The UK Defence Secretary says ‘US No Longer a Superpower.’

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Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary, called the Taliban takeover a failure of the international community.

Speaking to British media Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary, assessed the west’s intervention in Afghanistan, calling it a job half-done. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, he continued, was the world’s failure.

He maintained the 20-year intervention by US-led forces in Afghanistan “wasn’t a waste, it wasn’t for nothing” instead, it was short-sighted in policy matters. Afghanistan is a country with over 1000 years of history. The western intervention lasted 20-years which in the long run is the blink of an eye. Lasting change takes time to be internalized, and time is what Afghanistan wasn’t given.

Wallace said the initial focus of the mission was successful. Removal of Taliban post 9/11 attack and death of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden made the world safer. The fault, Wallace points out, is the expectation that the next 20 years would follow suit.

He expressed his concerns about the impact of the resurgence of the hardline group on world security. The UK blames President Trump for the hasty withdrawal. His isolationist ‘America First’ ideology failed to inspire US allies’ support, especially the UK.

Now, President Biden inherited a momentum that began under Trump’s government and passed to the Taliban. They now felt they had won.
Spectator Magazine published an interview with Ben Wallace days after the final retreat of western forces.

In further and more substantial criticism of the USA’s hasty retreat, Wallace suggested that the United States was no longer a superpower. Wallace said, “It is obvious that Britain is not a superpower. But a superpower that is also not prepared to stick at something isn’t probably a superpower either…. it’s just a big power.”

The second part of his statement aimed at the United States criticizes the ill-planned retreat. Wallace is not the only one to criticize the move. Senior politicians and military top brass have also expressed strong criticism of the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.
Scholars, politicians, think tanks and others from across the globe echo these views. After the US emerged as a world leader, many governments depended on it for security. The formation of NATO was one such phenomenon.

The overambitious military adventures of the US were not without their domestic costs. It was only a matter of time before the US treasuries ran dry and the luxury of defence budgets broke the economy.

Wallace, among other UK politicians, expressed the reluctance of the UK from evacuating Afghanistan. The US essentially forced the decision to withdraw forces on the UK. Jeremy Hunt, former Foreign Secretary of UK, asserted that the events transpired since August this year had created a fault-line between the US-UK relations.

The countries have remained solid allies for years now, and possible fallout between the two countries will have a long-lasting impact on geopolitics.
Europe, currently, does not have a strong enough army for all its defence needs. In the short run, building such an army is not possible.

Even in the long run, some members of the EU can not and will not be willing to afford the luxurious costs of raising their armies, especially considering the domestic economic implications of such a move. Such a fault line between the US-UK could lead to further disagreements in NATO, creating a security vacuum.

One possible solution to fill this vacuum is Russia, which might offer protection to Europe if the latter so desired. However, considering the history between Russia and Eastern Europe, it’s a distant possibility.

Geopolitics is changing faster than ever before. New alliances might emerge soon with the possibility of fall out of old blocks. From the experience of the US, it has become abundantly clear that military and defence budgets come with dire implications in the long run. Sustained military presence outside the country is expensive. What happens remains to be seen.

Kavya Pragallapati
Kavya Pragallapati
An avid reader with a knack for researching niche issues and topics. Kavya is a writer focused on bringing unheard voices to the light. She believes there are multiple perspectives to everything and is not afraid to step back and reevaluate the larger picture.

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