Just when I thought the film was ending, I turn on my tele this morning and see hundreds of desperate Afghan people clinging on to a US Air Force plane trying to flee their country.
When I’m referring to the ‘film’ I’m talking about this seemingly never-ending episode of Black Mirror that we keep getting hit with. There have been scenes in which every street on the planet is empty and everyone’s locked inside. Driving out to the airport, joining a queue of mass testing for this deadly virus and everyone’s wearing these coverings over their face. If you’re wanting to keep your job or go on holiday you’re going to have to accept this liquid being injected into your arm. Don’t ask questions when this liquid makes your arm feel like you’ve been playing dig for dig wi your pal for hours on end or when you’re bed-bound wi the flu for a week. Society depends on it.
…oh and mind the Taliban? Aye, they’re back. They’ve retaken control of Afghanistan. After 20 years of fighting, the UK and the US have boosted and the heinous war crimes they inflict live on.
I’m not tryna instate fear, I’m trying to recognise that the times that we are living in just now are far from normal.
People might feel it's unfair to bunch, for example, covid-19 vaccines and what’s happening in Afghanistan in the same bad dream. Just to clarify… I’m not saying covid-19 vaccines are bad. The vaccines have been groundbreakingly significant in saving millions of lives. They are tried and tested not to harm us. The restrictions have been in place to protect us and this vaccine is letting us live again. Heck, I’m double jabbed… I’m just pointing towards how bizarre this all is.
And the situation in Afghanistan is on the same level of abnormality. It is absolutely wild and I’ll explain why.
Firstly, to give a very rough timeline of what’s happened:
The Taliban (“students” of a hardline form of Sunni Islam) was removed from power in 2001 in wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Roughly 150,000 British military personnel have served in the war and 457 have been killed.
In 2018, a peace deal is struck between the US and the Taliban… troops from Western nations will be withdrawn and the Taliban will no longer attack Western forces. (The ‘West’ could usually be referred to several nations in the Northern hemisphere of the world, most of which in Europe, America and Australasia… in this context, it can essentially be boiled down to Britain and the US – the pair that went through with the intervention back in 2001).
As Western nations begin the process of tapping out, the Taliban have continued to target Afghan security forces and civilians. They have taken over a helfy wack of the country and are on the brink of total control again.
There’s been a lot of finger-pointing in the news over the last few days… ‘Trump didny do the deal properly in 2018,’ ‘Biden’s a dingal for being that rash,’ ‘Johnson should’ve done sout, why does he need America to haud his hand?’
That talk is nonsense.
‘Maw, Lizzie went and smashed up my new Hot Wheels.’ ‘Dinnae listen to him Mum, Craig started it by no letting me play football wi his pals earlier.’ ‘Get yer scabby paws off my toys and muck aboot wi your aen pals.’
What age are we?
The blame game is something we’d slate politicians for if they were doing this in Parliament. It’s a backwards conversation because someone will always be able to point the finger elsewhere, especially in the context of something as messy as what’s going on in Afghanistan.
A more progressive question would be to ask where has the problem come from?
Well, our intervention in Afghanistan was controversial in the first place… there won’t be too many people arguing against taking down a state guilty of human rights abuse, public executions for those that don’t follow their rules and ruthless gender inequality. Yet, millions protested against this. Folk were cynical about motives and the inevitable bloodshed that would follow. War isn’t straightforward. War doesn’t solve all problems.
But it was the ends that justified the means back in 2001. It was (at least claimed that) the end to the suffering of innocent civilians makes military action so essential. The world can’t sit aboot thumb-twiddling whilst normal people like you and I were being tortured by the regime they live under. The lottery of living in Afghanistan as opposed to England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland shouldn’t determine whether we act on something.
If this truly was the motive behind intervention then surely, SURELY, a couple hings would be thought out beforehand: First off, what is going in and trashing the joint, long-term, gonnae do for Afghanistan as a country? And second, who are the opposition? When you picture what a war would be like, most of you reading this will probably envisage Mel Gibson wi blue and white paint all aer his face screaming ‘FREEDOM.’ In which he’ll be on a horse, galloping in front of one group of soldiers about to run straight towards and attack another group of soldiers in the distance. If you try and replicate this image in the context of Afghanistan, it's difficult to picture who is actually being fought against.
Some of you, at this point, will be going well it isn’t that hard… I’m picturing the images of British soldiers fighting Taliban leaders such as Hibattulah Akhundzada, both of which I’ve seen on the tele.
But this gives you the false impression that succeeding in the war against these leaders will eliminate everything they stand for. It’s a war on ‘terror’ or ruthlessly implementing Islamic law… these aren’t physical things. There’s no substance to what these things are, they are just ways of thinking.
So to frame it as a war against an enemy that can be eliminated is a non-starter. For all we know that’s just gonna spur on people that have been affected to retaliate… and low and behold, that’s exactly what’s happening right now. There was a severe lack of planning and consideration as to what is gonna happen after all of this if the motive was purely protecting civilians.
And by the way… big powerful countries intervening in foreign lands is not normal. It’s the same reason why Britain, Russia and France using similar reasoning for expanding their colonial empire in the 18th century isn’t normal. It’s the same reason why, after World War 1 and World War 2, international laws are stating that countries have a right to govern within their territory and military action that compromises this isn’t normal. It’s the same reason why this never-ending conflict (which, by the way, comes at the cost of well-being amongst civilians and troops fighting on the ground, not the politicians that make these decisions) is not normal.
So what are we left with?
Well the US has said look, we’ve done our best, we canny just go on forever so we’re just gonna shoot up the road if that’s sound… I’d be asking if they’re at the wind up? That’s the equivalent of a painter coming into yer hoose and saying naw naw naw none of this is right, scraping off everything that’s been done before and making an absolute mess. The same painter, no realising the size of the job that’s required, gives up and goes look I’ve done my best here but this just isny hapnin. You’d be turning round going haud on a minute you’ve just stormed in here, wrecked my house and then scurried off for someone else to deal wi the tip that’s been left? Get that cleaned up yersel.
End of the day, the situation in Afghanistan started with both the US and the UK taking up the responsibility, on behalf of the ‘international community,’ to protect the innocent people in Afghanistan. With the situation that’s unfolding right now, it’s on both these countries to bear the weight of responsibility that lies ahead. If you start a job that’s a lot bigger than you initially thought then you do overtime to get it done. So like everyone else in the country, just as painters would need to, politicians have a serious amount of overtime on their hands here.
The US has claimed it is not in ‘national interest’ to continue the war… the ‘national interest’ 20 years ago was the same as every other nation around the world in the need to protect civilians. They canny eat their cake and have it too. That’s essentially picking and choosing ownership of an issue when it suits them.
If you stop for a moment and try to imagine how horrifying a situation this is for the Afghan people, it is impossible. Let that be the true driving force of any action in the days, months and years to come. This could take a while.