Ben Lowry: The collapse of Kabul to the Taliban will be seen as a sign of western weakness
In the 1990s I worked on a breaking news website in London.
I did the early shift which meant that I was typically seeing news that came in from the east, where the day was already advanced.
By 1997 I was increasingly aware of the Taliban, and it shaped my politics, particularly the western naivete about Islamic extremists (which somehow persists to this day, almost 25 years later).
I read about the stoning to death of women for adultery and remember one report about young men who admitted homosexual acts, perhaps expecting mercy, but were made to stand in front of a wall which was bulldozed on top of them (an execution for which there is, apparently, justification in the Koran).
In that job I also watched the rise of Osama Bin Laden, and his 1998 African bombings.
Thus, by 2001, the murderous intent of September 11 was no surprise to me, even if the method of flying into both of the Twin Towers of course was.
It is with great sadness therefore that I watch the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban again.
The war there had very broad support in western countries, unlike the 2003 Iraq invasion, precisely because of 911.
I visited Afghanistan in 2008 and spoke to young soldiers from Northern Ireland who had been in fierce gun battles. I had by then begun to fear that the ‘war’ was being lost. After that time, however, the western presence became more of a peace-keeping mission.
The looming collapse of Kabul will be a tragedy because the last 20 years will seem to have been futile.
And because it will be read by our enemies as western weakness.
• Ben Lowry (@Benlowry2) is News Letter acting editor
Other articles by Ben Lowry below, and beneath that information on how to subscribe to the News Letter:
• Ben Lowry Aug 9: Covid has been a bewildering and humbling pandemic
• Ben Lowry Aug 9: Now I understand those older people who want cooler summer weather
• Ben Lowry Aug 2: Three points to keep in mind when arguing against the NI Protocol
• Ben Lowry July 31: The last NI housing boom was disaster, and we need to beware a repeat
• Ben Lowry July 24: Hot weather ought to be welcome in NI but this is extreme
• Ben Lowry July 17: UK has tipped into an amnesty after a long approach to IRA that lacked bite
• Ben Lowry July 15: We should be honest as to how we have arrived at a Troubles amnesty
• Ben Lowry July 10: We will find soon if UK is for once going to criticise Ireland
• Ben Lowry July 10: I once always wanted England to lose, now I want them to win
• Ben Lowry July 3: The mild DUP response to the protocol will cause Boris little concern
• Ben Lowry June 26: Neither Dublin nor IRA have been put under any pressure on legacy
• Ben Lowry June 26: A slight sense of sadness as the days again begin to shorten
• Ben Lowry June 19: Somehow the appeasement of Sinn Fein got worse
• Ben Lowry May 22: Instead of ‘moving on’ from IRA funeral, we still need proper answers
• Ben Lowry May 22: If Joel Keys, 19, wants to help unionism he should get a law degree
• Ben Lowry May 15: Edwin Poots and Doug Beattie will offer two distinct shades of unionism
• Ben Lowry May 8: Formal UK ideas for an amnesty are almost exactly 20 years old
• Ben Lowry May 8: Let us hope that the brilliant Eoghan Harris keeps on writing
• Ben Lowry May 1: Unionism can’t just be about managing long-term defeat
• Ben Lowry April 17: DUP still has to choose between managing this disaster or total rejection of it
• Ben Lowry April 10: His enduring marriage to the Queen was key to our understanding of Prince Philip
• Ben Lowry Mar 20: We have made it through the worst of the dark, dreaded winter lockdown
• Ben Lowry Mar 20: MLAs lost control of abortion by rejecting modest law reform
• Ben Lowry Mar 13: Scotland tunnel isn’t fantasy, but something kids of today might see
• Ben Lowry Mar 6: The cost of victims’ pension has ballooned without explanation as to why
• Ben Lowry Feb 20: We still lack answers as to why IRA funeral got special treatment at Roselawn
• Ben Lowry Feb 13: Peter Robinson has long experience of what is and is not politically feasible
• Ben Lowry Jan 30: At last, clear reason for UK and unionists to stop being weak towards Ireland/EU
• Ben Lowry Jan 16: The Irish Sea border was imposed because UK knew unionists would take it
• Ben Lowry in 2020: Last night unionists celebrated a move towards Irish unity
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