Make no mistake about it, President Biden’s humiliating Afghanistan scramble is one of the defining moments of the 21st century. The ramifications of this inevitable yet disastrously mismanaged climbdown will ripple across the globe for decades to come, reshaping the international order and ushering in as yet unknown alliances and rivalries.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Centre attacks, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the much-lauded War on Terror has been an ignominious failure for the West.
What has all this squandered blood and treasure really taught us?
For one, we really should have seen the warning signs long before now. The failures in Iraq, Syria and Libya were hardly subtle hints as to how this would all end, yet still the Western liberal democracies persisted. Just a little more money, just a little more freedom, just a few more rights enshrined in law and all would be well. Just one last push…
The sudden outpouring of introspection within our political class confirms that the jig is up and we can’t just return to business as usual. Even Tony Blair has been forced to admit that nation building with a bomb in one hand and a pallet of cash in the other has been an abject disaster. Such a naively reductionist view of our human world has left us poorer, at greater risk and more insecure than we were on that bright September morning two decades ago.