20 years later and well behind the pace

In a report less bad than I feared, suggesting Robertson has recovered from the worst of his ‘dark forces will delight in Scottish independence’ delusion and his warnings that Scotland could not fight aliens without Tom Cruise and Will Smith, he does still suggest:

What then are the consequences of this catastrophe? 

First of all, the terror threat increases. Every jihadist will be re-motivated by this retreat.

Second, the standing of the US, the West and NATO has been hugely damaged. Russia and China with Iran and North Korea will get real pleasure from the situation in Afghanistan

Third, the advances in civil society in Afghanistan will be attacked.

Fourth, refugee flows will increase. They will come from Afghanistan – as they already do, but others will also try to find safety.


Leaving aside the genuinely concerning but all-too-obvious, point three and the adolescent war games perspective in two, claims one and four suggests he is well out of touch.

He needs to read Prof Paul Rogers, a regular in the excellent Open Democracy: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/

Only 6 days ago, Rogers, as he has done for two decades now, bring real expertise and insight to the complex world of Western interventions in the near east.

On Robertson’s first point:

What counts is what happens now in Afghanistan. But another big issue is how determined paramilitary Islamists elsewhere in the world will respond to the near-instant change of power – with the underlying fear that Afghanistan will once again be an organising centre for the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

ISIS certainly has a small presence in the country and is believed responsible for some appalling attacks on religious minorities. Two months ago, a bomb attack on girls at a school for the Hazara people in Kabul killed 85 and injured 147. The Taliban denied responsibility and it did have the hallmarks of an ISIS atrocity, the two-million-strong Hazara community being Afghanistan’s largest Shia group.

According to a recent UN assessment, al-Qaeda has a much wider presence in the country. It operates across at least 15 provinces and has even been operating under Taliban protection in some key areas, including Kandahar and Helmand.

Many fear Afghanistan will once again be an organising centre for the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIS

That does not mean that it will thrive under Taliban rule to the point of launching transnational attacks, for three reasons. One is that the main era of al-Qaeda transnational attacks was 2002-06, in the wake of 9/11 and the US assault it faced in Afghanistan, which inspired scores of actions against Western targets as far afield as London, Casablanca, Istanbul, Islamabad, Bali, Djakarta, Mombasa, Paris and Sinai. Now, though, the US and its allies have been defeated and expelled from Afghanistan. They are simply not the enemy they were; they are a busted flush.

Secondly, the al-Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has moved the movement away from transnational attacks in the past ten years. He is reported to be very ill, but that policy may persist now that a potentially global example of an Islamist caliphate is at last taking shape.


On his fourth point he needs to read another Open Democracy piece by Aziz A Hakimi:

My research shows that, until recently, many Afghans, especially young men, did not necessarily head to Europe to become refugees. Many of the young men I worked with in Afghanistan and Turkey in 2017 and 2018 had other, more mundane motivations for migration. These young Turkmen-speaking men from northern Afghanistan embarked on dangerous journeys through Pakistan and Iran to reach Turkey. There, they found jobs in the country’s construction and service industries, or as cooks, waiters, and cleaners. A few worked in a garment factory, and the clothes they made were exported to markets in the Middle East and Europe.

These men had strong social ties to their communities back home in Afghanistan, meaning hardly any were interested in migrating to Europe. Instead, they worked illegally in Turkey, under exploitative conditions and in constant fear of deportation. They aspired to masculine ideals – wanting to be the breadwinner, to provide for their families, and to achieve the social status and prestige that comes with marriage. An arranged marriage, in which the bride is chosen by the groom’s parents, is still considered the most prestigious route to matrimony and household formation in Afghanistan.

And so they sent remittances home to support their families and saved some money on the side towards a bride price. The marriage market has changed, and Afghan rural household resources, based on land and agriculture, are no longer sufficient – cash is instead required to pay a hefty bride price. Large, expensive weddings have also increasingly become the norm. After five to six years, the men would return to their villages to get married and start families. This circulatory mode of itinerant existence – working in Turkey and providing for families back home in Afghanistan – has come under intense pressure due to the pandemic, closed borders in the region, and armed conflict in Afghanistan.


Wheeling out old guys like Robertson or Blair, to explain current events, often does not work because they’ve been resting on their laurels for decades and, it seems, reading nothing new.

6 thoughts on “20 years later and well behind the pace

  1. I notice that no one in political power in the West has mentioned the Poppy Issue . Under the Taliban BEFORE the USA/UK invasion , the Poppy crop had been reduced to a tiny proportion of what it grew to UNDER the eyes of the invaders !
    Dope pushers in the West will be mourning the loss of the the Western Powers supply chain !


  2. Let these so called Western experts claim this and inform us all
    1.China successfully returned thousands of its Nationals and Afghans considered vital for Chinese purposes
    All by July 31st
    2.It is almost certain Afghanistan has vast untapped mineral resources and a high degree of certainty with
    Copper absolutely vital for all high tech industry now
    Lithium vital for renewable energy storage batteries
    Rare earth minerals vital for all modern high tech lethal weaponry
    Although China has what it considers a Islamic terrorist problem in its Western regions close to Afghanistan
    China no doubt is working furiously behind the scenes with the Taliban to discuss very enticing deals with regards massive investment to ensure China has exclusive access to these vital minerals
    But with one caveat Never Ever even think about harbouring Islamic Terrorists that would ever interfere in Chinese areas of influence
    If all this occurs then just as China has done similar deals with commodity rich
    Nations it will look something like this
    1.They will build free gratis Schools,Universities, Sewage and water plants,Hospitals , health centres, massive infrastructure in the form of roads, bridges, rail and transport hubs
    All in a highly carefully thought out committed plan brought to frutition with
    With amazing speed
    Whats the deal
    China provides all the key expertise
    When complete China hands over 100 %
    All completed works without caveats
    Where is the rub
    China and China alone has 1st call on the commodity resource once mined
    But at a fair current market rate
    Not the way Western Imperialists work
    China regards such scenarios as more of a joint partnership and a Win / Win for both parties
    And all i speak of here is that why this is a castrophic defeat for Western Neo Liberal capitalism
    And by God the top echelons of the West are aware of the possibilities of what can happen now, another massive nail thumped home in the coffin of Western Imperialism and no way back whatsoever
    Checkmate pal
    China has only 1 major mission now
    End Western hegemony for ever and ever in economics and military affairs
    Put quite simple they are simply turning the tables we had against them since the 1700 hundreds
    Can any blame China for doing so
    If you do then think
    Opium wars
    Japanese aggression in WW2 etc,etc
    look at Chinese history they learn very very fast and bide their time in ensuring such is never enacted against them again
    When the Mongols overrun China and deposed the Emperor how did China react
    Built the Great Wall which at the heart of its design is IF a Invader ever gets in then they shall not leave alive
    I rest my case now


  3. There is a book by William Dalrymple called ‘The Return of a King’, published a few short years ago. It is about Britain’s first incursion into Afghanistan in the late 1830s.

    Reading it I was struck by how much of the behaviour/actions of the British then applied to the behaviour of the British in Afghanistan in the last 20 years. Sections of the book could be copied and pasted into any book describing the debacle of the last 20 years.

    In short in nearly 200 years the British governing classes had learned damn all about the country and it’s people and as a result repeated the same mistakes as they had the first time round.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Legerwood
      And that is exactly why their future destiny is to be thrown into the bin of history and as far as the current zealots concerned
      It is the bin labelled


  4. All these auld duffers, sitting in the Lords library in highly upholstered leather chairs, quaffing highly subsidised hooch, pontificating and plotting the future of the world, while decrying its present.
    “The sacrifice was well worth it”!

    Quick, brick up all the doors and windows. Well we actually wouldn’t need to be that quick.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Will ISIS operate again after being bombed to bits, The illegal bombing of Syria let
    them in to cause havoc. Bin Laden was a Saudi originally a US agent. Labour bombed Libya illegally. Acting as mercenaries for the Saudis. US/UK selling arms illegally, breaking International Law. Since the 1960’s. Keeping it secret under the Official Secrets Act. Biden is going to release 9/11 (secret) documents. The relatives organisation are banning him from attending planned commemorations. If he does not comply. Iraq kept secret for 100 years under the Official Secrets Act. Information often comes from other (US) source

    The Taliban (Afghanistans) are funded by Qatar. They were in exile in Qatar. Afghanistan is really, really poor relying on foreign aid. The foreign powers should bribe them to behave in a better manner. Continue to give them aid for concessions. They have Sharia Law because it is cheap. A relatively less costly legal system. They do not have the funds for more complex network of Institutions. The Taliban, previously, stopped the production of opium.

    Saudi, Qatar and Israel are funded and armed by the West. They give monies and funding to the Western political Parties, the elite, and the Royals.


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