Does the somnolent US president realise how European Union countries now regard him and his policies?
Joe Biden’s swift, if not chaotic pull out of Afghanistan is going to make headlines for weeks and months to come. It is shocking on so many levels and the bumbling US president only seems to be making matters worse for himself with his endless statements and back peddling – assisted by a US media machine which supports him.
But what are the real lessons and what should we be looking out for? It’s worrying that Biden’s memory is so poor that he relies so heavily on autocue messages and that he can’t even remember what his aides tell him. And that’s even if he is listening at all to them.
There is a great deal of evidence accumulating that he hasn’t been listening to anyone and this decision was his and his alone. True, the essence of the decision was Trump’s and so Biden was committed to a fashion to see it through. But this argument that he had no choice whatsoever as the decision was made for him is perhaps the most idiotic of all the theories that have been offered to US journalists to save what surely is a one term president in a tailspin.
It’s Afghanistan which has woken up America as to how incoherent and, at times, sleepy and disconnected the US president is and how his decisions are making a mockery of the US around the world, where the once strong US hegemony, is now replaced with farce.
Is “America back”? Back to what, many might ask.
Biden wanted a swift exit because he didn’t want to follow in Trump’s footsteps and the minutiae of the deal struck with the Taliban. The accord signed a year earlier explicitly stated that the Taliban would only take power once all Americans were out.
Biden could have stood firm on this and remained there, forcing the Taliban to comply with the deal they signed, but instead panicked which has led to the chaos we have seen at the airport.
It says a lot about US military might and America’s hegemony that not only has it lost a 20 year war with an insurgent group, but its military can’t even organise a civilian air lift from an airport which is not under fire.
But Biden’s real failure is not such an obvious one and will take some months for pundits to really see. It’s European Union countries (and NATO) in particular who have been left blindsided by the move and have been dumped on from a great height, as it is those countries which will have to deal with refugees.
The so-called special relationship with the UK is the greatest farce there is. For days on end, Boris Johnson’s telephone calls to Biden were not received.
For the EU as well, this special relationship is in tatters, as it will be Germany and France who will have to dig deep in their pockets and pick up the tab for the refugees, while NATO looks increasingly like a travelling theatre company about to go bankrupt.
Biden just doesn’t think about any of the international politics when it comes to making such decisions. Even NATO now will never be the same again after this spectacular failure of judgment and cooperation.
Biden’s abrupt decision to pull out of Afghanistan not only shatters US prestige around the world as a serious player but also shows the Taliban and other extremist groups that the days of America being a hardcore player in putting the world in order are most definitely over. Game over.
For the country itself, this is hugely important as the Taliban will not be looking towards the West for anything. All eyes are fixed on China, Russia and to some extent Iran. Certainly Qatar will also play the oddball role of a GCC partner (which will only irk its other Gulf Arab countries no end).
Iran, and its proxies, may well form a closer bond with the Taliban. Tehran in recent years have improved relations with the Taliban, largely as it wanted assurances that Shia minorities in the country would be protected and also due to part of Iran being dependent on water flowing from Afghanistan.
But the new regime in Tehran might want to forge stronger ties geo militarily and geo politically if Tehran’s aggression towards the West continues and London and Washington decide that the shenanigans in the Straits of Hormuz need to be dealt with militarily.
For Iran to move into Afghanistan as a partner with the Taliban might be the very catalyst to a proxy war there with the West who might have to turn to militants to do their fighting for them on the ground.
The Taliban are not aligned ideologically with Iran and so some analysts might scoff at this fanciful idea. But given the number of meetings that these two groups have had in recent years – and, we should not forget Iran backing groups like Hamas – there are ample grounds for Washington to fret about such a relationship gaining momentum.
Russia, China and Iran are already forming a security coalition in the region and Afghanistan’s woes merely strengthen this partnership, with some arguing that the vacuum now created by the US pull out actually emboldens the Taliban and gives it a certain edge when talking to these regional super powers.
For the moment though, Biden looks like a desperate old man trying to defend spilling most of his lunch down his front to anyone who will listen, while the Taliban fail to grasp the irony of their trampolining video clips or disco turns making us laugh but then worrying us as to who these people are.
How will they react when they find the 53 Blackhawks provided to the Afghan government?
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