Politics Explained

What the pullout from Afghanistan means for the US-UK relationship

Joe Biden’s failure to consult allies including the UK before the retreat from Kabul came as a shock to British diplomacy, writes John Rentoul

Sunday 29 August 2021 21:30 BST
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President Biden, defending his decision to cut and run in Afghanistan
President Biden, defending his decision to cut and run in Afghanistan (AFP/Getty)

The importance of the US-UK relationship was an “article of faith” for him, Tony Blair declared in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. It counted for something, too, even if the end result for Blair was his part in a career-shortening war.

Blair’s immediate response to the 9/11 attacks on the US, promising to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with our ally, and making a case for the collective global response that the inarticulate George W Bush could not, earned him a great deal of credit in the White House.

Despite Blair’s critics deriding him as Bush’s poodle, he secured significant influence over US policy, persuading Bush to do things he would not otherwise have done.

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