Boris Johnson has released a video praising the “colossal exertions” of British servicemen and officials during the Kabul airport, but some senior military figures have accused his government of having been “asleep at the watch”.
Prime Minister Johnson stressed the “astonishing feats” of the Armed Forces during the crisis, including government officials in the same breath in order to give their efforts the same shine.
The Tory leader said they had been up against a “remorseless deadline” — although it was one the British government and its allies had been aware of for many months, which would suggest it did not have to be as anarchic, hasty, and ultimately incomplete as it was.
Johnson also insisted that the deaths of hundreds of British servicemen — and the maiming of many more — were “not in vain”, citing the fact that “there’s been no terrorist attack launched against Britain or any other Western country from Afghanistan in the last 20 years.”
The words “from Afghanistan” are key, however, as al-Qaeda architect Osama bin Laden moved into a spacious home in Pakistan not long after the Western invasion.
The Western occupation did not al-Qaeda from orchestrating the deadly 7/7 bombings in London in 2005 without having Afghanistan as a reliable base, of course, and Afghanistan-based terrorists had no particular need to attack Western countries directly in any case, having had a wide variety of Western military and civilian targets on their doorstep for the last two decades.
Johnson also suggested that the occupation could be justified by the education of Afghan girls, who will “have that gift for the rest of their lives” — although to what extent this will actually matter if the Taliban reimpose the burqa and other aspects of sharia law remains an open question.
On the end of military operations in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/sOeXjeYtIr
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 29, 2021
Given the fact that the withdrawal date was known well in advance, the Johnson administration has been under pressure from some quarters, with former Chief of the General Staff the Lord Dannatt accusing government ministers of having been “asleep at the watch”.
“This issue has been on politicians’ desks for two to three years and, certainly, it’s been there during the course of this year,” the retired general, now a lawmaker in the British parliament’s House of Lords, told Times Radio.
“We should have done better, we could have done better. It absolutely behooves us to find out why the government didn’t spark up faster,” he added.
Despite the praise heaped on British embassy staff alongside the British forces who helped oversee the evacuation, too, it does appear there were some possibly very serious missteps by officials during the course of the botched withdrawal.
Journalists from The Times found that documents with the details and contact information of Afghan employees and job applicants had been left “scattered on the ground” of the abandoned embassy for the Taliban to find, for example, and forces veteran turned bodyguard to British ambassadors Ben Slater was reportedly unable to get out despite helping with the evacuation efforts because officials bungled his paperwork.
It has also been confirmed that at least one Afghan on Britain’s “no-fly” list was airlifted to the country seemingly in error, and Telegraph journalists report being told by Border Force officials that some of the migrants they received had forged papers or no papers.
What's the OPSEC version of "badmin" called? https://t.co/A30xcFtUSB
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 27, 2021