London’s fury over Afghanistan won’t change much

LONDON — The Brits are furious with Joe Biden — but don’t expect that to change much.

As the Taliban claimed victory in the Afghan capital Kabul and Western governments scrambled evacuation plans, plenty in the British ruling Conservative Party were quick to blame the U.S. president for the botched withdrawal of American forces.

“This is an absolute blunder, with long term strategic consequences,” said Tobias Ellwood, chair of the U.K. parliament’s defense committee and a former junior defense minister. “We were distracted by Brexit, by COVID and we were too willing to assume the narrative that the Americans were peddling that it’s time to go home and leave Afghanistan to sort its own problems out, and that wasn’t the correct reading of the situation, nor the correct understanding of the consequences of our departure.”

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, like Ellwood a former soldier, choked back tears on LBC radio when he admitted: “Some people won’t get back.” He, too, did little to hide his disappointment with Washington.

“I remember literally being in Washington where I was given assurances about certain numbers and literally a few days later, the White House at the time had drawn that down further,” he said. “It has been a deal that hasn’t delivered what we’d hoped it would deliver.”

But even as the crisis unfolded, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson appeared to accept there was little the U.K. felt able to do.

“Clearly, once the U.S. decision was made, our view was that it would not be right to act unilaterally in this as an occupying force,” the spokesman told reporters at a briefing in Westminster. “We did speak to other international partners on this, but it was clear that that wasn’t going to be feasible.”

However, foreign policy experts and advisers say that despite the evident anger, the U.K. government is unlikely to significantly change its approach to transatlantic relations, especially since so many of the prime minister’s priorities rely on U.S. support.

“Internationally I think there will be real fury with the Americans. The world went into Afghanistan in part against its better judgment. And we’ve all been left high and dry,” one former U.K. government adviser said.

“But remember the [U.S.-U.K.] relationship is built on a military and to a greater extent security relationship with unrivaled cooperation. That will continue. The military and security people on both sides will probably agree privately that it has been a clusterfuck.”

And as the Johnson administration looks ahead to hosting the key COP26 climate conference in November, others even sense there could be reasons for optimism.

“It’s another reason for the U.S. to really put in serious work to make sure that COP is a success,” one European diplomat quipped.

Punctured optimism

London started the year with high hopes the departure of former U.S. President Donald Trump would smooth relations with its most powerful ally.

“I think this has been a real wake-up call for the British government in terms of the rhetoric of the Biden administration,” said Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director-general of the RUSI think tank. “It has been very vocal about the return to multilateralism, the return to putting allies at the center of its foreign policy, but on one of the biggest decisions of the first few months of the Biden administration, on maybe the biggest foreign policy decision Biden has made, the degree of consultation with NATO allies has been very limited.

“Clearly there was a lot of unhappiness with the policies of President Trump. The government here still believes that the Biden administration is a better and more reliable partner than the Trump administration, but even so, I think this has punctured some of the over-optimistic narrative about how easy the Biden administration is to work with,” he added.

Barry Pavel, senior vice president and director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center, said it was important that the Biden administration looked to try to strengthen its relationship with allies like the U.K. in the aftermath of its withdrawal from Afghanistan. Beyond the “emergency fire drill” of recent days, there should be a series of policy discussions about U.S. alliances, he said.

Champa Patel, director of the Asia Pacific Programme at the Chatham House think tank, however, is dubious the relationship will shift significantly.

“I think sadly it’s not going to change things. The U.K. unmoored from Europe because of Brexit is going to look to have these kinds of strategic partnerships. It’s going to want U.S. leadership on things like China, on Russia’s influence, on climate change,” Patel said. “There will be unhappiness … but at the end of the day, this isn’t going to be something that breaks that relationship. I think they need U.S. leadership more on other areas — whether it’s geopolitics or geoeconomics, it is a too-important-to-ignore country.”

Harder sell

However, for Johnson, any future partnerships with Biden are likely to be treated with suspicion at home.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, warned against blaming Trump for the outcome of the withdrawal. “The reality is the Biden administration bears as much responsibility for this as anybody else,” he said.

Former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned during an interview with the BBC that it was a “bit of an indictment of the direction of Western policy, and our lack of ability to see our own medium and longer term self interest, that we’ve withdrawn that rather modest support at American instigation. The result has been this — not just a humanitarian crisis, but no doubt in time, the counterterrorism crisis for the West. This is essentially a policy that has been made in the United States.”

Johnson might need the so-called special relationship as much as ever but it hasn’t left him much room for maneuver.

 427 total views,  2 views today

EnglishDom
AliExpress RU&CIS
AliExpress WW
Kwork
Knowfashionstyle WW
caviar-phone.ru
Libertex [CPS] WW
Norton [CPS] WW
Floryday WW
Ivacy VPN [CPS] WW
Vialet [Android, CPS] Many GEO's
Bellelily WW
GearBest WW
ChicMe WW
Spread the love

Leave a Reply

×

Hello!

Click one of our representatives below to chat on WhatsApp or send us an email to rokoto.net@gmail.com

× How can I help you?
%d bloggers like this: