Tony Blair Slams 'Imbecilic Slogan' of 'Ending Forever Wars' by Abandoning Afghanistan
10:09 GMT 22.08.2021 (Updated: 11:43 GMT 22.08.2021)
In November 2001, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair ordered UK troops to join the US-led invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has slammed the US and NATO troop pullout from Afghanistan as a "tragic" and "unnecessary" decision. The criticism comes in his first remarks since the Taliban's* seizure of Kabul on 15 August.
In an essay published on the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change's website on Saturday, the ex-British PM claimed the international community is currently "uncertain of where the West stands because it is so obvious that the decision to withdraw 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', as if our engagement in 2021 was remotely comparable to our commitment 20 or even ten years ago", Blair stated.
He was apparently referring to US President Joe Biden's address on 14 April, when POTUS announced the American troop exit from Afghanistan, adding that the time has come "to end the forever war".
The former UK prime minister, for his part, insisted "the abandonment of Afghanistan and its people" is a "dangerous" decision that is "not in their interests and not in ours".
According to Blair, Britain moved to withdraw its troops from the nation "when the sacrifices of our [British] troops had made those fragile gains [related to living standards, freedom, and education of women] our duty to preserve".
"We did it [left Afghanistan] when the February 2020 agreement, itself replete with concessions to the Taliban, by which the US agreed to withdraw if the Taliban negotiated a broad-based government and protected civilians, had been violated daily and derisively. We did it with every jihadist group around the world cheering", he added.
Blair also called for "a list of incentives, sanctions, and actions" to be urgently hammered out "to protect the civilian population so the Taliban understand their actions will have consequences".
"This is urgent. The disarray of the past weeks needs to be replaced by something resembling coherence, and with a plan that is credible and realistic", the former PM noted.
He also stated that the UK had a "moral obligation" to stay in Afghanistan until "all those who need to be are evacuated" from the country.
"We must evacuate and give sanctuary to those to whom we have responsibility - those Afghans who helped us and stood by us and have a right to demand we stand by them", Blair stressed.
The comments come amid reports that the British government may complete evacuation flights from the Kabul Airport to the UK on Tuesday, but that ministers are considering the extension of the deadline.
Biden Reportedly Assured Allies US Would Keep Force in Kabul to Ensure Security Before Taliban Blitz
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Earlier this week, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced it was increasing the nation's military contingent for the evacuation of British citizens and Afghan specialists who worked with them to 900 servicemen.
The announcement was preceded by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace telling Sky News that the Taliban had assured the UK of security for Britons in Afghanistan and of Afghans willing to leave the country.
When asked whether the Taliban's assurances should be trusted, Wallace said: "I certainly think they will not miss the lesson from 2001 that hosting terrorism and running a state as they did led to rampant poverty and immigration, a refugee crisis and indeed the toppling of that regime".
Meanwhile, at least four women have reportedly been crushed to death at the Kabul Airport as thousands of people scramble to flee the Afghan capital, seized by the Taliban without a fight last Sunday.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries.