Events in Afghanistan should mean the end of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle

The damage done by ill-judged military interventions intended to break, rather than repair, an existing order has surely been proved beyond doubt, writes Mary Dejevsky

<p>Militia gather with their weapons to support security forces against the Taliban</p>

Militia gather with their weapons to support security forces against the Taliban

There are times when Joe Biden sounds more like a crotchety old man than the president of the United States. His most recent defence of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was an example. He seemed to say: maybe you didn’t hear me properly the first time, so I’ll tell you again – the US is leaving Afghanistan and I stand by that decision, whatever the horrors that now unfold. No amount of media coverage or special pleading will make me change my mind.

Sometimes, though, crotchety old men with a wealth of experience and a lifetime of standing on the sidelines watching the consequences of bad decisions are right. And Biden is right about Afghanistan – for all the almost unrelieved condemnation that is emanating not just from his political adversaries in Washington, but from the UK.

No, it is not noble to back away from support you have promised, no matter what. But was it really so noble to give that undertaking in the first place? To raise expectations for a level of peace and stability that the people of that country could not, and demonstrably cannot, sustain by themselves, even after 20 years of assistance and several thousand coalition lives lost?

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