Dominic Raab grilled on by Dan Walker on his Afghanistan role
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US President Joe Biden received massive criticism as his country led the West’s chaotic withdrawal of Afghanistan in August. On August 15 the Taliban seized the capital city of Kabul to the surprise of the US government, and the US embassy evacuated and retreated to Hamid Karzai International Airport. What followed was a frenzied evacuation process that has been likened in some quarters to when the last Americans were airlifted out of Saigon, which marked a bloody end to the Vietnam War.
Yet before the US involvement in Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union occupied the country.
The Soviet Union marched into Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, 1979, claiming it had been invited by the new Afghan communist leader, Babrak Karmal.
What followed was a guerilla war between an insurgent group funded by the West, known collectively as the Mujahideen, against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
The Soviets struggled in the harsh cold Afghan terrain, and by 1987 announced it would be withdrawing from the region and leaving the Afghan government alone to fight against the insurgents.
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Professor Grover, who is an expert political expert, claimed that the US “ridiculed” the Soviet Union throughout the Eighties for their involvement in the region before entering Afghanistan themselves in 2001.
He told Express.co.uk: “A conversation we’re not having in this country is what it means to be a declining empire.
“Setting aside the way that we withdrew from Afghanistan, it was a 20-year fiasco.
“I remember very distinctly Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party just ridiculing the Soviets for being in Afghanistan.
“[They said] what a foolish thing that was, and how that was a decline of the Soviet sphere of influence, which it was.
“We’re in the middle of the same kind of thing now but you can’t have that kind of conversation in America.
“The whole American exceptionalism myth is still really really powerful.”
The war lasted nine years and has been cited as the Soviet Union’s Vietnam War, and a contributing factor to its dissolution by a range of scholars.
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The international community imposed numerous sanctions and embargoes against the Soviet Union upon their invasion.
The US even boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
Of course, after the Soviets left in humiliation, the US was the next great power to wade in the region following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The US invaded to oust the Taliban regime, which had harboured al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden but remained in the region for two decades before August’s evacuation.
Meanwhile, in the UK the Foreign Office’s handling of the Afghan evacuation was dysfunctional and chaotic, according to a whistleblower.
In written evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee, Raphael Marshall claimed the process of choosing who could get a flight out was arbitrary and that thousands of emails pleading for help went unread.
Mr Marshall added that the then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was slow to make decisions.
The UK airlifted 15,000 people out of Afghanistan, including 5000 British nationals, 8000 Afghans and 2000 children, after the Taliban took control of Kabul.
Mr Marshall claimed that up to 150,000 Afghans who were at risk because of their links to the UK, applied to be evacuated but less than five percent received any assistance.
In response, Mr Raab said the two-week evacuation was “the biggest operation in living memory” and that the UK helped a larger number of people than any other nation except the US.
He added that the criticism of his decision making was from a “relatively junior desk officer” and that the main challenges were in verifying the identities of applicants on the ground and safely escorting to Kabul airport, not in decision making in Whitehall.
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