Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan calls for a renewed Atlantic alliance - by Charles Moore
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
The president’s action leaves the West vulnerable to the 21st-century threats of China and Islamism
This article for the Telegraph by Charles Moore dated 20th August 2021 begins with these historical words:
“The President of the United States and the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill, representing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, have met at sea.” So began the public announcement of the “Atlantic Charter” 80 years ago last Saturday. The United States had not even entered the Second World War at that point, but the Charter is widely credited with framing the post-war world order. It set out to create “a permanent system of general security”.
In August 1942, by which time the US was at war, President Roosevelt marked the first anniversary of the Charter with a further declaration. He said our two nations and many others were now united against “a common barbaric foe [Nazi Germany and imperial Japan]”. “Their faith in life, liberty, independence, and religious freedom, and in the preservation of human rights and justice in their own as well as in other lands, has been given form and substance as the United Nations.” When victory came, the fulfilment of these principles would “bring us to a happier world”.
Joseph Robinette Biden, junior, was born three months later. He is about as old as you can be and still have spent all your life under that Rooseveltian/Churchillian dispensation. He is not a young 78-year-old. Is he the last President of an idea whose time is going? Has he just helped open the door to an unhappier world?
I am slightly ashamed to admit that, until this week’s debacle in Afghanistan, I had forgotten that a New Atlantic Charter now exists. It was signed, not “at sea” off the coast of Canada, but on the beach in Cornwall this summer. On 10 June, President Biden and Boris Johnson – in a text, like almost all modern public documents, much longer and wordier than those of the past – stated “our ongoing commitment to sustaining our enduring values and defending them against new and old challenges”. Perhaps my forgetfulness reflected a certain doubt about whether the words would be backed by substance.
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