Freedom Day has been the topic of my recent articles and it is normally to do with a slow unwinding of the lockdown rules. Many had been predicting the horrors of a resurgent and greatly more pathogenic coronavirus when we were no longer compelled to wear masks or could again gather as friends and families without counting the numbers and excluding some.
The reality is that these grim predictions have not come true. The Covid-19 coronavirus is now an endemic disease and will be with us in one form or another for many years to come. We, as a society, have adapted to this challenge and this is allowing us to return to normal.
Just as normality is returning, there is an increasingly strong suspicion that the virus did in fact escape from a Chinese Government laboratory where scientists were conducting research into a range of different coronaviruses. Initially, some tech companies had suppressed discussion about this possibility and actually may have been responsible for covering up the truth whilst claiming it to be “fake news”.
We know that the Chinese Government does not allow a free press, but it is increasingly disturbing that western corporations feel that they should censor what we are allowed to understand and read about.
With the awful news of the collapse of the Afghan Government and the rapid takeover of that country, we should be more aware than ever of the fragility of our free society when we look at the situation in so many foreign countries.
President Biden took the unilateral decision to withdraw from Afghanistan before 11th September. This was an accelerated plan from the one he had previously copied from President Trump. It has brought about the collapse of an already precarious and kleptocratic regime, the flight of westerners and terror for the Afghanis’ people.
It is already a grim spectacle and will become far grimmer yet as the Taliban take firm control and reintroduce their medieval values upon their society.
Britain was right to support our friends in America against al-Qaeda after the attack on the World Trade Towers which killed nearly 3,000 but we should not have occupied and sought to rebuild Afghanistan in our own image. Culture evolves over centuries and democracy cannot be imposed by the barrel of a gun.
We had to leave the country but, after twenty years of occupation, we should have been able to manage an effective transfer of power. Indeed, President Biden said that this is what would happen but many of his tactics destroyed the fragile moral of the Afghan security forces which led to their flight from and their surrendering and defecting to the Taliban.
Britain has very little that she can do. We should not unilaterally commit to taking the role of the Americans in Afghanistan and it is impossible to see that Germany, Italy or other countries would step up to perform this role.
Considering what is unfolding in Afghanistan and the timetable set by the President Biden, it is shocking that the situation was not a key, if not the key, concern raised at the G7 in Cornwall. This should have been the forum to ensure that the plans would work or how international partners could fix the faults.
The Government did not do this but there is no point in the opposition complaining now when they said nothing at the time. Some of the proposed solutions and thoughts coming from left wing politicians from across the world show how out of touch with reality they are.
The idea that convening a United Nations meeting is going to achieve anything is ridiculous. The UN is bereft of authority and the idea that the Presidents of Russia and China are going to allow any meaningful decision is impossible to conceive.
Other world leaders have challenged the Taliban to respect human rights and participate in a responsible way and work with partners on the global stage, but it is just empty rhetoric and gesture politics.
Domestically, lockdowns, compulsory vaccinations and domestic ID cards challenge our free society, but we should know that freedoms are hard won and must be protected.