Tag Archives: Afghanistan

US Collective Suicide, by Chris Hedges

Governments die, people live on. Most of us will still be around after the US empire departs this veil of tears, so the “Collective Suicide” is overwrought. It’s still a good article. From Chris Hedges at consortiumnews.com:

The return of the Taliban to power will be one more signpost of the end of the American empire — and nobody will be held accountable.

(Original illustration by Mr. Fish)

The debacle in Afghanistan, which will unravel into chaos with lightning speed over the next few weeks and ensure the return of the Taliban to power, is one more signpost of the end of the American empire.

The two decades of combat, the one trillion dollars spent, the 100,000 troops deployed to subdue Afghanistan, the high-tech gadgets, artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare, Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs and the Global Hawk drones with high-resolution cameras, Special Operations Command composed of elite rangers, SEALs and air commandos, black sites, torture, electronic surveillance, satellites, attack aircraft, mercenary armies, infusions of millions of dollars to buy off and bribe the local elites and train an Afghan army of 350,000 that has never exhibited the will to fight, failed to defeat a guerrilla army of 60,000 that funded itself through opium production and extortion in one of the poorest countries on earth.

Like any empire in terminal decay, no one will be held accountable for the debacle or for the other debacles in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or anywhere else. Not the generals. Not the politicians. Not the CIA and intelligence agencies. Not the diplomats. Not the obsequious courtiers in the press who serve as cheerleaders for war. Not the compliant academics and area specialists. Not the defense industry. Empires at the end are collective suicide machines.

The military becomes in late empire unmanageable, unaccountable, and endlessly self-perpetuating, no matter how many fiascos, blunders and defeats it visits upon the carcass of the nation, or how much money it plunders, impoverishing the citizenry and leaving governing institutions and the physical infrastructure decayed.

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Afghanistan Is Going To Be a Mess: Let China, Russia, Iran, and Others Handle It, by Doug Bandow

The Chinese and Russians watched the US pour blood and treasure into Afghanistan and get less than nothing for it. Now, if the US is really getting out of Afghanistan, it’s somebody else’s turn. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

The U.S. is leaving Afghanistan – finally, after two decades. The result is not likely to be pretty. Government soldiers are surrendering. Taliban forces are advancing. Kabul officials are panicking. The Biden administration is desperately trying to slow the regime’s incipient collapse with resumed airstrikes.

It is a tragic situation, but, looking back, at least, appears inevitable. The Afghan civil war is in its 40th year. The US has been involved for almost 20 years. The US quickly achieved its initial objectives, disrupting al-Qaeda for conducting the 9/11 terrorist attacks and punishing the Taliban for hosting a-Qaeda.

However, expanding the mission to nation-building proved to be a bust. Despite the expenditure of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, the result was essentially a Potemkin state. The Kabul authorities always were less than ideal: when I visited Afghanistan, I found no Afghan with anything good to say about his or her government who did not work for it.

Even the regime’s decidedly limited authority began evaporating the moment President Joe Biden announced his intention to withdraw. America’s effort had neither created a real country nor convinced the Afghan people to fight for their government. Although the special forces, along with some regular units, continue to fight bravely, there likely are too few loyalists to sustain government control of major urban areas, let alone the entire country.

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Whither Afghanistan? Getting Out Is Harder Than Getting In, by Philip Giraldi

The US government’s forever wars always end in disaster, and that never stops the government from getting in another forever war. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

Given the lack of any deep thinking going on in the White House, Americans could easily find themselves in yet another Afghanistan.

The inability of the United States to comprehend what it was becoming involved in when, in the wake of 9/11, it declared a Global War on Terror, has to be reckoned one of the singular failures of national security policy over the past twenty years. Not only did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq make bad situations worse, but the fact that no one is Washington was able to define “victory” and think in terms of an exit strategy has meant that the wars and instability are still with us. In their wake has been hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars spent to accomplish absolutely nothing.

As a result, Iraq is unstable and leans more heavily towards America’s adversary Iran than it does to Washington. The Iraqi Parliament has, in fact, asked U.S. forces to leave the country, a request that has been ignored both by Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump actually threatened to freeze Iraqi bank assets to pressure the Iraqis into accepting the continued U.S. occupation. At the same time, American troops illegally present in neighboring Syria, continue to occupy that country’s oil fields to deprive the government in Damascus of much needed resources. Neither Iraq nor Syria threatens the United States in any way.

Given that history, it should be no surprise that the withdrawal from the twenty year-long nation building project in Afghanistan, long overdue, is not quite going as smoothly as the Pentagon and White House apparently planned. U.S. forces pulled out of their principal base in the country, Bagram Air Base, in the middle of the night without informing the incoming Afghan base commander. A frenzy of looting of the left behind equipment followed.

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Graveyard of Empires, by Eric S. Margolis

The US’s involvement in Afghanistan has been an enormous mistake, and it’s probably not over notwithstanding the hype around the announced withdrawal. From Eric S. Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

The US-led war in Afghanistan looks to be ending, and not a day too soon.  America’s father, Benjamin Franklin, wisely wrote: ‘No good war; no bad peace.’

Yet for 20 years, the United States waged all-out war against this small, remote, impoverished state whose only weapons were old AK47 rifles and the boundless courage of its fierce people. 

In my first book about Afghanistan, ‘War at the Top of the World,’ written after being in the field with the anti-Soviet ‘mujahidin’ warriors, I called them ‘the bravest men on earth.’  Now, some 21 years later, I repeat this title.

For the past two decades, the Afghan nationalist mujahidin have faced the full might of the US empire: waves of B-1 and B-52 heavy bombers; fleets of killer drones, constant air strikes from US airbases in Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Gulf; 300,000 US-financed Afghan mercenary troops; up to 120,000 US and NATO troops and other US-paid mercenaries;  the brutal Communist-run Afghan secret police, regular government police, Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek militias, hit squads sent by the US and Britain, plus famine and disease.  Use of torture by western forces was rampant.

All this to defend the US-installed Afghan puppet governments whose main business was protecting the nation’s growing opium trade which made Afghanistan the world’s largest exporter of opium/morphine that was processed into heroin.  Another proud moment for Washington which, in the 1970’s had been up to its ears in Indochina’s opium trade, and later in Central America’s cocaine business. 

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Escobar: Russia-China Advance Asian Roadmap For Afghanistan

Slowly but surely, Russia and China are cementing their dominance in Eurasia, and Afghanistan gives them more opportunity to do so. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s ‘facilitate, not mediate’ role could be the key to solving the Afghan imbroglio…

Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a family photo before a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Contact Group on Afghanistan, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Sputnik via AFP

Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting of Foreign Ministers on Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, may have been an under-the-radar affair, but it did reveal the contours of the big picture ahead when it comes to Afghanistan.

So let’s see what Russia and China – the SCO’s heavyweights – have been up to.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi laid out the basic road map to his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Haneef Atmar. While stressing the Chinese foreign policy gold standard – no interference in internal affairs of friendly nations – Wang established three priorities:

1. Real inter-Afghan negotiations towards national reconciliation and a durable political solution, thus preventing all-out civil war. Beijing is ready to “facilitate” dialogue.

2. Fighting terror – which means, in practice, al-Qaeda remnants, ISIS-Khorasan and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Afghanistan should not be a haven for terrorist outfits – again.

3. The Taliban, for their part, should pledge a clean break with every terrorist outfit.

Atmar, according to diplomatic sources, fully agreed with Wang. And so did Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin. Atmar even promised to work with Beijing to crack down on ETIM, a Uighur terror group founded in China’s western Xinjiang. Overall, the official Beijing stance is that all negotiations should be “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led.”

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Insult To Injury: Russia Declares US Has Utterly “Failed” After 20 Years In Afghanistan, by Tyler Durden

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that the US mission in Afghanistan failed. Joe Biden says it was a success. We’ll go with Lavrov. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Russia this week warned the United States military to stay out of Central Asian nations bordering Afghanistan, such as Tajikistan, while emphasizing this is Russia’s own sphere of influence and that the window for American and NATO attempts to stabilize Afghanistan have long ago come and gone.

This after earlier this month Taliban leadership boasted of having taken 85% of the country, something Kabul authorities balked at, while also admitting that clashes are growing fiercer and in many more places. President Biden last week also declared US “objectives achieved” and said the troop draw down would be “complete” by August 31st; however, the Kremlin is now declaring that Washington has utterly “failed” in Afghanistan after two decades there.

The provocative comments by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov came in a press conference in Uzbekistan on Friday. He further strongly suggested that the US is now fumbling the draw down, which is contributing to the country once again descending into war-torn chaos. Crucially the security summit was attended Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

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New ‘Great Game’ Gets Back To Basics, by Pepe Escobar

The US quasi-withdrawal in Afghanistan will certainly complicate the Eurasian political situation. From Pepe Escobar at zerohedge.com:

Russia-China-Iran alliance is taking Afghanistan’s bull by the horns…

The Great Game: This lithograph by British Lieutenant James Rattray shows Shah Shuja in 1839 after his enthronement as Emir of Afghanistan in the Bala Hissar (fort) of Kabul. Rattray wrote: ‘A year later the sanctity of the scene was bloodily violated: Shah Shuja was murdered.’ Photo: Wikipedia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago.

The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but Turkmenistan), India and Pakistan. Crucially, Afghanistan and Iran are observers, alongside Belarus and Mongolia.

And that leads us to what’s happening this Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The SCO will hold a 3 in 1: meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and a conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.”

At the same table, then, we will have Wang Yi, his very close strategic partner Sergey Lavrov and, most importantly, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. They’ll be debating trials and tribulations after the hegemon’s withdrawal and the miserable collapse of the myth of NATO “stabilizing” Afghanistan.

Let’s game a possible scenario: Wang Yi and Lavrov tell Atmar, in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal with the Taliban, brokered by Russia-China, with no American interference, including the end of the opium-heroin ratline.

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Afghan Withdrawal Opens the Way for China, by Con Coughlin

The Soviet Union made a mess of Afghanistan. So did the US. Now it’s China’s turn. From Con Coughlin at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • China, which shares a tiny 47-mile-long border with Afghanistan, has long coveted developing closer ties with Kabul, not least because of the large, untapped reserves of mineral wealth that Afghanistan possesses.
  • Rich in copper, lithium, marble, gold and uranium, Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has been estimated to exceed in excess of $1 trillion….
  • Beijing already enjoys good relations with neighbouring Pakistan, where the country’s charismatic prime minister, Imran Khan, was once dubbed “Taliban Khan” for supporting the Islamist movement.
  • As part of Beijing’s efforts to deepen and broaden its ties in Central Asia, Beijing is also concentrating its efforts on expanding its influence in Afghanistan, a policy it expects will bear fruit if the Taliban achieve their goal of seizing control of the entire country.
  • Mr Biden, judging by his spirited defence of his decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, clearly believes that it is in America’s interests to end its two-decade-long involvement in the country. But if the US withdrawal simply opens the way for China to become the new dominant power in Afghanistan, then Mr Biden will be responsible for causing, so far as the West is concerned, a strategic disaster of epic proportions.
China, which shares a tiny 47-mile-long border with Afghanistan, has long coveted developing closer ties with Kabul, not least because of the large, untapped reserves of mineral wealth that Afghanistan possesses. Pictured: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left), Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (center) and Afghanistan’s then Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani at the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers Dialogue in Islamabad, on September 7, 2019. (Photo credit by AFP via Getty Images)

The indecent haste with which the Biden administration has undertaken its military withdrawal from Afghanistan not only raises the prospect of handing control of the country over to the hardline Islamist Taliban movement. It also presents China with a golden opportunity to extend its influence over this strategically important Central Asian country.

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Featured Story Be Prepared to Live With the Taliban or the Warlords, by Brian Cloughley

The over/under on when the Taliban and warlords take over Afghanistan after the US leaves is three months. From Brian Cloughley at strategic-culture.org:

The U.S. and the rest of the world have to be prepared to live with the winner. They had better start planning how they are going to do that.

The Fourth of July marks U.S. Independence Day and it was ironic that at the beginning of the holiday weekend, on July 2, American troops slunk out of the massive Bagram air base in Afghanistan which they had occupied for twenty years. Concurrently, President Biden had a media conference at which he was asked “Are you worried that the Afghan government might fall? I mean, we are hearing about how the Taliban is taking more and more districts.” The President’s reply was barely coherent which is disturbing on several counts, not the least being the indication that he has no idea what the future holds for Afghanistan.

His rambling response was : “Look, we were in that war for 20 years. Twenty years. And I think — I met with the Afghan government here in the White House, in the Oval. I think they have the capacity to be able to sustain the government. There are going to have to be, down the road, more negotiations, I suspect. But I am — I am concerned that they deal with the internal issues that they have to be able to generate the kind of support they need nationwide to maintain the government.” He was then asked another question about Afghanistan but cut the reporter short, saying “I want to talk about happy things, man.”

Happy things? The man is living in fantasyland. Not only has his country suffered the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, but a Washington Post analysis showed that “through the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, about 54 lives lost per day” — which is even more deaths than in Afghanistan in the same period, which the New York Times calculated as 2077 (1461 soldiers and police; 616 civilians). Biden should be sitting down with his best and brightest advisers and talking about serious things — such as future U.S. policy concerning Afghanistan.

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Pepe Escobar: Say Hello To The Diplo-Taliban

There are many nuances and details that defy simplistic analysis concerning Afghanistan and its place in Asia after the Americans leave. From Pepe Escobar at The Asia Times via zerohedge.com:

Deploying diplomatic skills refined from Doha to Moscow, the Taliban in 2021 has little to do with its 2001 incarnation…

Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (center) and other members of the Taliban arrive to attend an international conference in Moscow on March 18, 2021. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AFP

A very important meeting took place in Moscow last week, virtually hush-hush. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, received Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s national security adviser.

There were no substantial leaks.

A bland statement pointed to the obvious:

They “focused on the security situation in Afghanistan during the pullout of Western military contingencies and the escalation of the military-political situation in the northern part of the country.”

The real story is way more nuanced. Mohib, representing embattled President Ashraf Ghani, did his best to convince Patrushev that the Kabul administration represents stability. It does not – as the subsequent Taliban advances proved.

Patrushev knew Moscow could not offer any substantial measure of support to the current Kabul arrangement because doing so would burn bridges the Russians would need to cross in the process of engaging the Taliban. Patrushev knows that the continuation of Team Ghani is absolutely unacceptable to the Taliban – whatever the configuration of any future power-sharing agreement.

So Patrushev, according to diplomatic sources, definitely was not impressed.

This week we can all see why. A delegation from the Taliban political office went to Moscow essentially to discuss with the Russians the fast-evolving mini-chessboard in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban had been to Moscow four months earlier, along with the extended troika (Russia, US, China, Pakistan) to debate the new Afghan power equation.

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