There is a famous saying that goes “Those who choose to ignore history are doomed to repeat it”.

Never has that been more vividly exposed as the truth, than in the last two weeks in Afghanistan. The appalling sights of families clustering around barbed wire fences, running alongside transport planes and even clinging to the planes as they take off must put daggers through the hearts of anyone with any compassion.

But the media comments that really made me gasp in amazement belonged to the reports by Western media and Governments who simply couldn’t believe that this was happening and also happening so fast. In effect, the Taliban managed to sweep across the country and take over every major city and the seat of power, in the time it takes to get a Government department to get back to you about a tax query.

So where are the “intelligence agencies” (a contradiction in terms in my opinion) that the Western countries pour so much money into? How come they didn’t actually have reports on the strength and positions of the Taliban, their weaponry, their presence all over the country and also the realisation that the “Government forces” that billions of dollars had been poured into and trained, would completely collapse or evaporate in week ?

Well you dont have to be an expensive intelligence agency to work out the reasons for all that, and if they took their heads out of the sand long enough to look through a few history books, they would have avoided an expensive and destructive lesson.

I will avoid the obvious analogies with Vietnam, which provides the closest comparison to this debacle that I can think of, but lets teleport back to 1980 when the Soviet Union marched into Afghanistan and embarked on a 10 year experiment in futility and utter destructive waste. Gosh the West was so upset by that action they even all boycotted the 1980 summer olympics in protest.

The Soviets spent 10 years in Afghanistan then got the hell out of there because apart from the physical obstacles that the mountainous country possessed, the effort to subdue a hardened and fiercely nationalistic people was simply never going to succeed. Nothing galvanises people more than having invaders come into their country.

Did the West listen to these lessons ?? No… in fact they managed to be doubly stupid and stayed there for twice as long. Twenty years in fact. They endeavoured to win the “hearts and minds” of the people. They installed a puppet Government that told them what they wanted to hear and took the Western money. The West set up schools, built roads, upgraded infrastructure, and lots of lives got lost in the process. They spent years there trying to push back the inevitable (sound familiar??).

Like King Canute on the seashore, the West thought they could turn back the tide without actually understanding just what they were facing.

The moment the West took their hand out of the bucket of water, the water quickly filled the space left.

So I ask again…. what were all those countless lives of good people, of all nationalities and persuasions lost for? What was ever achieved and who or what is accountable for all that? The lesson was there for them to heed but arrogance and ignorance won the day.

Like the people in the photo (all males too by the way, which makes me think of the supposed protocols of leaving a sinking ship…. women and children first), we are all stunned and shocked by the events there in the last two weeks. May that tortured country at least find some peace from now on, but I’m not holding my breath.