by Martin Odoni

Before I get to the gist of this, I just need to get an exasperated cry out of my system; –

What was it all for?

A reckless invasion, followed by fully twenty years of occupation of Afghanistan, while simultaneously doing the same in Iraq, and what happens? As if someone just hit a gigantic Middle Eastern reset button, the Taliban have managed in the space of about three weeks’ reconquest to regain control of their country.

The British Empire could not conquer Afghanistan.

The Soviet Union could not conquer Afghanistan.

Now the British and USA combined could not conquer Afghanistan.

This is a lesson the world is remarkably reluctant to learn, but it has still been shocking to witness the effortless speed with which the Taliban has just swallowed up settlement after settlement, almost immediately from the moment the American withdrawal began.

How many lives have been spent, just to go straight back to square one in less than half the time that it takes to get both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine?

My exasperation is re-doubled by the totally predictable reaction of the British right, once it became clear that there was absolutely nothing even to slow down, let alone stop, the Taliban advance into Kabul. It was inescapable that many countries, especially in the West, were going to have to get ready to take in a lot of fresh refugees.

The reactions were like a countdown of all the nation’s favourite hits; –

“Why can’t Afghanistan’s neighbours take them in?”

“Why are they allowed in without passports, but I may have to have an ID just to go to a football match?”

“We can’t let them in, they’ll bring bombs and drugs with them…”

Depressingly, these have loud echoes of the same selfish, self-pitying objections we heard back in 2015 over Syrian refugees, as I debunked at the time. All a lame cover, of course, for a half-conscious racist wish not to share land with brown people.

But surely the most idiotic objection we heard a lot in 2015, and keep hearing now, was even given voice in the House of Commons today, during a debate on Boris Johnson’s characteristically slack response to the crisis. Sir Desmond Swayne, the entirely-well-qualified seat-warmer on the Government backbenches, asked why Afghan refugees could not just stay at home and fight the Taliban.

The inner assumption behind this question should not require debunking, but I fear it does. It speaks of a grotesque lack of human empathy, and a greedy desire to desert our nation’s responsibility for yet more international chaos it has needlessly been at the heart of creating, thanks to the juvenile Star-Wars-style good-v-evil attitude of Tony Blair.

But never mind moral arguments. Right wingers can go unmoved by them until the cows do not merely come home, but until the cows are in their favourite comfy chair, have their hooves up on the coffee table, with the stereo on in the corner of the shed playing some soothing Easy Listenin’ music, and supping on a nice hot cup of cocoa while idly flicking through the latest issue of What Livestock Shipping Crate? magazine. Swayne’s question is not just heartless, but mindless, for reasons too obvious for a Tory to see without it paying them to notice them.

Swayne is implying that, after twenty years of the highly-trained British and US armies failing entirely to destroy the Taliban, despite being armed with the most cutting-edge weaponry and detection technology in human history, we should ask untrained civilian men and women, charging into battle on donkey-back, and presumably armed with spud-guns, to have the next try.

Sir Desmond Swayne – master of military recruitment

It really is incredible that the right think they are more in touch with the real world than the left, while still coming out with bilge of this type. Swayne is really asking the Afghan people to sacrifice themselves to keep British refugee expenses down.

What it really reveals to us all is just how selective politicians’ compassion can be. When they want to intervene in a country, especially one that ‘just happens’ to have a lot of oil, they will sound like they care about the innocents first-and-foremost. But when the only real reason to intervene is just to save lives, as Swayne demonstrates, they look for excuses to get out of it, including offloading the responsibility of tidying up the mess, which the British have been such a big part of making, onto the victims.

So next time they try to emotionally-blackmail you into backing a war in, say, Syria or Iran for ‘humanitarian’ reasons, just remember this latest shameful chapter in amoral British foreign policy.

When the question of another needless foreign war comes up in Parliament, by the way, I look forward to seeing Swayne enthusiastically vote billions-upon-billions in public money, which we supposedly cannot afford to spend on school meals, in favour of invasion.

The politics of this country are truly no less shabby today than they were in the 17th century.