Joe Biden fury as special relationship with UK suffers ‘worrying wobble’ amid 9/11 worries
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And the Minister for the Armed Forces said with tomorrow’s 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks looming, the criticism aimed at the US meant Washington is anxious about the best way to commemorate the tragedy. The US President’s decision to pull troops out by August 31 has been widely criticised as haphazard and badly planned, especially after twin suicide bomb attacks close to Kabul’s airport claimed the lives of an estimated 190 people – included 13 US Marines.
Meanwhile, the Taliban’s success in overthrowing the Afghanistan Government last month has left many questioning what the West actually achieved in two decades of occupation of the war-torn nation.
Mr Heappey, speaking to Christopher Hope, the Daily Telegraph’s chief politics correspondent during his weekly politics podcast, said: “There’s a wobble.
“But it’s not an institutional wobble. It’s a wobble in confidence.
It’s a wobble in ‘mojo’. And I’m really worried about that
“It’s a wobble in ‘mojo’. And I’m really worried about that.”
Tory MP for Wells Mr Heappey suggested the US was in the midst of “a real crisis in confidence about its role in the world”.
Specifically, he highlighted concerns about tomorrow’s key anniversary, claiming an official at the US embassy in London had “asked me my thoughts on how they should mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in London and the degree to which they should sort of advance the narrative versus whether they should play it quiet”.
He added: “This is your closest friend in the world, in a capital city where we felt deeply on September 11, 2001, for what had happened. There was real solidarity.
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“And you are nervous within your embassy in your closest ally’s capital about how you mark 9/11?”
With reference to the fall of Kabul and the Taliban takeover, Mr Heappey admitted there had been an “optimism bias” within the British establishment about the strength of the regime led by President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country on August 15.
He explained: “People didn’t want Afghanistan to fail. I didn’t want it to fail.
“The Chief of Defence Staff didn’t want it to fail. The heads of the various intelligence agencies wouldn’t have wanted it to fail.
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“I’d like to think that we are all professional enough to have read the intelligence, read the analysis and make judgments that didn’t reflect that optimism bias.
“But I think we have to be quite self-critical about whether or not we were biased.”
Senior UK politicians including Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Priti Patel are planning trips to the US to shore up relations with Washington this month and next, the Telegraph reported earlier this week.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is also expected to return to the States after her visit in July.
Speaking last month, Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of Parliament’s Defence Committee and the Tory MP for Bournemouth East, told Times Radio: “We’ve not been included in the conversations and the one thing we bring to the table.
“Yes, we have a certain amount of hard power, we have effective soft power as well – but it is our ‘thought leadership’ that the Americans actually appreciated us for.
“Being able to look at things with an alternative perspective, to provide a different view, and we could have done that but the back channels have disappeared, the relationship is not what it was.”
Also speaking last month, Tory MP for Bromley and Chislehurst Robert Neill suggested problems pre-dated the Biden administration, referring to predecessor Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban last year.
He told Parliament on August 18: “It is not the prime responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government that this situation has come about – the principal responsibility lies, of course, with the dereliction of two United States Administrations – but, sadly, we are tainted by it.
“That must cause us to think again about how in future we construct a special relationship that seems to me to be, on a number of issues, lopsided to say the least.
“What was the level of consultation before the disastrous decision was taken by the Trump Administration?
“What was the level of communication between us and the Biden Administration to try, at least, to desist?”
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