Karl Marx said history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. As anyone who has read George MacDonald Fraser’s brilliant Flashman novels would realise, British involvement in Afghanistan is always destined to end in tears.
The slaughter of 16,000 British troops and civilians during the 1842 retreat from Kabul in the first Anglo-Afghan war was the tragedy.
The siege of Kabul airport 2021 is the farce, a remake of Carry On Up The Khyber, the wonderful satire on the last days of the Raj.
In the seminal 1968 movie, the British contingent, led by Sid James as Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond, maintain a stiff upper lip as the governor’s residence is bombarded by an Afghan horde under the command of the Khazi of Khalibar, played by Kenneth Williams.
Sir Sid’s compound is defended by troops from the 3rd Foot and Mouth brigade, the so-called Devils In Skirts, rumoured to wear nothing under their kilts.
The siege of Kabul airport 2021 is the farce, a remake of Carry On Up The Khyber, the wonderful satire on the last days of the Raj
Today’s chaotic retreat from Kabul is guarded by special forces and paratroopers, while back home politicians give a passable impression not of the unflappable diplomat Ruff-Diamond but Corporal Jones, from Dad’s Army.
This is not just a Very British Farce, however. It is also a global disaster. What we are witnessing is far more serious than the last days of the Raj. It’s the collapse of the Anglosphere, Churchill’s celebrated alliance of the English speaking peoples, which until now has kept the world safe from tyranny.
Under President Joe Biden, America has abdicated its role as the world’s policeman. Without the U.S., Britain can’t credibly step up and pretend it’s the 19th century all over again. We don’t have the manpower, the money, nor the inclination to assume a leading role in keeping the peace.
Our other main allies, the Canadians, the Australians and the Kiwis, all have their own preoccupations. Canada, under the milquetoast liberal Justin Trudeau, is engaged in a bout of navel-gazing.
Despite vaccinating seven out of ten people, Canada is still running scared of Covid.
Under President Joe Biden, America has abdicated its role as the world’s policeman. Without the U.S., Britain can’t credibly step up and pretend it’s the 19th century all over again
Trudeau has just called a snap general election for September in an attempt to shore up his ailing government in advance of an anticipated fourth wave of the virus. Australia and New Zealand are in a blue funk over Covid and have resorted to extreme isolationism.
Both have closed their borders, and curled up in hiding behind the sofa, with no end in sight. The overpraised Kiwi prime minister Jacinda Ardern has just ordered another lockdown on the basis of one — yes, just one — new case.
If the leaders of the Anzac nations had bothered reading Nevil Shute’s 1957 nuclear winter novel On The Beach, subsequently made into a film starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, they might realise that no nation, however remote, can hide forever from a global apocalypse. In Britain, the political class has exploited the shameful defeat in Afghanistan as yet another excuse to score partisan political points.
As the Mail’s Henry Deedes reported, the dismal performance of MPs in the Commons on Wednesday — with a few honourable exceptions, such as former soldier Tom Tugendhat — was a disgrace.
As the Mail’s Henry Deedes reported, the dismal performance of MPs in the Commons on Wednesday — with a few honourable exceptions — was a disgrace
Mother Theresa, arguably the worst Prime Minister in living memory, spouted pure sour grapes yet again. She’s turning into a parody of her equally disastrous and graceless Tory predecessor Edward Heath. Meet the Incredible Sulk, Mark II.
Labour leader Keir Starmer is an irrelevance. The Left of his party, incredibly, want Britain to pay reparations to the Taliban.
You couldn’t make it up.
But however farcical the Westminster pantomime, what should concern the free world most of all is the humbling of America. Having dug himself into a hole on Monday, Biden kept on digging. In an interview with ABC News, he doubled down on his lame excuses for abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban. As I observed on Tuesday, even his Democratic cheerleaders in the media are exasperated by his duplicity and evasion.
Yesterday, it was the turn of ABC anchorman George Stephanopoulos — a former White House adviser to Bill Clinton — to shake his head in disbelief.
The siege of Kabul airport 2021 is the farce, a remake of Carry On Up The Khyber, the wonderful satire starring Sid James (left) as Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond
The withdrawal of the Americans from the fray is a catastrophe. Biden’s bluster has stripped the U.S. of any moral authority.
Without America, Nato is a busted flush, as Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace discovered when he attempted to cobble together a small multinational force from our European ‘partners’ to maintain a token Western military presence in Afghanistan.
Apart from the Poles, the Europeans always go missing when push comes to shove.
The only nations we can rely upon have been Australia, New Zealand, Canada and, primarily, the U.S. — our four firm allies in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. If that’s no longer the case after Kabul, the world has suddenly become a more dangerous place.
Don’t think that Russia, China and Iran haven’t noticed. Biden has signalled to smaller nations that the U.S. will no longer send in the cavalry if they are threatened.
The Five Eyes have blinked. And, like the 3rd Foot and Mouth in Carry On Up The Khyber, the world has spotted that we’ve got nothing on under our kilts. And that is a real tragedy.
Now that the Taliban have retaken Afghanistan without encountering any serious resistance, they’ve embarked on a public relations offensive.
We are asked to believe in Taliban 2.0, a new caring, sharing, cuddly version. Out go stonings and beheadings, in come women’s rights.
Having once banned singing and dancing, the mad mullahs are now embracing fun. Photos have emerged of Taliban fighters driving dodgems, with their rifles on the passenger seat, and frolicking on a merry-go-round.
Ride a painted pony . . .
There was another snap of a Taliban warrior working out in a gym — with a rocket launcher over his shoulder. Feel the burn!
So despite reports that they’ve already started murdering Afghans who collaborated with the Americans and British, and dragged girls as young as 12 from their homes to be forcibly ‘married’, the Taliban want the world to think they’ve reformed.
How long before their flag features a smiley face emoji?
The soft-headed Hard Left, particularly in Britain, are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
If you swallow that moonshine, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
Supporters of Geronimo, the alpaca on death row, say he should be reprieved because tests for bovine tuberculosis produce too many false positives.
They may be right. But if we can’t trust tests for alpacas, then why should we take any notice of false positives for humans alleged to have Covid?
Hate preacher Ram Jam Choudary is out of jail and posting sermons online via a smartphone app. The real scandal is that, like the Streatham terrorist killed by police, he only served half of his 78-month sentence before being freed on licence. Meanwhile a devout Christian has been absolved by a judge of preaching violence towards gays outside Finsbury Park tube station in North London.
There was no evidence against her, but the police were determined to drag her to court so charged her anyway under the Public Order Act. Pity they weren’t so zealous when they were giving a police escort for years to Ram Jam’s oppo Abu Hamza — aka Captain Hook — to preach hatred outside Finsbury Park mosque.
Don’t send Watson to the Lords, Keir
Nonce Finder General Tom Watson is said to be pestering Labour leader Keir Starmer to nominate him for a peerage.
Last year he was rejected by the House of Lords appointments commission, after being put forward by Jeremy Corbyn. Quite right, too.
Watson abused Parliamentary privilege, and his position as Labour’s deputy leader, to falsely accuse prominent Conservatives of child abuse and murder. He took the word of a known fantasist and put pressure on the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, in the process destroying the lives of blameless men and their families.
Where the hell does he get his sense of entitlement? This disgusting smearmonger has no place in public life, let along a lucrative sinecure in the Lords.
Shamefully, he is still being paid around £70,000 a year to be the part-time chairman of UK Music, in the face of fierce protests from performers, composers and industry executives. Yet he has failed miserably to solve outstanding problems over streaming rights and live performances, despite boasting about his political connections.
Now he wants to trouser £323 tax free a day as an unelected member of the Upper House. Starmer, if he has a shred of decency, must say no.
Watson should crawl back under his stone and stay there.