Lee Cohen

Joe Biden has treated Britain with disdain over Afghanistan

Joe Biden has treated Britain with disdain over Afghanistan
(Photo: Getty)
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Congratulations, Joe. No US President has simultaneously alienated (and abandoned) so many of his compatriots or exacerbated threats to the West with such efficiency as Biden this past week. Biden defiantly sees ‘an extraordinary success’ in the chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan, but disaster currently flows in the President’s wake. And one of the consequences is the mortal danger to America’s most important diplomatic and military alliance: the UK-US Special Relationship.

Biden’s speech on Tuesday was a deranged, dramatic tragedy. He lashed out at critics of his calamity which saw the Taliban reinstalled in power and strengthened with new deadly capabilities. Though entirely of Biden’s making, he took every opportunity to blame everyone but himself for his failures.

No matter the spin, in Biden there is a void of judgment and ability to lead. As Douglas Murray noted over the weekend, tragically ‘it took America gifting Afghanistan back to the Taliban for so many people to realise this.’ For a man chosen only because he wasn’t Trump, the bar was set very low. Biden has failed to get close to it.

Biden asserted that no one would be left stranded and that the mission would continue while any US citizens needed rescue from Afghanistan. Plaudits are due for the valiant coalition forces in whose laps the mission then was dumped. Their extraordinary efforts and sacrifice did save many people. This is not remotely to the credit of the administration who jeopardised many and didn’t keep to Biden’s pledge.

I write almost exclusively on the Special Relationship, and am one of its greatest US champions. With complete revulsion, I have observed the utter incompetence, deceit and treachery of this episode. Many US citizens and allies have indeed been left stranded and in harm’s way. This is inescapably Biden’s fault. Despite his claim that every contingency had been planned for, he has left his own citizens and faithful allies in the lurch with sociopathic disdain. This is the man whose empathy was meant to be a contrast to Trump’s bombast?

Biden’s treatment of the UK – our most stalwart ally – is unforgivable. Britain has stood faithfully with America in most of its military conflicts, notably in Afghanistan for 20 years. Not only was it not consulted by the administration, but it is reported that Boris Johnson could get no response from Biden for 36 hours after the calamity became clear. This was compounded by further outright untruths from Biden that he had consulted and agreed with the UK the withdrawal approach prior to his announcement that the US would stick to the 31 August deadline.

This is not how allies, friends, or trusted partners treat each other.

I cannot claim to be wholly surprised. Even in matters far afield of Afghanistan, Biden has never respected our most cherished ally. He has shown partiality to the IRA, disdained Brexit, openly threatened Britain regarding the Northern Ireland protocol, and now dealt our bilateral military and intelligence alliance the most disrespectful of blows. Now we see that within the White House under Biden there is no champion of the Special Relationship — the most important global alliance safeguarding international stability. Britain has no transatlantic partner upholding what Churchill called, ‘the great principles of freedom and the rights of man which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world.’

The long term damage to the collective defence of the West from the latest tragedy in Afghanistan is preoccupying, but need not be permanent. Indeed, demands for Biden’s resignation or removal are mounting in Congress and from voters.

Biden is a faithless friend to Britain, but we must not give up on the Special Relationship, which in normal times provides needed stability, security and prosperity not only for our two nations, but for the world.

Let us remember, that, in stark contrast, not long ago America had great leadership in Ronald Reagan. In near-perfect partnership with Lady Thatcher, he pursued the noblest and most necessary of shared objectives: ‘vigilance in defence of our liberties and determination in advancing the cause of human rights.’ Their legacies, along with Churchill’s, must inspire confidence that notwithstanding the Biden aberration, the Special Relationship will be renewed.

Churchill concludes A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by saying: ‘And this is not the end. Another phase looms before us, in which alliance will once more be tested and in which its formidable virtues may be to preserve Peace and Freedom. The future is unknowable, but the past should give us hope.’ Though tested by Biden, one must hope that the British people will resist rejecting the transatlantic partnership. Rest assured that many in America are as horror-struck by our president’s neglect of our bilateral relationship as are you. Keep faith, dear friends. Together we have tackled some of the most fearsome threats to global stability. Biden too shall pass.