Taliban's victory in Afghanistan signals the end of freedom and should shame Joe Biden and Boris Johnson – Christine Grahame MSP

Listening to the news programmes on Afghanistan, a sentence has stuck with me – “no-one is buying any kites now”.
Boys fly a kite on a hill overlooking Kabul (Picture: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)Boys fly a kite on a hill overlooking Kabul (Picture: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Boys fly a kite on a hill overlooking Kabul (Picture: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Up til then I had decided that as everyone was chipping in with their views, I would write about the SNP/Green co-operation, which is not a coalition.

Or I could describe the wonderful day I had high up on a farm in the Pentland Hills when I learned that their sheep were in hefts, that wool was not worth a toss but that to buy wool insulation was too expensive so artificial had to be used. The irony of this being on a sheep farm did not escape me.

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But kites? Kites are a symbol of freedom and, in Kabul, kite-flying had been popular for 20 years. So, I cannot escape sharing my thoughts with you. My dismay at the actions of the US from Trump through to Biden (in whom I had vague hopes) knows no bounds.

Yet again, America, self-proclaimed saviour of the western world, has proved itself insular, mean-minded and an architect of political disasters on a global scale.

Roll back to Iraq and “shock and awe” with Bush and his henchman Blair. It was all about regime change but when it got tough, the tough got going, with no exit strategy leaving behind a devastated country.

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Afghanistan fell to Taliban because West underestimated its enemy and lacked com...

Sound familiar? 9/11 and something had to be done. Shooting from the US hip as usual it was gung-ho for Afghanistan with faithful pooch the UK loyally following its master, providing cover for this otherwise unilateral move.

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Twenty years saw 2305 US military deaths and 447 UK, but Afghans killed? It is estimated around 47,000 civilians and 66,000-69,000 Afghan military and police died. Yet Biden all but called the Afghan forces cowards.

That is simply appalling and his failure to show compassion will be his legacy. Not what he wanted which was to “bring our boys (and girls) home” to general flag-waving and certainly before the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Not only that, Trump and Biden told the Taliban the timetable and then were surprised that the Taliban were well-primed. Who tells the enemy their plans, the actual timetable?

This has exposed that the greatest democracy in the world is certainly not great. It is weak and weakened more by these events.

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The Taliban call the tune and Biden (and Boris) must dance to it. As for that so-called “special relationship”, it never was and now is fully exposed as merely a handy slogan for UK plc.

All this inadequate “leader of the western world” can say is they will try to get “all Americans home”, as if that did not make their abandonment of Afghans who have served them worse.

So tough on you and yours if you were an interpreter, worked for the US, UK or Afghan government. There’s a bullet with your name on it.

As for 20 years of progress, when a whole generation of young people, especially women, came to enjoy some freedoms, their future may well revert to subservience and invisibility, with education, the true liberator, a thing of the past.

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I despair. I am ashamed of the UK government, and I doubt I’ll see kites flying again in Afghanistan in my lifetime.

Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

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