Former prime minister Tony Blair, who in 2001 presided over Britain’s military intervention in Afghanistan alongside the United States in response to the 9/11 attacks, slammed President Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from the country on Sunday.
“The abandonment of Afghanistan and its people is tragic, dangerous, unnecessary, not in their interests and not in ours,” Blair wrote in a statement published on his organization’s website.
Blair’s comments come after Biden denied at a press conference Friday that America’s reputation has been damaged and that U.S. allies have lost faith in our ability to conduct foreign policy amid the botched Afghanistan pull-out.
The former prime minister criticized the U.S. departure from Afghanistan as a politically motivated appeasement to constituents. “The world is now 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,” he lamented.
“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, and in circumstances in which troop numbers had declined to a minimum and no allied soldier had lost their life in combat for 18 months,” Blair said.
By leaving, allied armies forfeited the “gains in living standards, education particularly of girls, gains in freedom” as well as the relative stability achieved for Afghan citizens over the last two decades, Blair argued. Since the U.S. spearheaded the exit, leaving a power vacuum for the Taliban to occupy, “every jihadist group” around the globe is “cheering,” he asserted.
“Russia, China and Iran will see and take advantage,” he added, validating the warnings of foreign-policy experts that the U.S. military failure in Afghanistan will embolden China to further encroach on and possibly launch a full-blown invasion of Taiwan. “Anyone given commitments by Western leaders will understandably regard them as unstable currency,” Blair said, implying the fiasco has undermined Western credibility on the international stage.
To rectify the Afghanistan calamity, Blair urged Western powers fulfill their obligations to the Afghan soldiers, interpreters, and collaborators who risked their lives fighting alongside the U.S. and Britain against the Taliban.