Stop the War coalition challenges Tony Blair to public debate about Afghanistan crisis

By James Moules

AN ANTI-WAR campaign group has challenged former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to debate the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and Britain’s involvement in the conflict.

The Stop the War Coalition wrote to Mr Blair to issue the challenge of a public debate on the matter, acknowledging the former PM’s strong words for Joe Biden regarding the US withdrawal.

Blair, who was the British Prime Minister at the time of the NATO invasion of Afghanistan, described Biden’s decision as “imbecilic.”

He added that Biden’s choice had been a “tragic, dangerous, unnecessary” decision which undermined the aims of Western nations.

Stop the War, on the other hand, was founded in 2001 to oppose western interventions in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the letter, they wrote to Blair: “You believe that leaving Afghanistan was ‘imbecilic’ and that we need to be prepared to conduct more foreign military operations abroad in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’.

“We in the Stop the War Coalition believe that the death and destruction caused by the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and the attacks on Syria and Libya was catastrophic in itself and that, far from having a humanitarian impact, these interventions have served to make the world a much more dangerous and unstable place.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Blair’s comments have already been rebuffed by the Biden administration. When questioned about them, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had been in touch with the “current” Prime Minister and not one of his predecessors.

The anti-war campaigners have been consistent in their criticism of Western intervention in the Middle East.

Recently, one of the group’s founding members Lindsey German wrote on the website: “The US and Britain intervened on one side of an ongoing civil war, backing the Taliban’s opponents, the Northern Alliance. It was easy to overthrow the government and establish a pro-Western one.

“However successive governments were corrupt, money supposed to go for social and economic development was siphoned off for personal profit of the politicians and those close to them.

“Spending on infrastructure was negligible compared to the vast amounts spent on the military.”

She has previously labelled the invasion and subsequent withdrawal a “major defeat for Western imperialism.”

Back in 2001, Jeremy Corbyn, who helped form the coalition, asked the then-Prime Minister from the backbenches: “Does the prime minister not recognize that the continued bombing campaign, including the use of cluster bombs, in Afghanistan is forcing large numbers of people to seek refuge in Pakistan, that it’s bringing devastation and poverty to the people of Afghanistan, and it seems to be directed, in part, against conscripted soldiers and against civilian targets?”

Blair responded that Britain could “either decide, after an atrocity like the 11th of September, that we are going to act against those responsible, against those sheltering those who are responsible, or we don’t.”

Tony Blair was contacted for comment via the Institute for Global Justice, but has not responded.

Featured Image: Center for American Progress @Flickr

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