Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Now, Mr. President, With Respect, Cut the Crap and Get Out of Afghanistan, by Michael Scheuer

It is long past time for the US government to cut its losses in Afghanistan and get out. From Michael Scheuer at checkpointasia.net:

Michael Scheuer is the former chief of CIA’s Bin Laden Issue Station who gave Clinton multiple chances to assassinate the latter.

Mr. President: For those of your supporters who genuinely believe in the non-interventionist segment of an America First policy, there could be no better news than your sacking of John Bolton. He and his like – Crystal, Boot, Romney, and the rest of the Neocons and disloyal Israel-Firsters – are hip-deep in the blood and limbs of U.S. military personnel who became casualties in multiple unnecessary wars, none of which had anything to do with protecting American liberties and freedom. Indeed, the presidents who orchestrated and prolonged the wars constricted both, and also waged war against the Bill of Rights. On booting Bolton, Mr. President, well done.

Now for Afghanistan. Sir, for a guy like me, from Buffalo, New York, it is an odd but true fact that I have spent most of the past four decades working, from one angle or another, on wars in Afghanistan. I cannot say that I loved this work all the time – the best of times were when we helped drive the Red Army out of Afghanistan – but it has been pretty consistently fascinating. Moreover, it is the easiest to understand and solve foreign-policy problem that has ever confronted the United States.

Mr. President you must accept that, on the Afghan issue, you are surrounded by civilian advisors who are morons, liars, money-grubbers, mineral-chasers, war-lovers, and democracy crusaders, as well as generals who cannot tell the difference between winning and losing. The latter, I suppose, is to be expected as no U.S. general has participated in a winning war since September, 1945. Fortunately, none of the unnecessary wars they have lost even remotely put American freedom or liberty at risk, except from domestic enemies. Taking advice from any of this lot, is like taking advice on particle physics from Ilhan Omar.

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We are all hostages of 9/11, by Pepe Escobar

The government’s response to 9/11 changed America, and not for the better. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:

We are all hostages of 9/11

A hijacked plane crashes into the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 in New York. Photo: AFP / Seth McAllister
After years of reporting on the Global War on Terror, many questions behind the US attacks remain unresolved
Afghanistan was bombed and invaded because of 9/11. I was there from the start, even before 9/11. On August 20, 2001, I interviewed commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the “Lion of the Panjshir,” who told me about an “unholy alliance” of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the ISI (Pakistani intel).

Back in Peshawar, I learned that something really big was coming: my article was published by Asia Times on August 30. Commander Massoud was killed on September 9: I received a terse email from a Panjshir source, only stating, “the commander has been shot.” Two days later, 9/11 happened.

And yet, the day before, none other than Osama bin Laden, in person, was in a Pakistani hospital in Rawalpindi, receiving treatment, as CBS reported. Bin Laden was proclaimed the perpetrator already at 11am on 9/11 – with no investigation whatsoever. It should have been not exactly hard to locate him in Pakistan and “bring him to justice.”

In December 2001 I was in Tora Bora tracking bin Laden – under B-52 bombers and side by side with Pashtun mujahideen. Later, in 2011, I would revisit the day bin Laden vanished forever.

One year after 9/11, I was back in Afghanistan for an in-depth investigation of the killing of Massoud. By then it was possible to establish a Saudi connection: the letter of introduction for Massoud’s killers, who posed as journalists, was facilitated by commander Sayyaf, a Saudi asset.

Saudi-born alleged terror mastermind Osama bin Laden is seen in a video taken at a secret site in Afghanistan. This was aired by Al-Jazeera on Oct. 7, 2001, the day the US launched bombing of terrorist camps, airbases and air defense installations in its campaign against the Taliban for sheltering bin Laden. Photo: AFP

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Trump Didn’t Start the War in Afghanistan, But He Owns It, by Thomas Knapp

If Trump really wanted the US out of Afghanistan, it would be out of Afghanistan. From Thomas Knapp at antiwar.com:

National Security Advisor John Bolton became the latest American casualty of Washington’s 18-year war in Afghanistan on September 10, fired by US president Donald Trump shortly after Trump announced that he had planned, but was canceling, a meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David to ink a “peace deal.”

Firing Bolton is a good start. Nobody sane wants a guy who looks like Captain Kangaroo but talks like Dr. Strangelove whispering foreign policy advice in a president’s ear. The main effect of his departure from the White House is to shift perceived responsibility for America’s ongoing fiasco in Afghanistan back where it belongs: Squarely on the shoulders of Donald J. Trump.

Before Trump became a presidential candidate, his views on the war made sense. “We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives,” he tweeted on March 1, 2013. In November of that same year, he urged Americansto “not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024.”

Unfortunately his position on the war became “nuanced” (read: pandering and weaselly) as he became first a presidential candidate and then president.

As president, he increased US troop levels in Afghanistan and dragged out the war he once said he wanted to end. In fact, the notional Camp David “peace deal” would merely have reduced those troop levels back to about where they were as of his inauguration. Some “peace deal!”

Throughout Trump’s presidency, his non-interventionist supporters have continuously made excuses for his failure to end US military adventures in Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere.

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The Media’s Betrayal of American Soldiers, by Danny Sjursen

Media hostility towards any Trump peace overtures translates into opposition to less American soldiers being killed at war. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Bipartisan critique of Trump’s plan to roll out an Afghan peace plan during the 9/11 anniversary from Camp David misses the point: negotiation was the only hope to avoid more needless American deaths.

It is a rare thing, indeed, when both establishment and media “liberals” and “conservatives” agree on anything. Nevertheless, lightning has proverbially struck this week as both sides attack President Trump with equal vehemence. Thus, here we are, and here I am – in the disturbing position of defending Trump’s (until Sunday) peace policy for Afghanistan. Nonetheless, though I don’t particularly like the way this position befits me, I’ll take it as a sign that I just might be on to something when the clowns at Fox News and MSNBC, alike, vociferously disagree with my position on an American forever war.

Few in the political or press mainstream ever much liked Trump’s regularly touted plans to extract U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Even “liberal” Rachel Maddow – who once wrote a book critical of US military interventions – turned on a dime and became a born-again cheerleader for continuing the war. After all, in tribal America, if Trump proposes it, the reflexive “left” assumes it must be wrong, anathema even. That’s come to be expected.

Only this time, even his own party has attacked the president after he let it slip that he’d planned a secret peace conference with the Taliban at Camp David and might even have announced a deal to gradually end the US role in the war during the anniversary week of the 9/11 attacks. Gasp! How dare he? End a failing war, save the lives of perhaps hundreds or thousands of US troops, and do so near the 9/11 anniversary? This amounts to heresy in imperial Washington D.C. But it shouldn’t be unexpected: Trump’s own policy advisers have opposed any meaningful steps to end the Afghan War from the get go.

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Profiles in Absurdity: Remembering the ‘Terror’ Wars, by Danny Sjursen

Nobody even remembers why we went into Afghanistan in the first place, but for some reason we can’t leave. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

The ‘Gated Communities’ of Afghanistan: An All-American Euphemism

When they saw Afghanistan, all they could think of was Iraq. Indeed, most military thinkers are perennially driven by the tunnel-vision of personal experience; rarely a good thing. Indeed, the generals and colonels managing the foolish, politically driven 2009-12 Obama “surge” into Afghanistan – what he’d absurdly labeled the “good war” – had few fresh ideas. Convinced, and feeling vindicated, by the myth that Baby Bush’s 2007-09 Iraq surge had “worked,” most commanders knew just what to do and sought to replicate these tactics in the utterly dissimilar war in Afghanistan. That meant the temporary infusion of some 30,000 extra troops, walling off warring neighborhoods, and plopping small American units among the populace.

Some of us, mostly captains who’d cut our teeth in the worst days of the Iraq maelstrom, were skeptical from the start. I, for one, had long sensed that the “gains” of that surge were highly temporary, that the U.S. military had simply bought the fleeting loyalty of Sunni insurgents, and that the whole point of the surge – to allow a political settlement between warring sects and ethnicities – had never occurred. The later rise of ISIS, breakdown of centralized governance, and rout of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army in 2013-14 would prove my point. But that was in the future. From my viewpoint, the legacy of surge 1.0 had really only been another 1,000 or so American troop deaths – including three of my own men – and who knows how many Iraqi casualties.

Then again, no one cared what one lowly, if dreamy yet cynical, officer thought anyway. I was a tool, a pawn, a middle-managing “company man” expected to carry out surge 2.0 with discipline and enthusiasm. And so I tried. My team of cavalry scouts raised a dubiously loyal local militia, partnered with the often drug-addicted, criminal Afghan Army and police, and parsed out my squads to live within the local villages semi-permanently. That’s when things got weird.

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Helmand Province: Drug Lab on a Global Scale, by John Brennan

Here is the real reason why the US is still in Afghanistan, 18 years after 9/11. From John Brennan at off-guardian.org:

In Afghanistan, “the world’s first narco-state” operates under US Marines very nose

All the latest news on Afghanistan is about Donald Trump’s peace agreement with Taliban and the possible end of America’s longest war. However, it is happening against a background of another acute problem and this one seems even more seriously than a path home for 14,000 American troops before the 2020 United States presidential election. The problem is Afghan heroin.

The Guardian has named Afghanistan “the world’s first true narco-state”. If one accepts this thesis, then the capital of the country is not Kabul, the city being suffered from bloody terrorists’ attacks, but the southern Province Helmand, where the river of the same name runs.

Helmand, one of the few regions in Afghanistan appropriate for agriculture, has become the world’s biggest center for opium production. According to the data of the United Nations for 2018, 69% Afghan opium crop is cultivated in this province.

The USA was always seeking for control over Helmand. Until 2010, this province was the area of responsibility of the British Contingent. The British Army set up a military Camp Bastion, located northwest of the administrative center of Helmand Province. It was the largest British overseas military base built since the Second World War. The airfield at Camp Bastion was equipped to handle all types of aircrafts. After 2010, US aircrafts alongside with land troops were stationed there under the pretext of war with the Taliban.

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Profiles in Absurdity: Remembering the ‘Terror’ Wars, by Danny Sjursen

Some war on terror reminiscences from a man who fought in it. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

It has taken me years to tell these stories. The emotional and moral wounds of the Afghan War have just felt too recent, too raw. After all, I could hardly write a thing down about my Iraq War experience for nearly ten years, when, by accident, I churned out a book on the subject. Now, as the American war in Afghanistan – hopefully – winds to something approaching a close, it’s finally time to impart some tales of the madness. In this new, recurring, semi-regular series, the reader won’t find many worn out sagas of heroism, brotherhood, and love of country. Not that this author doesn’t have such stories, of course. But one can find those sorts of tales in countless books and numerous trite, platitudinal Hollywood yarns.

With that in mind, I propose to tell a number of very different sorts of stories – profiles, so to speak, in absurdity. That’s what war is, at root, an exercise in absurdity, and America’s hopeless post-9/11 wars are stranger than most. My own 18-year long quest to find some meaning in all the combat, to protect my troops from danger, push back against the madness, and dissent from within the army proved Kafkaesque in the extreme. Consider what follows just a survey of that hopeless journey…

The man was remarkable at one specific thing: pleasing his bosses and single-minded self-promotion. Sure he lacked anything resembling empathy, saw his troops as little more than tools for personal advancement, and his overall personality disturbingly matched the clinical definition of sociopathy. Details, details…

Still, you (almost) had to admire his drive, devotion, and dedication to the cause of promotion, of rising through the military ranks. Had he managed to channel that astonishing energy, obsession even, to the pursuit of some good, the world might markedly have improved. Which is, actually, a dirty little secret about the military, especially ground combat units; that it tends to attract (and mold) a disturbing number of proud owners of such personality disorders. The army then positively reinforces such toxic behavior by promoting these sorts of individuals – who excel at mind-melding (brown-nosing, that is) with superiors – at disproportionate rates. Such is life. Only there are real consequences, real soldiers, (to say nothing of local civilians) who suffer under their commanders’ tyranny.

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