Blair Blames Afghan Fiasco on Biden’s ‘Imbecilic’ Election Platform

Joe Biden, Tony Blair
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Tony Blair, the former prime minister who took Britain into Afghanistan alongside George W Bush in 2001, has blamed the West’s botched withdrawal from the country on an “imbecilic” election pledge by Joe Biden.

The deeply unpopular former Labour leader, who also championed a moderately successful intervention in Sierra Leone; a questionable intervention in the former Yugoslavia which inflicted casualties on civilians and refugees, came close to risking a general war, and led to something of a frozen conflict; and the disastrous Iraq War, issued his verdict on the website of the Tony Blair Institute.

“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,” Blair complained.

“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,” he seethed.

The pledge to “End Forever Wars” was a key plank of Joe Biden’s election campaign, with his website promising: “Biden will end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, which have cost us untold blood and treasure.”

While some, such as former U.S. President Donald Trump, do not believe that ending the “forever war” in Afghanistan was wrong in itself, with the issue instead being its confused and chaotic execution, Blair was clear that, in his view, the West should have been prepared to stay in the South Asian country indefinitely if necessary.

The Iraq War architect conceded that “Afghanistan was hard to govern all through the 20 years of our time there”, that “there were mistakes and miscalculations” by Western governments there, and that “There was endemic corruption in” the Western-backed government.

“Despite everything, if it mattered strategically, it was worth persevering provided that the cost was not inordinate and here it wasn’t,” Blair asserted, adding that “If it matters, you go through the pain” — although neither he nor any of his children have served in uniform personally.

Elsewhere in his diatribe, Blair attempted to compare the West’s decades-long entanglement in Afghanistan with the Cold War, being part of a wider conflict with what he described as “Radical Islam”.

“With Revolutionary Communism, we recognised it as a threat of a strategic nature, which required us to confront it both ideologically and with security measures,” said the former Labour leader, glossing aside the fact that he was himself a Trotskyist in his youth and governed with a Cabinet filled with supposedly former communists.

“It lasted more than 70 years. Throughout that time, we would never have dreamt of saying, ‘well, we have been at this for a long time, we should just give up,'” Blair continued — somewhat dubiously, given the West did of course abandon theatres of conflict with communism such as Vietnam (which the Labour government of Harold Wilson kept Britain out of entirely).

He was also highly critical of the government of Pakistan — the country where Osama bin Laden was eventually found, in a home not far from the Pakistani military academy — for having provided “external support” to the Taliban insurgency against the Western-back government “to destabilise the country and thwart its progress.”

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