Well, twenty years after 9/11 here we are again, the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan and the terror threat no different than it was all those years ago. I think we can all finally admit that Operation Enduring Freedom has completely and utterly failed. Which is what I and many others predicted. I’ve lost count the number of Snapper columns written about Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror. And tbh it feels like I’ve been pissing in the wind. I may as well have waited twenty years and not bothered because we are where we were. But I’ll always remember a very brief moment just after 9/11 when one or two cool heads suggested a possible way forward. Tony Blair, for instance, suggested that, in the first instance, there needed to be peace between Israel and Palestine, thus robbing terror groups of much of the fuel that drove the terrorist engine and had done for years. An intriguing comment and I’ve always wondered if this had been the first action in the War on Terror whether subsequent wars would have been needed (or as drawn out). If George W Bush and Tony Blair and the rest of their allies had mustered respect first one wonders what the last twenty years would have looked like. If only the Muslim world had trusted the West. If if if. But here we are. Cutting and running, leaving Afghanistan in chaos as all the people who hated Bush and lapdog Blair suspected all along. A cynical decision fashioned by Trump during a meeting with his racist buddies whose overarching Make America Great Again, like Brexit, just meant isolation, self-interest, and fear of the other. A decision supported and finally enacted by Joe Biden whose final and deeply dishonest speech about the allied withdrawal cast a veil over the servicemen and women killed, the trillions of dollars spent and why this was a defeat plain and simple, “(He) could not bring himself to tell the American people the full truth: that just as in Vietnam, they had lost, and were left wondering what it was all for”. Meanwhile the Afghan people are left to their fate in a country deeply divided by what form Islam should take. Which is the crux of the conflict in so much of the middle east and beyond. How do you a unify country with secular as well as deeply religious views? It’s these tensions which made the Arab Spring so unpredictable and has led to further discontent in countries like Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. It’s not something the West can ever square. Until our version of democracy is understood and accepted by the majority of the people it’s not relevant. In Afghanistan, however, once ‘we’ were there we had a responsibility. A duty of care. A duty to do the best for everyone in Afghanistan, and in this we failed. Twenty years after 9/11 here we are again.