Why allies can't stay in Afghanistan without US, or say 'I told you so' to Joe Biden

President Joe Biden speaking about the situation in Afghanistan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Sunday. Credit: AP

When President Joe Biden first announced the United States would leave Afghanistan by September 11 this year, some of his allies felt blindsided.

Suddenly, they had been constrained by a decision made in Washington DC - and many felt insufficiently consulted.

The September 11 deadline has since been moved forward to August 31, with allies of the US currently trying - seemingly in vain - to persuade President Biden to re-extend it.

Ministers from other G7 countries, including UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, have now conceded that although they would like to stay longer, they can’t in the absence of the American military.

There are around 1,000 British troops at Kabul’s airport, alongside around 6,000 American troops.

The United States is the senior partner, politically, militarily and in every other sense.

Other countries can’t or won’t fill the gap at such short notice.

Afghanistan was an afterthought at the G7 summit in Cornwall in June.

US Marine Corps soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division escort evacuees at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit: Cpl. Davis Harris/U.S. Marine Corps via AP

Following a discussion dominated by climate change, China and the post-pandemic world, the 25-page closing communique featured the word ‘Afghanistan’ just twice - both mentions came in point 57 of 70.

Two months on, the issue is now dominating discussion among the leaders of the world’s leading democracies.

So despite their frustrations now, none of the leaders of the United States’ G7 partners can claim ‘I told you so’ during today’s discussions at the G7 virtual meeting.