Tag Archives: Taliban

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

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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

Time to Admit the Afghan War is ‘Nonsense’, by Jonathan Marshall

After 17 years in Afghanistan, with Taliban control of territory and opium poppy production at record highs, it’s time for the US government to rethink that military commitment. From Jonathan Marshall at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: Officially, the U.S. military objective in Afghanistan is to force the Taliban to the negotiating table, but just last month President Trump said that talks with the Taliban are off the table, indicating an incoherent policy, as Jonathan Marshall notes.

Whatever happened to the Donald Trump who tweeted in 2013, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan … we waste billions there. Nonsense!”

Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilots fly near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, April 5, 2017. The pilots are assigned to the 7th Infantry Division’s Task Force, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.The unit is preparing to support Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support. (Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris)

And whatever happened to the reality TV star who used to tell under-performers, “you’re fired”?

Today, as commander in chief, President Trump is indefinitely extending the Afghan war’s record as the longest in U.S. history. He’s wasting $45 billion to wage it this year alone. And he’s not even thinking of firing his huckster generals who claim that sending a few thousand more troops and stepping up the bombing will be a “game changer.”

Much like the Vietnam War, every day’s news of war from Afghanistan puts the lie to optimistic claims of a military solution. A recent BBC study concluded that Taliban forces are now active in 70 percent of the country, more than at any time since the end of 2001. Unofficial U.S. estimates of their strength have soared from about 20,000 in 2014 to at least 60,000 today.

Afghan government forces number several times as many, but—like their counterparts in the Vietnam War—they “lack the one thing the U.S. cannot provide: the will to fight a protracted campaign against a committed enemy,” in the words of Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Taliban have proven that no place in Afghanistan is safe from their long arm. At the beginning of February, they infiltrated a bomb-laden ambulance into Kabul, just blocks from a meeting at the Afghan Ministry of Defense with the head of the U.S. Central Command. Its blast killed more than 100 people and injured 235. It followed only days after Taliban gunmen stormed the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, killing at least 20 people, including four Americans.

 

To continue reading: Time to Admit the Afghan War is ‘Nonsense’

America’s Cascading Disaster in Afghanistan, by Pamela

Eliminate on Taliban leader in Afghanistan and you’re probably going to get someone who is even worse. From Pamela at antiwar.com:

William J. Astore’s Intro: I asked Pamela if I could highlight a recent comment she made at this site about the U.S. military’s approach to Afghanistan. Not only did she give me her permission: she elaborated on her point in an email. Pamela, a former aid worker with a decade’s worth of on-the-ground experience in Afghanistan, worked with the Afghan people in relationships characterized by trust and friendship. Her words should be read by all Americans, especially our foreign policy “experts.”

A U.S. government promotional photo. Pamela notes, “Look closely at the expressions on the faces of the Afghans.”

Cascading disaster is an apt term for the US military’s strategy in Afghanistan, which involves the indiscriminate killing of terrorist leaders, whether Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS or whatever else.

In addition to heavily underreported civilian casualties, US military strikes increase the ferocity of those terrorist outfits. Not just because those outfits want to show the world how strong they are. There is another element which arguably is even worse, as it is virtually impossible to reverse. Each “neutralized” leader leaves a power void within his organization and a number of usually younger and more ruthless members start fighting among each other to take over – with cruelty and spectacular attacks obviously being stronger “election” arguments than a “softy” willingness and capacity for peaceful dialogue.

Thus in Afghanistan the original Taliban – the ones who were ousted in 2001 – probably could have been convinced to take part in negotiations. They were an unsavory lot to have as a government, with medieval habits, but they were not terrorists like the ones nowadays. Few people know that in 2000 the British charity Christianaid (yes, with such a provocative name) had an office there, run by a female Australian doctor with her husband and little Sam, their six-month-old son. They enjoyed it very much and the Taliban had no objection against a foreign woman providing medical care to women and children, despite the obvious need for careful diplomacy.

Since then, however, there have been so many cascading series of eliminations of Taliban leaders at all levels – all for the purpose of PR spin rather than any coherent strategy – that we now have the umptiest generation, which has lost whatever dignity and humanity their predecessors may have had.

To continue reading: America’s Cascading Disaster in Afghanistan

Sadism in Afghanistan, by Tommy Raskin

The US’s 16-year war in Afghanistan has inflicted massive pain on the host population, wrecked the country, and brought the US no closer to its stated objectives than it was in 2001. From Tommy Raskin at antiwar.com:

For the past 16 years, the American war machine has been acting like a two-tiered sadist in Afghanistan. While facilitating the Kabul government’s destruction of the communities it oversees there, our military apparatus has also harmed the U.S. itself by spilling American blood for an unnecessary and futile mission.

Granted, most Americans have not literally bled for the war in Afghanistan. Our sacrifice has been merely (merely?) financial. US taxpayers have paid – and will continue paying – for our government’s $1 trillion excursion there, an escapade already more expensive than the Marshall Plan to rebuild post-WWII Europe. Not all Americans have been as fortunate as civilian taxpayers, though. 2,400 US soldiers have died and upwards of 17,000 have suffered physical injuries in Afghanistan. Still other troops have returned home physically intact but psychologically scarred, motivating their retreat into a lonely depression.

Suicide has been a tragically fitting end to the lives of our most traumatized Afghanistan war veterans, whose premature deaths provide a chilling reminder that the US military apparatus has pursued a program of ruinous overexertion since its war against the Taliban began in 2001. Despite the popular impression that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were comrades in arms in the lead-up to 9/11, the reality is that Taliban leaders resented Osama bin Laden for issuing fatwas against the West and had even tried alerting the US of bin Laden’s diabolical plans beforehand. When the attacks happened anyway, the Taliban remained fairly pliant, offering to surrender bin Laden to the Organization of the Islamic Conference if the US could prove that bin Laden was behind the attacks. After President George W. Bush rejected that overture and bombed Afghanistan, in October 2001, the Afghan government quickly gave up its “proof of guilt” condition and sought a settlement that would involve surrendering bin Laden to a U.S.-selected third party. But in his apparently implacable desire to fight, Bush again rejected negotiations in favor of a mutually destructive war.

To continue reading: Sadism in Afghanistan

Intervention Fail: ISIS Makes Bloody Gains in Post ‘Liberation’ Afghanistan, by Daniel McAdams

ISIS has made inroads into Afghanistan and is challenging the Taliban. The US has been in the country for fifteen years, and if the powers that be think that they can straighten out this mess, the US will be there at least another fifteen. From Daniel McAdams at antiwar.com:

Shortly after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in 1996 (their rise to power itself a result of the 1979 Soviet intervention in Afghanistan), we began to hear endless stories of the horrors of this student movement turned governing power. They ruled by Sharia law, they treated women badly, they even blew up ancient statues!

The US rhetoric against the Taliban began long before the attacks of 9/11 (which were carried out largely by Saudis who trained in Afghanistan with the knowledge of the Taliban). But it was the 9/11 attacks that opened the door to a direct US intervention in Afghanistan.

However, an operation that was Congressionally authorized primarily to seek out and punish those who planned and executed the attacks on New York and Washington very quickly morphed into a “regime change” operation to “liberate” the Afghans from Taliban rule. So focused was the US on “regime change” that 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was able to slip out of the US grasp at Tora Bora and make his way to Pakistan.

From an operation to retaliate for an attack on US soil, the Afghan operation soon became a nation-building operation where the focus shifted from US security to the plight of women formerly under Taliban rule. The US government’s marketing geniuses even tried to “re-brand Afghanistan” to the tune of $4.8 million.

So after 15 years and well over one trillion dollars spent, after tens of thousands of dead Afghanis and several thousand US and allied soldiers, after the country has been ripped apart by war with no economy left, what has been achieved?

US intervention in Afghanistan has succeeded in replacing the Taliban threat with something even worse! As with Iraq, Libya, and Syria, there was no ISIS in Afghanistan before the US intervention. Today after 15 years of US “liberation” ISIS is not only making inroads into Afghanistan, it is turning the country into a bloodbath.

Just yesterday a coordinated ISIS suicide bomb attack in Kabul blew apart more than 80 innocent demonstrators.

And who is ISIS’s bitterest foe in Afghanistan? No, not the US. It is the Taliban.

This is intervention laid bare: it replaces one set of “bad guys” with another whole new level of bad guys. It spreads not peace and freedom, but death and ISIS. US foreign interventionism is a cancer.

To continue reading: Intervention Fail: ISIS Makes Bloody Gains in Post ‘Liberation’ Afghanistan