Instant Opinion

‘Afghanistan is more dangerous for us than it is for the United States’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

1

Nick Timothy in The Telegraph

America’s rejection of its imperial burden leaves Britain vulnerable

on the risk to the UK

Is the US simply “clearing the decks” in Afghanistan to make way for “the great strategic confrontation of the next century with China?” asks Nick Timothy in The Telegraph. “Or have the so-called ‘forever wars’ killed its willingness to act?” Either way, there is risk for Britain, he argues. “As a source of terror, drugs and migration, Afghanistan and the Middle East is more dangerous for us than it is for the United States. If America is becoming reluctant to use its power, we must reappraise our own policies and capabilities.” Timothy writes that “trigger-happy interventionism” has failed whenever it has been tried, but “targeted bombing and drone strikes backed by intelligence and security work have proved a better bet”, while the efforts to defeat Islamist ideology “must go on”. As the “chaos in Kabul shows”, he concludes, “the world is changing fast, and we must make sure we can keep up”.

2

A Kabul resident in The Guardian

‘Now I have to burn everything I achieved’

on women’s fears

“As a woman, I feel like I am the victim of this political war that men started,” writes an unnamed Kabul resident in The Guardian, who describes the “fearful faces of women and ugly faces of men who hate women, who do not like women to get educated, work and have freedom”. Explaining what she has lost due to the return of the Taliban, she says: “I feel like I can no longer laugh out loud, I can no longer listen to my favourite songs, I can no longer meet my friends in our favourite cafe, I can no longer wear my favourite yellow dress or pink lipstick. And I can no longer go to my job or finish the university degree that I worked for years to achieve.” She adds: “When I heard that the Taliban had reached Kabul, I felt I was going to be a slave.”

3

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board

Biden’s Afghanistan surrender

on a shameful pull-out

Joe Biden’s statement on Saturday was him “washing his hands of Afghanistan” and “deserves to go down as one of the most shameful in history by a Commander in Chief at such a moment of American retreat”, storms The Wall Street Journal. As the Taliban closed in on Kabul, the US president attempted to absolve himself of responsibility, blame his predecessor and “more or less invited the Taliban to take over the country”, writes the paper’s editorial board in a trenchant leader. Arguing that Biden’s “self-justification exemplifies his righteous dishonesty”, the newspaper forecasts that “the jihadists the US toppled 20 years ago for sheltering Osama bin Laden will now fly their flag over the US Embassy building on the 20th anniversary of 9/11”.

4

Paul Brandus for USA Today

Political toll of Biden’s mishandled Afghanistan end game may be slight

on damage control

“As bad as things look for [Joe] Biden today, I wonder just how much long-term damage this will actually do to him,” writes Paul Brandus for USA Today. As many predict political disaster for the US president, Brandus notes that “in late April 1975, as the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon, [the then president, Gerald] Ford’s Gallup approval stood at 39%… yet by the end of June, just two months later, it was 52%”. Turning back to Afghanistan, he acknowledges the “human catastrophe” but adds that “after 20 years and $2 trillion in spending, if the Afghan Army won’t stand up to defend its own people, what is the United States to do?” He concludes: “Biden is right, as Trump was. We cannot be the world’s policemen.”

5

Aris Roussinos for Unherd

Can the Taliban bring peace?

on an unlikely source of stability

“The central fact of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan over the past two weeks, under-emphasised though it may be by the solipsistic tone of Western discourse, is precisely how little fighting has been involved,” writes Aris Roussinos for Unherd. The former war reporter argues that “most violence occurs when control of a country is contested between two forces of more or less equal reach: once firm dominance is established by either party, local legitimacy tends to be achieved by amnesties in exchange for submitting to the victor’s authority, a process which we see occur in civil war after civil war”. He notes that: “America couldn’t bring stability” to the war-torn nation, but looking into the future, he wonders: “Perhaps its enemies can.”

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