And so the inevitable farce plays out.

While the Taliban had a cause, the majority of Afghans had a greater prize in the cross hairs of their beady eyes – the opportunity of a new life in the West with all those taxpayer-funded trimmings.

Sure, there are dissidents whose body parts might have been destined for a spike at the city gates, and who could have blamed them for scarpering? For many of the others, they chucked their guns away post haste, and from then it was full-steam ahead for Sympathy Island and into the arms of the bleeding hearts who live for the agenda that the refugee game brings.

And it is a game – just one we’re no good at playing.

So where did it all go wrong?

Where aid programmes always do. Nations bite off more than they can chew with their warring forays, start losing the peace, and then cannot sus out how to exit. Then do-gooders rock up to feed their inner guilt and their profiles, and ultimately, everybody gets shafted.

If anybody is now going to rant on about the loss of military lives, they should first consider all those people who never even tried to protect their own country and perhaps rechannel their vitriol.

Clue: they were the grown men scrambling for the aeroport.

The essence of aid programmes has always been not to send fish but to teach those in developing countries how to fish. Well, the Allies spunked twenty years on that caper, and it transpired that nobody was much keen on casting out a line at all.

Not only were the batallions of fully trained troops averse to battles, but the whole gig had been bilked by corrupt commanders. Army numbers had been inflated by so-called ghosts – non-existent conscripts whose salaries were diverted to gangs of rogue officers — and those who were in it were in it for the greenbacks alone.

It’s not a new ruse — the UK’s major contact centres were plagued by this for decades — and some still are — but at least that has tended to lead only to the odd BMW, foreign holiday, or new bathroom. This time, a whole nation disappeared into a sinkhole.

In Afghanistan, when the going got tough, they all got gone.

Looking at the photographs, it was mind-bending how many had lost their passports and papers but had managed to keep hold of their phones. These aren’t women and children but grown men who are teeing up the big score, and there’ll be no shortage of dippy old saps to step in as the marks for what will materialise as an industrial-scale scam.

We should furthermore now brace ourselves for the next terror wave, which will power forward in the slipstream of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ and be facilitated by a cowing fear of being labelled racist or xenophobic.

The US and its buddies have been played by the Taliban, and the rest of us are being played by bands of sharp charlatans. Everybody will end up getting what they wanted apart from us.

We’ll just end up getting what our gullibility deserved.

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