The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

If Biden Actually Withdraws Troops from Afghanistan by 9/11, He’ll Have Done Something Good

Sort of self-explanatory. We’ll see if he actually does. Trump had planned to withdraw by May 1st, after all, and spent most of his presidency talking about withdrawing without actually doing so.

But Biden saying there are no conditions for the withdrawal is a promising sign.

This does mean the Taliban will almost certainly wind up ruling the country again; the Kabul government is not going to stand without US and NATO support.

That’s unfortunate, but the Taliban is the natural ruling party of Afghanistan. That’s just how it is. Probably the US shouldn’t have supported Islamic hardliners even before the Russian invasion (under Carter), but that’s a long-ago decision.

Biden’s going to be under immense pressure from the military and much of the media to not withdraw. He needs to hold firm. It would be best to do this as quickly as possible.

And yeah, this means there will be a “fall of Saigon” moment some time after the US leaves.

So be it.

Good on Biden if he sticks to his (non-gun) on this.

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  1. Z

    The Biden Administration is off to a much better start than any recent presidential administration. There is still is plenty I don’t like, particularly the aggressiveness of the State Department, but overall they have been substantially better than I expected.


  2. someofparts

    “During communist rule, the PDPA government reformed the education system; education was stressed for both sexes, and widespread literacy programmes were set up.[139] By 1988, women made up 40 percent of the doctors and 60 percent of the teachers at Kabul University; 440,000 female students were enrolled in different educational institutions and 80,000 more in literacy programs.[140][need quotation to verify][better source needed] Despite improvements, large percentage of the population remained illiterate.[141] Beginning with the Soviet intervention in 1979, successive wars virtually destroyed the nation’s education system.[141] Most teachers fled during the wars to neighboring countries.[141]”

  3. Mark Pontin

    Ian wrote: “Biden’s going to be under immense pressure from the military and much of the media to not withdraw. ”

    Oh noes! Who’s going to keep all those poppy fields safe without the U.S. military and the CIA?

    I always assumed one motive behind the last few years’ class-action suits against Purdue and the other opioid producers by states and other governmental institutions was that they were prepping the market for a large-scale resurgence of natural heroin inside the U.S. (Already much increased recently.)

    It’s kind of a virtuous circle from the psychopath class’s POV. First, you send the mopes’ jobs overseas and profit from that, then you sell them the heroin to overdose via “deaths of despair.”

    We will see.

    Z wrote: “The Biden Administration is off to a much better start than any recent presidential administration.”

    I think most to the point was that last summer’s massive street actions across the U.S., together with 1/6 and the mopes putting Trump in the White House in the first place has woken some of the U.S. ruling class up to the fact that they’re skating on thin ice after leaving so many of the proles with absolutely nothing to lose.

  4. anon

    Biden will never be the progressive that the USA needs at this moment, but I hope that he does more good than bad while in office. I believe he could be persuaded to do a lot more good if we had a strong progressive wing within the Democratic Party, but we do not, unfortunately. I hope he follows through with this promise.

  5. Hugh

    We should have been gone from Afghanistan by 9/11 2002 at the latest. Afghanistan is a failed state. It was one before we went in. It will continue to be one after we’re gone.

    I would disagree that Trump planned anything. He announced a May 1, 2021 withdrawal deadline back in February 2020, but as far as I know there was no plan or timetable how this would be done or coordination with our European allies we talked into sending troops there.

  6. Z

    Mark Pontin,

    I think most to the point was that last summer’s massive street actions across the U.S., together with 1/6 and the mopes putting Trump in the White House in the first place has woken some of the U.S. ruling class up to the fact that they’re skating on thin ice after leaving so many of the proles with absolutely nothing to lose.

    I agree, though I am still surprised that they finally did “get it” and have begun to reckon with the arrogant folly of leaving the country’s youth with both the least to lose, in regards to benefiting from the current system, and the most to lose, in regards to decreased quality of life and lifespans, if they continue to allow it to be imposed upon them.


  7. Z

    I’m primarily surprised at the speed in which the Biden Administration has changed direction.

    I suspect that what we’re seeing is a fem d’etat of sorts in the White House … and that’s not a bad thing since it’s not the “I can be as big of a dick as a man” brand of feminism practitioned by the Hillary Clinton and Neera Tanden types … and it is heavily influencing Biden and the group is led by Harris, probably involves Yellen, maybe also includes Sweet Auntie Anita Dunn, and is capped off by Jill cementing the deal with a little fluff work on Fourteen Hundred Dollar and Zero Sense Joe’s ego to give him the sense that he’s still the big man in charge, which isn’t that hard of a sell because Joe’s always fancied himself a ladies’ man.

    Look at it this way: Biden vehemently opposed forgiving $50K of student debt via executive order just a scant two months ago and now he’s looking into it. How did that happen? Think Fourteen Hundred and Zero Sense Joe had an organic notion to give the issue some deeper thought and that led to a change of heart? Ha ha ha. Think it would have happened if Harris opposed it? Surely not. So, that means Harris is probably pushing these left-leaning economic policies.


  8. Mark Pontin

    @ Z —

    I reside in the San Francisco Bay Area where Kamala the Kop got her political start and has such an electoral base as she has. She ain’t popular here.

    I’m skeptical about your theory regarding her benign influence.

    Because she’s not been benign before — au contraire, her history makes the Newsoms and Pelosis of the California Democrat establishment look almost good — and besides that she’s a VP, and Darth Cheney is the only one of those who’s ever been of consequence hitherto (well, short of a U.S. president needing to be replaced by their VP).

    It may be she functions as a representative keeping Joe in line with what his handlers want — the handler’s handler, so to speak. Who are Joe’s ultimate handlers and owners? We’d all love to know.

  9. Eric Anderson

    Reallocating the resources to hotter spots.
    Ukraine? Taiwan?

  10. Eric Anderson

    Z … you smoking way too much of that kamala.

  11. Eric Anderson

    But hey, what’s an edgelord gonna do?

  12. Ché Pasa

    It’s been really hard for anti-Dems to fathom let alone accept any good that might have come or is to come from the Biden regime, just as it was nearly impossible for anti-Rs and anti-Trumpers to accept or fathom any good that might have come from the Trump regime.

    Nihilists, of course, see no good in any regime.

    The question is whether the good outweighs the awful, and so far, I can’t tell. There’s plenty of awful, but there’s a lot of good, too, and not just in “tone” or style.

    Biden is clearly not the audio-animatronic figure or wax corpse he’s been made out to be among some of the political fabulists, but how much of what we see going on and assume is going on behind the curtain is directed by Biden is hard to say just as it was with Trump or Obama or B Clinton or GWB or go as far back as you want. You never know, and even the post-mortem hagiographies won’t tell you true.

    As for Kamala, there’s no telling. As DA, AG and Senator she was clearly on a meteoric career path, but substance wise, there was no there there. Still isn’t that I can see. Blank slate. Blank stare. Nothin’ there.

    Or is there?

    We will know them by their works and little else. So far their works have been less than needed, more than expected, and mostly on the better side than worse.

  13. Chiron

    This might be far-fetched but the ideal solution would be a “Persian Union” between Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, it would take Iran attention out of the Persian Gulf and more towards Central Asia and their future partner China, and make a more open Islamic Republic involving not only Shias but also Sunnis and secularists.

  14. Feral Finster

    Lord knows that I detest Biden, but good if he does it. I said the same thing about Trump.

    Good. If. He. Does. It.

    We’ve been down this road before.

  15. Hugh

    Chiron, nahgonnahappn. All these countries, groups, and religious sects, not to mention Pakistan that can’t govern itself but thinks it should be the dominant power in Afghanistan or Russia will remove its troops in Tajikistan to let the Iranians in, all so they can become China’s new Uighurs?

  16. Mary Bennett

    When Biden made the announcement about withdrawing support from KSA invasion of Yemen I thought then that he might have received a briefing from Defense and the Joint Chiefs about how much our overseas involvements are really costing us. I know Biden ain’t too bright, but his working class roots are for real, however much betrayed over the years, and I think he does know how to count them pennies and nickels.

    Some in DC may have deluded themselves–I hope it is a delusion and not a trade off–that they have reluctantly to give up the fantasy of ruling Afghanistan in order to have their cherished project of invading Iran.

    There may also be some markers being set down. The Bidens saw how Obama was treated by Netanyahoo, and I am wondering, in line with the feminist coup referred to above, if Jill plus Kamala ain’t about to let that happen again. Jill, because she is protective of her man, and Kamala because she is not going to have her ambitions and prestige compromised by neo-con intriguers.

  17. Mark Level

    “IF” . . . “IF IF IF IF IF IF IF IF–”

    At least Ian starts with the right word. . . but it won’t happen. That goal-post date will be moved AGAIN for the 82nd (who know how many, really) time. Joe will display the same cowardice that OBomber did when he directly violated his campaign promises and adopted the policy of his (nominal) one-time “opponent” St. John McCain of Maverick-dom, “I don’t care if we stay there for 100 years” (paraphrased). Admittedly, Obama’s cowardice was based on not wanting himself and the Blue team to be blamed for “losing” Afghanistan, not that either of the legacy duopoly could ever conceptually admit that Afghanistan (Vietnam, China, etc.) never “belonged” to the U.S. anyway. It’s a system, and the Pentagon will stay there as they drive the wars, not the nominal Executive.

    And thanks to both Mark Pontin and Eric Anderson for beating me to a reply on Kamala H., to Z. I also live in the SF Bay Area currently and have observed her political career for 2 decades and she is one of the worst, most soulless psychopathic pol’s I have ever had the misery to observe. (I was in High School when Nixon was impeached.)

    I could do a long list of Kamala actions like protecting pedophile Catholic clergy, arresting small time pot users despite boasting (perhaps dishonestly) about her own weed smoking in college, keeping non-whites in the penal system for the extraction of their gratis (slave) labor fighting fires, etc. . . . but really anyone not wearing rose colored glasses who honestly looks at her record could easily find the massive hypocrisy in her “woke” posturing as a former prosecutor. And let’s not forget, she was persuaded to step out of the race before the California primary because despite how Blue & “liberal” this state is, she would’ve never placed in the top slots, a major rebuke which tells you that at least some of the public pays attention sometimes.

  18. Lex

    The theoretical withdrawal won’t increase opium production (which is also grown in Mexico). The last time the Taliban ran the country opium production was essentially eliminated, though that might not hold this time. The warlords we’ve supported tend to be the drug runners. If we had really wanted to stabilize and develop Afghanistan we would have made sure they got a UN opium production exemption in order to legitimize the crop and its benefits to the nation. Economically it has long been an important crop because it keeps, trumping the lack of transport infrastructure. Most afghan poppy fields are double cropped. Poppies are planted in the fall and overwinter, with spring melt they jump and the latex is harvested in time to plant vegetables for local consumption. South Asia doesn’t have enough opiate medications for legitimate medical needs. Afghanistan could have grown and processed legal opium for the near abroad market rather than the heroin black market. You know who grows most of the legal opium? France and Australia.

  19. different clue

    If Biden is strong enough to beat down and defeat the massive government resistance to walking away from Afghanistan that he will receive, then he will be allowed to walk us out of Afghanistan.

    At that point, I will venture a slightly different prediction that Ian Welsh does. I will predict that the same non-Pashtun groups which formed the old Northern Alliance to resist Pashtun aggression will reconstitute some new form of the old Northern Alliance. If it gets help from Russia and/or others, it will be able to keep the Pashtuniban/PashTaliban out of its majority non-Pashtun areas. ( Though I remember reading some years ago that Pakistan’s ISI was working very hard on finding and Talibanizing non-Pastun persons to infiltrate ISI non-Pashtun Taliban agents into the non-Pashtun areas. If the ISI has succeeded, then the ISI will conquer the non-Pashtun areas ” from within” in very short order and Afghanistan will become a near-unified ISI PashTaliban State. Only Herat and “greater Heratistan” will be able to hold out against ISI PashTaliban aggression if it gets Iranian support).

    That’s my little if this-then that prediction.

  20. different clue

    As to SuperKop Kamala’s ” lack of record” . . . she has left a trail of poison slime all over California. Her record is very clear and may be judged by the smell it leaves behind.

    And it was her granting of immunity and impunity to Steve Mnuchin which marked her as Wall Street’s Choice to succeed President Joe.

    If she is the DemParty nominee, I hope that Tulsi Gabbard will run through the Republican Party primary season so I can vote for Gabbard in the Rep Primary in Michigan. If by some bizarre accident Gabbard were to become the Republican nominee, I would vote for Gabbard to keep the vile Wall Street Clintonite filth Draculamala Harris from getting elected.

  21. Hugh

    Kamala who? Hasn’t she pretty much dropped off everyone’s radar screens, including Biden’s?

  22. Ché Pasa

    The initial reaction to the Biden vow to remove all US troops from Afghanistan by the 20th Anniversary drop dead date is largely positive throughout the Establishment — media, permanent government, Pentagon, Deep State, whatever. There is no push back that I can see yet. Not that it isn’t there. We never really know what kind of pushing and squeezing is taking place in the corridors of power. But word is troops are already being reassigned/removed/drawn down pretty much as they were during the latter stages of the Trump regime though they won’t all be gone by May 1. What happens to the NATO forces, the ever-present aerial killing machines, and the special assignment wet workers is not yet clear, if it ever will be.

    Afghanistan is absolutely a failed state, something recognized clearly both before and after the announcement of the invasion following 9/11/2001. To the anti-war left, this was a perfect opportunity to “bomb them with butter; bribe them with hope” something that has not been done to this day. The idea was not to invade and slaughter and commit endless atrocities which would never be forgiven and only lead to an endless cycle of revenge. No, send food, medicine, and whatever the people of Afghanistan need in whatever amount they need, build the people up, and begin the long process of correcting the foreign policy errors of decades if not centuries. Everybody has got it wrong, and nobody ever seems to want to get it right.

    Realistically, why is Afghanistan a “state” at all? But that aside, the US foreign policy since 9/11 has been catastrophic, something that was well understood it would be at the time the Afghan operation was being stood up, and there was at least a chance to think outside the box in response to the Saudi-generated attacks against the United States. But no, it didn’t happen.

    Deep cynicism about what any government leader says regarding Afghanistan is understandable.

    Meanwhile Kamala’s actions and inaction as DA and AG in California and criticisms thereof are well known and were a big part of what got her deplatformed during the presidential primary. But she’s not in those roles, nor is she the grandstanding senator she played for a while, and the question is what she up to as VP, something not entirely clear at all. She is by all accounts no eminence grise a la Cheney, and if she’s operating the Biden-puppet, it’s not obvious. If anything, given her long public record, she’d naturally be alarmed at many of Biden’s actions and statements, no? In fact, Biden himself would be alarmed at what he’s been doing and saying as president given his actions and inactions as senator.

    No, this looks like something else entirely. What it is remains to be seen, but if good things are happening for large numbers of people, best to let them I say.

  23. different clue

    Kamalabama Harris was Wall Street’s pick for Biden running mate.

    So what is she doing? She is waiting for Biden to die in office or get Article 25d in office so she can take over and then win 2 elections herself after that — or so she thinks.

    Wall Street will see if they made a good gamble on her or not.

  24. mago

    Afghanistan. Opium, minerals, strategic location. Follow the money and twisted agendas of the players from whichever side of the board they play. Heap big mess . . . KH, too. Scary, tragic and oh so predictable.
    I wonder if pornsters are posting KH breast pics on their sites. Not doing a search.
    Anyway, Afghanistan Afghanistan how screwed you are, have been and will be . . .

  25. bruce wilder

    Afghanistan. Opium, minerals, strategic location. Follow the money . . .
    The sad and pathetic thing is that it is not even Afganistan that is being looted — it is the USA in an act of parasitic self-cannibalization.

    I remember way back the Pentagon tried desperately to find some valuable resource in Afghanistan. They came up with some wildly speculative claims of mineable lithium.

    There is scarcely a more remote, desolate and poor place. It is absurd to be there at all, let alone to persist with no goal for 20 years at an expense that has sometimes exceeded Afghanistan’s rate of GDP.

  26. different clue

    I have read that parts of the Afghan mountains contain valuable minerals and ores of various sorts. And that China is interested in them.

    Here are links to a couple of stories about how that is going or not going.

    Now . . . China would not want to do any mining in the midst of social disorder and unrest. So I suggest the following scenario on a ‘what if’ basis. ‘What if’ the reason America is still fighting in Afghanistan is because the ChinaGov quietly told the AmericaGov that unless America stays in Afghanistan and keeps fighting, China will quietly dump all-at-once all the U S Treasury Debt Instruments it has. Under this scenario, we are fighting to Keep Afghanistan Chinese. Or to make it that way. And maybe the ChinaGov has decided to allow us to leave, for whatever the reason.

    It’s just a thought.

    Anyway, if America leaves, then China can do whatever is convenient to keep the Metal Mountains quiet and peaceful so China can mine copper and whatever else China wants to mind. And if the Pashtuns don’t like it, China can round them all up and take them all on a long Concentration Labor Camping Holiday till the Pashtuns decide they like it just fine.

    And it wouldn’t bother me a bit if that’s what China decides to do. China is the Rising Hegemon now. Too bad, so sad. Deal with it.

  27. bruce wilder

    The hoary threat to “dump U.S.Treasuries” !!

    You don’t “dump” money to ruin a sovereign so much as you simply trade the financial fantasy for something real and valuable because productive or a point of gatekeeping — this, of course, China has been doing lavishly and openly: securing access to resources, building multinational brands and networks, building infrastructure. Destroying the power of the dollar will be a coup de grace, like sinking an aircraft carrier.

  28. Hugh

    China currently holds around $1.1 trillion in Treasuries. So it dumps them all. What happens? Well, first it would have to find buyers. It would probably have to sell them at a loss and might not be able to get rid of them all even then. So how much does China want to lose? The yuan would appreciate against the dollar. So Chinese exports to the US would become more expensive and less attractive. At the same time, US investments in a more expensive China would become less attractive.

    Now you could say that China flooding the Treasuries market would make it harder for the US to sell new Treasuries. And that would be true, but not critical. I don’t agree with MMT on very much, but the US has a fiat currency and doesn’t need to finance its debt through Treasuries. It just structures or pretends that the dollar isn’t fiat. But with the Trump tax cut, the covid relief bills, and things opening up making Treasuries less attractive as a flight to safety, the Fed has not done such a great job of selling all the Treasuries the government has been putting out. All that happens is that they go on the Fed’s balance sheet. This has gone from about $3 trillion to $7 trillion, not all from Treasuries.. This has been so devastating that you wouldn’t notice it unless you were looking for it.

    China could certainly do things that would disrupt financial and economic markets. The downside is that any disruption would be more costly to China than the US.

  29. Z

    Skepticism of Kamala Harris is warranted. She’s earned it. But Kamala Harris is going to have to build public support for her upcoming presidency in some way and the child allowance payments in Biden’s COVID bill were tailor-made for that and to provide her with a populist platform. The republicans will be ideologically opposed to extending it so the story line will become Kamala Harris trying to get money to needy U.S. families and the republicans trying to stop her.


  30. different clue

    I don’t know that the ChinaGov would ever dump treasuries or not. But the ChinaGov could always make the quiet threat privately. How would I ever know? I am not a fly on the walls of the Great and the Good.

    Anyway, its just a thought and purely speculative.

  31. bruce wilder

    How did you become such a Kamala fan, Z? What’s it pay? I could use a side-hustle.

  32. Mark Pontin

    Bruce W.: “I could use a side-hustle.”

    Be nice. Biden, his staff, and his handlers do at least seem to grasp that the Shining City On the Hill ™ has a seriously discontented population and are making an effort to look like they’re turning the page.

    So Z is huffing the hopium pipe. I don’t blame him.

    But while Big Business is on board for right now, there are systemic reasons why neither an infrastructure package of $2 trillion nor even $28 trillion, like they gave the banks after the 2008 crash, are likely to turn this ship around. The fact is, America’s owners would actually have to change the way they do business. They aren’t ready to do that.

  33. bruce wilder

    “America’s owners would actually have to change the way they do business.”

    They do not want to change “the way they do business” but it has become increasingly obvious that the basis for how they do business has worn thru like an old pair of sneakers. It is a fragile state of affairs, not because of domestic discontent of the proles but because harvesting soylent has a Ponzi scheme aspect to it.

    The Biden Administration represents directly not “the owners” but the class of professional overseers that serve the owners. The owners thru the Media and corporate PR are betting the PMC can solve this problem thru the magic of brand management. Just like they have “solved” the problem of peak oil and climate change with happy talk of cheap solar panels and electric cars and the greatness of Elon Musk.

    I don’t think animatronic Joe can do it, and the idea that Kamala, Plan B, is a revolutionary socialist waiting in the wings (in disguise?) preposterous. Plan B is coming and I doubt it will be pretty or solve any problem as I would conceive a problem or solution.

  34. JoeR

    Withdrawal of troops by September 11. Oh the symbolism! Seems less likely just for that little theatrical flourish though I hope I’m wrong.

  35. Z


    Got no grift, bro. Certainly not a KHiver. You’ll probably read me slagging again on Kamala soon enough, just a little bit overexcited to see the government become nominally responsive to the needs of its subjects.

    I’ve never been approached by anyone for pay-for-propaganda for posting on message boards though I hear it happens. I’ve never really been involved in any grift involving anything to the best of my knowledge and memory.

    My opinions come cheap and are unreliable, they go wherever I see paths to the truth. Hard to build a grift business model on that.


  36. Z

    A bit surprised that some of you folks seem to believe that the “donor class” has significant influence on the day-to-day operations at the Biden White House. I doubt that’s the case. It may have been during Donald T’s four year circus run when Sheldon Adelson could probably just call Trump on his cellphone and have him commit to signing off on the murder of a Iranian military official during Trump’s walk from the 8th hole greens to the tees on 9th, but that is not the case with most administrations. This is not the case with the Biden Administration. It wasn’t the case in Obama’s either.

    Bob Rubin got Obama to kiss the ring during his 2008 democratic party primary run by having him publicly commit to cut entitlements during a Hamilton Project speech to big donors, but he also made damn sure that he had people in the White House to represent his interests. He basically hand-picked Obama’s economic team and had Rahm run the show to make sure Citi and Wall Street were made whole and then some.

    You get stuff done inside. You can’t run a sane and nominally functional government having billionaires calling in from their yachts to weigh in on matters. Just imagine Biden asking around to his staff: What did Haim say? Anyone hear from Larry Finks yet today? Was Tom Steyer a yay or nay?

    No, the donor class’s greatest influence, greatest leverage over a politician, is generally during their campaign. That’s why they vet them and they may have bet big on the ID pol value of Kamala and she could have decided it is presently in her best interests to build support with the public rather than cater to them.

    The donors do “signal” what they want though through their mouthpieces in the media to give the politicians cues and try to promote their positions, but it’s well within the laws of physics for the politicians to ignore them once they get into office.

    The donor class has been running Larry Summers out to promote their views but this time it may have backfired on them because there’s not a more qualified person in the world to incite a fem d’etat in the White House than Larry “Women are Genetically Dumber than Men” Summers.


  37. someofparts

    Speaking of cool women leaders who keep us on track instead of being bellicose like men, the vote to destroy Libya was brought to you by Hillary, Susan Rice and Stephanie Power who won the vote to invade 51 to 49, overcoming the hesitancy of those awful men in the Obama administration who had doubts about it.

    I worked for women like them back in the day. Far from pushing the men they worked with to be less macho and mindless, they went the other way. They felt obliged to prove themselves by being even more butch than the men they worked for. Opportunist is not a synonym for feminist.

  38. Z

    I’d expect that the “core four” inner circle who have a voice in all of the big decisions in the Biden Administration are Biden, Harris, Klain, and Dunn.

    Yellen and “Oh, the Deficit!” Deese opinions also undoubtedly weigh in heavy on economic matters with Yellen justifiably having more heft than Deese.


  39. someofparts

    The link is an interview with Lyle Goldstein, research professor and founding director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College.

    Much as I enjoyed the cartoons in the link that Plague Species shared, Furry’s analysis of Putin’s motives sounds like it came from MSNBC. So this link to the Naval War College is offered to provide a more detailed picture of what Russia and China are thinking and doing.

    One clear fact that emerges is that China will be taking Taiwan back. It’s a question of when not if. Right now they are watching how things go in Hong Kong to decide if they will be able to reclaim Taiwan peacefully of if they will need force. If they have to use force, professor Goldstein says Taiwan will be able to hold out about two weeks.

    Maybe that makes what we do in Afghanistan even more crucial. When China takes back Taiwan, we had better hope that our civilian misleaders are smart enough not to launch a hot war over it. Maybe showing that we have enough sense to withdraw from Afghanistan now will set a precedent for being sensible in the future when the risks and the temptations to be foolish will be greater.

  40. Mr Jones

    There is scarcely a more remote, desolate and poor place. It is absurd to be there at all…

    Geopolitics says otherwise. Look at a map for chrissake. Even if the US et al “officially” leave come September, there will still be a western presence there of some sort.

  41. Ireland

    “The history of the island of Taiwan dates back tens of thousands of years to the earliest known evidence of human habitation. The sudden appearance of a culture based on agriculture around 3000 BC is believed to reflect the arrival of the ancestors of today’s Taiwanese indigenous peoples. The island was colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century, followed by an influx of Hoklo people including Hakka immigrants from the Fujian and Guangdong areas of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait. The Spanish built a settlement in the north for a brief period but were driven out by the Dutch in 1642.

    In 1662, Koxinga, a loyalist of the Ming dynasty who had lost control of mainland China in 1644, defeated the Dutch and established a base of operations on the island. His forces were defeated by the Qing dynasty in 1683, and parts of Taiwan became increasingly integrated into the Qing empire. Following the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing ceded the island, along with Penghu, to the Empire of Japan. Taiwan produced rice and sugar to be exported to the Empire of Japan, and also served as a base for the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia and the Pacific during World War II. Japanese imperial education was implemented in Taiwan and many Taiwanese also fought for Japan during the war.”

    So, with a history spanning 5,000 years of independence, China had PARTIAL control of Taiwan between the years 1683 and 1895, a period of 212 years, a period only slightly longer than Europeans PARTIALLY “ruled” the island and considerably shorter than the period of time England held Ireland. And by PARTIAL, we’re talking less than 10% of the island. Only an ignoramus of history would see China’s “reclamation” of Taiwan as anything other than naked colonialism.

    Should England “reclaim” Ireland? Well clearly, some here think such an outcome “just”. I think not. Taiwan is not part of China…anymore than Ireland is “part” of England. Only eurocentric colonialists and CCP members view it as “part” of China.

  42. Hugh

    “When China takes back Taiwan”

    Yes, because when China and Russia use force or start a war, that’s OK. And when China abuses Uighurs, Hong Kongers, and Taiwanese, it’s almost like it has a moral obligation to do so. Oh, and no matter what happens, it’s all our fault. The Hate America crowd is on a roll.

  43. Hugh

    You get called on your double standards, and your response is to call names?

  44. Ireland

    Hugh equates Russia and China as land grabbing empires. One presumes he was taught this in school so let’s look at the numbers so we don’t share his ignorance.

    At the end of the cold war, Russia, which was known as the Soviet Union or USSR, lost 23.8 percent of its national territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 of the GDP, 39.4 percent of its industrial potential [nearly half of US potential], as well as 44.6 percent of its military capability due to the division of the Soviet Armed Forces among the former Soviet republics.

    At the end of the cold war China lost nothing, indeed it has been gaining colonies at a fairly rapid clip. The procedure is simple, claim that territories that are held, at one point in history, however briefly by a Han-Chinese Empire, then conquer and annex. In September 1949 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) made it a top priority to incorporate Tibet, Taiwan, Hainan Island, and the Pescadores into the PRC through force or concession. Since Tibet was unlikely to voluntarily give up its independence, Mao, in December 1949 ordered that preparations be made to invade Tibet and force the Tibetan Government to concede Tibet’ dissolution. Communist China has claimed various portions of India, Vietnam, Philippines, USSR, Mongolia et al in series of disputes based at one time or another. All these land claims are based on the racist idea that Han-Chinese-Empires transcend time and place. And these Chinese territorial claims have been largely ratified by Nixon/Carter/Bush-I/Clinton/Bush-II/Obama/Biden…what Hugh refers to as “the hate America crowd”.

    Because of his poor schooling, Hugh was not informed of these international developments, which is why he can glibly compare China to Russia. His ignorance is not to be laughed at, it’s to be pitied!

  45. Hugh

    Actually, a lot of China’s imperial claims come out of China’s last dynasty, the non-Han Qing dynasty. Yes, my education was not rarefied. It lacked your neat coloring books.

    Re the USSR, Yeltsin, a Russian nationalist, favored its dissolution to keep a Russian majority in the new Russia as opposed to a soon to be plurality (the largest minority) if the USSR was kept intact.

  46. Z


    the idea that Kamala, Plan B, is a revolutionary socialist waiting in the wings (in disguise?) preposterous.

    That is preposterous. Who’s been saying that?


  47. someofparts

    I think Ian’s tolerance for contentious, low-information snark here is ultimately constructive. Anyone who hopes to have useful conversations online needs to learn how to ignore such nonsense.

  48. different clue


    Yes. God made a scroll button.

  49. Ché Pasa

    So now the objections to Biden’s withdrawal plans and to his infrastructure – cum fix everything under the sun — plans are starting to flood down from the rightist and libertarian think tanks and R establishment and radicals (and their D enablers), and it’s pretty thin gruel. It looks like it’s mostly recycled “No, not if a Dem does it!” cant. The Rs say they’ll come up with their own infrastructure plan that only does roads, bridges, and airports. The way it’s supposed to be. Not all this larding of Biden’s to fix the electric grid, get old people some reliable home care, and (for god’s sake!) get public schools up to date. Nah, can’t do that!

    As for withdrawal, the objections, which seem a bit less partisan, basically boil down to “ya can’t! ya can’t! not evah! the savages will run wild!!!!!!”

    That kind of fear mongering goes back to the origin of the nation and I don’t think it’s going away, evah. What to do about it is the question. At this point, it looks like the Biden regime is giving the objectors the back of its collective hand.

    Since so many of the same people who have been in regime after administration after regime have come up with these grand plans, what brought them to this moment after so much resistance?

  50. Hugh

    Ché Pasa, the basic message of Trump, McConnell, and the Republican party to spending money on ordinary Americans is “We hate you, and hope you die.” As for Biden, I hope he gets some good things done. For me, I look on him as an Establishment guy. So I try not to read any real changes of heart into what he does and prepare to be disappointed.

  51. Mark Pontin

    someofparts wrote: ‘One clear fact that emerges is that China will be taking Taiwan back. It’s a question of when not if … If they have to use force, professor Goldstein says Taiwan will be able to hold out about two weeks.’

    One big factor Professor Goldstein is leaving out regarding Taiwan — for reasons to do with long-standing U.S. policy — is that no country that ever had a serious program to build nuclear fission weapons — A-bombs — ever failed to do so. South Africa developed them, for instance, though in 1989 de Klerk ensured they were dismantled before the handover to Mandela.

    In fact, A-bombs such as were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are far simpler and easier to construct than most people realize. It’s a technology developed by people who listened to Benny Goodman on vacuum tube radios, after all. (For all that the scientists at Los Alamos represented, sadly, probably the greatest number of the most intelligent people gathered together for one project in history.)

    H-bombs — fusion bombs aka staged thermonuclear weapons — which emerged with Ivy Mike in 1952 are a very different, more complex deal. In 2021, they’re what a nation-state seeking deterrence wants because — while Ivy Mike was the size of a very large locomotive engine, 20 feet high and weighing 140,000-plus lbs., with an additional 24,000 lbs. for its refrigeration equipment — they can be physically miniaturized to be put atop missiles and designed so the resulting explosion can be almost any size, shape, or radiation yield. Ted Thomas, the U.S.’s most talented bomb designer, even built a thermonuclear device so small he lit a cigarette with it —

    To return to Taiwan: simple fission-style A-bombs do require bomber aircraft (which can be knocked down by missiles in 2021) to deliver them — although trucks or boats will do in a pinch. But Taiwan could still build such weapons as stationary “mini-doomsday” devices, so that if China invades the whole island goes up and large radioactive clouds sweep over the mainland. That would definitely be a deterrent.

    The hardest part of building simple fission devices is accumulating enough enriched uranium and/or plutonium. Taiwan has four reactors, IIRC, so it has the nuclear material to enrich, to start with.

    Enrichment is usually dependent on massive chains of centrifuges — which is why Iran currently is vulnerable to sabotage — but there’s a new high-tech alternative called laser isotope separation, or LIS, which can be carried out in a plant the size of a small warehouse or your local high-end auto dealer’s garage. Taiwan is in one sense the most technologically sophisticated country in the world, in that it has more microprocessor chip fabs than any other. Indeed, that’s another reason why mainland China shouldn’t invade in the next decade, till it’s built up its own fab plants: global technological civilization would stagger to a halt without the chips Taiwan supplies the rest of the world, including China.

    In any case, if Taiwan wants to enrich radioactive material via LIS, it can probably manage “nuclear breakout” both covertly and quickly.

    So the fact that Taiwan could relatively easily gain nuclear deterrence is one factor Professor Goldstein isn’t bringing up.

    And that’s because Japan and a number of other nations could achieve nuclear breakout very quickly, too. During the Cold War, the U.S. deliberately extended its “nuclear umbrella” to allies to discourage them from having their own nuclear deterrent program. That way, proliferation was discouraged and U.S. hegemony was preserved, in that the U.S. nuclear umbrella also provided cover for U.S. conventional forces to go in and flatten whomever Washington deemed should be flattened. (As in Iraq.)

    Professor Goldstein isn’t talking about all this because he’s invested in maintaining U.S. hegemony. Also, he’s at the U.S. Naval War College and a potential scenario where China invades Taiwan with conventional forces is good promotion for the idea of naval force projection, and the Navy always wants more ships. I bet he doesn’t bring up the uselessness of aircraft carrier groups in such a scenario, however. If so, he’s being disingenuous on two counts.

  52. Mark Pontin

    I’ll add a couple of things.

    Firstly, I know a little about this stuff because I used to have to write about it for a living. See forex —

    Secondly, I’ve digressed a little from the ostensible subject of Ian’s OP here. But not as much as it may seem, because all this is relevant to the U.S., its imperial decline, and the end of the Pax Americana.

    Here’s why. For its Cold War allies to believe the U.S. nuclear umbrella would be extended to them — that is, the U.S. would get into a nuclear war that might destroy it if a country on the other side of the world got flattened by the USSR or the ROC — was always a stretch credibility-wise. Establishing credibility on that score was always problematic for the U.S. and was actually the underlying rationale for the “domino theory,” as the simplified version fed to the proles was called.

    Now, peering into the near-future as U.S. credibility and the Pax Americana end, one possible result is that in a 21st century with a few big dogs — predominantly Han China, a resurgent Russia, a much diminished U.S. (if it survives) — and many smaller, technologically capable states, those smaller states may resort to their own independent nuclear deterrents. For that matter, what price a Catalan independence movement with its own nukes?

  53. Hugh

    The Little Boy Hiroshima bomb was a uranium device using a simple gun design. There was not enough uranium ready for a second device. So for the Fat Man Nagasaki bomb plutonium was used. It was a much more difficult design. For the first device you’re basically shooting one uranium mass into another. For the second you have to have a precisely timed explosive compression around the plutonium core. An H bomb riffs off this by using an inner plutonium or uranium core with lithium as a source for its tritium.

    “During the Cold War, the U.S. deliberately extended its ‘nuclear umbrella’ to allies to discourage them from having their own nuclear deterrent program.”

    Seems like someone forgot to tell the French and British.

  54. different clue

    A recent article at NaCap noted that the TrumpAdmin had already negotiated a deal with the Taliban involving America evacuating all soldiers by mid May.

    So why did the Joemala Admin insist on putting the departure back to September? The article suggested that Simple Joe Malarkey did it for the very same reason that Trump pulled America out of JCPOA . . . . pure spite and not wanting Trump to get credit for the least little thing.

    Hopefully American commanders will have the decency to not order any American soldiers off the base for any action at all for any reason whatsoever. But if Commander In Chief “Simple Joe” orders them to do it, then they will have to do it.

    Which brings me to a more sinister possibility. Simple Joe Malarkey wants to keep America at war in Afghanistan. Pushing the date back is designed to give the Taliban time to get disillusioned and suspicious and attack enough American forces enough to give JoeJoe an excuse to cancel the deal and cancel the departure.

    Am I being too paranoid?

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