UK accuses Western powers of being politically short-sighted

WION Web Team
London, United KingdomUpdated: Aug 16, 2021, 07:02 PM IST


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Benjamin Wallace asserted that the United States' 20-year intervention in Afghanistan was not a waste, however, he criticises Western powers for being politically shortsighted

Taking over Afghanistan by the Taliban represents a failure by the international community, according to British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is assessing the West's intervention was just half-done. 

"All of us know that Afghanistan is not finished. It's an unfinished problem for the world and the world needs to help it," he said talking to BBC television.

According to the former British army officer, US President Joe Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump had secured a "rotten deal" with Islamist militants that allowed their return.

In his opinion, the 20-year US-led intervention in Afghanistan had not been a waste, " it wasn't for nothing," but he accused Western powers of being politically shortsighted.

"If it's a failure, it's a failure of the international community to not realise that you don't fix things overnight," he said.

"I'm afraid when you deal with a country like Afghanistan, that is 1,000 years of history effectively and civil war, you manage its problems and you might have to manage it for 100 years.

"It's not something that you just rock in, rock out and expect something to be fixed."

Former US national security adviser HR McMaster has blasted his government for ignoring the Taliban's ability to take over quickly, calling the lack of awareness "wilful ignorance."

The retired army lieutenant general told Times Radio it was "clear that this kind of collapse was going to happen", after the deal brokered by Trump, who sacked him in 2018.

According to him, the deal weakened Afghanistan's government and security forces, strengthening the Taliban. He said, "We stood idly by and we turned a blind eye. This was utterly predictable."

Foreign policy 'disaster'

Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson has said Britain will assist 3,000 nationals with their departure, but questions are being raised as to why he didn't fight harder against Washington's withdrawal.

Last month, the United Kingdom withdrew the majority of its remaining 750 troops from Afghanistan but announced that 600 soldiers would be returning to assist with repatriations.

On Saturday and Sunday, 370 embassy employees and British citizens left the country, and 782 Afghans are expected to leave in the next 24 to 36 hours, Wallace told Sky News.

Each day, officials plan to evacuate 1,200 to 1,500 people from Afghanistan. His department reported that the first flight returned to a British air force base on Sunday night.

A report in The Times declared the pullout  "unforced and unnecessary" and said it was becoming "the greatest disaster in American foreign policy for almost 50 years".

Tom Tugendhat, the head of the foreign affairs committee, compared the situation to the 1956 Suez crisis, which revealed Britain's limitations as a global influence.

(With inputs from agencies)