Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair bemoaned "abandonment of Afghanistan and its people" and said the decision by the U.S. and its allies to withdraw troops was "driven not by grand strategy but by politics."
"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, and in circumstances in which troop numbers had declined to a minimum and no allied soldier had lost their life in combat for 18 months," wrote Blair, who was in power when the U.K. joined the U.S. in fighting the Taliban the Afghanistan.
In his piece, released through the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Blair acknowledges mistakes, some serious, were made in the West's endeavor to stamp out the Taliban and establish a democracy in Afghanistan. But he laments the apparent cynicism that has developed in recent time, which he characterizes as people viewing "the bringing of democracy as a utopian delusion" and intervention as "a fool’s errand."
Blair also warns in his piece that this action will negatively impact the West's standing on the international stage, writing that countries will now be wary when receiving commitments from Western powers. He also cautions that countries like Russia, China and Iran will seek to take advantage of this situation, echoing what other international observers have said.
"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," he wrote.
"We did it in the knowledge that though worse than imperfect, and though immensely fragile, there were real gains over the past 20 years," Blair continued. "And for anyone who disputes that, read the heartbreaking laments from every section of Afghan society as to what they fear will now be lost. Gains in living standards, education particularly of girls, gains in freedom. Not nearly what we hoped or wanted. But not nothing. Something worth defending. Worth protecting."
The former British leader also called for sanctuary to be given to the waves of Afghans seeking to escape their country and the Taliban's regime, calling it a "moral obligation" to continue evacuation operations until all at-risk Afghans are safe.
He called on the U.K. to convene a meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) countries to coordinate aid for the Afghan people. On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOn The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises New variant raises questions about air travel mandates Biden to receive 'regular updates' about Michigan school shooting MORE said President BidenJoe BidenCDC working to tighten testing requirement for international travelers On The Money — Powell pivots as inflation rises Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Manchin seeks 'adjustments' to spending plan MORE would be speaking with the G7 leaders to discussion the coordination of ongoing evacuation efforts.
The U.K.'s current Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that he is willing to work with the Taliban if necessary to come to a resolution on Afghanistan.
"What I want to assure people is that our political and diplomatic efforts to find a solution for Afghanistan, working with the Taliban, of course if necessary, will go on," Johnson said to reporters.