For Europeans watching the disaster unfold in Afghanistan, it’s yet another painful reminder of their shrinking place in the world.
They felt they had warned the Americans of what would happen with a hasty withdrawal. Diplomatic cables show they weren’t listened to. Some of them had also believed President Joe Biden when he told them at the Group of Seven in the U.K. in June that the Americans would maintain a security presence in Kabul.
The truth though is that their views didn’t factor into Biden’s thinking. Germany’s Angela Merkel had been skeptical from the start about the new president’s promise that “America is back” after the years of Trumpian isolationism. Yet again the G-7 veteran was proved right.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting an emergency call on Afghanistan this afternoon where he and others will press Biden to delay the final pullout of all troops from the country to give them more time to evacuate people. The scenes of panic and despair at Kabul airport paint a bleak picture and only serve to accentuate the sense of impotence.
The U.K.’s defense chief publicly acknowledged that they are unlikely to change Biden’s mind as the Taliban warn of “consequences” if the Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal is not met. All that is left is the open admission that not everyone will get out.