Even if Biden pulls troops out of Afghanistan, the usual supporting cast of special forces, contractors, and spooks will remain. From Jeremy Kuzmarov at thegrayzone.com:
Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan, while official troops number 2,500. Joe Biden will withdraw this smaller group of soldiers while leaving behind US Special Forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives — privatizing and downscaling the war, but not ending it.
(This article was originally published at CovertAction Magazine.)
On April 14, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S.’s longest war and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Over 6,000 NATO troops will also be withdrawn by that time.
“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”
Biden’s claim that he is ending the forever war is misleading. As The New York Times reported, the United States would remain after the formal departure of U.S. troops with a “shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations Forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives.” Their mission will be to “find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic state threats, current and former American officials said.”
You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:
The issue of war crimes in Afghanistan renders the Australian government morally compromised in serving as America’s cheerleader, Finian Cunningham writes.
Nearly five months after publishing an explosive inquiry into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan committed by Australian special forces, it is becoming clear that the Canberra government has no intention of bringing any of the perpetrators to justice.
Last November, the long-awaited internal investigation known as the Brereton Report was published which found that dozens of Australian special forces had been involved in unlawful killings of Afghan villagers and detainees, including children. The report limited itself to 39 murder cases, suggesting that the real number of war crimes committed by Australian troops is much larger. They were deployed as part of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan along with several other NATO and non-NATO nations.
When the Brereton Report was released, there was a lot of handwringing and shame expressed by Australian public figures. However, an Office of Special Investigator set up by the Australian government for the purpose of bringing criminal prosecutions against military members appears to have been sidelined. Indeed Australia’s newly appointed defense minister Peter Dutton and his aides have recently begun a media campaign indicating that, as far as the Brereton Report goes, it will be of no consequence in terms of holding military members to account.
There will always be an excuse for interventionists not to quit intervening. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
“Concerns mount that US withdrawal from Afghanistan could risk progress on women’s rights,” blares a new headline from CNN.
“Concerns are mounting from bipartisan US lawmakers and Afghan women’s rights activists that the hard-won gains for women and civil society in Afghanistan could be lost if the United States makes a precipitous withdrawal from the country,” CNN tells us.
What follows is yet another concern-trolling empire blog about why US troops need to stay in Afghanistan, joining recent others geared toward the same end like this CNN report about how the US military will open itself up to “costly litigation” if it withdraws now because it signed defense industry contracts into 2023, and this one by The New York Times about a US intelligence report urgently warning that a withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to the nation being controlled by the people who live there.
The real tragedy of Afghanistan is that the decision to withdraw could have been any time over the last twenty years. From Philip Girladi at strategic-culture.org:
American soldiers can still win wars, but it has to be a real war where there is something genuine at stake, like protecting one’s home and family.
It hardly made the evening news, but the New York Times reported last week that after twenty years of fighting the Taliban are confident that they will fully control Afghanistan before too long whether or not the United States decides to leave some kind of residual force in the country after May 1st. The narrative is suggestive of The Mouse that Roared, lacking only Peter Sellers to put the finishing touches on what has to be considered a great humiliation for the U.S., which has a “defense” budget that is larger than the combined military spending of the next seven countries in order of magnitude. Those numbers include both Russia and China. The Taliban, on the other hand, have no military budget to speak of. That enormous disparity, un-reflected in who has won and lost, has to nurture concerns that it is the world’s only superpower, admittedly self-proclaimed, which is incapable of actually winning a war against anyone.
In fact, some recent wargaming has suggested that the United States would lose in a non-nuclear conflict with China alone based on the obsolescence of expensive and vulnerable weapons systems that the Pentagon relies upon, such as carrier groups. Nations like China, Iran and Russia that have invested in sophisticated and much cheaper missile systems to offset U.S. advantages have reportedly spent their money wisely. If the Biden foreign policy and military experts, largely embroiled in diversifying the country, choose to take on China, there may be no one left around to pick up the pieces.
Leaving Afghanistan after 20 years of war would be tantamount to an admission that the American empire isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:
On May 1, U.S. may face an “entirely new war.”
The seemingly eternal war in Afghanistan continues. American forces have been on station for nearly 20 years, longer than the Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War combined.
Some $2 trillion have been spent. More than 6,000 U.S. service members and contractors have died, along with roughly 1,100 allied soldiers. Many more have been wounded, some suffering crippling injuries. Absent a speedy exit, those numbers will continue upward.
The U.S. is supposed to leave Afghanistan on May 1, the timetable agreed to by the Taliban. However, at his recent press conference President Joe Biden essentially admitted that American forces won’t be leaving then. He expressed hope that they would not be there next year.
Even if there was trust between Washington and the Taliban, that sentiment probably would not suffice. The American military has spent nearly two decades seeking to end the insurgents’ bid for power. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump both increased the number of American personnel in Afghanistan before reducing them.
Any country that’s so benighted that it thinks it can run itself better than the US government can deserves permanent occupation by the US military. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
US intelligence agencies have warned the Biden administration that if the United States withdraws its military presence from Afghanistan under current circumstances, the nation would be at severe risk of falling under the control of the people who live there.
A New York Times article titled “Officials Try to Sway Biden Using Intelligence on Potential for Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan” warns that an intelligence assessment has predicted that if “U.S. troops leave before any deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government, the militant group will take over much of the country.”
“The intelligence estimate predicted that the Taliban would relatively swiftly expand their control over Afghanistan, suggesting that the Afghan security forces remain fragile despite years of training by the American military and billions of dollars in U.S. funding,” NYT reports.
Another name for it is the camel’s nose under the tent: get some sort of minimal involvement in another country and once you’re in, expand the mission. From Ted Galen Carpenter at theamericanconservative.com:
Unscrupulous used car dealers could learn a trick or two from America’s foreign policy mandarins when it comes to bait-and-switch tactics. Repeatedly, U.S. officials have invoked a specific justification—frequently an emotionally charged one with wide appeal—to obtain congressional and public support for a military intervention or other questionable policy initiative. When the original justification subsequently proves to be bogus, exaggerated, or no longer applicable, they simply create a new rationale to justify continuing the mission.
That tactic is especially evident with respect to the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan. U.S. leaders justified the initial invasion of the country as a necessary response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Foreign fighters belonging to Al Qaeda had used the country as their primary safe haven, and the Taliban government had allowed Osama bin Laden and his organization to plan and execute the attacks from that sanctuary. Given the public’s emotional trauma from the 9/11 episode, the nearly total lack of opposition to launching the Afghanistan invasion was unsurprising. In statement after statement during the initial months and years that followed, American officials reiterated that defeating Al Qaeda—and, if possible, killing or capturing bin Laden—was the primary objective. Ousting the Taliban regime was a corollary to that goal, but no one advocated a long-term war against that indigenous Afghan faction, however odious its social policies might be.
With the US government being the most hated institution on the planet, it seems like a wise move to make more enemies. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
Asked bluntly by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a killer,” Joe Biden answered, “Uh, I do.”
Biden added that he once told Putin to his face that he had “no soul.”
Biden also indicated that new sanctions would be imposed on Russia for the poisoning of dissident Alexei Navalny and for meddling in the 2020 U.S. election to allegedly help Donald Trump. Russia also faces U.S. sanctions for building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic to deliver natural gas to Germany.
With its president being called a “killer” by the U.S. president, Russia called Ambassador Anatoly Antonov home “for consultations.” In other times, such an exchange would bring the two nations to the brink of war.
What is Biden doing? Do we not have enough enemies? Does he not have enough problems on his plate?
The May 1 deadline for full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, negotiated a year ago with the Taliban, is just six weeks off. Do we stay and soldier on or depart? No decision has been announced.
If we stay, our forces in Afghanistan could, again, come under fire. If we leave, the Kabul regime could be shaken to its foundation and fall.
Leaving would be an admission that the U.S. failed, and the war is lost.
After the election, Trump wanted to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan, once and for all. The military couldn’t allow that to happen. From Gareth Porter at thegrayzone.com:
Retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor (Photo credit: US Army / public domain)
Appointed in the final days of Trump’s presidency to remove all US troops from Afghanistan, Douglas Macgregor tells The Grayzone how military leadership undermined the withdrawal and pressured Trump to capitulate.
In an exclusive interview with The Grayzone, Col. Douglas Macgregor, a former senior advisor to the acting secretary of defense, revealed that President Donald Trump shocked the US military only days after the election last November by signing a presidential order calling for the withdrawal of all remaining US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.
As Macgregor explained to The Grayzone, the order to withdraw was met with intense pressure from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Gen. Mark M. Milley, which caused the president to capitulate. Trump agreed to withdraw only half of the 5,000 remaining troops in the country. Neither Trump’s order nor the pressure from the JCS chairman was reported by the national media at the time.
The president’s surrender represented the Pentagon’s latest victory in a year-long campaign to sabotage the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in February 2020. Military and DOD leaders thus extended the disastrous and unpopular 20-year US war in Afghanistan into the administration of President Joe Biden.
This is a reasonably good article, other than there is no mention at all of the drug trade, for which the American military serves as a protection racket. From Richard Hanania at theamericanconservative.com:
The regime in Kabul isn’t so superior to the Taliban after all.
Afghans walk past a painted illustration of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai next at the Kabul International Airport September 20, 2018 in Kabul, Afghanistan.(Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)
As the Biden administration debates what to do in Afghanistan, there is a great deal of talk about how the U.S. should not abandon the government there. Meanwhile, the Taliban has stuck to its pledge not to attack American troops for a year, and had promised that it would not allow terrorists a base in Afghanistan in the case of U.S. withdrawal.
Given these facts, supporters of continuing the war have come to realize that the national security case for staying is weaker than ever, and have centered their argument on moral appeals. What would happen to the Afghan government if the United States left?
But such arguments require that the Afghan government be morally superior to the Taliban and able to provide a better future for its people. In fact, there is little evidence to suggest that this is the case.
By all accounts, the Taliban is less corrupt than those the U.S. is defending. How could this be the case? The Afghan war has cost the U.S. over $2 trillion, which includes military spending on fighting the Taliban, aid to the Kabul government, and reconstruction projects. What is the Taliban spending on this war? There are no official numbers, but according to one report, they brought in $1.6 billion in the fiscal year that ended in March 2020. The Taliban can gain and hold territory in the face of overwhelming odds because they have better morale and more effective organization.