Biden’s disastrous withdrawal opens a fault even in the Special Relationship with London

The accelerated withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has opened a fault in the special report. If for world public opinion, the image of the helicopter taking off from Kabul was reminiscent of the helicopter flight from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon, for the United Kingdom the Afghan crisis has turned the clock of history back to Suez crisis of 1956, when President Eisenhower threatened to sell sterling foreign exchange reserves held with the Fed if the UK continued the military campaign with France and Israel against Egypt.

Today, as then, there has been a divergence of interests and foreign policy choices. For the United States, Afghanistan has never been a strategic interest. With the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, in retaliation for the attacks of 11 September 2001, the American campaign had achieved its purpose. In fact, it was President Obama who declared the mission concluded, and declared the US ready to withdraw its troops. President Trump, who subsequently signed the Doha agreements with the Taliban, had made it clear that the withdrawal needed gradual and complex procedures in order not to plunge the country into instability.

It would also be wrong to think that the United States had embarked on a nation-building mission. The neocon doctrine on exporting democracy ended with the 2003 Iraq campaign and never reopened in Afghanistan. The idea of ​​democratizing Afghan society and building a central state is entirely European. Indeed, it is precisely the expansion of ISAF activities, under European leadership, that has triggered the escalation of the Taliban.

But for the UK, the modalities of the withdrawal conflict with Boris Johnson's Global Britain agenda which attaches strategic importance to the Indo-Pacific. London sees the credibility of Western democracy undermined just as the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier mission to the region intends to exhibit British smart power . Furthermore, for London, it would have been essential to openly involve Pakistan in the stabilization of Afghanistan after NATO's exit from the country, in order to attribute direct political responsibility to Islamabad for supporting the Taliban. These objectives can no longer be achieved: Defense Secretary Ben Wallace explained that British troops cannot remain on the ground without having had time to plan an autonomous presence from the US contingent and air cover.

This was the UK's fourth Afghan war. In the first three, 1839, 1878, 1919, there were defeats on the battlefield, some vivid in the British imagination: that of the 44th regiment at Gundamuck and the massacre of Sir Pierre-Louis Cavagnari. But strategic goals were achieved, Russia was kept out of India's northwestern frontier, and Moscow was denied access to the Indian Ocean.

From this, the UK returns home without military defeats, but with a load of internal security risks. High-tech military equipment supplied to the Afghan army or left at the Bagram base; the data on the personnel to be evacuated, the collaborators of the NATO mission, and the calendar of the withdrawal shared with the Taliban alter the regional balance, the ability of the Islamic Emirate to keep the territory under control, and above all the ability of the Koranic students to feed terrorism international.

In the Conservative Party, the idea of ​​building a third leg of the emerging world order is now taking hold, further than the US / China G2. Canzuk (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK) can become the cornerstone of 21st century British foreign policy. At Matthew Parker Street, there are those who note that Canzuk is the third largest economy in the world, with the largest land area, and ranks among the most developed areas of the planet according to the HDI index with a dominant bargaining power in the world. and a military deterrent capable of filling the spaces vacated by the US.

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This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL on Mon, 30 Aug 2021 03:49:00 +0000.