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

The Taliban Take Control Of Afghanistan

As I noted recently, once the US left Afghanistan, the Taliban would rule. This was obvious, and only completely delusional fools thought otherwise. Anyone who thought so should never say anything about military affairs ever again. Yes, the government army was larger and better equipped, but they have zero legitimacy and the Taliban are better fighters.

Not that being better fighters was needed, in most cases there was hardly any fighting and “government” forces just surrendered because of that whole “zero legitimacy” thing. (Also, they’re corrupt from bottom to top. They weren’t in it to fight, they were in it to be on the take.)

There is a lot of hand wringing among the usual liberal suspects about the bad shit that is now going down: collaborators being killed, women being beaten, the end of women’s rights, and so on.

All of this is true, and not irrelevant, but not sufficient to argue the US should have stayed in Afghanistan indefinitely, and let a guerilla war rage on while Americans used drones to kill 90 percent innocents.

It’s hard to say how many Afghans have PTSD and depression, but it’s certainly a large number. In 2002, PTSD was 42 percent (thanks to the war with the USSR, and the period of civil war, and the anarchy afterwards). As the linked article says, it’s hard to imagine that further war and invasion has lessened.

As for deaths, we’ll never know. The US, as in Iraq, deliberately never counted and I haven’t been able to find a good population study. One very careful analysis from 2015, by Physicians for Social responsibility, came up with 1,400 a month, but noted that number was almost certainly an under-count. (It seems low to me. Remember deaths in war/occupation are rarely, to use the modern world’s lovely euphemism, “kinetic.’)

The point here is that what Afghanistan needs is peace.

It will be a bad peace for a lot of people, there is no question. The Taliban are nasty and medieval. But it will be peace and people will mostly be safe. If the US decides to stop shooting stuff up, maybe Afghans can even have safe weddings and funerals.

The US occupation of Afghanistan was not, ever, in any way comparable to the US occupations of Germany, Japan, or Korea because in none of those cases was there any ongoing multi-decade guerilla war.

Instead, the US occupation was the cause of an ongoing war against invaders.

It is true, that as usual, the US has betrayed the collaborators who helped it rule Afghanistan. They should have shipped them out and to the US before leaving.

The vast majority will be fine, mind you: the Taliban knows how to rule and is just telling almost everyone to go back to work (unless they are a woman). But the key collaborators will be killed or otherwise punished.

This is exactly what Americans would have done if the USSR had invaded and conquered America, then left. Translators and Vichy collaborators would not be treated kindly.

But it’s not in the US’s interest. After all, no doubt the US will need collaborators for its next overseas war and occupation, and they will be less willing seeing how Afghan collaborators were treated.

As for Americans, I’m extremely disheartened though entirely unsurprised to see prominent liberals arguing for forever-war. There’s this weird idea in the US that you are somehow, still, in any way, “good” when it comes to invading and destroying other people’s countries, that you have a right to take such actions and that the US doesn’t need its own Nuremberg trials.

Finally, it was never possible to leave “well.” The US military-political complex is incompetent to its core. You can’t do stupid smart, and Afghanistan has been stupid all the way through. (The smart policy would have been to follow the Clinton plan of going in, then leaving.)

Afghanistan’s peace will suck. It’s better than endless war.

For an American Veteran’s perspective I found compelling, see: “Afghanistan Meant Nothing.”

(My writing helps pay my rent and buys me food. So please consider subscribing or donating if you like my writing.)







Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 15, 2021


A Few Words About the Taliban


  1. Ché Pasa

    Bush/Cheney were wrong to invade — initially through proxies — and to occupy (“nation-building” in the neo-liberal imaginary manner); Obama was wrong to continue and briefly expand the occupation; Trump was right to declare date-certain to withdraw; Biden was right to extend that date-certain slightly then actually withdraw, which Trump probably wouldn’t.

    Ignore most of the major mass media reports of what’s going on in Afghanistan. The hand over to the Taliban has been swift, yes, but almost always it has been a negotiated hand over, not a military conquest, and so far the Taliban “seizure” has been relatively bloodless. Wedding parties are not being blown up, massacres are not taking place, looting and pillage and carnage by the Savage Taliban is minimal. Women are not being routinely brutalized any more than they would have been under the former “government.”

    As people on the ground (well, some of them) have pointed out, “everyone” is related, Taliban are family, and people are readjusting to who the family headmen are now. For their part, Taliban are “making nice” — firmly. Revenge is no doubt taking place (for damn good reason in many cases) but so far is not widespread. The panic in Kabul is perhaps overwrought and is at least partly the result of hysterics by the American/NATO occupiers who are more suddenly on the outs than they thought they would be. They are not welcome, they know it, and their collaborators face an unpleasant future under Taliban rule.

    This is not unlike the situation in Saigon in 1975. Hysterics and panic by the occupiers and their collaborators, and yet surprisingly, the victors were not on the bloodbath path and tried to calm the situation rather than enflame it. Getting used to the new rulers took time, and it was not without hardship for many, fear certainly, and justice/revenge for collaborators. Many fled the country with their gold. Many more had no gold to flee with. But flee they did.

    And a lot go back, including the former occupiers. Vietnam today is nothing like it was during the civil war and occupation by the US. Once the war and occupation was over, recovery could begin. Oh, and the Domino Theory was correct, except that when the dominoes fell, life improved for most of the region…

    Give it time. Give it time.

  2. Willy

    FWIW: trickle down culture. In my years working the American gig economy I found that direct employees had about as much loyalty towards their company as the Afghan army does towards Afghanistan. I’m aware of the whole rural-tribal-colonial history of that place, but maybe we might want to consider whatever the hell causes such disloyalties first before trying again to inspire the citizens of a country we invade to remake itself.

    Of course, that assumes that American leaders aren’t into such adventures primarily for the personal profits.

  3. Hugh

    I am pessimistic. I have never thought that South Asia would survive the double whammies of overpopulation and climate change.

    We can talk about all the people who died senselessly in Afghanistan since we invaded the place in 2001, but the fact is that its population has nearly doubled in the 20 years of the US occupation, from 20.7 million in 2001 to 39.8 million today. Afghanistan’s population is young so we might expect that population growth to continue. Current projections put its population expanding to 64 million by 2050. –Except that the US and the West injected a lot of money and food and health aid into the country. We probably won’t be doing that in the future. And it is doubtful that a bunch of religious whackos who want to lead the country back to the seventh century could manage such aid even if they could conceive that they need it. Add to this, Pakistan’s ongoing interference in Afghanistan’s affairs and the ongoing instability of both countries and the region. I see any gains from the US and NATO exit as extremely short-lived.

  4. Plague Species

    Quite A Shit Show

    What is transpiring in Afghanistan is the culmination of twenty years of endemic corruption at every level of American governance to include the complicity of America’s so-called “Free Press.”

    Did Biden receive bad intelligence when he announced America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan a couple of months prior? Yes, he did. He was informed that the American-backed and barely sustained government would hold during the withdrawal process. It was clearly bad intelligence.

    This is what happens though when you surround yourself with a bunch of manipulative Yes Men. You get lies. Fabrications. You get manipulative, cunning behavior and compromised loyalty. Hiden agendas. Sabotage, even, and this could be sabotage to get DeSantis or Pompeo elected in 2024 or sabotage by the CIA to get Biden to reverse course and double down in Afghanistan and yes, the CIA is this duplicitous and malevolently psychopathic as an organization and often at the individual agent level. Don’t rule that out because this fiasco is now a political albatross around Biden’s neck and it will rear its ugly head come 2024 and even in the Congressional Elections of 2022.

  5. Plague Species

    Those two tweets reveal that the majority of people clamoring to get out to the point they’re so desperate they’re clinging to the wheels of jets, are men and boys. Why? Because the Taliban, in the provincial capitals and soon enough in Kabul, are murdering men and boys they are accusing of being in collaboration with the American-backed Afghani government, meaning most men and boys who are not active members of the Taliban. We’re talking about a lot of murdering. You’d be clamoring to get out too, but what about the women?

    Even in the so-called Enlightened Zone of Afghanistan, Kabul, women still take a back seat to men even if they have more rights than the Taliban would ever afford. Women in Kabul are going to be persecuted and murdered too, and raped repeatedly for the rest of their born days. These men at the airport who are clamoring to get out are abandoning these poor women and that speaks to their fucked up culture where women aren’t a humanitarian consideration. It’s men first. Always. Even within the Enlightened Zone.

  6. Plague Species

    American “Free Press” Complicity

    “Free Press” is in quotes for a reason. It’s sarcasm. America does not have a “Free Press.” The Press in America is captive to many interests and is not “free” in any way, shape or form.

    Either way, the American Press, collectively as a whole and individually as various organizations, is guilty of complicity with the 20 year war crime that is the invasion and subsequent occupation of Afghanistan. During the entire 20 year duration of America’s occupation of Afghanistan, the American Press have been nothing more than stenographers reprinting the official line. There are a few scarce exceptions to this, but it’s still largely the rule that the American Press turned a blind eye to the reality of Afghanistan and merely parroted the official lies about America’s purpose and progress in Afghanistan. CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, you name it, all the Establishment Media are guilty as charged.

    Most ironic of all is Mika Brzezinski wringing her hands day in and day out about the plight of the people of Afghanistan when the Taliban takes full control again. She has no sense of irony, does she? Her father is largely responsible for what is Afghanistan today. He set the whole Shit Show in motion. Don’t get me wrong, Afghanistan was no paradise before the Soviet invasion, but what America did to counter the Soviets in Afghanistan is inexcusable and unforgivable. Despicable. The record needs to be set straight once and for all. America aided and abetted the rise of the Taliban by stoking Fundamentalist Islam in Afghanistan in its duplicitous opposition to the Soviet occupation.

    Here is Mika’s father giving a Pep Speech to the precursors to the Taliban. Mika’s father was the Chief Architect of Afghanistan’s ultimate demise and the current state of Afghanistan, a full-fledged Narco State, is largely a reflection of his demented mind and spirit. Repudiate your father, Mika, for the filth he was. He was a demon even worse than the demons that are the Taliban. He birthed this Golem.

  7. Mary Bennett

    The Afghans will get the government they want just as we in the USA have the government we want.

    The truth is we, most of us, like a corrupt government just as we like a corrupt workplace. Living our lives with integrity, in a straight forward and honest manner, lying to no one, helping where we can and minding our own business otherwise, being committed to good work…these things are boring. These things are for losers. Making and building with integrity takes too long. Profit margins are too small. People sneer and laugh at you. This is as true of the soi-dissant “patriotic” right as it is of the internationalist left. Both factions expect to rule through elaborate and secret networks of clientage and influence, and both expect to be able to rely on someone else doing the essential work.

    The most revolutionary things any American can do right now is stop lying–just don’t, no matter who asks you to please don’t make us look bad,–do good work, no matter what the supervisor says, and spend no money you don’t have to spend.

  8. StewartM

    My take:

    1) One, a part of the tragedy of Afghans who cooperated with the US not being able to get out is our insistence (it’s been hinted it originates from Homeland Security) that they have all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed on their paperwork to get approved.

    On a recent morning, a glass-fronted office in a shopping mall was filled with anxious Afghan men clutching paperwork and waiting for their names to be called. The walls were adorned with signs promising “US immigration visa” and “SIV”—the abbreviation for the Special Immigrant Visa, which military translators and other U.S. Armed Forces employees can apply for. “I have to get an H.R. letter plus a recommendation letter from the supervisor that I work with,” one young man told me, in broken English. “But due to evacuation of Americans and due to leave of your supervisor to U.S.A. or any other places, you can’t reach them.” The young man, who asked not to be named, said that he had been frantically searching Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram for the contact information of the U.S. military officers who supervised him. He said that he was denied a visa in 2019, after almost three years of waiting, because his supervisor never responded to e-mails from American officials asking him to confirm the authenticity of a recommendation letter. “They didn’t answer,” the young man said. In the end, he told me, he was forced to find another American former military supervisor and start over again. Even now, he said, he is working for the U.S. Embassy as an interpreter, but staffers there offer no help in getting through the bewildering application process.

    This reminds me of a deceased friend, who was having a heart attack and was stuck with his wife trying to fill out insurance forms to get treatment at one of our local hospitals. Luckily for him, a doctor chanced by, recognized that his symptoms fit a heart attack and yelled at the staff to “Screw the paperwork, get that man into the ER *NOW!*). There has not been the sense of urgency to treat this like the emergency it is for these people.

    2) The reason why, I think, the Afghan military collapsed so suddenly is that once again, we built a mirror image of *our* “be all you can be” military, instead of building one more in keeping with Afghanistan’s human and resource infrastructure.

    3) The ultimate error in Afghanistan dates back to Carter, and even more Reagan, who thought that anything justified the destruction of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, which had a fair base of public support within the country (after all, it outlasted the fall of the USSR). If the DRA had survived, if we had not rushed in weapons to arm and train some of the worst elements of Afghan society, then I think Afghanistan would be in a much better place today.

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  10. Hugh

    What I wonder is what did everyone think was going to happen when we left Afghanistan? There seems to be a lot of wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth but what had objectively changed in a positive direction there anytime in the last ten years? What I see is a lot of Biden bashing by both conservatives and liberals for what was a rare display of common sense on his part. I see a lot of talk too about how all this was a big intelligence failure. But c’mon, man, it was blatantly, flagrantly, in your face obvious what was going to happen. The timetable of the collapse might have been off by a couple of weeks, but you’d have to be on drugs not to see it coming.

    I suppose I should expect a lot of ducking of responsibility and blame shifting, but still…
    all the who lost, Biden lost Afghanistan yawling seems ridiculous to me. And if we are going to talk responsibility, wouldn’t it be more to the point to ask who kept us in this idiot war for twenty years?

  11. different clue

    That American liberals want the forever war to last forever should not surprise anyone.
    They are trying to uphold the legacy of America’s most evil 20th Century President, the Racist Imperialist antiGermanitic Woodrow Wilson.

  12. different clue

    Yankee come home.

  13. Plague Species

    Even now, he said, he is working for the U.S. Embassy as an interpreter, but staffers there offer no help in getting through the bewildering application process.

    Too bad Shayna Steinger no longer works with the State Department and is assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. She would just rubber stamp these like she did for 12 of the 19 hijackers. Shayna cared not about crossed t’s and dotted i’s.

    Two consular officers at the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Shayna Steinger and David El Hinn, argue over the eligibility of Saudi citizens for US visas. The consulate had instituted a policy of aggressively interviewing young Saudi males in the wake of the 1998 East African embassy bombings due to terrorism concerns (see (Late August-September 1998)). When El Hinn arrives in Jeddah in August 2000, the consulate is still interviewing a significant percentage of Saudi visa applicants and all first-time students. El Hinn will say that officers are suspicious of Saudi citizens who are from locations where they know extremists live and who have only a vague notion of where they are headed in the United States. In addition, officers at the consulate think that, because of trouble in the Saudi economy, Saudis perhaps should not be getting visas almost automatically. Therefore, El Hinn denies a significant percentage of Saudi visa applicants as well as third-country applicants. Steinger, who works full-time on visas and deals with most of the Saudi applicants, takes a different approach and issues visas to almost all the Saudis who apply for one. Despite the obvious terrorism concerns that had previously been known to US officials in Jeddah, Steinger will say that she is “never really afraid of Saudis” and never makes the connection between the known presence of al-Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia and the possibility that the Saudis applying for visas are terrorists. Steinger believes that El Hinn is denying Saudis visas for what she will call “the wrong reasons,” and the two clash over this. El Hinn is even rebuked by the consul general in Riyadh for his high refusal rate. Nevertheless, El Hinn does not change his practices. Steinger issues 12 visas to the future 9/11 hijackers (see July 1, 2000). [OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (US DEPARTMENT OF STATE), 1/23/2003; OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (US DEPARTMENT OF STATE), 1/30/2003; 9/11 COMMISSION, 8/21/2004, PP. 125-126 ]

  14. Stirling Newberry

    Let us first admit there will be a great deal of suffering. There will be murder. There will be rape including by the husbands that will line-up to take the prisoners called wives. Let us admitted each and every sin.

    Now, let us admit that we can do nothing because Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will fund the Taliban. We won’t stop the funding. That means the Taliban will recruit the worst people with the slogan: “Wives for you and country for Allah.” The two imperial power will chip in to stop the third. That’s us.

    Lesson: invade, get out, take some with us. We can’t fix what is wrong.

    “Afghanistan is a Russian word. It means Afghanistan.”

  15. Hugh

    Biden on asking why Americans should fight and die for Afghans when the Afghans and the 300,000 man army we built and paid for for them weren’t willing to fight and die for themselves. He also asked why we should seek to continue a war where we have no national interest. Wild, insane talk, I know.

  16. metamars

    all the who lost, Biden lost Afghanistan yawling seems ridiculous to me. And if we are going to talk responsibility, wouldn’t it be more to the point to ask who kept us in this idiot war for twenty years?

    Yeah, I agree with this. Biden is awful, but to hang this all on him is a joke (even if he didn’t have any dementia.)

    Steve Bannon has declared, unequivocally, that the Pentagon was lying to Trump about Afghanistan. Well, I really doubt they could have lied to Trump for 4 years, and not lied to Biden, too. Or does anybody believe that the Pentagon told him they were on a course for such an embarrassing collapse, and Biden (and his handlers) said they were OK with that?

    And if Trump couldn’t figure out, after 3 years, that he was getting lied to, he was part of the problem.

    This is not just an inevitable failure of empire, but an avoidable failure of staging a military retreat. (Well, Bannon is blaming an intelligence failure, but that would just put more of the blame on the IC, taking it from both the DoD and Biden.)

    Another thought: the IC and Pentagon saw this coming, but wanted to blame it on Biden, since their preference is to stay there, forever. So, they kept Biden in the dark, basically to strike a blow in favor of their ‘philosophy’ of empire.

    Recall that Obama and Kerry had negotiated an agreement with Russia, that the Pentagon promptly blew up by attacking Deir Ezzor(?) Obama should have thrown a fit, and fired somebody, to protect the office of the President’s constitutional authority.

    Alas, it looks like the DoD and the IC are 4th and 5th branches of government.

  17. Plague Species

    Biden is right with those questions, but where were those questions 20 years ago when he was a cheerleader for Bush’s invasion and occupation of Afghanistan? He must admit he was wrong to support Bush 20 years ago to the emphatic extent he did.

    What I don’t like about Biden’s response is that it leaves the door open for other invasions and occupations of other countries — invasions where he and the military will claim the countries’ inhabitants DO want to fight and die for their respective countries and America does have a strategic national interest in the conflict.

    Consequently, Biden, then deemed by the New Republic as the Democratic Party’s “de facto spokesman on the war against terrorism,” quickly became a close ally of the Bush administration in its prosecution of that war. The White House installed a special secure phone line to Biden’s home, and he and three other members of Congress met privately with Bush in October 2001 to come up with a positive public relations message for the war in Afghanistan.

  18. Listening to “the Five”, it was stated that both the Pentagon and the IC leaked that they were pushing Biden to do a massive airlift, from a few weeks ago, and he refused.

    If that’s so, I got it 100% backwards. And this argues that Biden’s dementia is the ‘guiding light’ of behind this debacle. Either that, or he’s unusually incompetent.

  19. Stirling Newberry

    This is not Empire. Japan is a part of our Empire. Columbia is part of our Empire.

    Afghanistan is someplace we need things from. We go in, get them, and get out.

    The first part of Empire is: know where it stops.

  20. bruce wilder

    For more than a decade, there was so little interest in Afghanistan in the U.S. that there were few to no profiles of the American military leaders or the Afghan puppets or even the happy occupied in the Media.

    I remember vividly the Paul Bremer, viceroy of Iraq, profiled by Frontline years ago.— the ideological empty-headedness of the Bush Administration was breathtaking in its depth.There were several journalistic books written detailing how incompetently the reconstruction of Iraq was conducted; I can only imagine Afghanistan was worse. If, after 20 years and a trillion dollars, the state was a hollow reed dried in a drought-striken marsh, that seems the responsibility of the U.S.

    I had slight acquaintance 20 years ago with some connected to the Afghanistan diaspora and I remember how hopeful they were, with plans to return and help rebuild the country. Not objectively realistic, perhaps, given the poverty of the place, including the paucity of natural resources, and the absurd overpopulation. Still there was faith in American competence and intention. Misplaced, obviously.

    I think most Americans believe in our own mythos of competence and benign intention, and are also unwilling to contemplate treating the “professionals” who regularly prove themselves to be idiots with scorn, let alone demand prosecution for more egregious misbehavior, gross or petty. But, maybe most Americans are themselves idiots, unable as well as unwilling to exercise intelligence or imagination enough to even superficially review the probable consequences and implications of forever war for a very poor country. Are we all Paul Bremer now, lost in our own ignorance and self-flattering belief that we know best and are doing good by unleashing drones or “free markets” or other weapons of mass destruction willy nilly?

  21. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder

    Somewhere in one of his novels, Kurt Vonnegut wrote a chapter about a certain type of deeply provincial well-intended American who earnestly seeks to do good in a place where he/she has no possible good to do and no possible benefit to offer.

    The chapter was called . . . ” Bicycles for Afghanistan”.

  22. Hugh

    All the guys who gave us twenty years of failed Afghanistan policy are coming out of the woodwork as Afghanistan experts. They’re all explaining how everything was better and going forward back when they were running things. With all that progress, it’s a little mystifying how everything went to hell so fast. But as these are all CYA exercises, I suppose that’s to be expected. As bruce says, as in Iraq, Afghanistan was a case where ignorance and incompetence were the core foundations of US policy. And of course, it wasn’t just us. Look at corrupt goofs like Hamid Karzai who was our man in Kabul from 2001-2014. I mean if you wanted to ensure failure, he and his cronies were definitely the way to go. Afghanistan was just this idea, a delusion we had, that faded away before we are out the door.

  23. Ché Pasa

    I remember interviewing a National Guard member back in 2005 or 2006 after their deployment to Iraq and return to the USofA. I asked if they had any idea where they were going and whether they had any instruction about the history of the place, ancient and modern. The answer was no. Where were they assigned? Just outside Baghdad. Was it near Babylon? They thought so but weren’t sure. Did they know anything about ancient Babylon or Mesopotamia? No. Were they taught the local language? No. What is the local language? Is it Arabic? They guessed so. They never spoke to an Iraqi. Did they see Iraqis? Yes. Sometimes they wished they hadn’t. What happened? They witnessed… atrocities. Committed by Iraqis? No. Americans. What happened? One time they were transiting from one site to another in armored vehicles. They encountered a traffic jam and they didn’t stop. They just drove their armored vehicles over the civilian cars blocking the road. Many civilians killed and injured. They were in the way. Other civilians saw what was happening and abandoned their cars just in time. Children were crushed. Whole families died in their cars. Another time, they were in a convoy and heard what they thought was gunfire. Their lead vehicle’s gunner started shooting civilians, several fell wounded or dead. Later they found out that the “gunfire” they’d heard was a vehicle in the convoy backfiring. There were other atrocities… The NG member I was interviewing said, “It was like the Iraqis weren’t even people to our eyes. They had no language, no religion, no soul. They were just objects.”

    I haven’t interviewed anyone who was in Afghanistan, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the situation between Americans/NATO troops and the savages — or objects — living and dying in Afghanistan was pretty much the same.

  24. Lex

    It was always going to come to this. That was clear in late 2001, not because history says so or Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires but because the US was never going to win a counter-insurgency. Not one that ran for two years or twenty. We don’t have the patience or way of thinking to address an insurgency, regardless of where it is. But Blinken’s right. It isn’t Saigon, it’s way worse. Saigon was a stinging black eye for the world’s most powerful nation. Kabul will mark the end of the empire in the history books, because they need an event. All empires die from self-inflicted wounds. This one won’t be any different.

  25. Hugh

    Lex, we write off countries and wars the way people throw away old socks.

  26. bruce wilder

    Matthew Yglesias:

    The idea . . . — that the Blob can never fail, only be failed by a recalcitrant public that deserves to be constantly lied to and manipulated — is the central idea of American foreign policy.

    That’s it. Manipulation is power and lies manipulate, while truth in full does not, so those who value power above any ends to which power might be applied, have little practical use for the appreciation of reality.

    It isn’t necessary to do good or have any effect at all, really, as the lie about your intention is enough. I do not know how many times the “solution” offered by our military will be to “train security forces” to “stand up on their own” so Americans (so needed otherwise) can go home in some hopeful tomorrow.

    I particularly love the opinionators who are sure the whole thing was hopeless, futile, impossible, because of the way the Afghans were — illiterate, perhaps, tribal, obdurate, corrupt. The students have to have been impossible to teach, never that the teachers were lazy fools and corrupt, incompetent liars.

  27. Thomas B Golladay

    Those unable to parse this, Boeing-Vertol CH-46D Serial 2389 Register N38TU 154038 evacuated the Saigon Embassy and after several hand changes, ended its career in the State Department by evacuating the Kabul Embassy.

    Due to the chaos at Kabul Airport, this chopper will fall into the hands of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

    A final bookend to futile wars.

  28. Plague Species

    Come on, bruce, take the next step and say what you believe, that the Taliban of today is not the Taliban of yesterday, that the Taliban has evolved and now they are a band of educated sophisticates perfectly capable of leading Afghanistan into the 22nd century. This is the latest from the insane commentary at Naked Capitalism. It smells Russian to me.

    When is Biden going to bomb Saudi Arabia and drone strike its leadership back to the Stone Age? Saudi Arabia funds the Taliban. So does Pakistan. So does Iran. So do ALL of the Gulf States. In this sense, the Taliban is as much their Golem as it is America’s Golem, or I should say was America’s Golem. It’s their neck of the woods, and now they have their Golem. I can’t wait to see what comes of it now that Biden has rightly extracted America from the equation.

    Don’t forget Russia. They have been supporting the Taliban too and China wants the Afghanistan mining operations connected to their Belt & Road initiative. If terrorist activity is directed at America that emanates from Afghanistan, I submit it is those who fund and support the Taliban who should be attacked in retaliation, not Afghanistan. Nothing can happen without funding and weapons. Those providing the funding and weapons for attacks against America are the enemy. So, if there is a terrorist attack that originates in Afghanistan, America should bomb Saudi Arabia back to the Stone Age. Same goes for Iran. Same goes for Pakistan. Same goes for Russia. All of them are scum and cowardly scum at that. Attacking and undermining a withdrawal. What a bunch of cowards. They would never fight fair and square.

  29. Ché Pasa

    Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp bans the Taliban and any praiseful mention of them.

    We should be grateful, right?

    Meanwhile, it seems the new rulers of Afghanistan (actually, they already held much of the country long before their dramatic takeover of the whole) are still behaving with surprising reticence and modesty. A new Taliban? Or older and wiser and generally better advised?

    Of course, not to make light of the fears of many, the Khmer Rouge were seen through rosy tinted lenses at first, too, and we know how that worked out.

  30. Plague Species

    Wow, Ché Pasa, you’re really something. One of the few reporters in Kabul who dared to venture into the streets noted there are NO WOMEN outside. They are all hiding indoors. Sure, that’s indicative of a new Taliban showing surprising reticence and modesty. An older and wiser Taliban that’s generally better advised. Or perhaps it’s a population that is scared to death of the Taliban and is incapable of providing any resistance whatsoever to these gangster thugs. I’m going with the latter. What the population isn’t doing, is greeting the Taliban with red carpets and roses thrown at their feet. Capitulation by a terrorized population shouldn’t be construed as Taliban reticence and modesty. That is a cold and callous insult to those who are understandably cowed by these bully thugs.

  31. Plague Species

    To all the sickos pretending the Taliban is evolved and are now wiser and better advised and showing amazing reticence and modesty, there’s this. I know, it must be Fake News, right? Because it disconfirms your embracing of any monsters who oppose the monstrous America and monstrous Americans.

    Najia was at home with her three young sons and daughter in a small village in northern Afghanistan when Taliban fighters knocked on their door.

    Najia’s daughter Manizha, 25, knew they were coming — her mother had told her they’d done the same thing the previous three days, demanding that she cook food for up to 15 fighters.

    “My mother told them, ‘I am poor, how can I cook for you?'” said Manizha. “(The Taliban) started beating her. My mother collapsed and they hit her with their guns — AK47s.”
    Manizha said she yelled at the fighters to stop. They paused for a moment before throwing a grenade into the next room and fleeing as the flames spread, she said. The mother-of-four died from the beating.

    The deadly July 12 attack on Najia’s home in Faryab province was a chilling preview of the threat now facing women across Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover of the capital Kabul. CNN is using aliases for Najia and Manizha to protect their identity for safety reasons.

  32. Ché Pasa

    There’s a Standard Narrative that Afghanistan fell to the Taliban because the Afghan security forces who were stood up and trained and funded by the United States for decades failed to fight for their country. There’s a counter narrative that says the situation is more complicated than that. There is a counter narrative that says the civilian leadership in the provinces and ultimately in Kabul negotiated the handover of power to the Taliban and withdrew. There was essentially no fighting to be done; the Taliban did not engage in a military takeover of Afghanistan. The Taliban takeover was negotiated and agreed-to by the various leaders involved.

    The counter narrative which is beginning a long march forward — and should be deeply troubling to the forever-warriors — is that the vast majority of women in Afghanistan feel safer under Taliban authority than they ever did under US and NATO bombings and wet work by mercenaries. The Taliban in many cases are family members out to protect their families — women included — from the constant bombing, assassinations, kidnappings, and night raids of the Americans, NATO and so-called “government” installed by the Americans.

    The counter-narrative is that the Taliban and the US/NATO forces have agreed not to attack one another during the evacuation. The counter-narrative is that women and ethnic minorities (not to forget them, after all) will continue to enjoy most of the rights had under the previous reign, without the terror of being bombed and droned and raided by the forces who had granted them their “liberties.”

    3/4th of the population of Afghanistan is rural and very conservative. Taliban rule is in many ways a comfort compared to the American-sponsored rule of rapacious and corrupt warlords. Taliban version of Islamic rule is not much different than that of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni gulf states, strict and severe, brutal, and oppressive to women.

    The Taliban are poorer, not necessarily worse than their Sunni cousins in the Gulf.

    Are they committing massacres like the US allied warlords did? Do they send their drones to turn random white-clad men standing by the road into pink mist as the US did in its Hunt for bin Laden?

    Will there be peace in Afghanistan once the current panic is over? That’s what they say they want. We’ll see if it happens. I have no great faith that this phase of history in Afghanistan will turn out well. Too many factors lead me to believe otherwise.

    At the same time, much of the forever-warrior hysteria over it is absurd.

  33. Plague Species

    Here’s some bravery. No, this isn’t cowardice. The Taliban is positively giddy in this video. They’re about to execute a defenseless comedian who dared to irreverently poke fun at them. The comedian is brave. He is not a coward.

    #Kandahar: Video of martyred Nazar Mohammad, the famous Kandahari comedian, has been circulating on social media showing the moments when the Taliban took him away from his home and eventually martyred him. #Afghanistan

  34. Feral Finster

    *IF* (and this is a big “if”) the Taliban presser today is anything to go by, they’re already a lot more tolerant than the Saudis.

  35. bruce wilder

    CNN, well-known conduit for speaking Power’s Truth to those who must suffer.

    Thanks to PS for discrediting dyspepsia as a politics.

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