Post-9/11 we all know the story. The Western world was at a heightened sense of insecurity, anger, paranoia – the lot. We ended up invading Iraq with America – and we also all know how that ended.
Tony Blair, Prime Minister at the time, can not do anything now without being labelled – rightly or wrongly – a war criminal.
But another war Blair entered with America was Afghanistan. In November 2001, Britain invaded Afghanistan with the US and other allies to destroy the al-Qaeda group, and the Taliban.
From this point on, forces have spent resources and lives on attempting to stabilise Afghanistan, make it clear for a democratic government to exist, and destroy extremism in the country.
Many thousands of Afghan people have died in this fight, and many thousands of women and girls have been brutally attacked, murdered, and oppressed under the regimes Britain and other allies have been fighting.
The success of troops in the country, however, has been debated for many years. America especially have been wanting to pull out of Afghanistan for a very long time, and British troops officially withdrew from fighting in 2014.
However, some British troops still remained in the country to provide training to the Afghan army. Their support comes in the form of training to help the government’s army retain control of the provinces and cities they regained from al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
This war has not been easy and every win has been fought for hard. And now America and Britain have withdrawn all of their troops, the Taliban – who they have pushed back against for all of these years – are making rapid gains.
Just days after our withdrawal, the Taliban now controls half of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals and have now arrived in the capital city of Kabul.
If all of this is not enough to convince politicians and decent human beings that Afghanistan and its people still need us, the plight of women and girls that will ensue should be.
Many people will recognise the name of Malala Yousafzai. She was the young girl from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban for going to school. They shot her on the school bus.
This act that every girl in Britain does – going to school – is radical to the Taliban. Women do not go to school. They do not have rights and inevitably fear for their safety in a Taliban-run state.
As Afghanistan once again fights the Taliban back, women are terrified. Divorced women – who have been able to live freely during this time of relative peacekeeping – are incredibly fearful.
They report feeling they have “nowhere to go”, knowing they will be punished, even killed, for divorcing their husbands by the Taliban.
After the Taliban was driven out of many cities, women entered public life in Afghanistan. They came into law, medicine, and politics. They were not penalised for the ‘crime’ of being born female.
But now, with this advance of evil, their safety and the safety of generations to come hangs in the balance of international support.
This much-needed international support is lacking, however. President Joe Biden is all for women’s rights and equality. His Vice President Kamala Harris is also all for supporting women as the first woman to be in her post, but where is their support for the women of Afghanistan?
Even though Britain has attempted to form a security coalition in the country to help keep the peace and push the Taliban back, this has not been supported by the US.
Typical Britain, jumping into a war because America wanted us to. We have – like in Iraq – left without a proper strategy, and left a tragedy to unfold.
Yet if President Biden truly was “leader of the free world”, he’d recognise his duty to the people of Afghanistan and help Britain form an international coalition to stabilise this country we’ve thrown into peril.
Without international support, we are going to watch yet another Middle Eastern country tear itself apart after Western interference.
We have still not learned the lessons of the past: that to invade a country and remove the dominant forces requires a strategy and a plan. There is no plan here – we have just abandoned these people because America did.
What comes next is a civil war. The Afghan army will fight against the Taliban, more insurgent groups will form to fight, and plenty more terrorism will ensue. Lives will be lost, another generation will not know peace.
It’s time to – once and for all – stand up and demand better from America. The people of Afghanistan quite literally depend on it. And so do their lives.
Setting up support for British nationals and some Afghans to leave the country is not enough. It is their country and our responsibility to finish the job we started.