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The world still needs the West’s power

An Afghan family at Kabul airport. Aykut Karadag/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

“Hang in there, sisters!” Such was the advice to Afghan women from left-wing former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, following his observation that this week “liberal-neocon imperialism was defeated once and for all”. He’s right, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. The fall of Afghanistan follows a long line of failures, Iraq, Syria and Libya among them. And Varoufakis’s feckless advice to Afghan women is “a succinct description of the only alternative to the liberal-neocon position”, favoured not just by the left, but by all who believe military interventions “take too long and are too much bother”. Western publics may feel reassured that America is no longer the world’s policeman. But without policemen comes violence. The alternative to US power “has been Assad power, Putin power, Xi power and now Taliban power. The end of Pax Americana is proving to be the end of Pax.” 

It’s odd Biden didn’t realise that the small US presence in Afghanistan made it more secure. And just because the West can’t protect human rights everywhere, that doesn’t mean it can’t protect them anywhere. America is full of heated debates about micro-aggressions committed by writers, but shrugs its shoulders over abandoning millions of women to brutal oppression. Similarly, left-wing British critics of immigration controls want to accept refugees, but oppose military action that might stop the creation of refugees in the first place. It just isn’t enough to say: “Hang in there, sisters!”