Is Biden’s Legacy Really Going to Be the Dismantling of Democracies and the Free World?

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 2 January 2022. © Richard Kemp

When US President Joe Biden took office, he removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. He should have replaced it with one of Neville Chamberlain. After Chamberlain’s infamous appeasement of Hitler at Munich in 1938, Churchill told him: ‘You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war.’

The first year of Biden’s presidency has been marked by appeasement upon appeasement. Appeasement of Russia, appeasement of Iran, appeasement of jihadists. China also — and we may now be witnessing his most dangerous appeasement so far: helping Beijing cover up the origins of the most consequential harm unleashed on the globe since the Second World War.

Biden inflicted untold damage on the free world by his catastrophic surrender in Afghanistan, demonstrating to America’s enemies and friends alike that, under his administration, the US was no longer willing to stand by its allies nor to protect its own vital national interests.

Biden’s decision to capitulate to the Taliban revealed a failure of one of two key elements of strategic deterrence: credible political will. Failure of the second element, military capability, was exposed by the shambolic and irrational manner of the withdrawal, in which crucial terrain and assets were abandoned first, American citizens and dependents left to their fate and US and allied forces placed at needless risk. Watchers were rightly shocked by such exposure of the most powerful military in the world. Continue reading

We’re betraying our Armed Forces’ sacrifices

Article published in The Daily Telegraph, 26 December 2021. © Richard Kemp

Even during military operations that catch the media spotlight – such as the deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq – at Christmas time too few people think of the men and women of the Armed Forces, risking their lives away from their families. This year, however, many will not even be aware that about 4,000 British troops are deployed across the world defending our interests, from the Falkland Islands to the Persian Gulf, from Mali to Estonia. That’s on top of the thousands on standby in Britain to, for example, support the fight against Covid.

My own battalion – 1st Royal Anglians – is on operations in Cyprus. That might sound like an idyllic place to spend Christmas, but most of these men and women will have been carrying out round-the-clock security duties. Others, confined to barracks or the immediate area, will have been on high readiness to react to crises across the Middle East and North Africa.

Christmas in the Armed Forces is the best of times and the worst of times. Troops on active operations are surrounded by their mates, in high spirits and often carrying out the dangerous duties they signed up for. Under the ethos ‘Serve to Lead’, commanders do everything possible to help them celebrate – unless a battle is underway. Traditionally the troops have been brought ‘gunfire’ in bed by their officers. This is an aptly named cocktail of tea and rum that has always had mixed reviews, even in the trenches at the Somme.

By ancient custom, lunch is served to the troops by the officers, warrant officers and sergeants. I suspect the food fights that ensued in the past are frowned on these days. Aboard some Royal Navy warships an ordinary seaman becomes captain for the day, issuing orders to his shipmates.

My brigade commander in the Saudi desert on the eve of the 1991 invasion of Iraq ordered that no soldier stand guard duty or fatigues Continue reading

No soldier is without a family at Christmas

In wartime, serving men want to be with their comrades. It’s those at home who suffer the real pain of absence

Originally published in The Times, 24 December 2010. © Richard Kemp

As the recently released and much acclaimed film The King’s Speech shows, oratory did not come easily to George VI. But fighting to overcome his nervous stammer, he became an inspirational symbol of this country’s resistance to the Nazi menace. The King’s leadership was never more vital than in the dark days of 1940. That year the theme of his Christmas speech was ‘the sadness of separation’.

Today, our troops in Afghanistan, battling valiantly against a lethal and determined enemy in Helmand’s bone-chillingly cold ‘desert of death’, must also overcome the tremendous ordeal of separation from their loved ones: an ordeal that weighs particularly heavily at this time of year.

Under the British Army’s historic regimental system soldiers frequently serve in the same combat unit for many years. They live together, work together, drink together, fight together — and sometimes even get arrested together. Close relationships develop, extending up and down the ranks, making for a tight-knit community: creating the friendships, understanding, trust and loyalty that are essential to effectiveness in war. They become, quite literally, a military family.

The adrenalin-fuelled horrors of violent combat, the like of which our troops experience day in and day out in Helmand, fire this already close comradeship into an iron bond. King George VI, himself decorated for bravery as a gun-turret officer on board HMS Collingwood at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, spelt this out in his 1940 speech: ‘If war brings its separations, it brings new unity also, the unity which comes from common perils and common sufferings willingly shared.’ Continue reading

‘From the River to the Sea’: Hamas Explains What British Students Want

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 3 November 2021. © Richard Kemp

‘Free, free Palestine — from the river to the sea.’ I was met, as so often elsewhere, by this ubiquitous chant from the standard issue protesters when I arrived at the University of Essex in the UK to give a talk last week. What river? What sea? I doubt many of them knew. Most of these students are fed such slogans when they are coaxed to come out and demonstrate by the campus rabble-rousers — a little bit of animation to distract from the monotony of student life on an autumn evening.

Their distraction comes at a cost. Not to me: I’ve seen and heard it all many times, often belted out with a bit more gusto and venom. The cost is to the Jewish students on campus who, even if they are not Israeli, are the real targets of Israel Apartheid Weeks and constant agitation against the Jewish state and anyone who supports it. The Jewish students have heard it all before too, but they have to live their lives alongside fellow students and sometimes professors who are demanding an end to the Jewish national homeland.

That is of course the meaning of ‘from the river to the sea’ — tearing down the State of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state. For those who artfully deny that reality, Hamas, owners of the slogan, again helpfully explained what they intend in chillingly banal detail at a recent conference in Gaza.

The conference of officials, held in September, was entitled ‘Promise of the Hereafter — Post-Liberation Palestine’. In his opening remarks, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said: ‘The full liberation of Palestine from the sea to the river’ is ‘the heart of Hamas’s strategic vision.’ He meant from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, in other words, the entire territory of the State of Israel.

The conspirators plotting the downfall of a democratic UN member state came up with recommendations on laws to be applied in the conquered land, currency, borders with neighbouring states, international relations, confiscation of property and the use of existing resources and infrastructure. Continue reading

Jerusalem Consulate: A Nail in the Coffin of Peace

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 27 October 2021. © Richard Kemp

Only a few months ago, US President Joe Biden betrayed a US ally by withdrawing forces from Afghanistan, bringing down the government in Kabul and consigning the country to the bitter depredations of Taliban terrorists. Now he is winding up to betray another, much closer ally — Israel.

Biden plans to open a consulate in Jerusalem. This may seem like just another diplomatic facility to issue visas, promote trade and take care of US citizens, with no greater consequence than the US consulate in Edinburgh, UK. But it is far more than a mere office for paper-shuffling diplomats. It amounts to a de facto US embassy to the Palestinians on Israeli territory. Its true purpose is to undermine Israeli sovereignty in its own capital city and will jeopardise future prospects for peace between Israel and Palestinian Arabs.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, understands the implications only too well. In a recent interview, he triumphantly predicted that the new consulate would re-divide Jerusalem.

After the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital in 2018, it subsumed the existing consulate in the city to form a single diplomatic mission. This was achieved under the administration of President Donald J. Trump and that, together with a profound misunderstanding of the dynamics of peace, explains Biden’s determination to re-open the consulate. He has devoted much of his presidency so far to undoing everything he could of Trump’s work, with the exception of the Afghanistan debacle, over which he uniquely claims to have been bound by Trump’s previous plans.

The new consulate, exclusively to manage diplomatic relations with Palestinians, is designed to give hope that one day Jerusalem will be the capital of a putative Palestinian state. Israel can and rightly Continue reading

Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Unleashes a Lethal Terrorist Cocktail

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 22 October 2021. © Richard Kemp

Twenty five year-old Ali Harbi Ali has been arrested on suspicion of the murder last week of British Member of Parliament Sir David Amess in a church in Essex. Ali is a member of a well-to-do Somali family who were given refuge in Britain from the war-torn East African country in the 1990s. British authorities had previously been alerted to his radicalisation and he was referred to the UK’s ‘Prevent’ anti-terrorist scheme.

The precise reason for his alleged attack on this particular MP, which he has reportedly admitted, has not yet been established but it is thought he may have been influenced by Al Shabaab, an Al Qaida group that operates in Somalia and Kenya.

Last month, the head of Britain’s security service MI5, Ken McCallum, warned there was no doubt the Taliban victory in Afghanistan this summer has ‘heartened and emboldened’ jihadists everywhere.

It may be that the murder in Essex was the first successful terrorist attack in Britain inspired by the consequences of US President Joe Biden’s catastrophic decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan. Amess’s savage knifing follows jihadist attacks in Norway that killed five and wounded three last week and another in New Zealand in September that wounded five.

Jihadists around the world celebrated the vanquishment of the West following the Taliban seizure of power in Kabul. Not only has this re-energised terrorist cells but it will also lead to an increase in recruiting and a funding boost from jihadist supporters. Prior to Biden’s withdrawal, Al Qaida had been at a low point in their fortunes, following decimation by US drone strikes in the Pakistan tribal areas, catastrophic setbacks in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the rise of the Islamic State. Their international Continue reading

Novichok assassins: Britain should hit back at Russian intelligence

Article published in The Daily Express, 22 August 2021. © Richard Kemp

The 2018 Novichok attack in Salisbury was conducted using standard Russian GRU military intelligence procedures.

Two operatives carried out the attack,Alexander Mishkin and Anatoliy Chepiga. Their actions were coordinated by a more senior officer, Denis Sergeev.

He enabled the two on the ground to operate in isolation, without external communications, to minimise risk of detection.

Arrest warrants against all three have been issued by the police. Russia will obviously not extradite agents executing a mission authorised by General Sergey Shoygu, the Russian defence minister, with the approval of President Vladimir Putin.

The same is true of the murder in Britain in 2006 of Alexander Litvinenko, which the European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday was also the work of Russia. The perpetrators of both these attacks can and should be arrested by Britain or its allies if they set foot outside Russia.

It is important that option is kept live as it is possible they will do so, maybe as a deliberate sign of contempt for the West by Putin.

But the greater likelihood is all involved will all get away with murder. That cannot be allowed.

Britain hopes that exposing the culprits will build pressure against Putin by encouraging other countries to do the same. This will not be enough. Continue reading

The Other Special Relationship: Britain and the UAE

Article published by the Gatestone Institute, 12 September 2021. © Richard Kemp

Here in Britain there has been great concern about ruptures to the UK-US special relationship following the catastrophic unilateral US withdrawal from Afghanistan and US President Joe Biden’s intransigence over the emergency evacuation from Kabul.

Another long-term special relationship enjoyed by Britain — with the United Arab Emirates — was also affected by events in Afghanistan, but in a positive direction. A few days ago, Britain’s ambassador in Abu Dhabi said the evacuation of UK citizens from Kabul was made possible by the assistance of the UAE who provided a staging airport as well as support from across government ministries.

In Dubai recently, I again witnessed the ever-growing miracle of engineering, finance and enterprise that has bloomed in the Arabian Desert, aided not least by Britain’s unique connections with the territory and its people since the early 1800s — a century and a half before the formation of the Emirates as we know them today. Around 200,000 Britons live in the UAE and more than a million visit each year, for business or tourism. The UAE is Britain’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, and the UK is the UAE’s third biggest partner in non-oil commodities trade. Britain is one of the largest investors in the UAE, which also has many major investments here.

Beyond mutual economic benefits, Britain and the UAE have shared geopolitical interests that echo back 80 years to the decades when Britain helped defend the land against those who wanted to seize it for themselves. UAE forces — which had their origins in the British-led Trucial Oman Scouts — fought with the US coalition in the 1990-91 Gulf War and with NATO in Kosovo. The UAE was the only Arab nation that deployed troops into Afghanistan during the 20-year campaign, conducting combat operations alongside other coalition Continue reading

We now live in a more dangerous world

Article published in The Colchester Gazette, 18 August 2021. © Richard Kemp

In the last few days we have witnessed scenes of chaos in Kabul and its airport as Afghans and foreign citizens desperately try to escape the Taliban. Colchester-based soldiers, mainly from the Parachute Regiment, are on the streets of Kabul, working with the Royal Air Force to get our people out amidst a dangerous and volatile situation.

Sir Laurie Bristow, British Ambassador to Kabul, who was a pupil at Colchester Royal Grammar School, has remained in situ, personally issuing visas and working to help British citizens, locally-employed staff and Afghans who helped our forces to operate during the last two decades and are now under intense danger of Taliban reprisal.

The current situation was totally avoidable. It is the direct result of President Biden’s disastrous decision in May to pull American forces out of the country. Our Defence Secretary apparently tried to cobble together a NATO coalition to remain in Afghanistan without the Americans. This was no more than a pipe-dream. Decades of savage cuts to British forces meant we could not continue to operate there without American backing and anyway no other NATO country was willing to play ball.

Not only was the decision to withdraw wrong, it was implemented in the worst possible way. It was so rapid that the Kabul government and forces did not have time to plan and prepare for a totally different situation. To make matters worse the pull-out was executed during the Taliban fighting season. Had it been delayed to late autumn or winter the security forces would have had more opportunity to consolidate in their new situation.

We went into Afghanistan to remove the Taliban and Al Qaida following 9/11 — the worst ever terrorist attack anywhere in the world, which killed more British citizens than have died in any other Continue reading

Greatest humiliation for America and the West in decades

Article published in The Daily Express, 16 August 2021. © Richard Kemp

Military hardware has been blown up and embassy cars, filing cabinets full of secret documents and even national flags burned as the Taliban closed in on Kabul. Choppers have been shuttling fleeing diplomats to the airport in scenes reminiscent of the fall of Saigon in 1975. This is the greatest humiliation for America and the West in many decades, with our governments caught off-guard as the Taliban scythed across Afghanistan.

There has been heavy fighting in places like Lashkar Gah, Kandahar and Ghazni, but many cities have fallen with barely a shot fired as provincial governors switched sides with their militias following. Seeing the wind change fast, the demoralised Afghan army, with little allegiance to a corrupt government, have often dropped their weapons and melted away. Some, notably special forces, have fought hard but in vain.

These scenes were inevitable when Joe Biden announced his unconditional withdrawal. Only a month ago he proclaimed — in what must have been the most wrong-footed and naive statement ever made by a US president — that the Taliban would not march into Kabul and the Afghan security forces were more than capable of defeating them.

Perhaps he did not know about the brittle relationship between President Ghani and his governors in the provinces whose loyalties are to their tribes rather than Kabul. Whatever allegiance existed dissolved as soon as America withdrew its support.

We are now in transition from an elected — if deeply flawed — administration to a bunch of murderous thugs who just marched in and demanded control. Despite the lying platitudes of Taliban spokesmen the benighted Afghan people will see an immediate return to the unmitigated savagery of pre-2001 days — execution and amputation for Continue reading

Security – Defence – Intelligence – Counter Terrorism