The images of those clinging to the wheels of those lumbering beasts from the American Air-Force taking off from Kabul will haunt the Biden administration. Remember that this is the same U.S. President that announced earlier in the summer in the lobby of the EU headquarters that “America is back”. Well if the chaos at Kabul Airport is anything to go by, it is more of a nose-dive than a take-off. It has done immense damage to the President’s credibility both at home and abroad. What happened to US intelligence? Despite the Americans stating that the Afghan Army was 300,000 strong, apparently the real number was significantly lower. Also in a highly tribal society, once the U.S. said it was going to withdraw, how do you motivate troops to fight against the Taliban? Frankly, I would have thought this was pretty basic stuff which should have been apparent to a well-briefed, competent and experienced President. I have long respected the U.S. There is, in short, much to admire but less so in terms of its foreign policy. The bombing of the World Trade Centre was horrific and the wish to capture and eliminate Osama Bin Laden totally understandable. However, the war in Afghanistan has caused the deaths of 75,000 Afghan soldiers and police, 71,000 civilians, 2,448 U.S. soldiers and 457 British soldiers and you begin to wonder what was the logic of the 20 year war. Throw in the estimated cost at 2 trillion dollars and you start thinking what a terrible tragedy, what an awful waste. I just pray that those who need to get out, get out, and that those that remain do not suffer under a tyrannical theocracy. As to the future, there are global implications. The Russians and the Chinese are already engaging with the Taliban, delighted with the self-inflicted damage the U.S. has done to its international standing. Afghanistan has strategic importance and significant mineral reserves but it is the wider implications that are more unsettling. The U.S. has identified China as a threat but will this debacle embolden the Chinese to further expand their interest in the South China Sea and to continue the intimidation of Taiwan, leading inevitably to an invasion. As for the Russians, God knows, except that I don’t think they would be tempted to invade Afghan again.
I see Fine Gael are going to hold a 3-day think-in at the Trim Castle Hotel in Co. Meath. It will begin with an out-door Barbeque, a good job as there will be too much hot air inside. Chief on the agenda should be how do they get the wheels back on Leo’s wagon or in the spirit of the occasion do some of them think Leo’s goose is already over-cooked. Where else to look ? The Prince from Cork, the not so humble Coveney star has been truly zapped. The anger amongst Blue Shirt supporters has to be quelled. Perhaps the solution lies in the Royal County itself. Justice Minister on leave, Helen McEntee, no better lady to give Mary Lou a run for her money and invigorate the troops.