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'The U.S.A has your back'...what does that mean?

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'The U.S.A has your back'...what does that mean?

Old 23rd Aug 2021, 13:44
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'The U.S.A has your back'...what does that mean?

Like so many on this forum, I am watching the events unfolding in Afghanistan with incredulity, frustration and anger. However, rather than go over the causes for and consequences of the hasty withdrawal of Coalition forces, I wanted to get your view on a slightly different question.

What do members think will be the view of both the USA's allies and 'enemies' in light of their decision to cut-'n-run from Afghanistan. They US governement are now openly refusing entry to the airport of those who aided their forces (confirmed by multiple news outlets), despite promising them they would be kept safe. The world is watching, and what is the world going to take away from this? What does a US 'guarantee' now mean - will anyone believe them - is it worth the paper it is written on?

For example, the US repeatedly says it will defent Taiwan militarily if China decides to invade. Has the import of that statement just changed? Will China be emboldened, and will Taiwan now be nervous? Or, will the removal of forces from the 'stan now allow Biden to pivot to Asia and will China now be worried?

The UK integrated review looked at the shape of our defence moving forwards, and was done in the light of the world's most powerful military being behind us at all times. Can we still count on the US as an unwavering partner? Recent events would clearly seem to indicate that we cannot. Is the review now fit for purpose?

I would love to hear your views.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 17:53
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South Korea must be thinking the same as what your saying of Taiwan in the same context.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 18:02
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Meant in the nicest possible way, I would suggest South Korea and Taiwan have some things that the US would consider more immediately worth fighting for compared to Afghanistan - considering development of minerals extraction in Afghan hasn't seemed to have progressed far.

I'd be more concerned if there were a conflict over Taiwan (and likely South Korea at the same time) that Russia would decide that it's a great time to take some of its former states back into the fold and marched West a bit. In that case I suspect that the UK and Europeans may well get told that they were mostly on their own.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 18:18
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I would be very cautious about assuming anything based on Afghanistan, The US has been a proven, and I hope appreciated ally, to the UK and other nations.

Places like Beirut, Somalia and Afghanistan do not equate to other relationships and strategic interests. They painfully and hopefully serve as reminders that's its not wise to get into certain places.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 18:19
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Not sure the phrase ‘the USA has your back’ has ever really counted for too much.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 18:34
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Originally Posted by sandiego89 View Post
I would be very cautious about assuming anything based on Afghanistan, The US has been a proven, and I hope appreciated ally, to the UK and other nations.

Places like Beirut, Somalia and Afghanistan do not equate to other relationships and strategic interests. They painfully and hopefully serve as reminders that's its not wise to get into certain places.
And that has been a two way process, remember when the USA dragged us into Afghanistan they were courting countries to stand beside the USA to partly legitimise action.

The problem is having decided they were leaving, the USA more less threw those “allies” under the bus, that is the problem the USA now face.

In fact they are still in a way doing it as we all try to get our people out of Country we are being blindsided by the USA deciding when they have enough of their people out and they will then leave whether others have completed their missions or not. .

Why would any self respecting Country support or be caught in the same situation again where the USA want a coalition to go into any Country where there are problems.

Remember it’s not just Afghanistan, the U.K. supported the USA in Kuwait, Iraq, Libya etc… I feel this has become a game changer the world will not forget if called upon again.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 19:38
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
And that has been a two way process, remember when the USA dragged us into Afghanistan they were courting countries to stand beside the USA to partly legitimise action.
There was never any question of legitimacy and no 'dragging' was involved. As I recall, we and other NATO allies were falling over ourselves to help. It was in our interests to do so as it strengthened the alliance.

The problem is having decided they were leaving, the USA more less threw those “allies” under the bus, that is the problem the USA now face.
No argument from me there, the withdrawal has been disastrously mishandled, but that's an execution error rather than an indication of some new strategic reality. The US has acted unilaterally before and will undoubtedly do so again. It's naive to think otherwise, seeing as they are (still) the globe's preeminent power. In any case, some argue that this kind of chaos was unavoidable; we've seen that the former Afghan government was a house of cards waiting to fall and an organised evacuation of selected Afghans could well have provided the necessary 'push' by itself.

In fact they are still in a way doing it as we all try to get our people out of Country we are being blindsided by the USA deciding when they have enough of their people out and they will then leave whether others have completed their missions or not.
Trump promised to 'end the forever wars' before he was even elected in 2016. His Doha agreement with the Taliban promised complete US withdrawal by 31 May 2021. Biden confirmed in April that the withdrawal would go ahead, with a new deadline for logistic reasons but still in time for the 9/11 anniversary. How much more warning did anyone need? The simple fact is that the UK and others dragged our feet because our policy elites didn't understand how precarious the Afghan house of cards was, and in their permanent state of optimism thought they would be able to pressure Biden into changing his mind. Which is a very arrogant stance to take when it's considered that 1) we drew down our combat missions years ago, 2) it would be US soldiers bearing the brunt of renewed Taliban attacks on NATO troops, and 3) we all drastically underspend on defence by comparison to the US. Why should the US have patience for those kind of games when it's facing the expiry of a ceasefire it negotiated 18 months ago, and has already extended once?

Why would any self respecting Country support or be caught in the same situation again where the USA want a coalition to go into any Country where there are problems.
Well, firstly I think the US (or indeed any other ally) will be unlikely to try anything similar anytime soon. But secondly, why would any self-respecting country continue to massively underwrite the homeland defence of a group of states who consistently fail to pay their share and do nothing but criticise? Moreover, one such state (Germany) has defied the US and undercut the East European allies by agreeing the Nordstream 2 pipeline with Russia. Respect is a two-way street.

Remember it’s not just Afghanistan, the U.K. supported the USA in Kuwait, Iraq, Libya etc
It was perceived to be in our interest to support in Iraq (however wrongly), and it clearly was in our interest in Kuwait - not just as a friend of the US but as a UNSC P5 member upholding the rules-based international order (oh, for those days...) And in Libya it was a reluctant Obama who had to be persuaded to support Cameron and Sarkozy's vanity project.

I feel this has become a game changer the world will not forget if called upon again.
What, like in 1956 when the Soviets threatened the UK and France with nuclear war over Suez, and the US said it wouldn't respond? Or when the French withdrew from the NATO command structure in the depths of the Cold War? Or when Harold Wilson refused to support the US in Vietnam? Or when Saigon and then Tehran fell, but the Cold War was won within 15 years anyway? Or when the French refused to support the US in Iraq? The alliance has survived all of these things, each of which were controversial at the time but are now footnotes in history. Well, apart from Suez, which was a defining moment: not that you'd think it from the ahistorical waffle about the UK's place in the world that we're currently hearing from our supposedly educated classes.

The US had no treaty commitment to Afghanistan (in fact, through the Doha agreement it had more of a commitment to the Taliban). It has treaty commitments to NATO in the North Atlantic region, to Japan, and to South Korea. It has no treaty commitment to Taiwan but has wisely maintained a policy of strategic ambiguity over whether it would intervene there. It shows no sign of backing away from any of those positions, and now has more resource available with which to uphold them.

Ultimately POTUS answers to the US electorate. We Europeans should beware of complaining unreasonably about their democratic wishes finally being listened to, because we increase the risk of the very rupture we profess to be so alarmed about. Calm heads need to prevail.

Last edited by Easy Street; 23rd Aug 2021 at 20:03.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 20:11
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Originally Posted by Mr N Nimrod View Post
Not sure the phrase ‘the USA has your back’ has ever really counted for too much.
and I'm wondering about the much talked about "special relationship". How exactly would they define "special"? I think "America first" is more appropriate right now.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 20:13
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Originally Posted by Mr N Nimrod View Post
Not sure the phrase ‘the USA has your back’ has ever really counted for too much.
It only needs to count for enough to create uncertainty in the mind of a potential aggressor...
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 20:17
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Easy Street - don't think I've ever been so much in agreement with a fellow contributor to PPRuNe but absolutely 100% spot on with the above. Just to add though that 9/11 was seen by many (myself included), that an attack on one NATO member should be considered as an attack on all. Therefore, having identified the bad guys as AQ with a powerbase in the Stan, it should have been unquestionable for any NATO partner not to offer full support in dealing with the threat. There has been too much negative media commentary over recent days questioning why we were ever involved in the first place but I haven't seen anyone mention the NATO angle. Of course, the nation building element that followed on from the destruction of AQ is worthy of debate but this should not be confused with the initial action.

Secondly, you quite rightly mention the democratic wishes of the American people. Some early news comments were suggesting that 70% of the US population were fully supportive of Biden's actions. This is a huge level of support if accurate although he is now being painted as a senile clown! Whilst it's just possible that none of our leaders could have predicted the speed of the Taliban takeover (although I'm sure it's no surprise to many of our Armed Forces members), I haven't seen any MP provide a cogent argument as to why we did absolutely nothing with 18 months notice of the US departure. Perhaps there was too much focus on Love Island?
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 20:32
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Hey Easy Street

Are you Jon Sopel in disguise?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-58300984

A short extract to get you in the mood:

...I could list countless other examples where America has ridden roughshod over British sensibilities. In the seven years I have been in Washington I have watched it up close - and it doesn't matter whether the president in the White House is Republican or Democrat: how much the British spend on defence as a proportion of GDP, whether we buy technology from Chinese telecommunications firms, what the Trump administration is going to do about Iran - and on and on...

I agree with PA, I think you have it pretty much covered.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 20:37
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Originally Posted by mopardave View Post
and I'm wondering about the much talked about "special relationship". How exactly would they define "special"? I think "America first" is more appropriate right now.
The 'special relationship' is a much-abused and misunderstood term. No-one serious thinks that the UK has any sort of privileged political relationship with the US: it's a fantasy that some indulge themselves in by conjuring images of Maggie and Ronnie, or George W and Tony, and is a staple of right-wing British papers in denial that Suez ever happened. It's more reasonable to talk of a 'special relationship' in the military, intelligence and technological spheres; no two other states cooperate so deeply in the most sensitive matters. The Polaris and Trident programmes are the two most obvious examples. The UK was in on the U-2 and F-117 while they were 'black' programmes and was the sole Tier 1 partner in F-35. GCHQ and NSA are reputedly well-intertwined. I'm sure there will be phone calls being exchanged between senior British officers, civil servants, spooks, regional experts etc and their counterparts in Washington to reassure each other that business continues as usual despite the "imbecilic" noises coming from current and retired politicians and foreign policy wonks.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 21:25
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Salute!

Thank you Easy and Party.

We colonists are still crude, coarse ill-mannered folks that mostly came from Great Britain and other places in Europe. That being easily admitted, and our proud attitude that irritates many of the more "civil", but less free folks, I am ashamed of what this new, clueless administration has done in just a half a year.

I flew with, instructed and was instructed by aviators and educational folks from many countries for over 20 years. So before the mods delete or move this, I shall apologize for the idiots we now have that have undone many aspects of America policy and support for other nations besides the treatment and actions we are now seeing in the 'stan. The withdrawal was not planned and advertised in a vacuum, and there was knowledge of such by our Allies and others. Some details were likely coordinated with some of our allies. But the new guys could not bear to follow any plan that was developed and being implemented by " orange man bad" and the allies

Some help to others? Two instances come to mind..... and I avoid the years I spent between 1967 and 1975 for another venue/instance.

Ask Mogli about the Aim-9 Lima for the Sea Harrier in the Falklands. Ask my Israeli students from the first and only Viper checkout class if we helped them in Yom Kippur.

Gotta go, and see ya on JB, likely.

Gums sends...

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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 22:37
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Originally Posted by Baldeep Inminj View Post
What do members think will be the view of both the USA's allies and 'enemies' in light of their decision to cut-'n-run from Afghanistan.
At least in Germany the critical view goes more towards the own politicians. In the end it was clear that there would be a date when the US would pull out its troops. There would have been plenty of time to get local support forces and employees out of the country in time. But following the 2015 refugee desaster and in light of the upcoming elections no politician dared to ask start flying Afghans in numbers to Germany without an immediate Threat. Sadly this suddenly developed much quicker than German politics (and I assume secret service) expected. There is some irritation about the US not properly informing about the detailed withdrawal plans but not terribly much more in a direct sense. I would say there is rather more worry about the Chaos of the US withdrawal itself. Moving troops out first, then sending them back in a hurry to save and pull out the civillians and probably still leaving thousands behind instead of ana well orchestrated move simply doesn't look super professional for such a profound Military Power.

The world is watching, and what is the world going to take away from this? What does a US 'guarantee' now mean - will anyone believe them - is it worth the paper it is written on?
We'll see. Might make it somewhat more difficult in certain cases to motivate Countries to act in the US' favor. But I don't think it will totally change the game.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 22:48
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Originally Posted by Mr N Nimrod View Post
Not sure the phrase ‘the USA has your back’ has ever really counted for too much.
Like always the US does have your back, as long as it is in their economic and national security interests. The instant the US decides the relationship is not advantageous to the US, you are on your own. However in fairness the EU block of countries are no different in their foreign policy calculations.

The one principal difference I would suggest is the time frame the US uses for determining the benefits of a relationship with foreign countries. For example the Marshall plan was eventually highly beneficial to the US, but required a huge up front investment that took a significant period of time to pay off. That kind of vision seems unimaginable now no matter what party is in power.
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Old 23rd Aug 2021, 22:50
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Originally Posted by Mr N Nimrod View Post
Not sure the phrase ‘the USA has your back’ has ever really counted for too much.
we saved your silly asses during WWII. We just have a imbecile running our country right now.
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Old 24th Aug 2021, 00:28
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“America is harmless as an enemy but treacherous as a friend.” ― Bernard Lewis

Pretty Sure that is the view of the Taliban right now, and would apply as well to the other nations involved in the Afghanistan shit show.
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Old 24th Aug 2021, 00:55
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Originally Posted by DropKnee View Post
we saved your silly asses during WWII. We just have a imbecile running our country right now.
"You" charged for it.(BBC NEWS | UK | UK settles WWII debts to allies)
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Old 24th Aug 2021, 02:04
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Chill guys……
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Old 24th Aug 2021, 03:39
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Not much being said about the Afghan army, and the speed with which it collapsed.

Multiple countries sent trainers there to teach the army how to conduct its operations, spending years and squillions of dollars on the effort and armament. Comes the time to remove the trainer wheels and see how much they have learned, they drop the bike and run.

What more can we do, other than stay and take the place of their own army, which didn't want to defend its own country? And standing in for them is one thing that is unlikely to happen. The warring tribes and ancient hatreds have returned.

Stand clear and see what happens after the dust settles.
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