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

What I Wrote April 9th About Afghanistan

Because sometimes it is important to say you said it.

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.

Nobody gets everything right (I’m bad on elections, in particular), but there are reasons its worth reading me: I spend a lot of time thinking about stuff like this, and I’ve spent decades working on my models of the world so that I’m more likely to get stuff like this right.

Contrary to what I’m seeing that “no one could have predicted,” this was easily predicted. It was obvious.

Nor was I the only one. Two others.

June 21st: Moon of Alabama.

May 11th, The Saker.

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




A Few Words About the Taliban


Once More About Sending Your Kids Back to School


  1. StewartM

    As I suspected, here is a post that contends a big reason the Afghan army collapsed was that it was built, like ARVN, needing a US-style logistical tail:

    President Biden’s top advisers say they were stunned by the rapid collapse of the Afghan army in the face of an aggressive, well-planned offensive by the Taliban, that now threatens Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital (NYT).

    Well-planned? Stunned? Really?

    The non-uniformed guys on the back of pick-up trucks, taken from the Afghan Army, armed with AK-47s, or maybe even a rocket attachment to their rifle?

    Did you notice the Talibans do not have radios? Ho do they do it without communications: Auftragstaktik!

    Stunned after the lessons dished out by ISIS 7 years ago, when ISIS was staging non-centrally planned attacks on daily targets of opportunity, and routing the American educated and armed Iraqi Army?

    Their non-planning was based on giving individual small groups and their leaders complete freedom of action, (Auftragstaktik). The people in the cubicles in Washington and Army bases and elsewhere, the military paper pushers, US so-called ”military thinkers”, did not apply the lesson to Afghanistan. They kept on building Afghanistan Security in Americas image: air power. Many of the US position papers re: Afghanistan are truly hilarious. Full of big words about the art of warfare and the like.

    For 20 years, the Afghan Security Forces (ASF) have been made depending on US-high-tech warfare, on 18,000 air force contractors, when it was clear that the fight would be decided by AK-47 and Motor-Cycles, maybe even pick-up trucks, and on village based psychological warfare in the name of Allah! And the US excluding the Pashtuns and their hereditary War Lords, maximizing stupidity!

    The ASF’s fighting prowess was based on air power, sustained by those 18,000 contractors, now reduced to a 200, which are supposed to allow the ASF the use that air power. Two hundred, wow! I wonder how many rounds of ordinary ammunition has AFS shot in the last 5 years?

    As someone who has a friend in a neighboring Muslim country, I think it’s a mistake to think that the Taliban represents some “will of the people”. You are correct in that exposure to US military power taught the Taliban greater competence in fighting due similar to the way that exposure to incompetently administered antibiotics breeds antibiotic resistance. But ordinary people there aren’t religious zealots and don’t share the zeal of the likes of the Taliban any more than the US Christian Right represents most Americans.

    (For all the world the US’s experience in the post-USSR collapse world reminds me of what happened to Sparta after it defeated Athens in the Peloponnesian war; Sparta had previously enjoyed power based more on the reputation of its army than its actual usage, and being thrust into a leadership role meant it began to intervene militarily more and more often. This gave its opponents a chance to learn lessons on how to beat its renowned armry. Likewise, our Bush-Cheney policy of never-ending war just means that we’ve given potential enemies a chance to learn “this is how you defeat the US”, if Vietnam hadn’t driven the point home decades earlier.

    And yes, this was a Cheney policy, as the way that Afghanistan-Iraq played out was Cheney’s response to what *he* thought went wrong in Vietnam. Instead of giving up wars for United Fruit and Exxon, Cheney thought what needed to be done in Vietnam was to control the press coverage of the war more, have no draftee army and use the fewest “boots on the ground” possible, employee high-tech warfare with the fewest body bags coming home, and suppress dissent at home).

  2. Plague Species

    StewartM, the Imperialists thank you for your cogent instructive feedback as to what they did wrong in Afghanistan and will make sure to take your analysis into account when they invade and occupy the next nation. We all want the same thing here— new and improved invasions and occupations with the hope that one day we’ll get it right.

  3. Ché Pasa

    So my question is, what’s the point of being correct if nothing ever changes for the better?

  4. Willy

    The Taliban pretty much followed the trail of laid-down American made weapons straight into Kabul, which was helpful, in case they’d forgotten how to get there.

    If the Americans were competent, they’d interrogate a few Afghan soldiers and get to the bottom of all that behavior. If they were competent that is.

  5. Hugh

    Ché Pasa, you fight for what you believe, and even if you lose, which we on the left are too familiar with, you bear witness to what happened.

    Our powers that be will still use their standard hoocoodanode defense when the disasters resulting from their choices become too big even for them to ignore. Our bearing witness undercuts that although it isn’t principally about making them wrong –they did that for themselves– it’s about establishing a record, that we stood for something, and where we stood.

  6. Plague Species

    Jesus, not Moon of Alabama and The Saker. I’m all for bearing witness and setting the record straight and saying what needs to be said for posterity if nothing else, but I refuse to align with boobs like that in the process.

    Regardless of the Shit Show the withdrawal is, those two dirtbags need to commend Biden for doing what the last three presidents would not do, and that’s fall on the boondoggle sword that is Afghanistan.

  7. Kurt Frederick ZUMDIECK

    We are a country of winners. And we hate losers, as Trump so famously sneered. That’s what this whole kerfluffle is about – the ugly end of losing, the agony of defeat. Americans cant stand the prospect so we change the subject – to a new competition, a new war.

    As coaches shout to their players on the court now all the time after a terrible result – “Next Play!”

    So what is the “next play!” ? NOBODY has mentioned Iraq.

    When will that shoe drop? All the same withdrawal noises have been coming out of Washington since the Trump times that led up to our exit from Afghanistan. Why not there, and soon?

    If Biden had the same informed position on Afghanistan in 2009 as reported, then what does he think of the shit-show in Iraq?

    Clearly the generational strategy of surrounding Iran is being refuted at the highest levels and our futherance of the ANGLO-american empire is coming to an end.

  8. StewartM

    We all want the same thing here— new and improved invasions and occupations with the hope that one day we’ll get it right

    Just saying, Plague Species, is that what people like Dick Cheney “learned” from Vietnam was *NOT* “don’t try this again”. It was “try it again BETTER”. Like Cheney put in a ban on photographing coffins returning from our Middle East wars under his tutelage:

    The ban was imposed during the Persian Gulf War by President George H.W. Bush, who — along with then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney — became convinced that if Americans saw photos and television footage of the caskets of dead servicemen and servicewomen being unloaded at Dover, it would undermine support for the war. In part, this was a reflection of the aversion to openness and the antipathy toward the media that seem imprinted on the Bush/Cheney DNA.

    In larger measure, though, it was a distortion of one of the so-called lessons of Vietnam. Yes, there’s a line of conventional wisdom that says media coverage of the war in Southeast Asia, particularly television, fatally undercut public support for the war. According to that version of events, nightly network news footage of coffins rolling down conveyor belts from Air Force planes at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii pushed popular approval of the war into the basement.

    If you’re familiar with HItler’s “Dolchstoß” notions after WWI (Germany really had “won” WWI until the Jews and Socialists and whatnot stabbed Germany in the back) , the Vietnam War drew from the US right a similar response. They contended that US really “won” Vietnam, until the hippies and Jane Fonda and the TV media and weak-kneed liberals and whatnot had us pulling out and throwing in the towels right after our decisive victory of Tet. I remember when PBS put out “Vietnam: A TV History” which drove them to apoplexy despite it being fairly even-handed in its approach by most observers (Reed Irvine of AIM put out a rebuttal hosted by Charlton Heston).

    So a quarter-century later, Cheney and crew had their opportunity to ‘Do Vietnam Right’. But instead of ten years, it’s twenty years later with the same conclusion.

    The other point I was trying to imply is that in political affairs, like in our personal lives, the guys who are competent at winning by force aren’t necessarily the good guys. The guys who are losing and/or are incompetent at war aren’t necessarily the bad. In fact, as the columnist Sydney Harris used to say about ‘peace through strength’ propaganda, being strong and competent at using force is most likely to make you choose the use of force as your first, rather than your last, option.

  9. Soredemos

    While quite a few people did predict a Taliban victory, as far as I can tell no one predicted anything close to how rapid it actually was. The Afghan state was as empty a puppet state as has ever existed. Yeah we knew it was hollow and basically just existed to grift, but no one expected it to be gone in less than two weeks.

  10. Feral Finster

    With all due respect, the immediate collapse of the Kabul puppet regime was blindingly obvious. The Afghanistan Papers merely confirmed what anyone even sort of paying attention already knew.

    What I find fascinating are the elites insisting that they didn’t know and had no way of knowing what a feral cat who has never been to Afghanistan on a single junket or “fact-finding mission” (lol) knew for ten years now. These are well-spoken, highly credentialed people, people paid large sums of money and given an inordinate amount of respect in the social hierarchy because of their supposed expertise, and by their own words, they were caught flatfooted, blindsided, beclowned by events that a tabbycat could see coming.

    Is the groupthink and reality denial field really that strong in them? Are they really that clueless and incompetent?

    These people apparently just do not live in the real world.

  11. Hairhead

    It’s a little bit OT for this thread, but I just wanted to post a quote which proves that there are some Americans who perceive the current multiple messes just the way that Ian does.

    From atrios (Duncan Black) posted today:

    I don’t really know what to say about the Texas governor – tripled vaxxed, daily tests, elite access treatment – that isn’t obvious. I suppose I’ll focus on the press, as I do, which fails to inform people that many of the people in the upper reaches of power in this country are absolutely psychopaths, hate you, and are lying to you constantly about everything.

  12. Hugh

    Again, the go-to experts on Afghanistan in the media, among our politicians and officeholders, at the Pentagon, State Department, intelligence agencies, think tanks, and universities are precisely the same people who pursued and justified failed policies over and over and over again toward Afghanistan for the last twenty to forty years. So when they say they, or some subset of them, or no one foresaw or could have foreseen what happened in Afghanistan, we need to remember who is saying this and the CYA involved in their saying it.

  13. Mark Pontin

    Feral Finster: ‘What I find fascinating are the elites insisting that they didn’t know.’

    It’s not that fascinating. Just standard elites’ denial of responsibility, because if they admit they knew, they’d have to admit they were incompetent, self-serving, corrupt, unfit to be elites . Same kind of ridiculous denial as with Hillary and the Dems after 2016 — it was the Russians, it was anybody else but us.

    In this case, to be clear, the elites are barefacedly lying. The intelligence services(NSA, DIA) told them that Afghanistan was ready to fall exactly as it did months ago, at least. Here’s how we can be certain of that….

    We’ve seen plenty of Taliban fighters using cellphones. That means cell-towers providing coverage to much of Afghanistan’s interior and fiberoptic networks with switching stations feeding these cell towers.
    So I looked up the general infrastructure situation —
    “The Afghan government signed a $64.5 million agreement in 2006 with China’s ZTE on the establishment of a countrywide optical fiber cable network. The project began to improve telephone, internet, television and radio broadcast services throughout Afghanistan. About 90% of the country’s population had access to communication services in 2014.

    “Afghanistan uses its own space satellite called Afghansat 1. There are about 18 million mobile phone users in the country. Telecom companies include Afghan Telecom, Afghan Wireless, Etisalat, MTN, Roshan, Salaam. 20% of the population have access to the internet.”

    So, most people imagine that internet and voice telephony are different technologies and separate things. That’s a historical cultural artifact that hasn’t been true for about thirty years. Voice telephony, streaming video, internet, and whatever gets digitized and all travels in internet packet mode as photons over fiberoptic cable for 99 percent of the way. It’s all one thing — one global fiberoptic grid — though how it travels the last mile (cell towers, copper wire) and what particular device you receive it on (cellphone, laptop, set-top box) will vary.

    I then wondered if the US was or wasn’t making use of NSA capability to mirror signals (literally mirror; the signals are photons) at switching stations in that network to beat the Taliban as the US did in Iraq in 2004-2008 against the insurgency. The next morning this email report came from Glenn Greenwald —

    The U.S. Government Lied For Two Decades About Afghanistan

    In part …
    ‘A significant portion of the archive provided to me by Edward Snowden detailed the extensive surveillance the NSA had imposed on all of Afghanistan … we never published most of those documents about U.S. surveillance in Afghanistan ….

    ‘…the NSA had developed the capacity, under the codenamed SOMALGET, that empowered them to be “secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation” in at least five countries …. Though we published the names of four countries in which the program had been implemented, we withheld, after extensive internal debate … the identity of the fifth — Afghanistan — because the NSA had convinced some editors that publishing it would enable the Taliban to know where the program was located and it could endanger the lives of the military and private-sector employees working on it….

    ‘There was virtually nothing that could happen in Afghanistan without the U.S. intelligence community’s knowledge. ‘

    So there it is. NSA reports were deliberately ignored by the Washington pols, foreign policy elites, and Pentagon generals.

  14. Mark Pontin

    Also to be clear, re. elites —

    Julian Assange in 2011: “The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war.”

    Assange’s saying that is one reason that he’s locked up now.

  15. Plague Species

    That Assange quote needs to be clarified. It’s too cryptic and vague. What does wash money out of the tax bases of America and Europe mean? I agree the goal was not to win a war. If Assange means wars like Iraq are meant to divert taxpayer money from other more deserved projects versus endless conflicts that enrich the wealthy elite who own the defense contractors, then I agree.

  16. someofparts

    Considering everything I’ve learned in this thread, I am surprised that Biden was willing to withdraw from Afghanistan at all.

  17. different clue

    I once saw a funny The Simpsons clip about lies and lying. If I could find it, I would bring it here. But I can’t , so all I can do is describe it.

    Lisa complains to Homer about somebody lying about something. Homer puts his fatherly understanding hand on Lisa’s shoulder and says in his best Fatherly Voice of Understanding . . . ” Lisa, it takes two people to lie. One to lie, and one to listen.”

  18. Mark Pontin

    PS: ‘If Assange means wars like Iraq are meant to divert taxpayer money from other more deserved projects versus endless conflicts that enrich the wealthy elite who own the defense contractors, then I agree.’

    Then you agree with Assange on Afghanistan — that’s all he’s saying.

    Conversely, the Iraq invasion had a whole slew of very real geopolitical motives behind it, besides money-making. Many of them were bad motives, some were stupid, and in the end very few of them were achieved — not least because all the potential for certain players to enrich themselves and all those crates full of newly-printed C-notes unloaded out of C-130 transport planes had a far stronger effect in the end. But there were real strategic motives behind Iraq.

  19. Hugh

    “The U.S. Government Lied For Two Decades About Afghanistan”


    “Glenn Greenwald Lied For Eight Years About Afghanistan””

    Thanks, Glenn.

  20. Hugh

    different clue, your Simpsons quote is from “Colonel Simpson” Season 3 Episode 20 from 1992. It’s Marge, not Lisa.

    Marge : [about Lurleen] I thought you said she was overweight.

    Homer : Marge, it takes two to lie: one to lie and one to listen.

  21. different clue


    Thank you for the referrence. Now I know it was said.

    My memory may be playing tricks on me, because in my mind I know Homer was saying it to Lisa. What that means is either that my brain has re-engineered the memory or . . . the Simpsons crew liked that line so much they had Homer say it to Lisa on another occasion.

    If there is no evidence of a ” with Lisa not Marge” version, then my memory is playing tricks.

  22. different clue


    Perhaps Biden realizes he is old and will die soon and wants a legacy in history.

    Perhaps he is aware of the searing contempt and loathing which the name “Obama” will carry in the fullness of time, and he wants for his name something better.

  23. Synoptocon

    The Taliban is not the natural ruling party of Afghanistan. The natural ruling party is whatever sizeable Pashtun faction is currently backed by Pakistan.

  24. DMC

    “The natural ruling party is whatever sizeable Pashtun faction is currently backed by Pakistan.” That would still be the Taliban, backed by the ISI(Pakistani Security Agency) from the beginning. Karzai and Co. favored India over Pakistan. The Great Game continues, but the roster of players changes.

  25. Mark Pontin

    ‘The Great Game continues, but the roster of players changes.’

    Indeed. China installing the country’s fiberoptic infrastructure back in 2006 was a slick move. Nicely played, China.

    ‘Last month, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed a high-profile delegation of Taliban officials to meet in the Chinese city of Tianjin. Mr Wang stood shoulder to shoulder with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of the Afghan Taliban, against the same backdrop where American officials were hosted only days earlier. ‘

    So it goes.

    Lord Palmerston, 1848: ‘We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.’

  26. Synoptocon

    The point would be that’s the Taliban today. It wasn’t yesterday* and might conceivably not be tomorrow.

    *For values of yesterday in excess of the typical western span of interest.

  27. Joan

    @Kurt, regarding Biden’s position on pulling out of Iraq

    On the Wikipedia page “Withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq (2020-2021)” there is a quote “In July 2021, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021.” The source is apparently CNN.

    I do not follow US news very closely, so I missed whatever statement or speech this is. Obviously with sources like Wikipedia and CNN I tend to use a brick of salt, and in terms of retreating from empire, I tend to adopt the view of “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

    We’ll see, but I hope it turns out to be true. It would be good to be out of Iraq and the Middle East in general (and also to scale down our military bases worldwide, we have like 800 or some absurd number). Obviously I hope it can be done without a Fall of Saigon incident, but I do hope we pull out.

  28. JK

    You may be interested in this book:
    Empire’s Ally: Canada and the War in Afghanistan (University of Toronto Press).
    It essentially predicts the collapse of the neocolonial puppet state.

  29. Stirling Newberry

    They can take it. But the jury is still out on whether they can run it.

  30. Jason

    From the book “Empire’s Ally: Canada and the War in Afghanistan” referenced by JK:

    “The war in Afghanistan has been a major policy commitment and central undertaking of the Canadian state since 2001: Canada has been a leading force in the war, and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on aid and reconstruction.

    After a decade of conflict, however, there is considerable debate about the efficacy of the mission, as well as calls to reassess Canada’s role in the conflict. An authoritative and strongly analytical work, Empire’s Ally provides a much-needed critical investigation into one of the most polarizing events of our time.”

    So Canada is no different than the United States in this regard. Yet a whole lot of Canadians love to go on and on and on about the United States rather than focus on their own country. They are following the path of least resistance, while simultaneously shaming USians who they feel do same.

    The retort to this is something along the lines of, “Look, we’re stuck under the thumb of the “international order” as it is thrust on us by the United States. Until the United States changes, nothing will change, so we focus our attention on where the change needs to happen.”


    The United States can’t pull every country along willy-nilly if there were enough popular resistance within the respective countries to humiliate and out their own pols who attempt to toe the Israel/U.S. line.

    Canadians aren’t any better at this than USians. They are de facto USians when it comes to foreign neoconservative – and, increasingly their own domestic neoliberal policies.

    This is the case whether they care to admit it or not. The increasing amount of verbiage directed at the population of the U.S. – in the absence of any serious self-criticism – indicates they will continue to bury their own heads in the sand rather than do anything to help themselves.

    Once again:

    The war in Afghanistan has been a major policy commitment and central undertaking of the Canadian state since 2001: Canada has been a leading force in the war, and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on aid and reconstruction.

    Damn Yankees.

  31. Hugh

    Iraq is a permanently failing state. It is so deeply corrupt that it can’t provide basic services like water even to many of the majority Shia. It is why many Iraqi troops simply ran from ISIS.

    American combat troops were withdrawn under Obama (following Bush’s timetable). The corrupt Iraqi government wanted them out for political reasons. I think a few remained rechristened as “trainers.” A few years later, still under Obama, with the rise of ISIS and the collapse of the Iraqi army, Iraq wanted US troops back in. After the defeat of ISIS, they again wanted US troops back out, again for political reasons. And again a few remained as “trainers.”

    The main difference between Iraq and Afghanistan is oil. Oil means Iraq could afford a barely functioning state after the US invasion. Of course, if Iraq had had no oil, we would never have invaded the place.

  32. Stirling Newberry

    They have other things in Afghanistan.

  33. Ché Pasa

    Hoocoodanode, right? Bullshit.

    They’ve known for years, but they didn’t know what to do about it, or if they did, they weren’t able or willing to do it.

    This is a 140 page pdf report issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction dated August 16, 2021 — during the Fall of Kabul:

    It’s all laid out, chapter and verse, what was wrong, what went wrong, and implicitly why the end result is what it is.

    Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice were hugely wrong and I think evil in this failed enterprise, but every executive team that succeeded them was too. There was no way out except to get out and take the inevitable lumps. Say what you will about Biden, that’s what he’s doing. No, it’s not going well. But the US military is apparently working with the Taliban rulers to keep it going as smoothly as possible under the circumstances.

    Word came from some of the Trump regime survivors that “of course” he wouldn’t have abided by his May 1 date certain for his pull-out. Of course not!

    There are dozens of reports on the ongoing failures in Afghanistan at the Sigar site. Dozens.

    They knew. Of course they knew.

  34. Trinity

    “So my question is, what’s the point of being correct if nothing ever changes for the better?”

    Forecasting skills are needed because nothing will get better.

  35. Plague Species

    Can we please stop calling them “failures.” They are not failures. By referring to them as failures as they do, you are unwittingly lending succor to any other invasions and occupations they may plan in future and of course when that time comes, they will promise there will be no failures and they will get it right. Getting it right is no more invasions and occupations and no more meddling in and attacking other countries without boots on the ground.

    Meanwhile, there’s this. They’re many steps ahead. Keep up or forever be sucking their tail wind.


    I’m bringing this to your attention because this is what is in store for Afghanistan in the months and years ahead. More war in The Land of Endless War and not because the people of Afghanistan want war, but because outsiders want war and Afghanistan has proven to be an excellent Killing Field.

    For further instruction related to these eternal conflicts that now choke the planet with Afghanistan being one of the most prominent and prolonged of them, watch the movie The International. It lays it all out. It reveals the blueprint — the paradigm. It;s depressing because you are left with a sense of dread and hopelessness. The malevolent psychopathy exercised by the wealthy elite of this planet is so pernicious and so pervasive, it’s overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable, but IT IS what ALL OF US are up against and we don’t stand a chance unless ALL OF US know this.

    They create the realities and while we’re studying the current reality — judiciously, as we will — they’ll act again, creating other new realities, which we can study too, and that’s how things have bee sorting out and will continue to sort out. They’re history’s actors … and we, all of us, will be left to just study what they do. Until. That’s the part we have to come together and figure out. The Until.

  36. Hugh

    If you want a paradigm, it is that the US government is no longer competent at pretty much everything. The Pentagon and MIC are the same people who gave us Vietnam then and the wonders of the F-35 now. There are whole commands in the military where everyone made careers and achieved rank by promoting boondoggles and other insanities. These are the people who want us to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan forever. They are the ones who got us to stay in Afghanistan for twenty years, they built up the joke Afghan army, and botched the current evacuation. And it’s not just the military, look at our response to covid.

    What is amazing is that we can do anything, but what we should expect by now is that whatever does get done will be done badly, clumsily, embarrassingly. And somehow I don’t think the rest of the world is all that much better.

  37. Ché Pasa

    “Bomb them with butter.” Remember that? Probably not. But that was the anti-Afghanistan War phrase in 2001. Yours truly was among those calling for No War on Afghanistan, partly because of deep seated anti-war sentiment, but also because there was no conceivable point to it, none of the excuses made sense, the supposed “training camps” were a fiction like so much of the rationale for this and our other many wars, the Taliban rulers said “You can have bin Laden (if you can catch him) just show us proof or anything that shows he did what you say he did.” No proof has ever been forthcoming.

    Bomb them with butter.

    Modified Bomb them with butter.

    Oh the humanity.

  38. Astrid

    Oh the Vogonity!

  39. Astrid

    (Rhetorically asked, since I know why the Blob is freaking out, possibly even actually freaked out). Why do much gnashing of teeth for a relatively peaceful transfer of power and promised of lawful to rule? What’s happening in Afghanistan is probably the best possible outcome of a very messy situation. The lack of fighting and the US’s typically bad behavior means these former enemies might be able to work together and actually rebuild their country.

  40. Ché Pasa

    Well, Vietnam and the US are besties, right?

  41. Mark Pontin

    Astrid: ‘What’s happening in Afghanistan is probably the best possible outcome of a very messy situation.’

    Yes. I have trouble thinking of a better scenario under the circumstances.

    Maybe the US will even start to get the message.

  42. Ian Welsh

    Predictions only help those who pay attention. I have people now talking about Afghan friends stuck in Afghanistan: perhaps some forethought would have been useful there.

    In one sense, of course this was an easy prediction. In another sense, most people didn’t make it. I once had someone write me who had searched high and low to find people who predicted the fin. collapse in advance. He found 43.

    It’s easy to say it was obvious, after.

    But, as I’ve often said, at least half of my intellectual ability is simply a willigness to see the obvious, then say it.

    This is far more rare than one would think.

    It did collapse faster than I expected, though. This is the difference between America now and in early 70s. There isn’t even a remnant of competence left, not even enough to keep up appearances.

  43. anon y'mouse

    unless, of course, the Taliban WAS The Plan all along:

    if so, the hue & cry is manufactured nonsense to cover our tracks.

  44. Ché Pasa

    if so, the hue & cry is manufactured nonsense to cover our tracks.

    MMM. Could be…;-)

  45. someofparts

    From an American, former NPR reporter, speaks Pashtun and lived in Kandahar for over a decade –

  46. Synoptocon

    Outcomes that empower Pakistan and its uniquely stupid strategic culture are emphatically not the best possible.

  47. bruce wilder

    PS: “If Assange means wars like Iraq are meant to divert taxpayer money from other more deserved projects versus endless conflicts that enrich the wealthy elite who own the defense contractors, then I agree.”

    MP: “Then you agree with Assange on Afghanistan — that’s all he’s saying.”

    I do not think that’s all Assange was saying. More than a choice of guns over butter, I think he is implying a global project to detach elite wealth from place and nation-state. Assange, because of the work Wikileaks has done is acutely aware of how globalized/financialized wealth has escaped loyalty to place or state, and not incidentally from taxation. He is implying but not specifying that some features of the Afghan War facilitated that project more than would, say, building highways in Colorado or owning McDonald’s franchises in middle Tennessee. He is implying that the Afghan War was conducted in the way it was to advance the project of looting the U.S.

  48. bruce wilder

    Outcomes that further debase the credulity and moral emptiness of the American public are devoutly desired by an American elite, which has no strategic culture, just the appetite of a parasite that has forgotten that it will die with its host.

  49. different clue

    @Bruce Wilder,

    That part of the American Elite which considers itself to be Davos Man has already decided that “America” as such is not its host. The whole world is its host, and if it kills a sub-host, it will move on to another host.

    America’s only hope of survival would be an applied and successful rejection of Davos Man-ism, starting with a rejection of every free trade agreement, treaty, etc. the US finds itself in. After such rejection, we could pass or repeal any further laws we like to re-create the conditions for creating a somewhat autarkic political economy within our borders, and recreate a balanced agri-and-industrial economic ecosystem some small fraction the size of the one we had, but balanced enough that everyone can make or have at least a bearable living and a livable hut or hovel, and maybe even something better than that.

  50. different clue


    Its out of our hands, now.

    Maybe someone somewhere somehow somewhen will decide it is time to support the Taliban in liberating their Pashtun brothers on “Pakistan’s” side of the Durand Line, and bring them and their land “home” to Afghanistan.

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