MAYBE a government as corrupt as Afghanistan’s previous one would never have survived without NATO support. But that doesn’t excuse abandoning most of the Afghans in Kabul who now face death at the hands of the Taliban.

These include not only former interpreters for NATO militaries, but also Afghans who criticised the Taliban; women MPs, women teachers and women’s rights activists; and anyone who worked for the previous Afghan government, or for charities funded by foreigners or non-Afghan governments; and all of these peoples’ families.

We heard a lot about the need for the “Dunkirk spirit” during Brexit. Boris Johnson has a chance to be Churchillian, rather than merely do a weak impression, if he’ll take the lead in getting all NATO governments to organise a mass airlift on the scale of the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49, sending troops to escort all these people in Kabul to the airport, and fly them to safety.

Fighting the Taliban there would risk planes, and all those on board, being shot down. So our governments should tell the Taliban, and the Pakistani military and government who are the Afghan Taliban’s main ally, that if all those in Kabul wishing to leave are not allowed to it will mean targeted sanctions on all of them.

Major General Charlie Herbert, who was a commander in Afghanistan, says the UK government isn’t even keeping its promise to approve asylum applications by Afghan interpreters who worked for the UK military, let alone ensuring they get to the airport.

He says the priority should be to get them on planes to safety before they’re killed, and sort out asylum processes later.

Why shouldn’t this apply to all Afghans in Kabul whom the Taliban will kill otherwise?

There are 30 NATO countries, mostly wealthy, all with air forces and militaries. Between them they can evacuate all the Afghans at risk in Kabul; and some non-NATO countries would also be willing to take a share of the refugees.

Otherwise the statements that anyone who wants to leave Kabul must be allowed to will be empty words.

Duncan McFarlane, Carluke.


NOBODY should be surprised by the rapid collapse of the western puppet government in Kabul.

Prior to 2001, the Taliban were very much a Pashtun nationalist force, fiercely opposed by the Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara forces of the Northern Alliance.

Twenty years of hated foreign occupation has transformed the Taliban from a Pashtun internationalist force to an Afghan nationalist force.

As with the previous three times when UK invasions were defeated in Afghanistan, we have united a warring nation in hatred of us.

Journalists and politicians who never left the bubble of NATO-protected, pro-western NGOs are as surprised as they are ignorant.

Craig Murray, HMP Saughton, Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan.


PRITI Patel is an absolute hypocrite. I do not know how she and most of her Cabinet colleagues can sleep at night.

With reference to the current Afghanistan situation, she says, “the UK will always stand by those in the world in their hour of need .........”

Presumably, that is unless they are so desperate that they try to arrive here in a flimsy boat. In these cases even the RNLI will come in for criticism by certain Tories over their life-saving role.

How can these people look at themselves in the mirror?

Stewart Falconer, Alyth, Perthshire.


I THOUGHT Donald Trump was bad, but surely Joe Biden’s betrayal of the Afghan people trumps anything that Trump did?

James Miller, Glasgow.


I HAVE read and re-read Biden’s defence of his decision to complete the withdrawal of US troops.

In the rush to condemn him I think several key points have been overlooked – namely, that it was Trump’s decision to initiate the withdrawal, that the US could not be expected to keep pouring money into Afghanistan, and that the Afghan forces, having been trained and encouraged at colossal expense, were genuinely expected to continue the fight.

How Biden must be wishing he had at least kept a decent-sized reserve force in Afghanistan to at least deter the Taliban’s advance.

But I feel that a word of praise is due to the allied forces that did their job in Afghanistan, in extremely challenging circumstances, to the absolute best of their ability.

J. Kennedy, Glasgow.


I WILL not dwell on all that has befallen the unfortunate nation of Afghanistan over the past few days.

With reference to sheer speed with which the Taliban seemed to re-enter and re-take the country, is it possible that many of them had simply lain dormant within the population, awaiting the call to arms?

We, collectively ourselves and the US, could not have remained there forever and a day. I am reminded that on the commencement of the first Anglo-Afghan War (1838-42) there were grave doubts expressed by that old war-horse, the Duke of Wellington, that this would lead to a perennial march into Afghanistan. How true were his words then, and over the passing years to the present day.

There is also more than just the Suez debacle of 1956 to mark our descent from being a world power and influence. A distinctly rapid exit from India in 1947 to mark the partition of that sub-continent led to huge loss of life, with instability still rife in many parts of that region.

The worthiness and sacrifices made in all wars and conflicts are always called into question in their aftermath. It will continue to be so.

Whether the events of the past few days portend an increase in terrorist activities we await with trepidation. The Glasgow-held COP26 conference in November, already a security problem, readily comes to mind.

John Macnab, Laurieston, Falkirk.


ALISON Rowat’s column (“Hasty exit compounds the suffering of Afghanistan”, August 16) was a classic example of blaming the wrong person – President Biden – for the Afghanistan collapse.

When something goes wrong we look for someone to blame; it’s a British instinct and a common coping mechanism, but not a very attractive one. If we can’t be bothered to analyse the situation, we just blame our elected politicians.

In fact Biden (as quoted by Alison) hit the nail on the head. The fundamental weakness was that “the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country”.

Neither US or any other power can defend a country that is not united behind its soldiers in resisting the aggressor.

It worked in South Korea because the country was united; it did not work in Vietnam because there was a civil war going on and their government was notoriously corrupt.

Afghanistan is similar – in fact, it is worse, because most of the country live under warlords, as we did in the middle ages, with very few rights for women.

We forget that it took us many centuries to evolve a functioning democracy with rights for women.

The only hopeful parallel is that Vietnam eventually became a peaceful country, and that we now buy a lot of clothing, footwear and coffee from it.

It takes a lot of time; and no amount of hand-wringing by commentators and blaming of our own leaders will help.

Peter M.D. Gray, Aberdeen.


AS an insult to over 450 British service personnel killed and the thousands wounded in the Afghan war, it is hard to beat our Foreign Secretary’s announcement that foreign aid to Afghanistan will now increase.

The desperately naïve or shamefully disingenuous Dominic Raab claims that we will be able to keep the money out of the hands of the Taliban, who control the country.

During the last 20 years Labour and Conservative governments alike have sent billions of pounds in foreign aid to Pakistan, while knowing that that country was sponsoring the Taliban.

The moral bankruptcy of politicians who think it is acceptable for Britain to borrow money to send to our mortal enemies is hard to overstate, as is that of the journalists who fail to expose them.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.


GOOD to see Keir Starmer finally finding his voice and putting the Government on the spot in the Commons over the fiasco in Afghanistan.

It is a timely reminder of how much we need a passionate and informed Parliament to grill ministers over the important issues of the day. It has been missing in action for far too long.

D. Lynch, Edinburgh.

I know little of Afghanistan other than general knowledge and a passing awareness of current affairs. But this I know: Afghanistan will know no peace until the “War on Drugs” is ended.

President Nixon’s infamous 1971 declaration that “drugs” (a word of so many contexts and applications that it’s almost useless) were public enemy no. 1 safely delivered the trade to the criminal fraternity.

Well over 90% of opiates on European streets originate in Afghanistan. Where do you think the Taliban’s finances come from? The damage is done in drug-related deaths in Scotland and the price of mopping up is paid by the public purse.

The “war” is better understood as an industry that gives and gives to its high-level participants in supply, transit, and delivery. Privatised prisons in USA and elsewhere have an unhealthy coincidence of interest in keeping the trade illegal. Producers, carriers and users are hapless cogs in the machine that spews out the dollars for the overlords.

Compliant and complacent political leaders around the world find the illegal status convenient in attaching illegal drug use to inconvenient minorities in order to harass and isolate them.

“Drugs” are seductive and available. You might as well prohibit sex as prohibit “drugs”. Neither will go away. Neither is appropriately addressed by law enforcement. Both need of health education, harm reduction and rehabilitation.

Afghanistan and the streets of Scotland are directly linked. And a major contribution to the betterment of both would be bringing the “War on Drugs” to an end.

Tim Bell, Edinburgh