British response to refugees is shameful.

The sight of people trying to flee Afghanistan as the Taliban moved in and took over was harrowing to see. People cramming onto aircraft if they were lucky enough to get on one, some so desperate that they were tying themselves to the wheels or clinging onto the sides, literally risking death to escape, only for death to claim them, yet our sorry excuse for a government? They all seem to be on holiday while it happens.

As with any war, innocent lives are not only lost but displaced as well. It happens every time and sadly all too often this side of the story isn’t spelt out, isn’t told, all too often our media play it down not wishing us to be informed as to what the human cost is. Death figures are harrowing of course, but they are numbers on a sheet, people displaced by war, driven from their lands, homes destroyed, jobs gone, nowhere to go and in need of help that doesn’t always come – well, these are real people, still there and the picture becomes far more complex.

For those countries that do put their hands up, that do acknowledge their role and that they need to play a part in helping the innocent caught up in atrocity deserve to be applauded for their efforts. Germany have said they’ll evacuate 10,000 Afghans, naming translators and human rights lawyers specifically – those who worked with the West for 2 decades and are at risk of execution if caught. Angela Merkel has also said that she’ll work with other European countries to facilitate more. Good luck with dealing with Emmanuel Macron of France on that, since he seems more interested in blocking flows of ‘migrants’ from Afghanistan – they aren’t migrants, they’re refugees, learn the difference –  and has vowed to develop an EU initiative to stop them. Pandering to the far right in his own country to try and save his own political hide at the expense of displaced victims of war. Centrism for you – people hanging off planes and falling to their deaths and he wants to put the boot in.

The US plan on taking 30,000, Canada 20,000, even Uganda has pledged to take 2,000, now there’s a country that knows something about citizens displaced by war.

But what of the UK, how many are we taking? Boris Johnson is on record as saying we must not turn our backs on Afghanistan, Boris Johnson has mumbled something about an Afghan refugee scheme this week, but would they really want to come here given our track record?

Since 2008, the UK have deported, under the guise of repatriation, 15,575 Afghans back to their home country on the basis that their country was safe. It’s another untold Windrush story. By 2015 an average of 100 Afghans a year were being sent back, including people who arrived here as children, have known nothing else. Their formative years were spent here, they studied here, passed qualifications here, were raised by foster families here, but the minute they hit 18, back they went. In fact an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found Afghan children were more than twice as likely to be refused permanent asylum as children from anywhere else.

How many more days will it be before Johnson informs us how many refugees the UK is going to take? Why is it taking so long? Why also, is he not being put under any pressure by the opposition, where is Keir Starmer in all of this, how many refugees does Labour think we should take? Oh, he’s apparently going to wait until the government produce some numbers first. Pathetic, he’s going to Captain Hindsight this as well. Johnson will name a number and he’ll go that’s not enough and raise him what? 100? A thousand? and then Johnson will go slightly higher. This is what passes for leading the opposition these days, utterly useless. Canada has already received a planeload of refugees, whilst we can’t make our minds up how many we’ll take still!

It’s hardly surprising, Johnson was on holiday and the de facto deputy prime minister and Geography impresario, Dominic Raab, who also, without any trace of irony is the foreign secretary was also away! He was warned ahead of heading off to a beach in Cyprus, that things were escalating in Afghanistan and that he shouldn’t go. Naturally, being all about himself as Tories invariably are, he went anyway. He’s had to be dragged back, refusing to budge for several days and mumbled a mealy mouthed ‘nobody could see this coming’ when he got back! Literally the PM and Deputy PM were absent from duty, nobody holding the fort, because y’know, don’t these Taliban types realise the UK is on its hols! Nobody could see it coming? You were told before you left! Jeremy Corbyn warned Blair about this in 2001, but y’know, who listens to jam making vegetable botherers! Well he was right again!

He’s also mumbled about increasing aid to Afghanistan by 10%, but this is after the UK cut foreign aid there by 78% just last month! They knew the Taliban was advancing then and all the while aid and military were being pulled out. What bloody good is 10% after that you pathetic worm of a man and who will it be paid to now, the Taliban?

And of course wherever there’s talk of the UK taking people in from elsewhere you just know Home Secretary Priti Patel will have said something dreadful and that chronic woman has already squealed about migrants – again, they aren’t migrants! They haven’t made a choice to come here, they’ve literally nowhere to go, the very definition of a refugee – they’re seeking refuge for heavens sake! She wants to make sure we only take people of value apparently! Good job Ted Heath didn’t feel the same way when he opened the UK up to refugees fleeing Uganda, since that included Patel’s bloody parents! Uganda, the same country now taking 2,000 refugees, which is 2,000 more than we currently are!

Patel is more concerned about the message this will send to other refugees who might want to come here. She is inhumanly cruel and callous, it is just astonishing given her own personal family history that she thinks the way she does and worse, that she’s in a position of privilege such as she is as Home Secretary.

We owe the people of Afghanistan. We stoked dissent there during the Cold War, we trained many of the fighters who later became part of the Taliban back in the 80’s to fight the Soviets. That proxy war left a country torn apart by civil war which laid the foundations for the Taliban to take it over. Displaced Afghans came here as children only to be sent back the minute they turned 18 as the country was deemed safe, during the 20 years a Western supported government held up but in reality the entire thing was built on quicksand. Trillions of dollars wasted without giving any thought to the country being able to support itself and its gone to hell inside 10 days.
Our government, We in Great Britain, we owe the people of this country a lot. We’ve caused chaos over the last 40 years in Afghanistan as a nation, the least we can do now is take some of those who’s lives have been destroyed thanks once again in part to this country, offer them a new, permanent home somewhere safe to rebuild. We should all demand it, we as a country need to do our part.

UPDATE:

Its now emerged we’ll be taking 20,000 refugees, but over the course of 5 years! What the hell these people are meant to do while they wait I don’t know, but this is effectively washing our hands of the situation and should shame us all. Demand better.

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Afghanistan abandoned.

Once upon a time and by that I’m going back to the early 80’s, the West was actually funding various dissident groups in Afghanistan, the likes of Osama bin-Laden in fact, the so-called Afghan mujahideen, because they were at war with the Soviet Union and that suited us because Russia bad, America and its allies good. We armed these people, we trained these people and now, as always seems to be the case, we’re walking away from a mess of our own making.

Margaret Thatcher promised these people that the hearts of the West were with them when really these people were just a temporary convenience to the West. It was a proxy war to the ongoing Cold War and it resulted in as many as 2 million Afghans losing their lives and countless more displaced, becoming refugees. For 9 years it rumbled on, ending only when the Soviets decided to withdraw, unable to cope primarily with the difficult terrain more suited to Afghan guerrilla tactics, but left the country in such a state it collapsed into civil war amongst various factions of that same mujahideen, a mix of disparate warlords fighting over bits of the country until they themselves were driven out by the Taliban, hardline religious zealots who had emerged from Pakistan promising to drive out the factions, taking over roughly three quarters of Afghanistan by 1996 and holding it until 2001 when the West went to war there and drove them out.

Hang on a minute Damo you might be thinking, these warlords, the mujahadeen had been funded, armed and trained by the West and they’ve been driven out. How is the Taliban invading from Pakistan and taking over the West’s fault?

Well the Taliban are themselves a mess of the West’s making. They were founded in 1994, essentially a student movement in Pakistan, appalled at the lack of Islamic teachings in neighbouring Afghanistan after that country fell apart once the Soviets had withdrawn. They pledged to establish a purely Islamic state and as we saw subsequently, they installed a harsh regime with hardline Sharia Law at its centre. Crucially, a great many of these individuals also came from the very mujahadeen fighters, trained, armed and funded by the West to fight the Soviets years earlier, so it was a kind of mujahideen civil war in a sense.

I’ll go back to that point as well about the Taliban beginning as a student movement – the word Taliban literally means student – students need educational materials in order to learn and what they were being taught was being supplied by the US. Despite eventual revisions to texts, these Taliban students, but also students in war-torn Afghanistan received learning materials that would shape their thinking, images of soldiers, of war, of weaponry, of jihad, of violence combined with Islamic teachings and a hatred of foreigners. Kids were literally being taught to count by counting tanks or missiles in a book for goodness sake! The intent was to keep fresh in the minds of these students what the Soviets had done to them, a hatred of Communism – to foment a distrust and dislike of the Soviets, just as the West distrusted and detested the Soviets – all supplied covertly, so US hands weren’t dirtied by it, all Cold War propaganda effectively.

So we have armed, indoctrinated forces from two countries, taught to hate foreigners, primarily intended to be Russia, who went to war and the Taliban came out victorious. None of this would’ve been possible without western involvement. Let’s get that into context.

But then all this interference in other countries came and bit the West on the arse.

The Taliban were supported by the terrorists Al-Qaeda, formed by Osama bin-Laden after he ceased to be a useful, Western funded mujahadeen fighting the Soviets, yes they formed from that same funded, trained and armed proxy army too. He’d been involved in blowing up US embassies in Africa, which had put him on the most wanted list, but the events of 9/11 meant he was now too big a threat to the US to be left at large. Demands that the Taliban hand him over, hiding in a cave in Afghanistan as he was, were rebuffed, they didn’t bow to the demands of the hated foreigners, including the non-Russian variety, so the month after 9/11 the US invaded to remove the Taliban from power and they did so within months, though it’d take a decade of fighting them before they got bin-Laden. The Taliban, having come from Pakistan, simply returned there to regroup, started feeding back into Afghanistan to mount more offensives and it became a constant cat and mouse game. The problems with the landscape that the Soviets found fighting there in the 80’s proved to be a problem for Western forces right up to the here and now. Here we are some 20 years after that initial invasion and it is decided that we’re going to all pack up and go home without finishing what we started and what happens? The Taliban have taken city after city, are at this moment knocking on the door of the capital city Kabul and sweeping back into power. Civilians are being evacuated where possible or ordered to remain in place for their own safety, the US ambassador has been airlifted from the roof of the embassy and everything has gone to hell as the government the West installed and built up is trashed in a week! If I was an American taxpayer, I’d be pissed, $100bn US dollars spent on training the Afghan army and to what end? An embassy that cost $700m now just gifted to the Taliban. An absolute failure for any of the structures put in place to hold up. Still, the withdrawal is going on, troops are being deployed, but to continue with the withdrawal, not to defend people who have worked with us for 2 decades, nor it seems to help them flee as well! The country is going to fall once more to the Taliban because, what? We got bin-Laden and now we’re bored and want to go home? There are people out there who helped the West, served the West, translators and the like who are now being abandoned. These people have a price on their heads and the Taliban plan on separating them from their bodies. The despotic Priti Patel has decided we don’t want to take Afghan refugees in case it encourages others to flee here – just what part of taking responsibility for our nations actions doesn’t she get, or rather, her own maniacal hatred of bloody foreigners coming here means she simply doesn’t care. These people literally face execution at the hands of the Taliban, they’ve been warned in advance they face beheading for helping us and we’re just going to walk away again, leaving a mess behind, just as we always damn well do. Apparently Dominic Raab is the foreign secretary these days, who knew! We’ve heard very little from him, perhaps he’s still trying to find Afghanistan on a map! Has he found Dover yet?

After the Gulf War, we abandoned Palestinians and the Bedoon booted out of Kuwait, after Libya we left a country to fall apart to the point its now a place of slave markets and civil war, after the Iraq War we left a political vacuum filled by the rise of ISIS. Every time we go to war somewhere, we don’t see it through, we go out there under the auspices of achieving peace yet that is the one thing that never happens. Our Western leaders get what they want, then lose interest. They’ve become bored by Afghanistan, they never really won, but they started a fight they can’t be bothered to finish, instead allowing the oppressive Taliban, a monster of the West’s own making, to just take it all back again and the people out there are doomed to suffer as a result.

Some of the most sickening responses I’ve seen are the blatantly political attacks on Joe Biden for pulling troops out and whilst there’s certainly cause to be angry over this, the orange idiot before him wanted to pull out in May – there’s no political high ground for republicans or democrats here!

There’s none for us here in the UK either. Refugees need not apply, weasel soundbites from Boris Johnson about not wanting Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for terror as we wash our hands of the situation too. Jeremy Corbyn of course warned us against getting involved in Afghanistan to start with, but hey, it was never in Tony Blair’s playbook to not go running when George Bush clicked his chubby fingers and they made him a peace envoy to the middle east. How much more twisted can you get? Soldiers from any country who served must be looking at this, families of those who had died out there and they must surely be wondering, what was the point? What did we fight for? What did our loved ones die for if this is the end result?

So when would have been the right time to leave? We can’t stay forever after all? Is a perfectly reasonable response to all I’ve said so far. I’d suggest after 20 years, you’d think we’d have done enough so that Afghanistan could stand against the likes of the Taliban on its own, be secure in its own defence capability, have allies in the area to aid it, a strong economy to support it. A huge amount of time and money has been spent but what is there to show for it? Perhaps 20 years in a region so battle-scarred in recent history isn’t enough, but surely it is not unreasonable to suggest if you go to another country and you make war and cause disruption, you have a moral and ethical responsibility to stay until the situation is settled don’t you? Walking away just to let the Taliban take back over should be utterly unthinkable.

I could’ve gone further back in history if I’d wanted to, Western interference in the middle east has been a pisstake and a grand litany of failure, leaving only death and suffering behind for a great deal longer than I’ve covered here. This is another sad, sorry chapter in that history. Our governments should shame us and my heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan as events continue to unfold, abandoned, with a choice between Sharia Law, death or fleeing goodness knows where, while we just walk away.

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