The most overlooked lesson of Afghanistan is the most obvious one. From Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies at antiwar.com:
The trove of U.S. “Lessons Learned” documents on Afghanistan published by the Washington Post portrays, in excruciating detail, the anatomy of a failed policy, scandalously hidden from the public for 18 years. The “Lessons Learned” papers, however, are based on the premise that the US and its allies will keep intervening militarily in other countries, and that they must therefore learn the lessons of Afghanistan to avoid making the same mistakes in future military occupations.
This premise misses the obvious lesson that Washington insiders refuse to learn: the underlying fault is not in how the US tries and fails to reconstruct societies destroyed by its “regime changes,” but in the fundamental illegitimacy of regime change itself. As former Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz told NPR just eight days after 9/11, “It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done. If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t approve of what has happened.”
Afghanistan has cost the US much treasure and many lives, both US and Afghans, for no discernible purpose. From Thomas Knapp at antiwar.com:
“U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign,” the Washington Post‘s Craig Whitlock reports, “making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”
Whitlock bases that claim on a collection of candid, confidential interviews with more than 400 military and political “insiders” conducted by Congress’s Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
Not that we really needed “The Afghanistan Papers” to tell us the war was unwinnable. That was clear from the beginning. Any mission beyond quick strikes on al Qaeda’s facilities and operators in Afghanistan was doomed to failure.
The idea of taking over the country and making it into a “western democracy” was transparent foolishness. More than one empire has foundered on the rock that is Afghanistan, and the American military adventure there was never going to be the exception.
The Washington Post’s publication of the Afghanistan Papers is provoking cognitive dissonance from a lone journalist who got the story straight from its beginnings in 2001 and was reviled for doing so. From Ted Rall at lewrockwell.com:
They Couldn’t Have Done It Without Lapdogs Like the Washington Post
18 years and tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars too late, it’s nice to see the media finally shame these scumbags and their government handlers. But they ought to save a big portion of the blame for themselves.
“In ten years or so, we’ll leak the truth,” the Dead Kennedys sang. “But by then it’s only so much paper.”
But it might just score you a Pulitzer Prize.
Award bait and bragging rights are no doubt the principal goals of The Washington Post’s self-congratulatory data dump, “The Afghanistan Papers.” As the headline implies, the 2000 pages that a court ordered the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to release to Jeff Bezos’ newspaper paints a Robert McNamara-esque portrait of not-so-best-or-bright Bush and Obama Administration bozos privately admitting what they knew all along—that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was always an unwinnable, counterproductive mistake—at the same time they were telling the American people that victory in the post-9/11 “good war” was right around the corner. All we had to win was win Afghan hearts and minds.
You’ll be correct far more often than not if you simply assume that whatever a government tells you is a lie. It will also preserve your sanity. From Tho Bishop at mises.org:
Today the Washington Post published a bombshell report titled “The Afghanistan Papers,” highlighting the degree to which the American government lied to the public about the ongoing status of the war in Afghanistan. Within the thousands of pages, consisting of internal documents, interviews, and other never-before-released intel, is a vivid depiction of a Pentagon painfully aware of the need to keep from the public the true state of the conflict and the doubts, confusion, and desperation of decision-makers spanning almost 20 years of battle.
As the report states:
The interviews, through an extensive array of voices, bring into sharp relief the core failings of the war that war is inseparable from propaganda, lies, hatred, impoverishment, cultural degradation, and moral corruption. It is the most horrific outcome of the moral and political legitimacy people are taught to grant the state. persist to this day. They underscore how three presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — and their military commanders have been unable to deliver on their promises to prevail in Afghanistan.
With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation….
The documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting.
Many things are out of whack and it’s only a matter of time before everything falls apart. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:
But greed is a bottomless pit And our freedom’s a joke We’re just taking a piss And the whole world must watch the sad comic display If you’re still free start running away Cause we’re coming for you!
– Conor Oberst, “Land Locked Blues”
It’s hard to believe 2020 is just around the corner. If the last ten years have taught us anything, it’s the extent to which a vicious and corrupt oligarchy will go to further extend and entrench their economic and societal interests. Although the myriad desperate actions undertaken by the ruling class this past decade have managed to sustain the current paradigm a bit longer, it has not come without cost and major long-term consequence. Gigantic imbalances across multiple areas have been created and worsened, and the resolution of these in the years ahead (2020-2025) will shape the future for decades to come. I want to discuss three of them today, the financial system imbalance, the trust imbalance and the geopolitical imbalance.
Recent posts have focused on how what really matters in a crisis is not the event itself, but the response to it. The financial crisis of ten years ago is particularly instructive, as the entire institutional response to a widespread financial industry crime spree was to focus on saving a failed system and then pretending nothing happened. The public was given no time or space to debate whether the system needed saving; or more specifically, which parts needed saving, which parts needed wholesale restructuring and which parts should’ve been thrown into the dustbin. Rather, unelected central bankers stepped in with trillions in order to prop up, empower and reward the very industry and individuals that created the crisis to begin with. There was no real public debate, central bankers just did whatever they wanted. It was a moment so brazen and disturbing it shook many of us, including myself, out of a lifetime of propaganda induced deception.
Nothing we didn’t know, but it now looks like there is solid documentation that the people managing the Afghanistan war fiasco for eighteen years have consistently lied about it. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
In what’s already being hailed as a defining and explosive “Pentagon papers” moment, a cache of previously classified documents obtained by The Washington Postshow top Pentagon leaders continuously lied to the public about the “progress” of the now eighteen-year long Afghan war.
The some 2,000 pages of notes from interviews of senior officials who have shaped US strategy in Afghanistan confirm that “senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false… hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” according to the bombshell Post report.
The internal interviews and statements were unearthed via Freedom of Information Act request and span the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. The trove further confirms that US leaders knew vast amounts of money was being wasted in a futile attempt to “Westernize the nation”.
Watchdog groups commonly estimate total US spending on the war has hit $1 trillion by end of 2019. More importantly, America’s ‘endless war’ has cost at least 2,351 American livesand over 20,000 wounded.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Getty Images); Russian President Vladimir Putin (Office of Russian President); Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Getty Images)
The ceasefire agreement brokered by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accomplishes very little outside of putting window dressing on a foregone conclusion. Simply put, the Turks will be able to achieve their objectives of clearing a safe zone of Kurdish forces south of the Turkish border, albeit under a U.S. sanctioned agreement. In return, the U.S. agrees not to impose economic sanctions on Turkey.
So basically it doesn’t change anything that’s already been set into motion by the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. But it does signal the end of the American experiment in Syrian regime change, with the United States supplanted by Russia as the shot caller in Middle Eastern affairs.
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