I understand Joe Biden’s reasons, I do. He has an economy to revive. He has to convince the middle classes not to give control of Congress back to Donald Trump in 2022. His priority is to meet the Chinese challenge and should he get even more involved in Afghanistan, where the Taliban already control more than three quarters of the territory?

I understand that he doesn’t want to, but I am no less ashamed, terribly ashamed, of abandoning men and women to these mad barbarians who forbid girls to go to school so that they know nothing but submission.

I say “we” because most of the EU Member States belong to NATO, which intervened in Afghanistan alongside the United States. This was after the September 11 attacks. It was after the Taliban refused to extradite Bin Laden. This intervention was fully justified and, above all, could have been a success because the Afghans wanted freedom, but when George Bush reinvested so much of the money and troops needed for Afghanistan in Iraq, we did nothing to prevent the incredible folly that led to the resurrection of the Taliban.

France, Germany and the whole of European public opinion had of course rallied against the Iraqi adventure, but we were unable to prevent it or to save the Afghans from this betrayal. We were not strong enough to do so, and at a time when the Americans are packing up and looking away from those they are abandoning, we are still not in a position to save the honour of the world’s democracies.

We too are leaving. We too are closing our ears to the tragedy of so many men and women who believed that we were really there to help them fight obscurantism and protect them from it. Of course, we cannot remain alone. I understand that we are leaving, but I am ashamed, and in this abysmal shame I am sure of only two things.

The first is that one should not intervene in a foreign country in the name of democracy if one is not sure that one can and will stay there long enough to make it triumph. We must never do this again, because we then increase the misfortunes of the people we are supposed to help, we then even more convince the opponents of democracy that we are nothing but paper tigers, and inflict defeats on ourselves from which the dictatorships, in this case Iran and Turkey, immediately benefit.

As for the second lesson to be learned from this Afghan infamy, it is that our Union must finally become, tomorrow, as quickly as possible, an autonomous power capable of deciding its own policy and conducting it as an essential player on the international scene.

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