Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Afghanistan and the CIA Heroin Ratline, by Pepe Escobar

The CIA reinstated the heroin ratline it established in Vietnam in Afghanistan. From Pepe Escobar at lewrockwell.com:

The Persian Gulf harbors an array of extremely compromising secrets. Near the top is the Afghan heroin ratline – with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) positioned as the golden node of a transnational, trillion dollar heroin money laundering operation.

In this 21st century Opium War, crops harvested in Afghanistan are essentially feeding the heroin market not only in Russia and Iran but especially in the US. Up to 93% of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan.

Contrary to predominant Western perception, this is not an Afghan Taliban operation. The key questions — never asked by Atlanticist circles — are who buys the opium harvests; refines them into heroin; controls the export routes; and then sell them for humongous profit compared to what the Taliban have locally imposed in taxes.

The hegemonic narrative rules that Washington bombed Afghanistan in 2001 in “self-defense” after 9/11; installed a “democratic” government; and after 16 years never de facto left because this is a key node in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), against al-Qaeda and the Taliban alike.

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Washington chicken littles would keep troops in Afghanistan forever, by Dan DePetris

There never seems to be a “right” time for Washington to withdraw from its forever wars. One possibility the author doesn’t consider is that it’s not fear, but rather a gravy train of out and out intelligence and military corruption that leads to perpetual war in places like Afghanistan. From Dan DePetris at responsiblestatecraft.org:

n the days since the Trump administration announced the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Beltway has turned into the epicenter of righteous condemnation.

Lawmakers like Republican Sen. Ben Sasse are issuing mealy-mouthed press statements calling the troop drawdown a modern-day retreat from evil terrorist forces. Retired 4-Star Generals, including John Allen and Joseph Votel, are wondering why the White House would deliberately hand Afghanistan over to the Taliban when there is so much more work to do.

One of the most sanctimonious denunciations of the withdrawal came from none other than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who scurried to the Senate floor on the eve of the announcement to make his displeasure known: “The consequences of a premature American exit…would be reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon in 1975.”

The American public has heard all of this before. Invocations of Vietnam, claims about terrorist vacuums, and the levying of emotionally stultifying words like “retreat” are par for the course in Washington. But the last several days of huffing and puffing from the usual, so-called national security “experts” have been so obscenely dishonest that one wonders why they are consulted at all.

The talking point of a U.S. withdrawal being rushed or irresponsible is perhaps the most laughable of the bunch. The term “precipitous” has been used by opponents of the withdrawal so many times over the last several days that some journalists are habitually injecting it into their own reports. “Precipitous,” however, connotes a disorganized, panicked sprint to the exits. Trump’s decision to reduce the U.S. troop presence in the country is anything but — the administration has made it abundantly clear that Trump sees no point in throwing good money after bad in one of the most violent and corrupt places on earth. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien telegraphed the move to bring U.S. force levels in Afghanistan to 2,500 over four weeks ago. Nobody should be surprised. Nor should movement towards a final exit from a war that just entered its 20th year be referred to as a “precipitous” action.

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Australian War Crimes Report Means Get The Fuck Out Of Afghanistan, by Caitlin Johnstone

Americans should be asking the same question as Australians: is Afghanistan really worth the price of our souls? From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

The much-anticipated report on potential war crimes by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan has been released, recommending 19 current or former soldiers be investigated for up to 39 murders.

Not combat kills. Not accidental kills. Not non-combatants killed by disputable decisions made in the heat of battle. Not civilians killed due to recklessness or carelessness on the part of Australian forces. Murders. Of non-combatants who died for no other reason than happening to live in a region the US power alliance has seen geostrategic value in keeping militarily occupied for 19 years.

The information about atrocities perpetrated by Australian forces in Afghanistan has taken many years to emerge, was fought tooth and claw with attacks on whistleblowers and journalists, and surely only touches on a tiny fraction of the war crimes which have been perpetrated and covered up with the investigation finding that “the criminal behaviour of a few was commenced, committed, continued and concealed at the patrol commander level”.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ADF Chief Angus Campbell describes a “self-centred warrior culture” in Australia’s Special Air Service which “was embraced and amplified by some experienced, charismatic and influential non-commissioned officers and their proteges, who sought to fuse military excellence with ego, elitism and entitlement,” leading to acts of horrific brutality.

“In this context it is alleged that some patrols took the law into their own hands: rules were broken, stories concocted, lies told and prisoners killed,” says Campbell.

“The Brereton report also found evidence that junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner to achieve their first kill, in a practice known as ‘blooding’,” SMH reports.

Troops “carried ‘throwdowns’ – foreign weapons and equipment such as pistols, small hand-held radios and grenades to be placed with the bodies of enemies killed in action for the purpose of taking photos,” reports SMH. “This practice eventually was used for the purpose of concealing deliberate unlawful killings.”

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The 9/11 Attacks: Understanding Al-Qaeda and the Domestic Fall-Out from America’s Secret War, by Sam Jacobs

This is a good review of the history surrounding 9/11. From Sam Jacobs at ammo.com:

With American military personnel now entering service who were not even alive on 9/11, this seems an appropriate time to reexamine the events of September 11, 2001 – the opaque motives for the attacks, the equally opaque motives for the counter-offensive by the United States and its allies known as the Global War on Terror, and the domestic fall-out for Americans concerned about the erosion of their civil liberties on the homefront.

Before venturing further, it’s worth noting that our appraisal is not among the most common explanations. Osama bin Laden, his lieutenants at Al-Qaeda, and the men who carried out the attack against the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon are not “crazy,” unhinged psychopaths launching an attack against the United States without what they consider to be good reason.

Nor do we consider then-President George W. Bush to be either a simpleton, a willing conspirator, an oil profiteer, or a Machivellian puppet whose cabinet were all too happy to take advantage of a crisis.

The American press tends to portray its leaders as fools and knaves, and America’s enemies as psychopathic. Because the propaganda machine hammered away so heavily on the simple “cowardly men who hate our freedom” line, there was not much in the way of careful consideration of the actual political motives of the hijackers, the Petro-Islam that funded them, the ancient, antagonistic split between Sunni and Shi’a, the fall-out from the 1979 Iranian revolution or the 1970s energy crisis, the historical context of covert American involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War and the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, nor the perceived “imperialist humanitarianism” of American military adventures of the 1990s in Muslim nations like Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia and Kosovo. Alone, none of these factors were deadly. Combined, they provided a lethal combination.

It is our considered opinion that the events of 9/11 and those that followed in direct response to the attacks – including the invasion of Iraq – were carried out by good faith rational actors who believed they were acting in the best interests of their religion or their nation. There are no conspiracy theories here; sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

This opinion does not in any way absolve the principals from moral responsibility for the consequences of their actions. It does, however, provide what we believe to be a more accurate and nuanced depiction of events than is generally forthcoming from any sector of the media – because we see these principals as excellent chess players who, in the broad sweep of events, engaged in actions which are explicable.

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The Vindication of Harry Browne… Again, by Richard Morchoe

Although the US government has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, the US and its people are still quite vulnerable to nuclear attack, by either state or non-state actors. From Richard Morchoe at antiwar.com:

On January 27, 2000 in an email during his 2000 campaign for the American presidency, the late Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne wrote,

“Today we have a strong national offense (the ability to blow any country to smithereens) and a weak national defense (the inability to defend against any two-bit dictator who gets his hands on a nuclear missile). We should have just the opposite. When we do, we will have a much more efficient defense-with a much smaller cost & a much less complex system.”

583 days later, Browne would be vindicated for the first time, sadly so. Despite all the billions (it was only billions back then) spent on the American military, 19 men came to America and hijacked planes to destroy the twin towers of the World Trade Center in the capital of finance. They also attacked the Pentagon and were foiled in one other action. True, it was not with a nuke, but horrible enough.

Browne did not predict the events, but they happened as could have been expected. We had been intervening in places in a way that was not to the liking of the people there and some actors noticed that there was an opportunity afforded due to the strong offense/weak defense situation.

Because Osama bin Laden supposedly launched the idea in Afghanistan, we invaded that land as he was not extradited. We did not go there because the Taliban struck NYC, they didn’t.

No matter, we have been there ever since and no one really gives a reason. Some give a mealy-mouthed rationale, but no one tells us why the Republic will fail if we leave. On February 2, 2019, Scott Simon gave a soulful little monologue on NPR about how women’s rights was a reason, well, rationale, sort of.

In essence, it seems we are there because we’re there.

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How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to US intelligence agencies, by Gareth Porter

US intelligence agencies didn’t buy the Bountygate story, but the New York Times did. From Gareth Porter at thegrayzone.com:

Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince US intelligence agencies.

The New York Times dropped another Russiagate bombshell on June 26 with a sensational front-page story headlined, “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”  A predictable media and political frenzy followed, reviving the anti-Russian hysteria that has excited the Beltway establishment for the past four years.

But a closer look at the reporting by the Times and other mainstream outlets vying to confirm its coverage reveals another scandal not unlike Russiagate itself: the core elements of the story appear to have been fabricated by Afghan government intelligence to derail a potential US troop withdrawal from the country. And they were leaked to the Times and other outlets by US national security state officials who shared an agenda with their Afghan allies.

In the days following the story’s publication, the maneuvers of the Afghan regime and US national security bureaucracy encountered an unexpected political obstacle: US intelligence agencies began offering a series of low confidence assessments in the Afghan government’s self-interested intelligence claims, judging them to be highly suspect at best, and altogether bogus at worst.

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Russia-Baiting Is the Only Game in Town, by Philip Giraldi

Russia has caused every US problem, including the US failure to elect Hillary Clinton, since Vladimir Putin became Russia’s leader. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:

Washington again becomes hysterical

There is particular danger at the moment that powerful political alignments in the United States are pushing strongly to exacerbate the developing crisis with Russia. The New York Times, which broke the story that the Kremlin had been paying the Afghan Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers, has been particularly assiduous in promoting the tale of perfidious Moscow. Initial Times coverage, which claimed that the activity had been confirmed by both intelligence sources and money tracking, was supplemented by delusional nonsense from former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who asks “Why does Trump put Russia first?” before calling for a “swift and significant U.S. response.” Rice, who is being mentioned as a possible Biden choice for Vice President, certainly knows about swift and significant as she was one of the architects of the destruction of Libya and the escalation of U.S. military and intelligence operations directed against a non-threatening Syria.

The Times is also titillating with the tale of a low level drug smuggling Pashto businessman who seemed to have a lot of cash in dollars lying around, ignoring the fact that Afghanistan is awash with dollars and has been for years. Many of the dollars come from drug deals, as Afghanistan is now the world’s number one producer of opium and its byproducts.

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BOUNTYGATE: Scapegoating Systemic Military Failure in Afghanistan, by Scott Ritter

A fine chronicle of the US government’s long and inglorious history in Afghanistan, from Scott Ritter at consortiumnews.com:

The story of the alleged “bounty scheme” grew up in the context of top U.S. brass blaming Russia for America’s defeat in Afghanistan, says Scott Ritter.

On the morning of Feb. 27, Beth Sanner, the deputy director of national intelligence for mission integration, arrived at the White House carrying a copy of the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB), a document which, in one form or another, has been made available to every president of the United States since Harry Truman first received what was then known as the “Daily Summary” in February 1946.

The sensitivity of the PDB is without dispute; former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer once called the PBD “the most highly sensitized classified document in the government,”while former Vice President Dick Cheney referred to it as “the family jewels.”

The contents of the PDB are rarely shared with the public, not only because of the highly classified nature of the information it contains, but also because of the intimacy it reveals about the relationship between the nation’s chief executive and the intelligence community.

“It’s important for the writers of the presidential daily brief to feel comfortable that the documents will never be politicized and/or unnecessarily exposed for public purview,” former President George W. Bush observed after he left office, giving voice to a more blunt assessment put forward by his vice president who warned that any public release of a PDB would make its authors “spend more time worried about how the report’s going to look on the front page of The Washington Post.

Beth Sanner.

Sanner’s job was the same for those who had carried out this task under previous presidents: find a way to engage a politician whose natural instincts might not incline toward the tedious, and often contradictory details contained in many intelligence products. This was especially true for Donald J. Trump, who reportedly disdains detailed written reports, preferring instead oral briefings backed up by graphics.

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Seriously, Get The Hell Out Of Afghanistan, by Caitlin Johnstone

You will find very few people who will defend what the US has done and is doing in Afghanistan, but the military can’t seem to exit America’s longest war. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House Armed Services Committee has added a Liz Cheney-spearheaded amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which throws severe roadblocks in the Trump administration’s proposed scale-down of US military presence in Afghanistan and Germany.

As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald notes, both parties advancing the amendment cited in their arguments the completely unsubstantiated intelligence leak that was recently published by credulous mass media reporters alleging that Russia has paid bounties to Taliban fighters for killing the occupying forces in Afghanistan. Yet another western imperialist agenda once again facilitated by unforgivably egregious journalistic malpractice in the mass media.

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This Russia-Afghanistan Story Is Western Propaganda At Its Most Vile, by Caitlin Johnstone

The news organs that have found Russians in every closet and under every bed found a few more. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

All western mass media outlets are now shrieking about the story The New York Times first reported, citing zero evidence and naming zero sources, claiming intelligence says Russia paid out bounties to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan for attacking the occupying forces of the US and its allies in Afghanistan. As of this writing, and probably forevermore, there have still been zero intelligence sources named and zero evidence provided for this claim.

As we discussed yesterday, the only correct response to unsubstantiated claims by anonymous spooks in a post-Iraq invasion world is to assume that they are lying until you’ve been provided with a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to the contrary. The fact that The New York Times instead chose to uncritically parrot these evidence-free claims made by operatives within intelligence agencies with a known track record of lying about exactly these things is nothing short of journalistic malpractice. The fact that western media outlets are now unanimously regurgitating these still 100 percent baseless assertions is nothing short of state propaganda.

The consensus-manufacturing, Overton window-shrinking western propaganda apparatus has been in full swing with mass media outlets claiming on literally no basis whatsoever that they have confirmed one another’s “great reporting” on this completely unsubstantiated story.

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