It’s welcome news that Boris Johnson is being tough with EU negotiators, who, clearly don’t really want to negotiate on fair terms Britain’s future relationship with Brussels. But the ‘let’s get Brexit done’ mantra from Boris which got him into Downing Street comes with a heavy price as the number of policy blunders and dithering which also accompany the PM are mounting.
As news just comes in that the UK has the lowest confidence rating of how its government handled Covid-19, in a recent survey, we are reminded how Boris’s default setting is “if completely baffled, follow Donald”. The survey followed weeks of scathing media coverage – some of it even from America – of how the PM’s hesitation to act in March resulted in thousands of deaths which could have easily been avoided.
It’s as though Boris’s strength is he’s a magician with only one trick. Brexit.
When he was elected, we remember how Donald Trump moved quickly to coerce him into a fast track trade deal with the U.S. – and how it seemed that Boris showed President Trump that he would not be bullied.
And yet what the Covid-19 pandemic has succeeded in doing is distracting media away from a growing worry, which is how Britain, with Boris at the helm, became Donald Trump’s poodle on the international stage at a crippling cost to the British people.
And I’m not talking about chlorinated chicken.
The much bigger worry is that so many gargantuan foreign policy decisions, which Brexiteers wanted Britain to take back – are being outsourced almost entirely to Washington. The number of examples where Britain blithely follows Donald Trump – no matter how dangerous and self-serving his policy might be – are mounting up. From Syria, Iran and Hezbollah right through to Afghanistan – it’s almost as though, under Boris, we don’t need a foreign minster as our own policy is a carbon copy of Donald Trump’s.
Afghanistan is particularly worrying as Trump’s objectives are entirely about being re-elected and not about the bigger picture of international terrorism. Time after time, we see that poor decisions made by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria result in innocent victims in the UK being caught by jihadist bombs, inspired by British Islamic terrorists who exploit Britain’s liberal values to kill and maim through a sick, twisted mentality which makes them heroes in the eyes of ISIS in the Middle East.
For Britain, Afghanistan is special on many levels, but first and foremost because of British lives. 453 British soldiers lost their lives fighting the Taliban there. Brave men, who often fought in the earlier days with poor equipment, fell on the battlefield and arrived later in union jack draped coffins at Brize Norton as their families were comforted by the knowledge that the war in Afghanistan was a righteous one.
But now Donald Trump wants to get re-elected and has decided that pulling troops out of Afghanistan is the key to that objective. Just this week, U.S. media reports claim that he is even thinking of shipping ALL of the U.S. troops there before his election bid – rather than just the 4000 which he initially had planned.
Where would this leave Britain and Boris? We still have a contingent of British soldiers in Kabul who I have had the privilege of working with as a journalist in 2008. Incredibly brave young men who, back then, went out on foot patrols and set the standard for soldiering for the entire ISAF operation, even winning the enormous respect from the Americans as a base just down the road in the Afghan capital, so much so that they were welcomed into the base at the end of dawn patrols for a royal breakfast with the U.S. allies.
Presumably, based on previous policy, Boris would follow Donald Trump and wind down entirely the British operation in Afghanistan to support the most senseless, idiotic ‘policy’ decision there by Washington – which, alongside the UK, fought a war with the Taliban for 18 years until, on the flip of a dime, the same group of shabby terrorists suddenly became America’s allies “in the war against terrorism”. Mind-numbing how Trump pulled this off. But even more alarming that Britain is going along with it.
The ruse by Trump is to secure some sort of peace between the incumbent Afghan government and the Taliban, but which effectively means switching sides. The Taliban, a terror organisation which we should never forget not only killed thousands of U.S. troops, but also held government before in Afghanistan and broke all the records on human rights atrocities, is now no longer a terror organisation but a friend to Washington, apparently.
But the plan is failing already. Just last week reports came in that a ceasefire between the government and the Taliban isn’t holding and that if fighting returns to previous levels then the Taliban will unite with ISIS affiliates there against the Afghan army in a full-out war. Yes, that’s the same ISIS which Trump loves to milk in PR efforts which he claims his own military campaign in Iraq and Syria, destroyed. In fact, it wasn’t his campaign, but Obama’s and he didn’t win the war against them (ISIS), as they’re reforming now as I write. But no matter. Who needs facts at this point where the story of fighting terrorism goes off the page anyway and is looking more like a sequel to Tropic Thunder, a 2008 action comedy film directed by Ben Stiller with Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.?
And yet it’s not funny.
As mad as it sounds, Britain will follow Trump in Afghanistan and the 453 lives which we lost there will not matter. All that will matter is the re-election of Trump and Boris’s blinded dogma in following it.
If Trump did pull out all U.S. troops this summer, then the pressure on Boris to do the same would be enormous. He would have to cave in.
Just as he has done in the shameful story of Harry Dunn, the youngster who was killed by a U.S. diplomat in August of last year in front of RAF Croughton, who drove on the right side of the road. In January Mike Pompeo, rejected the Home Office’s extradition of Anne Sacoolas, who, according to recent reports is now on an Interpol wanted list for the murder of the 19-year old.
If Boris cannot stand up for the parents of Harry Dunn, then we can assume he will not stand up for the families who lost their children on the battlefields of Helmand province.
But he will have to face the blowback for this cowardly stance with America and his naked sycophancy with Trump. Ironically, it will be the FBI investigation into Prince Andrew, which will hurl this grenade into his lap. If Prince Andrew can be interviewed – and presumably charged – for his links to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, then why can’t Harry Dunn’s parents have solace over the same justice being delivered to Anne Sacoolas? Boris survived the Cummings fiasco, but he wouldn’t survive this one.