By now the brighter lights in the US government know why Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:
One cannot but feel mildly amused at the theatrical spectacle of the US troop pullout from Afghanistan, its completion day now postponed for maximum PR impact to 9/11, 2021.
Nearly two decades and a staggering US$2 trillion after this Forever War was launched by a now immensely indebted empire, the debacle can certainly be interpreted as a warped version of Mission Accomplished.
“They make a desert and call it peace,” said Tacitus – but in all of the vastness of the Pentagon there sits not a single flack who could imagine getting away with baldfacedly spinning the Afghan wasteland as peaceful.
Even the UN bureaucratic machinery has not been able to properly account for Afghan civilian deaths; at best they settled for 100,000 in only ten years. Add to that toll countless “collateral” deaths provoked by the massive social and economic consequences of the war.
Training and weaponizing the – largely inefficient – 300,000-plus Afghan Army cost $87 billion. “Economic aid and reconstruction” cost $54 billion: literally invisible hospitals and schools dot the Afghan landscape. A local chapter of the “war on drugs” cost $10 billion – at least with (inverted) tangible results: Afghanistan now generates 80% of the world’s opium.
All these embarrassing facts disappear under the shadow play of 2,500 “official” departing troops. What really matters is who’s staying: by no means just a few out of some 17,000 “contractors,” over 6,000 of whom are American citizens.
“Contractor” is a lovely euphemism for a bunch of mercenaries who, perfectly in tune with a shadow privatization drive, will now mingle with Special Forces teams and covert intel ops to conduct a still lethal variation of hybrid war.
Of course this development won’t replicate those David Bowie-style Golden Years in the immediate post-9/11 era. Ten years ago, following the Obama-Petraeus surge, no fewer than 90,000 contractors were dancing to the Hindu Kush groove, lavishly compensated by the Pentagon and dabbling in everything from construction, transportation and maintenance to “enhanced interrogation services.”
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Intelligence, Military, Politics, Propaganda, War
Tagged Afghanistan, Conractors, Taliban
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.
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.
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.
The war in Afghanistan is perhaps the US’s most stupid and dishonest war, although there’s abundant competition. From Eric S. Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
After 19 years of war, over $1 trillion in spending, 2,400 dead and a torrent of lies, the US may now be facing an end to its longest war.
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. There were three reasons: 1. to cover up the humiliation of the tough-talking Bush administration for being caught sleeping on guard duty by the 9/11 attacks; 2. To secure oil pipeline routes through Afghanistan from Central Asia down to Pakistan’s sea coast; and 3. To occupy a supposedly empty square on the Asian chessboard before China did.
Since 2001, hardly a word of truth about Afghanistan has come out of Washington. All wars are accompanied by a bodyguard of lies, as Churchill wrote, but the lies and propaganda about Afghanistan were extraordinary and shameful.
Chief among the lies: Osama bin Laden was the architect of the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans and that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban movement. In fact, the plot was hatched in Germany and Spain by Saudi exiles, not Afghans, who claimed the US was occupying their nation and exploiting its riches.
The US government and its military learned nothing from Vietnam. From As`ad AbuKhalil at consortiumnews.com:
The U.S. humiliation in Afghanistan shows that the empire can’t impose its will, no matter how much violence it inflicts, writes As`ad AbuKhalil.
Zalmay Khalilzad, left, the U.S. chief envoy, signs off on peace deal with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a Taliban leader, in Doha, Qatar, Feb. 29, 2020. (State Department)
It was quite a spectacle for this century. If Western media were not all tied to the war establishment, they would have commented on the symbolism: a U.S. envoy signing a peace agreement with an official representatives of the Taliban movement.
Had Osama bin Laden been alive, he may have been invited to the signing ceremony. Younger readers did not live through the massive propaganda campaign by all Western governments against the Taliban back in 2001. The U.S. war on Afghanistan was very popular then: at least 90 percent of Americans supported it in 2001.
Conservatives and liberals united to convince public opinion that the removal of the Taliban from power was an American national priority. The liberal organization, the Feminist Majority, aided the White House in its propaganda effort by releasing information on the Taliban’s war on women.
But when U.S. bombs started to kill women and children on a regular basis, the Feminist Majority and other liberals were silent. (Among women’s rights activists — including some in Afghanistan — the Feminist Majority’s pro-military position on Afghanistan was controversial at the time.)
George W. Bush and his wife briefly posed as feminist in an effort to persuade the public that the American invasion of Afghanistan is a humanitarian effort.
Posted in Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, History, Intelligence, Media, Military, War
Tagged Afghanistan, Iraq, Peace deal, Taliban, Vietnam
The US has no business being in Afghanistan. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:
An ancient Hindu prayer says, ‘Lord Shiva, save us from the claw of the tiger, the fang of the cobra, and the vengeance of the Afghan.’
The United States, champion of freedom and self-determination, is now in its 18th year of colonial war in Afghanistan. This miserable, stalemated conflict is America’s longest and most shameful war. So far it has cost over $1 trillion and killed no one knows how many Afghans.
This conflict began in 2001 on a lie: namely that Afghanistan was somehow responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the US. These attacks were planned in Europe and the US, not Afghanistan, and apparently conducted (official version) by anti-American Saudi extremists. This writer remains unconvinced by the official versions.
Afghanistan is not only the longest war in American history, it may be the most senseless. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:
When President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing troops from Syria, shock and hysteria filled Washington. The screaming grew louder when it was reported that the president also intended to remove half of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with the rest likely to come home at the end of 2019.
Afghanistan is the longest war in American history, outlasting the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War combined. U.S. soldiers will soon be deploying to a war that started before they were born. Today the Taliban is advancing while the Kabul government is in disarray. Few believe that the latter, irrespective of who is president, can survive absent Washington’s support.
Both President Barack Obama’s and President Trump’s Afghan strategy appeared designed to push the inevitable collapse onto a future administration. Never mind that Americans still die in Afghanistan. No official wants to be the one to declare that thousands of lives and billions of dollars to have been wasted.
Yet going into his presidency Trump stated: “Let’s get out of Afghanistan.” However, he surrounded himself with conventional thinkers as national security advisers, unwilling to admit the obvious. Then he allowed himself to be talked into temporarily increasing U.S. force levels.
Posted in Collapse, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Governments, Imperialism, Media, Military, Politics, War
Tagged Afghanistan, Corruption, Taliban, US Failure
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.