The U.S. press is trying to pretend that everything is normal, Afghanistan is a blip on the screen, and Joe Biden has some idea what he is doing. The foreign press, and foreign commentators and politicians, have been much blunter in assessing recent events. Thus, the Telegraph reports: “Britain should ‘fill the void’ left by US as global leader after Afghanistan withdrawal.”
Boris Johnson has been told to order a “complete overhaul of Whitehall” so that Britain can fill the void of global leadership left by the US.
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, said the withdrawal from Afghanistan raised the prospect that terrorism would “once again be allowed to thrive and the limits of UK and western influence exposed”.
The Tory MP noted that with America’s new “isolationist policy,” it was “a dangerous geopolitical turning point”.
He added: “If Britain wants to fill that void – as we should do — it will require a complete overhaul of Whitehall, upgrade of our strategic thinking, our foreign policy output and our ability to lead.”
The geo-political fall-out of the last month dominated the Commons debate, with Andrew Mitchell, the former international development secretary, saying Britain was “now in a pivotal position”, because of our membership of the UN Security Council.
The Brits are correct that the Biden administration’s incompetence has created a power vacuum, but the idea that they will be the ones to fill it seems much too optimistic.