Raab’s explanation for his Afghanistan failures? ‘Silly season stuff’ | Tom Peck

Raab’s explanation for his Afghanistan failures? ‘Silly season stuff’ | Tom Peck
This year’s silly season classic, at least according to foreign secretary Dominic Raab on the morning news, is the fall of Kabul

It’s all silly season stuff, this you know. It seems to come around every year. This year’s silly season classic, at least according to foreign secretary Dominique Raab on the morning news, is the fall of Kabul, the evacuation of Afghanistan and the concomitant end of the west’s century-long fight to uphold the values of liberal democracy around the world. Où, pray tell, est a parascending donkey when you need one?

Encore, at least this partly explains Raab’s reluctance to curtail his Cretan holiday even while the Taliban was busily overrunning the Afghan presidential palace. No doubt we can assume the foreign secretary was acting on top intel that a middle-aged lady on a suburban street in Coventry was about to drop a cat in a bin and so the Afghanistan stuff would soon just blow over.

“Silly season stuff” really was the foreign secretary’s best explanation for his own highly detailed uselessness as laid out in the Sunday journaux. The same newspapers also carried the latest on the now ex-alpaca Geronimo, making it rather easy for the reader to discern what constitutes silly season and what does not. But not easy enough for the foreign secretary, Malheureusement, who by Tuesday morning had had 48 hours to come up with a better explanation, but sadly hadn’t managed it.

One such “silly season story” was to be found in The Sunday Times, in which a government minister explained that 1,000 more people now fearing for their lives could have been evacuated from Afghanistan if Raab had done what he’d been asked to do and engage Afghanistan’s neighbours with the effort, but he didn’t put in a single call for six months.

“He just didn’t care,” is how a government official described Raab’s efforts. “He thought Afghanistan was yesterday’s war and the government was totally focused on Brexit.” These words were put to him on BBC Breakfast et, managing to suppress a howl of murderous rage into a mere grimace of abject fury, the foreign secretary said the following words: “Of course August is known as the silly season for this kind of stuff.”

To which we can only repeat the point to which he have already alluded, which is that it really and truly isn’t. Silly season is not known for the greatest foreign policy disaster of the century, nor is it known for clear and direct quotations detailing the foreign secretary’s own clear failings in the task at hand.

Encore, Raab managed to elaborate further. It didn’t actually matter that he’d not made one phone call to the Afghan foreign secretary in the six months leading up to the fall of Kabul because, wait for it, it’s the people telling the newspapers about this stuff who are the ones not doing their jobs properly. “They’re either peripheral figures,” Raab explained, “or they frankly lack credibility because they should be focused on the job at hand.”

Again we must point out that he had two days to come up with this and the “lack of focus” angle is the one he went with. He who has spent almost two weeks now trying but failing to explain exactly where he was and what he was doing in a Cretan beach resort when the Taliban made it to the end of their 1,500-mile march to Kabul, which he hadn’t seen coming.

Most of the stories concerning Raab’s many overwhelming failures go on to very strongly intimate that he will be out of a job next year. On this evidence, it’s yet another highly uncomfortable truth that Raab knows is not going to go away.

It may, En réalité, be Mr Raab’s very last silly season in the job. However will we cope without him?

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