Tag Archives: Afghanistan war disaster

Americans Must Face the Hard Truth on Afghanistan, by Daniel L. Davis

The U.S. could have stayed in Afghanistan for 100 years and not won the war. From Daniel L. Davis at nationalinterest.org:

We must resist the temptation to believe that if only the United States had done this or that differently, the war would have been won.

Editor’s note: In August, The National Interest organized a symposium on Afghanistan one year after the U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban takeover of Kabul. We asked a variety of experts the following question: “How should the Biden administration approach Afghanistan and the Taliban government?” The following article is one of their responses:

One year ago, the Afghan government and military disintegrated in one of the most remarkable, sudden, and widespread collapses in modern military history. Looking back, not just at the year since that collapse but the twenty years that preceded it, there are some important lessons for the United States to acknowledge. Key among them: foreign interventions to “promote democracy” and “fight terrorism” have been exposed as expensive failures. We fail to apply these lessons to our future peril.

Just before midnight in Kabul on August 30, 2021, Maj. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, left the tarmac to board a U.S. C-17 military transport, becoming the final U.S. servicemember to leave Afghan soil. After twenty years of blood, sacrifice, and futility, the American military had withdrawn from Afghanistan—with the victorious Taliban watching from the Kabul government buildings they had captured.

As one who deployed to Afghanistan over the course of two combat tours, watching the mission literally disintegrate before my eyes last August was a bitter pill, to say the least. Especially during my 2010-2011 combat deployment, I had traveled thousands of miles throughout the areas in northern, eastern, central, and southern Afghanistan where U.S. Army troops had been operating. I met hundreds of U.S. and allied soldiers and scores of Afghan citizens and military personnel.

Continue reading→

The war in Afghanistan is over but military leaders are still trying to hide their failures, by Jeff Shogol

The buck stops nowhere in the modern military. It’s easier to find a 12-leaf clover than leaders who will step up and take some responsibility for the Afghanistan fiasco. From Jeff Shogol at taskandpurpose.com:

No more excuses.

Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, US top commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, gestures during an official handover ceremony at the Resolute Support headquarters in the Green Zone in Kabul on July 12, 2021. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images).

ith the Taliban in total control of Afghanistan, Americans deserve to know how the Afghan security forces collapsed in little more than a week despite a nearly 20-year and $88 billion effort by the U.S. military to train, equip, and mentor Afghan troops and police.

Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the last commander of all U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan, could provide lawmakers with some of the answers when he testifies next week before Congress – but the broader American public won’t hear any of that. The hearing will be behind closed doors.

This enforced secrecy has become the norm for Miller and other military leaders, who made it nearly impossible to get basic information about the state of the war in Afghanistan for at least the past three presidential administrations.

The war in Afghanistan is over but military leaders are still trying to hide their failures
Army Gen. Scott Miller, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, waves upon his return on July 14, 2021 at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. Miller stepped down on July 12, 2021 and transferred command duties to Gen. Kenneth McKenzie as the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan continues. (Photo by Alex Brandon – Pool/Getty Images)

Miller never briefed the Pentagon press corps while he served as the top commander in Afghanistan from September 2018 until this July. While he spoke to Afghan media often, it was rare for him to engage with American or western reporters.

After this story was first published, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Task & Purpose that the Senate Armed Services Committee had requested that Miller’s hearing be held in a closed session.

Continue reading→

20 Years after 9/11 — Are We Better Off? by Patrick J. Buchanan

No way, and Buchanan doesn’t even talk about the shredding of our civil liberties. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

When the hijacked planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that first 9/11, the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan and providing sanctuary for al-Qaida.

Today, the Taliban are in control of Afghanistan and providing sanctuary to al-Qaida. What then did our longest war accomplish?

The Afghan army and government we stood up and sustained for decades has collapsed. The U.S. military has withdrawn. U.S. citizens and thousands of Afghans who fought alongside us have been left behind.

The triumphant Taliban of today are far stronger than were the Taliban of 2001 who fled at the approach of the Northern Alliance. Al-Qaida is now present in many more countries than it was when we first launched the Global War on Terror.

Nor is the America of 2021 the hubristic self-confident country of George W. Bush and the neocons who were going to convert the Middle East into something like our Middle West and advance from there “with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”

Our country is a changed place from 2001. Gone are the unity, confidence and resolution. And how have all our interventions gone?

Continue reading→

Our Afghan Atomic Bomb—Insane Foreign Policy Meets Insane Immigration Policy, by John Derbyshire

Our government invades countries, create victims and refugees, and then recognizes that we owe them something for screwing up their lives. So we bring them to the US. From John Derbyshire at unz.com:

We are now out of Afghanistan. This is such a relief after twenty years of futility, Joe Biden has been getting thanks from some surprising people—Ann Coulter and Richard Spencer, for example.

I’m as glad as they are. But I think the appalling mess Biden’s people made of the evacuation cancels out any gratitude due to the president. When the Soviet Union, on its last geriatric legs, made a cleaner, cheaper show of withdrawing from Afghanistan in defeat than we have, heads should roll.

A basic atom bomb depends on a mass of nuclear material going into a spontaneous fission reaction. You put two or more subcritical masses into some device, keeping them apart from each other. Then, when you want an explosion, you bring them together to form a critical mass. Bang!

Similarly, the current mess is the result of two subcritical masses of insanity coming together:

Our foreign policy insanity—these dumb missionary wars we keep getting involved with—has been a constant for decades now. It’s possible we have finally learned our lesson; but I seriously doubt it. I look forward to milking that insanity for commentary as long as I can work a keyboard.

So let’s see what this week has shown us about our immigration insanity. The focus of concern: the floods of Afghans we have taken in.

The original idea, which seemed reasonable (at any rate to me) was that we should take in and settle Afghans who had trustingly put their lives on the line to help us advance our foreign policy, as insane as that policy was. That would be a fair and decent thing to do.

Continue reading→

The Perils of Forgetting: Learn From the Afghan War or Repeat It! by Danny Sjursen

Our rulers didn’t learn anything from Vietnam. It’s a thousand to one shot they learn anything from Afghanistan. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Just over two months before the military mission in Kabul – along with broader American delusions – collapsed, the Center for International Policy released a report on America’s failed and futile Afghanistan adventure. It was a war that took four lives and five limbs from soldiers I commanded. Two bled to death, one died at a base hospital, another – shot through the jaw – later overdosed, and one more lives as a triple amputee. The oldest was 28 – on his third tour – the youngest couldn’t legally buy a beer when we deployed; not one earned more than $40,000 a year for his trouble. All bravely spun their wheels on a mission that couldn’t be accomplished, in a war that shouldn’t have continued.

The report’s title told the tale and pronounced its purpose: “Ever Shifting Goal Posts: Lessons from 20 Years of Security Assistance in Afghanistan.” Reading that, I nearly puked before even retrieving its pages from the printer. Maybe a better soldier wouldn’t wonder what it was all for, why Americans were asked to hopelessly kill and die for two decades – and whether anyone would read its retrospective.

The report didn’t just poke holes in a failed mission, but emphasized the importance of remembering and learning from failure in order to evade future fiascoes.

A few pages in – and more so now, in the wake of the Taliban takeover – I had this nightmare thought: what if ending America’s longest war ends up an anomaly, and Afghan-like wars churn on – if more abstractly – from Africa’s Sahel to its Horn, from Syria to Iraq? And those are only the high-end highlights. The madness meanders from Mali to Mozambique, and boomerangs back as militarized police (disproportionately veterans) make hyper-surveilled war zones of America’s streets, whereby Baltimore becomes Baghdad, and Kansas City smacks of Kandahar – at least to an alum of both.

Continue reading→

Processing Defeat, by Peter Van Buren

The story of the Special Immigrant Visa program is the story of the Afghanistan war disaster in microcosm. From Peter Van Buren at theamericanconservative.com:

The Special Immigrant Visas program was, like the war in Afghanistan, poorly defined and poorly executed. Still is.

The story of Afghans fleeing their country seeking Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) is the story of the war.

In the hubris of 20 years ago, no one could conceive the U.S. would need to evacuate locals who worked with us. Instead, they would form the vanguard of a New Afghanistan (and then Iraq). Admitting some sort of escape program was needed was admitting our wars were failing, and so progress implementing the SIV program was purposefully very slow. When it became obvious even in Washington that we were losing, an existing State Department perk for local employees was hastily remade into a covert refugee program.

Even then, with no one wanting to really acknowledge the historic scale of our failures, the SIV program was never properly staffed to succeed. Instead, it was tarted up to appear to be doing something good while never having any plan in place to do that good, like the war itself. Admitting we had a refugee program for countries we had liberated was a tough swallow.

Now, at the end, the Afghans who trusted the SIV program—trusted us—will randomly be rushed through the pipeline to make a few happy headlines, or left behind to their fate on the ground. No one now in the government actually cares what happens to them, as long as they go away somehow. At best the SIV program will be used to create a few human-interest stories to help cover up some of the good we otherwise failed to do. Hey, Ghazari made it to America and she’s a YouTuber now!

Continue reading→

Afghanistan: Same, Same; Again, Again, by Patrick Armstrong

For both the US and the country it invaded, the differences between the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars are minimal. From Patrick Armstrong at strategic-culture.org:

The difference between the U.S. performances in Vietnam and Afghanistan is that in the first, the vehicles were painted green and in the second, sand.

The lesson of Afghanistan is not that the US is washed up as a great power. The lesson is that the US is such a great power, militarily and economically, that it is continually tempted to try hopeless things that nobody else on earth – including China – would ever attempt.

David Frum gives new meaning to the expression “in denial”.

Don’t believe what you’re told by the generals, or the ambassadors, or people in the administration saying we’re never going to do this again. That’s exactly what we said after Vietnam. We’re never going to do this again. Lo and behold we did Iraq. And we did Afghanistan. We will do this again.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)

Bill Ehrhart arrived in Vietnam in 1967 believing everything. His first indication that all was not as expected came when he wasn’t welcomed the way Allied soldiers had been in 1944. A couple of days later he was shocked to see “detainees”, bound hand and foot, casually tossed off a high vehicle by other Marines. This didn’t seem to be the way to treat people the Americans were there to help said he to his companion who told him to keep his mouth shut “until you know what’s going on around here”. And, he continues in this video, “it went downhill from there”. Every day patrols met “snipers and mines” but he saw hardly any enemy soldiers. He came to realise that the Viet Cong didn’t have to force people to fight the Americans; once a Marine patrol had destroyed its way through a village, they’d have all the recruits they needed:

the longer we stayed in Vietnam, the more Viet Cong there were, because we created them; we produced them… The Vietnamese people hated me and I gave them every reason to hate me.

The war he saw bore no resemblance to the optimistic stuff he read in Time Magazine and other mass media. So he hunkered down, stopped asking the questions of what and why – “the questions themselves were too ugly even to ask” – did what he did and waited for the date when he would go home.

Continue reading→

The Completion Of The Afghanistan Withdrawal Is Nothing To Celebrate, by Caitlin Johnstone

Anybody who’s trying to conjure up happy-face emotions for any aspect of the US’s Afghanistan fiasco is a clueless moron. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The US has officially announced the completion of its military withdrawal from Afghanistan, minus of course the CIA ops which will continue in that country and the bombs that will likely continue to rain down in the name of fighting terrorism.

There are a lot of warmongers rending their garments over the termination of a decades-long military occupation which accomplished nothing besides making war profiteers wealthy and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Almost as ridiculous are the countless pundits and politicians hailing this as some kind of major accomplishment that Americans should be proud of.

Pride, praise and celebration are not the appropriate emotional response to the day. The appropriate response to a decades-overdue withdrawal from a war that should never have happened in the first place is rage. Unmitigated rage at an unforgivable atrocity which amassed a mountain of corpses for no legitimate reason, from which the region will probably not recover in our lifetime. Unmitigated rage at those responsible for starting and maintaining this horror all this time.

Continue reading→

Afghanistan collapse reveals Beltway media’s loyalty to permanent war state, by Gareth Porter

We know the mainstream media is an arm of the government, and the military-industrial-intelligence complex dominates the government. From Gareth Porter at thegrayzone.com:

Biden’s popular and long overdue withdrawal from Afghanistan triggered a big media meltdown that exposed its de facto merger with the military.

In the wake of a remarkably successful Taliban offensive capped by the takeover of Kabul, the responses of corporate media provided what may have been the most dramatic demonstration ever of its fealty to the Pentagon and military leadership. The media did so by mounting a full-throated political attack on President Joe Biden’s final withdrawal from Afghanistan and a defense of the military’s desire for an indefinite presence in the country.

Biden’s failure to establish a plan for evacuating tens of thousands of Afghans seeking to the flee the new Taliban regime made him a soft target for the Beltway media’s furious assault. However, it was Biden’s refusal last Spring to keep 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan on an indefinite basis – flouting an aggressive Pentagon lobbying campaign – that initially triggered the rage of the military brass.

The media offensive against Biden’s Afghan withdrawal advanced arguments that the military could not make on its own – at least, not in public. It also provided the military with important cover at the moment when it was at its most vulnerable for its disastrous handling of the entire war.

Among the most disingenuous attempts at salvaging the military’s reputation was a Washington Post article blaming the Afghan catastrophe on an over-emphasis on “democratic values” while ignoring the the tight alliance between the U.S. military and despotic warlords which drove local support for the Taliban.

Continue reading→

The Empire Does Not Forgive, by Chris Hedges

Empires forget their failures and repeat them, but they neither forget nor forgive those who expose their failures, lies, and depredations. From Chris Hedges at consortiumnews.com:

The mandarins who oversee our collective suicide, despite repeated failure, doggedly insist the U.S. can reshape the world in its own image. 

(Original illustration by Mr. Fish)

The Carthaginian general Hannibal, who came close to defeating the Roman Republic in the Second Punic War, committed suicide in 181 BC in exile as Roman soldiers closed in on his residence in the Bithynian village of Libyssa, now modern-day Turkey.

It had been more than 30 years since he led his army across the Alps and annihilated Roman legions at the Battle of Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae, considered one of the most brilliant tactical victories in warfare which centuries later inspired the plans of the German Army Command in World War I when they invaded Belgium and France. Rome was only able to finally save itself from defeat by replicating Hannibal’s military tactics.

It did not matter in 181 BC that there had been over 20 Roman consuls (with quasi-imperial power) since Hannibal’s invasion. It did not matter that Hannibal had been hunted for decades and forced to perpetually flee, always just beyond the reach of Roman authorities. He had humiliated Rome. He had punctured its myth of omnipotence. And he would pay. With his life.

Years after Hannibal was gone, the Romans were still not satisfied. They finished their work of apocalyptic vengeance in 146 BC by razing Carthage to the ground and selling its remaining population into slavery. Cato the Censor summed up the sentiments of empire: Carthage must be destroyed. Nothing about empire, from then until now, has changed.

Imperial powers do not forgive those who expose their weaknesses or make public the sordid and immoral inner workings of empire. Empires are fragile constructions. Their power is as much one of perception as of military strength. The virtues they claim to uphold and defend, usually in the name of their superior civilization, are a mask for pillage, the exploitation of cheap labor, indiscriminate violence and state terror.

Continue reading→