Tag Archives: Taliban

What Is Left for the US To Do in Afghanistan? The Answer: Lose. By Maj. Danny Sjursen

In trading and gambling, there’s a phrase: cut your losses. The phrase has its uses in foreign and military policy as well. From Maj. Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

These days it seems everything the U.S. military touches in Afghanistan turns to rubbish. It’s possible this war is already over, only Washington won’t concede it.

I’ll admit it. I’m sick of writing about America’s longest war – the quagmire in Afghanistan. Still, in a time of near media blackout on this issue, someone has to keep banging the drum. Of late, it seems every single week that those of us who follow the war are inundated with more bad news. It all adds up to what this author has long been predicting in Afghanistan: the impending military defeat of the U.S.-trained Afghan Army and its American advisors. This is a fact that should rattle the public, shake up policymakers, and usher in a holistic review of the entirety of America’s interventions in the Greater Middle East. Only don’t count on it – Washington prefers, like a petulant child, to cover its proverbial eyes and ignore the fated failure of this hopeless war and several others like it.

This past month, four US service members were killed in Afghanistan, bringing the 2018 total to 13 American deaths. That may sound like a relatively modest casualty count, but given the contracted US troop totals in country and the transition to using those troopers only in an advisory capacity, this represents a serious spike in American deaths. Add to this the exponential rise in Afghan Security Force casualties over the last few years, and the recent rise in green-on-blue attacks – in which partnered Afghan “allies” turn their guns on their American advisors – and matters look even worse. Despite the ubiquitous assertions of senior US commander after commander that the mission has “turned a corner,” and that “victory” is near, there’s no meaningful evidence to that effect.

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Afghanistan takes center stage in the New Great Game, by Pepe Escobar

Can the turmoil in Afghanistan have an Asian solution, that is, one in which the US is not involved? From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

Moscow hosted talks last week to promote peace in Afghanistan as neighbors and regional heavyweights eye the rewards of stability in the long-troubled land

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens during the second round of talks on an Afghan settlement, in Moscow, on November 9, 2018. Photo: AFP/ Vladimir Astapkovich / Sputnik

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens during the second round of talks on an Afghan settlement, in Moscow, on November 9, 2018. Photo: AFP/ Vladimir Astapkovich / Sputnik

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The Drug Catastrophe in Afghanistan, by Brian Cloughey

The American invasion of Afghanistan has been good for the drug trade. Undoubtedly the drug trade has been good for at least some Americans in Afghanistan. From Brian Cloughey at strategic-culture.org:

On November 5 yet another US soldier was killed by a member of Afghanistan’s military forces, as the country continues to be wracked by violence in its seventeenth year of war.

Donald Rumsfeld was US Secretary for Defence from 2001 to 2006 under President George W Bush. They, along with other psychotic figures such as Vice-President Dick Cheney, were responsible for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and their legacy is apparent in many spheres, one of which is the drug production bonanza in Afghanistan. s

In August 2004 NBC News reported Secretary Rumsfeld as declaring “The danger a large drug trade poses in Afghanistan is too serious to ignore. The inevitable result is to corrupt the government and way of life, and that would be most unfortunate.” He issued the warning that “It is increasingly clear to the international community that to address the drug problem here is important for the people of Afghanistan.”

Rumsfeld, for once during his catastrophic years as chief war-maker, was absolutely right, and his pronouncement about likely danger and impending corruption was spot on. The US invasion and subsequent operations led to Afghanistan becoming the fourth most dangerous and fourth most corrupt country in the world.

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Not Worth Another Life: An Afghan Anniversary To Lament, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

The US government has not a clue how to win the 17-year war in Afghanistan, but there’s no plans to get out. From Maj. Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Americans are still dying for a hopeless cause in Afghanistan; meanwhile, the media and populace simply ignore a seemingly perpetual war.

The absurd hopelessness was the worst part. No, it wasn’t the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) blowing limbs off my boys, or the well-aimed gunshot wounds suffered by others; it wasn’t even the horror of ordering the deaths of other (“enemy”) human beings.

No, for a captain commanding 100 odd troopers in Southwest Kandahar province at the height of the Obama “surge” of 2011, what most struck me was the feeling of futility; the sense that the mission was fruitless operationally, and, of course, all but ignored at home. After a full year of saturating the district with American soldiers, the truth is we really controlled only the few square feet we each stood on. The Taliban controlled the night, the farmlands, the villages. And, back in 2011, well, the U.S. had about 100,000 servicemen and women in country. There are less than 15,000 on the ground now.

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Why US Imperialism Loves Afghan Quagmire, by Finian Cunningham

The real reasons the US stays in Afghanistan, from Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

t may seem paradoxical that any American interest would seek to deliberately prolong the Afghan quagmire. Costing trillions of dollars to the national debt, one would think that US planners are anxious to wind down the war and cut their immense losses. Not so, it seems.

Like the classic 1960s satire film, Dr Strangelove, and how he came to “love the A-bomb”, there are present-day elements in the US military-security apparatus that seem to be just fine about being wedded to the mayhem in Afghanistan.

That war is officially the longest-ever war fought by US forces overseas, outlasting the Vietnam war (1964-75) by six years – and still counting.

After GW Bush launched the operation in October 2001, the war is now under the purview of its third consecutive president. What’s more, the 17-year campaign to date is unlikely to end for several more years to come, after President Donald Trump last year gave the Pentagon control over its conduct.

This week saw two developments which show that powerful elements within the US state have very different calculations concerning the Afghan war compared with most ordinary citizens.

First there was the rejection by Washington of an offer extended by Russia to join a peace summit scheduled for next month. The purpose of the Moscow conference is to bring together participants in the war, including the US-backed Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani, as well as the Taliban militants who have been fighting against American military occupation.

Washington and its Afghan surrogate administration in Kabul said they would not be participating because, in their view, such a dialogue would be futile.

The US refusal to attend the Moscow event, after previously showing an apparent interest, drew an angry response from Russia. Russia’s foreign ministry said the “refusal to attend the Moscow meeting on Afghanistan shows Washington has no interest in launching a peace process.”

One suspects that US reluctance is partly due to not wanting to give Moscow any additional international standing since Russia’s successful military intervention in Syria and its leading role in mediating for peace there.

To continue reading: Why US Imperialism Loves Afghan Quagmire

Afghanistan. Graveyard Of Empires, by Eric Margolis

After seventeen years, there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan, and America’s still there. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.

There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers.  No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.

Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation’s legitimate government.  Withdraw foreign troops and the Kabul regime would last for only days.

The whole thing smells of the Vietnam War.  Lessons so painfully learned by America in that conflict have been completely forgotten and the same mistakes repeated.  The lies and happy talk from politicians, generals and media continue apace.

This week, Taliban forces occupied the important strategic city of Ghazni on the road from Peshawar to Kabul.  It took three days and massive air attacks by US B-1 heavy bombers, Apache helicopter gun ships, A-10 ground attack aircraft, and massed warplanes from US bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the 5th US Fleet to finally drive back the Taliban assault.  Taliban also overran key military targets in Kabul and the countryside, killing hundreds of government troops in a sort of Afghan Tet offensive.

Afghan regime police and army units put up feeble resistance or ran away.   Parts of Ghazni were left in ruins.  It was a huge embarrassment to the US imperial generals and their Afghan satraps who had claimed ‘the corner in Afghanistan has finally been turned.’

Efforts by the Trump administration to bomb Taliban into submission have clearly failed.   US commanders fear using American ground troops in battle lest they suffer serious casualties.  Meanwhile, the US is running low on bombs.

To continue reading: Afghanistan. Graveyard Of Empires

Trump’s Peace Train: Next Stop, Afghanistan, by Justin Raimondo

Trump has an opportunity to do what the two presidents before him couldn’t do: get the US out of Afghanistan. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

The Christmas truce of 1914 was something truly miraculous. There, in the midst of a vicious war – really the first modern war, in which air power and advanced gunnery both played a part for the first time – the two sides not only laid down their arms, but they also consorted and celebrated the pause in the senseless interminable slaughter. When it was over, they went back to destroying European civilization, but for a moment there a vision of what peace would be like if people took their fate into their own hands was readily apparent. Yes, we always drag out this example, every Christmas, as a lesson in what might be and should be – but could anything like that legendary truce happen today?

Well, it has happened, and in the most unlikely place imaginable – the wilds of Afghanistan, whose stony landscape has absorbed so much blood that I’m surprised the earth itself hasn’t liquefied. As the Washington Post reports:

“A first possible breakthrough in the 17-year Afghan conflict came in June, when a brief cease-fire during a Muslim holiday produced a spontaneous celebration by Afghan troops, civilians and Taliban fighters. The nationwide yearning for peace became palpable.”

Unlike the World War I version, however, it looks like something may come of this spontaneous rebellion against a long and futile war:

“Now, in a development that could build on that extraordinary moment, a senior American diplomat and Taliban insurgent officials have reportedly held talks for the first time, meeting in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar and agreeing to hold further sessions. According to Taliban officials, they discussed reprising the truce in August.”

The US, bypassing the barely functional Afghan “government” — which controls only the territory around Kabul – is negotiating directly with the Taliban, whose leaders are enthusiastic about the talks. While the White House is laconic about the negotiations, the insurgents are more forthcoming: one described the talks as “very positive,” and averred that “We agreed to meet again soon and resolve the Afghan conflict through dialogue.”

To continue reading: Trump’s Peace Train: Next Stop, Afghanistan