Never forget: George W. Bush is a stinking piece of shit. Please remember this next time the news networks decide to show him harmlessly puttering about with his bad paintings.
Oh, also: don’t forget that the 24 hour news networks exist to sell you gold, overpriced pharmaceuticals, buckets of freeze-dried survivalist food, and life insurance (you’ll need it), not information.
For me, it all brings back memories.
We never learn our lesson.
Here’s an interesting point from the Wall Street Journal:
You might wonder why we didn’t train the Afghan army appropriately, given their reputation as formidable fighters, and given that the less well-equipped, relatively primitive, but ultimately overwhelmingly victorious Taliban. That’s easy. This war was fought not for freedom, but to be a sink for the sale of extremely expensive gadgetry by defense contractors. Could we please remember that, too, next time the Republicans start rallying for invasions and assaults and bombing campaigns against civilians? Or when Democrats think they’re being clever by building sneaky little drones to murder people?
Snarki, child of Loki says
Learn the lesson of Vietnam and Afghanistan, people:
When a Texan tries to push you into a foreign war,
shoot the Texan.
What’s astounding here is the continued insistence that it was about the Afghan military’s ability. What good is that when units decide not to fight at all?
And I can’t really blame them. The choice was to back secular drug warlords or theological drug warlords. Who’s got the will to die over that debate?
James Fehlinger says
Worrisome echoes of Vietnam in Iraq
THE BALTIMORE SUN
November 28, 2003
. . .
I REMEMBER the moment I knew we were going to lose the war in Vietnam.
Frustrated by our inability to find the elusive Viet Cong, U.S. forces
developed a top-secret program to locate enemy troop concentrations.
It was a “people sniffer,” a device sensitive to the presence of ammonia
in urine that could be hung from a helicopter flying low over the jungle.
When a high reading was identified, artillery was directed at the area.
One evening in 1968, I was attending an end-of-the-day regimental
briefing and an infantry captain was describing a sweep through the
jungle. He and his men had encountered something they could not explain:
buckets of urine hanging from the trees. The regimental commander
and his intelligence officer exchanged looks as they silently acknowledged
that we were firing artillery (at $250 a round) at buckets of urine
all over Vietnam. . .
@James #3, Buckets of urine make an apt representation of our foreign policy as we piss away our lives, fortune, and honor in senseless military interventions.
I think we did sufficiently train the Afghani defense forces. It’s just that, at the end of the day, they still live there, alongside the Taliban. We don’t. That kind of matters when it comes to understanding a culture, a people, a collection of worldviews that exist over there that do not exist either over here or in our military bases over there.
For over a decade now we’ve had reports about how members of the Afghan forces were sympathetic to and working with the Taliban because the United States armed forced were perceived as (and in reality were) the worse destabilizing force in the region. As tragic as it is, the majority of the population of Afghanistan prefers working with the Taliban than the US. They prefer working with the Taliban because they are the lesser evil relative to our presence.
And, let us not forget that back in 2001, shortly after 9/11, the Taliban offered to turn over Osama bin Laden to the Bush administration in exchange for stopping the bombing of Afghanistan that we started doing. Bush declined. And we have been at perpetual warfare there ever since. The Afghan people working to form a coalition government with the Taliban was inevitable. We’ve accomplished nothing meaningful over there, so let’s just get out of there and stop being the destabilizing force that we always have been. This has been the worst quagmire we’ve ever been involved in and no amount of throwing away the lives of more US service members or Afghani civilians is going to make it right.
It’s the women and girls of Afghanistan i feel sorry for ,and maybe the boys who will be brain washed to be nice little Muslims
Kome @ 5
Well, you’re right about Bush. He was besotted with the idea of leading a holy transformation of the Middle East.
Never forget: How mindlessly and energetically so many people lined up behind him.
Akira MacKenzie says
Considering how brutal and repressive the Taliban can be, that is a very, very depressing thought.
No, 8, it’s also complete bullshit.
Yes, the US has done a lot of horrible things over the years, but in this case, as between the US and the Taliban, there’s a clear winner. The Taliban throws acid in the faces of little girls trying to get an education. The Taliban throws gay people off cliffs. The Taliban is hostile to science, hostile to modern thought, and hostile to any kind of social or political pluralism. In contrast, the US brought emancipation of women, free elections, religious pluralism, and tried to bring political stability. Don’t allow your hostility to the US to create a false moral equivalency in which the team trying to make people’s lives better is the same as the team sending suicide bombers into crowded markets. Would you say the same about World War II; that FDR was no better than Hitler?
Now, we’re going to see women deprived of education, not allowed to leave the house without a burka. We’re going to see people having their hands cut off for petty theft. We’re going to see a return to 15th century values and polity.
The US may have bungled it, and its motives may have been far from pure. But in terms of how people’s lives are going to be affected? This one time, the US was the good guys.
I’m sure there are plenty of mixed feelings about our presence there, but I doubt there is any accurate assessment of them.
Ummm…the “Mission Accomplished” banner was for Iraq not Afghanistan. Iraq was a non sequitur for the US to be involved at all based on lies about WMD and spurious relations to al Qaeda at the time. It detracted from our presence in Afghanistan, which was somewhat warranted by 9-11 and previous terrorist incidents tied to al Qaeda (eg USS Cole). We didn’t commit enough then to getting Osama bin Laden, which finally happened under Obama’s watch. We did do stupid things that destabilized Iraq and created a vacuum for al Qaeda and then ISIS to fill. ISIS was birthed by imprisoning insurgents and former Ba’athist Iraqi military in the same compounds to compare notes and exchange contacts.
But al Qaeda itself was birthed partially by funneling aid to the mujahideen (including “Arab Afghans”) via Pakistani intelligence against the Soviets creating their Vietnam quagmire followed by US presence in Saudi Arabia during our Gulf War which was an affront to Osama et al.
kathleenzielinski: the US also led air strikes against villages leading to constant death there. The US backed warlords who declared a law of their own. It’s not all tea and cookies.
For a lot of Afghans, the Taliban is a step up from constant war.
James Fehlinger says
Learning From History: Can the U.S. Win the Afghan War?
by Ivan Eland
February 24, 2010
. . .
The primary reason that counterinsurgency warfare has not been
very successful over time is that although counterinsurgents are
usually much stronger than insurgents, they are also often foreign
occupiers. This is one huge strike against them. People naturally
get really annoyed when foreigners invade their country, as our
own experience with British forces in the American Revolution attests.
Even if the foreign troops are fairly benevolent — building schools,
roads, and health clinics and handing out candy to children — they
are still foreigners who are killing civilians by accident and arrogantly
telling locals what to do at gunpoint, thus creating a nationalist
backlash. . .
Ronald Merrick, to Hari Kumar:
Till now, you and I have been just symbols to one another.
Now our relationship has to become real. Tonight.
It’s not enough to say that I’m English and you’re Indian —
that I’m the ruler and you’re one of the ruled.
Some people talk of comradeship between your kind and mine.
There is comradeship, and it’s basic. But do you really know
on what it’s based?
On fear. Contempt on my side and fear on yours.
We have to find out about that too — to live with it and act
it through, this relationship between us, so that neither of us
will ever be able to forget it again. Or ever again be tempted
to pretend that it doesn’t exist or claim that it was something else.
Contempt and fear.
Foreign Policy: What Afghanistan’s 1 Percent Thinks
April 5, 2012
. . .
[W]hile popular anger against the United States is undoubtedly rising across
Afghanistan, it may not be a decisive factor for the Afghan elite.
Those Afghan officials have an incentive to keep their eye on the
bottom line: the flow of U.S. dollars into the country.
“I’m not sure that the power brokers in the Afghan government have a
particular hatred for the Americans. . . The hatred of the Americans
tends to be more amongst the conservative rural Afghans, who have a
more shortsighted view, but have also suffered at the hands of the
police and government brutality. The upper echelons of the Afghan
government are probably more calculating. They think the gravy
train is leaving.” . . .
It doesnt matter how good the soldiers are, they wont fight if you stop paying them.
And then when a force made up of people from their own families offers them the chance to go home with their weapons to be with their families or die fighting for a government that doesnt value them…what do you think they will do.
The US and others had as long as they needed to address corruption if they really wanted to but they were more concerned with holding up favourable government that they could control and then we are supposed to be surprised when the puppet falls with the strings cut.
James Fehlinger @13
Quite so. Generally speaking. This was foreseeable, which makes it more than just bungling. It was arrogance and ignorance from the get-go.
It was also sold in part as liberation for women, which no doubt was one of the hoped for outcomes, but essentially the pitch was calculated to get the left to buy into the invasion. After 20 years, we’re now seeing just how shallow those gains were. Let’s hope a seed was planted, and that women don’t pay too dearly in reprisals for our mistake, given that the Taliban is coming back leaner and meaner than ever.
As for the invasion of Iraq, it may seem like a non sequitur, but I think the idea was there pretty much from the beginning as part of an attempt to transform the Middle East once and for all through bloodshed. There was little interest in negotiation with the Taliban for Bin Laden, which indicates an intention to expand the mission, one that soon enough took on a life of its own. In fact, judging by appearances, the Bush administration seemed to lose interest in Bin Laden as a primary objective.
Corruption. At the beginning the US was apparently throwing money around like confetti with little oversight, a boon to corruption.
consciousness razor says
As they also mentioned on Breaking Points this morning, the US hadn’t even kept the road from the airport to the embassy secure enough…. That’s not actually a new (emergency) procedure just for the evacuation, as many frantic bloodthirsty “news” sources have made it out to be, because for years, helicopters have had to fly people back and forth, instead of using the fucking road. One report about it from a few years ago:
Somebody tell Mike Pompeo that the Taliban didn’t get his fucking message. If he’s not asleep at his desk at the “think tank,” then my guess is that he’s probably golfing.
Of course, it’s kind of a different story, whenever the whole thing is just a huge excuse for funneling money into the military-industrial complex. You didn’t actually want better security or better training for the locals or any of that shit, because helicopters are fucking expensive and being fucking expensive is the entire fucking point.
No 12, I didn’t say it was all tea and cookies. There is much to dislike in American foreign policy, including the Afghan war.
But sometimes the choices are between bad options, and in this case, not only was the US the least bad option, the Taliban was worse by orders of magnitude.
consciousness razor says
Then maybe the American Taliban shouldn’t have helped to create the other Taliban in the first place. They probably should’ve thought about that a long time ago. I’m just betting it all that you have no clue what you’re rooting for or why.
Do you know who has the bad options to choose from? The people of Afghanistan, that’s who. So … who are you trying to convince, and about what, here in this thread? The fact is, we get to ruin our country with our bullshit political parties, with our oligarchs and extremists and whatnot. They’ll do the same.
If they thought it was their business to decide which of our fucked-up political factions should be in charge here, what would you have to say about that? I bet you would. And should anyone else listen? I think they should, as a matter of fact. But “the good guys” sure as fuck don’t just rely on having bigger and better weapons, in order to prevent that shit from ever happening to them.
consciousness razor says
edit: “what would you have to say about that? I bet you would have something to say.”
kathleenzielinski: better for whom?
The past week quite clearly demonstrates that for plenty enough people — and in particular, the people who have the power to decide — the Taliban was not worse.
we need a different organization, a different tool to engage with and in foreign countries besides the military, and military and police advisors, it is all we have used for the last 60 years and it has gotten us no where at all just back to the same old mess.
I could say the same or similar things about how we should do the same thing here in our own country, people have been advocating that for even longer and we still are not focused on the people and their problems so they persist
where have all the flowers gone?
Sometimes I fucking hate you scumbag liberals as much as your conservative shit stains. If 0.000000000001% of what will happen to the Afghani women happens to a fucking white woman, you scumbags will make billions of blog posts, news articles, posts, comments and so on about the injustice. Now, hundreds of thousands of Afghani women will be deprived of school, work life, ability to go out, they will be raped and beaten by their husbands, forced to marry, and thousands of other non-binary, non-cis Afghanis will be shot and murdered, and so on. I have Afghani neighbors with lovely kids, one of them used to go to the same daycare as my daughter, they are happy here but there are so many who are not that fortunate. But please, continue to virtue signal by saying “Ah, no, you see, Taliban is not really worse than American Imperialism you know.” Fucking scumbags.
I’m sorry, I literally have nothing to say to someone who thinks there is any doubt that trying to give people free elections, pluralism, and freedom from radical religious thuggery is better than throwing acid in the faces of girls trying to get an education, or chopping off the hands of petty thieves. Consciousness Razor and numerobis, you’re nuts, both of you. I will be very surprised if the people of Afghanistan agree with you, though since the Taliban doesn’t allow free elections, there’s no real way to find out.
And your comments explain why your lunatic-fringe views get their butts kicked in American elections. You may not be able to see the difference between the Taliban and the US Army, but pretty much everyone else can.
The comparisons to Vietnam are a bit strained. Sure they look the same because the eventual outcome.
Our reasons for being in Vietnam were BS (containment, dominoes, Cold War anticommunism). The Gulf of Tonkin was a tempest in a teapot compared to 9-11. The Viet Minh / North Vietnamese were zero threat to the US. Al Qaeda was a threat that needed to be handled somehow.
We had an alliance with the Viet Minh in WWII which gave Ho some hope we would help against return of the French. Our OSS started training them about the time the bombs fell in Japan . He wasn’t naive, but we violated that trust. Any blowback leading to al Qaeda was due to a far more indirect connection.
Both wars were asymmetrical. The Mongols had issues with Vietnam. Many too have had issues in Afghanistan over the years.
At the end the North Vietnamese couldn’t have been a welcome sight for many South Vietnamese. There was some “reeducation”. To their credit the Vietnamese helped put an end to the Khmer Rouge atrocities. The Taliban must be quite an intimidating presence for many Afghanis as I type and not going to be a pleasant situation.
Now Vietnam is a tacit asset against their long running adversary China, a strained relation predating the existence of the US. We did not understand that when we were thinking about passive dominoes. I don’t know what sort of long term prospects there are for Afghanis under the Taliban.
Wow, the Pentagon has its interventionist asswipes out in force in comment threads today. Funny how you suddenly care about Afghan women now, when it never seemed to bother you whenever NATO was incinerating “enemy combatants” with their overwhelming firepower.
Just a reminder, if you care to scratch the surface of our unimpeachable conduct in Afghanistan [source from the WSWS]:
The privileged layer of allied warlords and embezzlers profiting off of American occupation at the expense of its victims will be bailed out, to be sure. Ordinary Afghans want us to leave and never return, and I don’t blame them for viewing the Taliban as a preferable option when I take an honest look at how the American empire treats the rest of the world.
To my @25 I forgot to add the part about the US helping create the instability in Cambodia that brought about the rise of Pol Pot. I think the North Vietnamese had early connections to the Khmer Rouge (going on memory) but stuff shifted. The North Vietnamese were possibly more friendly with the Soviets and the US was warming to China who had connections to the Khmer Rouge. This is off top of my head so I could be mistaken.
Beholder, you should really sweep up all that straw you tossed out before it catches fire. Who said our conduct was unimpeachable? Not me. Who said we should have intervened in Afghanistan in the first place? That wasn’t me either; my comments were limited to the sole issue of whether the US is morally superior to the Taliban. Answer: Yes. And how in the hell do you know what ordinary Afghans want? I suspect is it not living under a strict interpretation of sharia. But as I said, the Taliban won’t allow free elections, so we have no way of knowing for sure.
Did you happen to see that the Taliban just announced it will begin executing homosexuals by crushing them under ten foot walls? Get back to me when the US Army starts doing that.
Of course we did bad things over there; some intentional and some just stupid. Of course people get killed in war. Of course it is child’s play to point to things we shouldn’t have done.
But at the end of the day, would you rather live in a Western style democracy. or under the Taliban? You, and everyone here, knows the answer.
All you’ve really got to offer in response is what aboutism. Which is a logical fallacy for a reason.
hemidactylus @11, thanks, because I was going to ask: does anyone remember why we invaded Afghanistan after 9/11? It did not seem to be all that related to that country that we needed an army to go there.
Whomever is better for the people of the country, I thought that “Don’t fight a land war in Afghanistan” was one of the major military lessons learned from the last few centuries. The British had to withdraw, after long futile years of brutal war, even though that was back in the empire days when the British were pretty good at conquering everyone. The Russians had to withdraw after years of pointless and brutal war, in, what was it, the 1980’s? It was said to be their Vietnam.
Anyway, also, Rachel Maddow spent a sabbatical-like break investigating why we invaded Iraq, and wrote a book on her findings. Basically, although there were some other reasons, she concluded that we invaded primarily because Cheney wanted Iraq’s oil for his company. I do find it quite within the realms of possibility that Cheney would do decades of mass murder for money. I mean, it’s not out of his character.
“Western style democracy” was good for a laugh.
The United States supported, financially or militarily, about 73% of the world’s dictatorships in 2015 [Freedom House, PDF file]. We aren’t in the business of spreading democracy, in case you haven’t noticed. We much prefer obedient little vassal regimes who will do the dirty work of imperialism when it needs doing.
consciousness razor says
Oh, so now you’re interested in asking the people of Afghanistan whether they agree with any of us about anything. Why do that when you just have tons and tons of bombs and can install whatever government you want?
Is this progress? Nah, I doubt it.
I’ll be pretty impressed if we start having free and fair elections in the US. Have you been pushing really hard for that too? I think I would do just about anything for that … but two decades of bombings? I won’t do that.
1) You talk of losing elections (and you called me nuts) rather than … you know … giving a coherent argument.
2) I’m not running for any public office, much less one which specifically has anything to do with foreign policy.
3) Obama (2008 & 2012), Trump (2016) and Biden (2020) all successfully ran on getting us the fuck out of Afghanistan.
Of course, that’s in this reality, I guess I have to add….. Maybe not the bizarro world where you come from, in which it’s apparently a war that people are still satisfied with and want to continue indefinitely.
Nixon bombed the shit out of Cambodia for years during the Viet Nam war, and continued for a time after the Paris Accords were signed — ostensibly in support of Lon Nol, the guy he put in power after he had Prince Sihanouk removed. He only stopped in August of 73 after some sort of pressure/deal was done with Congress.
As things developed after that Kissinger and Nixon essentially threw in with the Khmer Rouge:
Crap like siding with the worst folks around has been around for a long time in US military/political gamesmanship.
Cheney wasn’t too discreet about his ambitions, part of the justification for expenses in Iraq was that by seizing the oil fields, the Iraq war would pay for itself.
Once there was blood in the water, all the sharks went into a frenzy. Everyone had their own agenda. It was a weird time, like the cap came off the crazy tube and snakes went flying everywhere. Neo cons, the end of history, raining down hell…
I agree with the sentiments, we have been fighting for those freedoms here in the U.S. all of my life and have not yet achieved them yet the fight goes on.
It is wildly optimistic to think we can impose them on another country especially when the only tool we use is the military an institution wholly unadopted and trained for a completely different roll.
Hah, go fuck yourself. Fucking white liberal scum.
That may be inaccurate, since ISIS is the group infamous for that punishment, not the Taliban. While the two groups have fairly similar ideologies from our perspective, they are actually bitter enemies, and very actively at war. As a small consolation, the Taliban is the less ideologically extreme of the two.
You fucking morons have free and fair elections in US. Just because your system can be improved doesn’t mean that it’s not free. Do you have a government agency that imprisons your candidates? No? Do your votes get counted? Yes? Then shut the fuck up. The problems in middle east are not comparable to your first world problems jackass.
The war never should have happened, but you can’t blame the rapid fall on the absence of air support. Almost all of the ANA were completely unmotivated, and terrible at their jobs. I’m talking chucking their gear on the ground because they didn’t want to carry it anymore, quitting in the middle of patrols because they said they were tired, flat out deserting for weeks at a time, and so on. Everyone who had deployed there saw this coming years ago, and nothing would have changed the outcome.
consciousness razor has a long history of posting crap that has no substance — it seems consciousness razor’s posts are designed to simply extremely spittle-flecked bits of crap with enough “what-about-ism” attacking the left just to defend the left.
In short: consciousness razor is an unhinged idiot. Pay no attention to the frothy crap that get posted from that source.
John Morales says
Informative 16-minute video:
Origins of the Taliban
Thanks John. I recall in the early 2000s watching Rambo III ironically. It was set during the time the mujahideen were fighting the Soviets (way before the Taliban) and was a showcase for Stallone’s muscles and bravado but had more compassion for the mere existence of an Afghanistan than most Cold War weary audiences could muster at the time. It was weird to watch after 9-11. After the exit of the Soviets I think we pretty much forgot about Afghanistan.
Someone had much later told me about The Beast:
Kinda like watching The Quiet American to get a backdrop for US involvement in Vietnam before Dien Bien Phu.
Real quick, for all of the people trying to hide behind the women and girls in Afghanistan, how do y’all feel about what’s going on in Poland? Or many of the countries in Central and South America? What about the Philippines? Or Saudi Arabia? Or China? Or what about the Palestinian people? Actually, forget all of them, how do you all feel about what DeSantis is doing to the children of Florida? Or what Greg Abbot is doing to the boys and girls of Texas? I wanna get a sense of if any of you actually care about women and girls or if they’re just the current convenient excuse you all are pulling for justifying American imperialism despite us obviously not being wanted in that region and having done zero to benefit the region or the people in that region.
consciousness razor says
Look, we just don’t have the thing that supposedly justifies decades of death and destruction. The only standard I need use is whether we have such elections, and we don’t. I don’t need to compare it to some other region in the world in order to make that simple point.
Although I thought it was implicit, I can also point out that invading a country and installing the government of your choice is not a recognizable form of democracy. The argument goes roughly like “If we don’t continue to do that, then (I predict) they won’t have a democracy anymore.” But that argument makes no sense.
As an aside, since I happened to think about it again in another thread today, I’ll note that H.R. 1 (the “For the People Act”) won’t include statehood and thus equal voting rights for Puerto Rico, if the bill even has a chance of passing as it is…. This, despite the fact that Puerto Ricans have voted on it (or anyway attempted to do so) on multiple occasions. There is after all a sizeable contingent of belligerent, right-wing, religious extremists who have for decades maintained their grip on power, despite most opposing their policies.
Perhaps PR and so forth are classified as “first world problems,” along with any other form of voter suppression that bill would actually try to address, which you feel like brushing off for the purposes of this argument. (And I’ll try to be charitable: only for those purposes and not otherwise. Not that this would make you honest here, but I’ll assume you’re not always an asshole about everything.)
Anyway, it’s just an absurd fairy tale to suggest that we’re actually protecting everybody’s rights here (not in comparison to anywhere else but just as a matter of fact), and that this is what we’ve been attempting to give to Afghanistan. That’s not a gift we were capable of giving them, that’s not why we were there, that’s not why we’ve stayed for so long, and bombing the place and installing our puppets is not a way to give anybody such a gift under any circumstances. Not one part of it is even remotely believable.
Your comment lacks substance. Did you have anything else?
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
Well, I have to admit, this is a little refreshing.
On other platforms, people have done what PZ’s original post did, and pretended that the War On Terror was all the fault of George W. Bush and the Republicans, when in fact every damn one of the worst decisions (the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the USA PATRIOT Act, the creation of DHS and ICE, massive domestic spying) was enthusiastically supported by every single one of the big-name Democrats, and nothing changed under an 8-year Democratic administration which had majorities in both houses of Congress for 4 years, and Democratic voters obviously approved of it because they haven’t kicked a single one of the people who ensured that this would be the case out of office in the 15 to 20 years since 9/11. Somehow we‘re supposed to ignore the fact that the “Resistance” the Democrats pretend to be is, on a practical level, actually just collaboration with the worst policies of the Republicans, and pretend that the Democrats have moral high ground, when Joe Biden was as bad as any of them and is only pulling out of Afghanistan now because the Taliban is going to beat us anyway within a couple of months if we stay.
That’s a pretty pathetic attempt at historical revisionism, but there’s none of that here in this comments section. Here we have more honest assholes like lotharloo, kathleenzielinski, and dean56, who don’t even pretend to be morally superior to Republicans, and want to continue all the waste and death just like they’ve been doing all along. These are the true Democrats, the people who backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries and Biden in the 2020 ones. Keep it up, guys, you may be absolutely evil scum, but at least you’re being honest in your psyochopathy.
DO you support ending the Afghan war? I’m not asking if you support Biden or not. We know you don’t. I’m against the pullout. I want to know your actuall stance and not the knee jerk anti-establishmentarian virtue signaling your long winded ass usually does in these forums.
Rob Grigjanis says
My favourite song about Dubya.
lotharloo @37, have you been keeping up with what the neo-fascist party in the US has been doing? Because, not to say that you’re wrong, while the last election (2020) was free and fair, in that (most) people weren’t deliberately prevented from voting, and the votes were correctly counted, that may well be the last free and fair election held in America.
2022 is being openly set up to have many votes discarded or not counted or just plain ignored, and the neo-fascists plan to win power by corrupt election practices. It remains to be seen if democracy in America (well, at least, what we’ve ever had of it) survives. Pretty good chance that America will be a fascist/authoritarian state quite soon.
P.S., also, hemidactlyus @40, The Beast is a fabulous movie! Even though the Mujahadeen are the (unironic) heroes.
We justified our presence in Afghanistan as a response to al Qaeda. It’s been two decades. Time perhaps to get out (maybe way overdue). I do have mixed feelings. I have no illusions about what the ascendence of the Taliban means. The unforgivable effacement of the Buddhas of Bamiyan pretty much sets the scene.
But we have our own domestic issues to be concerned about. The GOP is our Taliban and the Trumpist insurgency our al Qaeda. And sure the Taliban brings a wacko interpretation of Islam into their cultural stew, but we have conspiratorial ideology spun by Q-Anon that is as much a threat to our culture.
Our democracy hangs by a thread and it’s hard to dismissively call that a first world problem when conditions for many are not that great here for the unprivileged. There is disenfranchisement often allied to the carceral state we built. All kinds of issues for which we could use debt derived money spent on Iraq and Afghanistan.
Oh maybe a tangent, but how long will home values continue to climb…pop (???). Yeah.
Kome, No. 41, if I had a magic wand and could wave away the world’s problems, I would shut down the Taliban, the fascist wannabes rising to power in Eastern Europe, Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis. I’d also get rid of the kleptocrats running most of the Third World, abolish the electoral college, and elect US senators by population rather than two per state.
However, none of those happen to be what we are discussing in this thread, which is the Taliban. And the problem with your what-aboutism (as well as all the other what-aboutism from numerous other sources I’ve been getting in this thread) is that it basically makes it impossible to talk about anything, because someone will always be there to pipe up with “BUT WHAT ABOUT . . .” Not only that, it essentially means nobody can ever be held to account so long as they can find someone on the other side behaving badly. Stalin gets a free pass because what about Hitler, and Hitler gets a free pass because what about Stalin. So everybody has a moral blank check to do as they please.
Despite the misrepresentations you may have read from other commenters about my position, I opposed the US presence in Afghanistan twenty years ago and I think it’s long past time for us to have gotten out. I never supported the attempts at nation building there. But whether we had any business going there in the first place is a separate question from whether the nation we were trying to build was morally superior to the hell the Taliban is trying to create. And I go back to where I originally started: Anyone who honestly cannot see the difference between trying to build schools, infrastructure, free elections and Western-style democracy on the one hand, versus religious fascists trying to plunge the country back into the tenth century, is not worth having a conversation with.
I suspect that part of the issue some here have with my position is that it doesn’t fit the narrative that the US is pure evil. Well, a lot of times the US has been the bad guy on the world stage, but sometimes the US has been on the side of the angels, at least given the alternatives available. Afghanistan reminds me of the old joke that politics is like picking some up at a hookup bar ten minutes before closing: You focus on getting the least repulsive of what is still available.
Largely missing from the commentary: Trump, who signed a treaty with the Taliban that required withdrawal of US troops, previously hailed as “ending the war”. Not to defend Biden, but isn’t this Trump’s plan he’s following?
“It was under Trump that the US brokered a deal with the Taliban in Doha in 2020 that would have seen the US withdraw all its troops by May 2021, in exchange for various security guarantees from the militants.”
John Morales says
1. “I opposed the US presence in Afghanistan twenty years ago and I think it’s long past time for us to have gotten out. I never supported the attempts at nation building there.”
2. “Anyone who honestly cannot see the difference between trying to build schools, infrastructure, free elections and Western-style democracy on the one hand, versus religious fascists trying to plunge the country back into the tenth century, is not worth having a conversation with.”
kathleenzielinski: Empirically, the Taliban conquered the entire country in under two weeks, and did so with relatively little actual fighting. For the most part, the army that vastly outnumbered and outgunned the Taliban just surrendered rather than fight to defend the Afghan government.
In light of that, I’m asking you to perhaps reconsider your assumption that the US-backed Afghan government was offering something as great as you think it was.
Dianne: yes, Trump signed a peace treaty with the Taliban without any representation from the Afghan government. Essentially he treated the Taliban as the power to which Afghanistan would be handed, rather than backing the existing government.
Any US exit from Afghanistan was likely to lead to the Taliban taking over. The question was how long of a period of civil war there would be. The Afghans apparently decided “a few days” was the preferable answer — as soon as the Americans showed they really weren’t going to intervene, each city negotiated a surrender.
consciousness razor says
Uh, right. Not those religious fascists. Clearly not. You know what I’m talking about: the other ones … over there [points vaguely in the direction of Asia].
Anyway, say what you will about the Islamic golden age that was still going strong during the 10th century, but at least death wasn’t raining down from the skies on random groups of people on a regular basis. And you could generally go a few miles along the road, from the proverbial airport to the proverbial US embassy, so to speak, without detonating a mine in what were (foolishly or not) regarded as the most secure areas of their largest centers of so-called “government.” And when the whole ridiculously awful scam of a system did eventually come crashing down due to extreme levels of corruption and/or incompetence, it probably took more than a few weeks to unfold. I mean, it’s actually pretty hard to fuck things up that badly.
So when you put it that way…. But seriously, even if it’s not better, that’s not up to us. I just wanted us to stop our fucking wars, because that really is our responsibility. I don’t think that’s hard to understand.
Going in there was a fuck up, and Biden’s initial speech saying he was happy to pull out because the Afghan security forces would be okay, followed by the last one which essentially said that the fact they got overrun proved he was right, is, frankly astonishing.
“Your comment lacks substance. Did you have anything else?”
Substance enough to get the point across. No retractions or alterations.
Consciousness Razor, No. 54, so you’re now comparing the Taliban to the Golden Age of Islam? Seriously? You’re hilarious.
I, too, would like to stop our fucking wars. Our area of disagreement is over your claim that morally the two sides are indistinguishable. And that’s just ridiculous, on multiple levels, but here’s one of the most obvious: One of the reasons the Taliban was engaged in doing everything it could to drive out the US (there were other reasons too) is that the Taliban doesn’t want the lives of the Afghans to be better. They don’t want emancipated women, education, medical facilities, and religious pluralism, because all they’ve got to offer is religious fanaticism and misery.
Now, one can disagree with America’s methods — I certainly do — but at the end of the day, there was a desire for Afghan lives to be better, as opposed to the Taliban, which intentionally traffics in human misery. That, all by itself, renders us morally superior. And your both-sidesism is nothing more than that.
With your moral superiority and a couple bucks you can buy a coffee.
numerobis, if you mean that the bottom line is the same regardless, you’re right. A lot of Afghans are going to die and the country is going to be plunged into religious fascism, regardless of whether we had good motives or not. At this point, it’s over and the bad guys won.
It doesn’t mean, though, that the two sides are morally indistinguishable.
@32 wrote ..” They are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in our way” What a git henry K is .
@51 The snatch snatcher has ben out of office for 7 months ,yet he is still fecking things up ..
Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I’m always shocked when someone here pushes back against Bishop’s garbage. Their “Democrats are actually far more evil than Republicans will ever be” drum beating is over-the-top even for a site like this, where it’s kind of a given that most posters view Democrats and Republicans are interchangeable.
Their “A true liberal should want Trump to remain in office” horseshit during the election was a sight to behold. LOL, I’m still partly convinced this person is a Russian disinformation operative.
consciousness razor says
No, it was your comparison. You were the one who claimed they’re “trying to plunge the country back into the tenth century.” I don’t think that’s even close to correct, but in any case, there are many worse things that somebody could try to do.
I think you should seriously question that. You and I have such a desire, as do many other people. However, we haven’t been in control of anything that’s actually been happening there for the last twenty years. The thing that was actually set up by those in charge was thoroughly corrupt and inadequate for the task. Here I’m referring the task you and I (and others) would like to have seen done, not their actual goal which was clearly “make huge profits for the military-industrial complex and get more war-mongering politicians into office.” Because it wasn’t just about the “methods” which were used. That’s simply not what they wanted out of this, so don’t give me that bullshit.
And as we’ve all seen, the real thing that we actually ended up with (not what you wish they had been trying to do all along) fell apart in a matter of weeks. That was after decades of work, having spent trillions of dollars which could have instead been put to use actually helping people, and having suffered countless casualties on all sides including the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians. As I said in my first comment, they couldn’t even keep one short stretch of road secure for the last several years, in what was supposed to be the safest part of the entire country. And it’s a big country. So what the fuck do you think that says about the rest of it?
So I’ll quote numerobis in #53:
You don’t need that assumption, do you? It really doesn’t look like it’s supported by the evidence. If you don’t have it anymore, then what?
So you get to do the “what-about-isms” but I can’t? That’s not really fair, so I’m not going to play by your Calvinball-style rules.
The Talibin throws gay people off cliffs (you claim, absent any reference to it ever occurring and someone else here saying that’s ISIS and not the Taliban, but good job being racist like that and thinking all them over there are interchangeable as fits your rhetorical needs). That somehow allows us, in your mind, to ignore things like the Kandahar massacre carried out by the United States military? Or the civilian murders in Maywand carried out by the US military members who then collected body parts of the murdered civilians as trophies? And all the schools and hospitals the US has bombed and drone striked, you think we can just straight up forget all about, right? For fuck’s sake, we blew up a Doctors Without Borders building in Afghanistan. That’s a war crime. One which we have not answered for, either, by the way. We were not and are not a stabilizing force over there, and the war crimes we commit are why the Afghan people would rather build a coalitional government with the Taliban than have us over there.
Don’t get me wrong, the Taliban sucks. But the Taliban sucking doesn’t excuse, as you seem to think it does, the atrocities and war crimes committed in Afghanistan by the US armed forces. The Taliban being bad guys doesn’t make us the good guys. In this instance we are somehow the worse guys. There is no moral high ground here for anyone to take. And it’s even worse than I’m painting it when you learn a little history and realize that that the US is directly responsible for creating the Taliban in the first place, as a domestic force to fight encroaching Soviet operations in the area. Prior to US involvement in the middle east that created the Taliban in the first place, life in Afghanistan was relatively alright for women and girls. Things only started to get shitty for them after the US got involved (which started decades before 9/11, mind you). But gosh darn it all to heck, we just had to beat those communists who were trying to spread communism to the region. So, we funded and armed an Islamic fundamentalist group to fight those dirty atheist commies and now we’re using the monster we created as justification for staying in that region. How convenient, that.
I don’t know why you feel the need to stan for endless warfare, US war crimes, and racist imperialism that feels the need to tell all those brown people over there how to live their lives. But if that’s what you want, you don’t need to use a sudden interest in the quality of life for women and girls as a defense. Don’t pretend like you care about the women and girls over there, because it’s clear you don’t. Find some other line of argumentation. This one is nakedly hollow.
Kome, I certainly hope you feel better now that you have that out of your system. Since almost none of what you said bears any relationship to anything I actually said, I’ll assume you just didn’t read carefully.
You just don’t like that you’ve been called out for weaponizing the identity of women and girls whom you’ve never cared about to justify the thing that you do care about: maintaining a white ruling presence over there. But by all means, keep making things up if it makes you feel better.
Kome, I’m not going to waste the time deconstructing your nonsensical accusations. Just for starters, show me where I said that “all them over there are interchangeable.” Of that I think “we should tell all those brown people over there how to live their lives.” Show me where I said anything at all that even remotely approaches what you’ve attributed to me.
You’ve attributed to me a lot of things I never said and don’t believe. You’re not an honest opponent. And I’m not wasting any more time on you.
I find it somewhat puzzling that people assume that concern for the women of Afghanistan is a sham and a cover for “US Imperialism”. Why on earth would you assume that? I think anyone who is in touch with reality would have to admit that a Taliban government is probably going to suck for most of the women in Afghanistan, so why wouldn’t people be concerned.
On a related note, a lot of the comments here show a warped kind of thinking that I’ve long observed in many people on the political left. That is, the assumption that because the USA does bad things, that everyone who is opposed to the US is at worst the lesser of two evils. This is a totally unwarranted assumption. There are plenty of things in the world worse than the US and US imperialism. The Taliban is probably one of them.
Its pretty obvious that the marjority of people who are happy about the withrawal are super white and do not care about the Afghan people. After all this was a structured deal with the Taliban by Trump. Once again showing that being antiestablishmentarian is more important than standing up to your left leaning morals.
The Afghan government and its people were victims of the Taliban. Having the Taliban conquer so easily is not due to them seeing Taliban as “lesser evil” (dear god that sound bite is the rallying cry of political idiots on the left), no, its the result of us failing to properly train them. Ive spoken to soldiers. The afghan army have shit training. Meanwhile the Taliban were trained by us to be an effective fighting force. The afghan army didnt concede ground because they identify with the very same ppl who slaughtered and rape their kids. They did it to avoid a massacre with themselves amongst the numbers slain
Again id like to point out this was a Donald Trump deal he made with the Taliban. The afghan government were not invited. They would have objected. Its stupid to think they would all of a sudden welcome them. Already the Taliban are hard at work executing intelligent university grads, activists, feminists, and moderates that rose out of our occupation. Meanwhile white af leftists agree. Pulling out of afghan was a nazi talking point at one point. Guess not anymore.
FWIW, I show visible sunburn after about 30 minutes of exposure. I would not describe myself as “happy” though. I also struggle to conceive of an alternative of the Taliban eventually taking over. I mean, if you asked me a week ago I’d have parroted the idea that the US had left an army in place to defend the nominal government, but facts seem to suggest otherwise.
Do I care about the Afghan people? As much as I care about anyone outside my immediate group, which is to say in the abstract sense described by Adam Smith. I hate sharing the complicity of US wars, but I do, obviously. I have rarely seen much good accomplished. I think the 1999 action in Bosnia did more good than harm, but I’m sure someone here can set me straight on that. Whatever we were trying to do in Afghanistan should not have lasted 20 years, assuming it should have happened at all.
So no, I’m not happy. I am not ready with a counterfactual that would make me happy either.
The Taliban make Saudi Arabia look like a woke progressive paradise by comparison. To say that this is prefferable to US occupancy is so dumb and embarrassing that the left do this. Thankfully others here are not falling for the propaganda.
There is only one way for me to accept Bidens descisions. Since Trump accumulated 8 trillion im debt in addition to out regular debt paying for a losing war was not feasable especially since hes trying to pass infrastructure and gave us stimulus. Biden pulled out just like he pulled put of Vietnam as a senator which he was very vocal in pulling out. I dont have to like it but at least its understandable. But Bidens silence is annoying.
At the moment the majority of the blame here lies with three presidents. Bush, Obama and Trump. Bush for starting this in the first place but all three half assed the war. They would rather throw money to the situation than human resources in building an infrastructure and combating the Taliban more effectovely. Shock and aww is stupid tactics. They literaly have infinite defensove positions in the mountains. You are not denting that. Better to not have to go to war in the first place but after you do the worse thing is to half ass it. Now we are pulling out with nothing to gain. Trump especially half assed the war leaving the area with the least amount of troops possible after negotiating a peace deal woth far right extremists. I bet 20 bucks that he would have preferred the Taliban over the Afghan government as sphere of influence in the region. Fits his MO.
The only alternative I see is to go harder with the war in terms of human resources. More soldier basicaly. We relied on two things. Money and bombs. These were both ineffective. Afghan government got corrupted because our military did not build effective infrastructure. The Taliban forces survived because they have unlimited defense to bombs thanks to the mountains where as ground troops would have been more effective in both eliminating the enemy and training the afghan army. We failed on all fronts. The war half assed. There is a good argument to be had that the time to do this is over and pulling out was the only reasonable choice. Im not convinced yet.
Success in thia war would have meant a moderating force in the middle east. We did not get that. The world is now ever more right wing than before with this action. Which is why im pissed with the left for supporting it.
Our govnermnet successfully created an effective fighting force with the taliban during the cold war. We failed to do is this time through incompetence from three presidents at the least.
Logicalcat, No. 72, on the long list of reasons why I opposed US military action in Afghanistan, one of them is you don’t go to war unless you’re prepared to do what you have to do to actually win. Given the realities of Afghanistan, that would have meant putting 100,000 troops on the ground and killing about a million Afghanis. No thanks.
consciousness razor says
Very confusing. It sounds like the preferred alternative is, while we’re surrendering to the Taliban and handing control over to them, we don’t have a peace deal. Let’s call that issue #1. Because I guess this is just a big no-no, making deals with certain types. (But apparently, the fact that Trump and the Republicans are themselves far right extremists isn’t a valid reason for rejection, however. Not sure how we’re not always at war with literally everybody in the world, if that’s how it works.)
So, we leave the place with guns blazing, not peacefully. Because that would do a whole lot of fucking good for somebody. Or something. Maybe it doesn’t even matter whether it does any good: you just don’t do it, period. The reasoning there is at best very murky.
Maybe there’s a separate issue, #2. Somehow we manage not to have “the least amount” of troops while going through the process of removing all of the troops…. I’m not a mathematician, so you could just try drawing me a picture or something?
I just get the feeling that you don’t quite grasp something about the general idea that we lost the war and were making plans to leave, at which point the Taliban (sooner or later) were certainly going to take over. (It turned out to be “sooner” which isn’t too surprising I think.)
I’m not saying you have to like this outcome. (Why is anybody asking you what you like, regarding the situation in this other country that doesn’t concern you, anyway? Maybe that’s one for another time.) But even if you don’t like it, I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand the impossible. So what are you asking for here?
logicalcat@72 I think there are two questions. Could we have possibly succeeded in leaving behind a stable government and infrastructure? Was that even what the people in charge of the occupation were trying to do?
The answer to the first question is “maybe” though the US does not have a track record that gives me any confidence (the circumstances of the Marshall Plan were very different). For the second question, I am not going to make any cynical assumptions about the purpose of the war, but if a serious nation-building effort existed at any time, it was not sustained for 20 years. The only mission in Afghanistan that makes sense to me was to capture al Qaeda members and prevent them from using it as a stronghold (which is not to say I give it my full-throated endorsement, but I see the point).
Is it preferable for the US to bear the cost of the occupancy in lives and material, as well as the geopolitical cost of an occupation? If our presence was benign and cost-free I would agree. It was neither though.
Largely agree. Better not to start a war. I approved of the war when I was younger tho. In my eyes they attacked first. Part of me still thinks like that to be honest. I think with less bombs and more ground troops a lot of the stupid shit in the war like bombing doctors without borders could have been avoided but its impossible to tell.
Ive only spoken with one veteran so far but that veteran is extremly pissed we pulled out. His reasoning is that the Taliban would slaughter countless innocents and not hold up their word in not harboring terrorists which was the condition for the withdrawal.
But I do want to fight back against the popular idea that this was a war only for warprofiteers. That sounds conspiratorial and the evidence is severely lacking. For sure we werent there to better the lives of afghans even tho that was the end result with the secularized and moderate government (for the region of course). We were there to have a sphere of influence in what was at one point the biggest harbor of terrorism in the region. Like I said earlier, Trumps position seems to be to accomplish this with the Taliban as allies as opposed to a moderate government since he assumed he was going to either win or steal the vote. Thats only a guess i admit.
Yes the purpose of the war was to prevent a terrorist stronghold. The nation building was an accessory to that not the cause. But of course bringing freedom and democracy was the selling point to the public at the time as well as retaliation for 9/11.
The problem was the strategy was dumb. The strategy is to throw money at the Afghan government. This cant work without infrastructure buildin to combat corruption. Throwing money around is a common American solution to anything and everything. The nake the war more palatable less troops were used. Thisw as a selling point, but no one knew at the time that this means the war would be fought half assed. This is why 20 years later nothing worked. Not sure if it was incompetence or general lack of care but strategies were never revised.
To answer your last question nothin is ever benign in war. Especially with lack of valid strategies. Is it preferable for the US to stay? Biden thinks that no its not. I disagree but leaning towards agreement. 20 years of failure its hard to imagine getting it correct 20 years more down the line. My role in this is more about cutting through the bullshit. This war could have been a good thing but it wasnt. Best thing is to not have start to begin with.
The peace deal was not a peace deal with the Afghans. It was towards us. The deal was that if the Taliban would not kill an American during the alloted time then we pull out. The Taliban were free to kill anyone else and started doing so immediately. The preferable alternative was not to pull out until you shift strategies and methods. The war is only lost if we pulled out. We did and thats a loss. Prior to that there was still something could be done but no one wanted to commit.
If pulling out was the only real action here then at least accomplis that with an actual peace deal. Not the bullshit Trump made. Theres no imcentive at the moment for Taliban to keep their word about harboring terrorist organizations.
You’ve clearly never talked to Afghans. But to answer your dumbass questions all the problems of the world are not ours to fix, except afghanistan because we were already there. Would be great if we werent but they were our responsibility.
Also fuck of with naming De Santis here as if his stupid ass is comparable to raping and force marriage to girls as young as 12 like the Taliban. I live in Florida so yes I care about De Santis dumb shit. Clearly you dont unless its this pathetic attempt at whataboutism.
How exactly did the US create the Taliban? Pakistan maybe or Saudi aid, but the US? The US had a hand in helping the disparate factions of mujahideen (eg- with Stingers), but the proto-Taliban were but a subset of mujahideen and their kids at the madrassas, if I recall the video John Morales provided aright.
I dont see evidence that these people are liberals. They far left and one of them is admitted communist.
Wow the temperature here is much hotter than usual.
consciousness razor says
Something was certainly different. Wiki says its cost was equivalent to about $114 billion in 2020 dollars.
So, imagine you had something like 15 or 20 Marshall Plans, primarily made of bombs and mercenaries instead of economic aid, but it was all focused on a single country instead of Europe. Then imagine it all failed spectacularly, not because of resistance from Stalin or some such thing, but because those responsible (and their apologists) refused for twenty straight years to understand the part about bombs and mercenaries.
Or it would be around 10 Apollo programs, except that you nuke the Moon from orbit, and you don’t land on it or study it.
@80 Pakistan’s monster with a Saudi theological (Wahhabism) bent– according to the video you cited.
For context, some Informed Comment from Juan Cole regarding the Biden Doctrine and counter-insurgency theories.
There are some other recent articles on Afghanistan at the same site.
Also of interest
“The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders”
We created Al queda. People lump the two. Dobt rememeber if i did as well here but i have made that mistake before. We definitly helped train them.
I dont know where wiki is getting that number but the agreed upon amount is 2 trillion.
So the so-called Arab-Afghan subset in the mujahideen mix had no agency of their own? They were passive tumbleweeds needing US tutelage?
I know for a fact we helped the Viet Minh. We didn’t create them.
Good point. I gotta look into that more.
You say that like it’s a bad thing. Please, tell us how you really feel about the left.
Not disagreeing. My point was that there’s no evidence to suggest that a good faith effort at nation building could have succeeded. Also, no such effort existed.
I am on the left. Just not communist left which is bad.
What do i really feel about the left? That they dint really care about their leftism. Its all virtue signaling for antiestablishmentarian bullshit. That at the drop of a hat they would sacrifice all their leftist morals if it means fucking over democrats. Hence why Vicar et al supported the fascist Trump and why they act as apologists for Taliban like this very thread. They also act as another wing of right wing propaganda during election parroting comlon right wing taliing points.
Genuine, if maybe a bit snarky, question: What should Biden have done, bearing in mind that Trump had already essentially recognized the Taliban as the governing body in Afghanistan, made a “deal” with them, and withdrawn all but 2500 troops from Afghanistan? I can’t see any USians taking it well if he’d committed enough troops to actually maintain control of the country or enough resources to actually nation build.
@90 i think the marshal plan is evidence of this succeeding but admit i havent looked into this. Definitly you are right that it didnt look like a serious effort to nation build. I wamt to say it was since 2 trillion was spent. It could very well have been that it was a genuine effort but executed poorly because lets face it, we are not a very smart country.
consciousness razor says
Just saw a pretty good segment from Ryan Grim (9:28).
That $114 billion figure was referring to the (adjusted) cost of the Marshall Plan. Not the war, which is some multiple of that and as you said about $2 trillion or so, perhaps hundreds of billions more. (Taking the military’s word for it isn’t normally a good idea.)
Okay, but I don’t know what sort of evidence you’re looking for. Plenty of people have improved economic and social conditions in countries around the world and throughout history. Isn’t that more than enough evidence that it’s possible?
Or do we for some reason need to know more specifically about Afghanistan, that it isn’t infused with some special kind of dark magic that makes such efforts impossible? That it isn’t the site of some ancient burial ground, cursed by a witch long ago to resist attempts at economic and social improvement? Or … I don’t know what. Which kinds of things do you have in mind?
Indeed. I want to say “obviously,” but apparently some still can’t or won’t see it, even after it’s over. Maybe it will just take more time to sink in.
Spent on what? Bombs? I don’t know if this is actually news to anybody or if they are just totally full of shit, but you can’t actually explode stable democracies into existence. That’s not how the whole “building” process ever happens anywhere.
Or what was it? The mercs? Payments to con artists and warlords? How were those going to help?
You were the one complaining a few hours ago that you can’t just throw money at problems, like a typical American. So why would you take the dollar figure to be any kind of sign that it was a “serious effort”?
Are you just not aware that money spent in wars tends to go to destructive shit which doesn’t make people’s lives better? Or what? Did you not know it was a war? One in which huge amounts of resources went into rooting out “the enemy” and getting revenge upon them — not building or rebuilding anything. Even fictional enemies the Afghan forces had to invent for us got way more attention than the average person who just wanted to lead a nice peaceful life.
I wasn’t thinking about Afghanistan as much as the US. I’d like to see some evidence that we’re any good at “nation building” before embarking on such a project. The Marshall Plan seems more like the exception than the rule. The nations we aided only had to get back to their state before WWII, when they had functioning infrastructure, advanced industries, and were integrated into the global economy.
Afghanistan was stable enough to have a tourist industry in the 1970s, but that was in a very different geopolitical situation (and apparently with support from the USSR which I didn’t know before).
Look I have evidence that a lot of things are possible. Gymnasts can do triple flips. Carpenters can make beautiful inlaid boxes. If I had to bet on any one person doing such a thing (me for instance), I’d ask if they had ever done it before. If I had to bet on the US succeed at setting up a stable government in some other country, I’d like to see some analogous instance in which we did so before.
Most of which is moot, anyway, because it wasn’t the project we budgeted. That consisted of establishing an occupying army and keeping them safe as possible in a hostile environment… for reasons that escape me entirely.
The Marshall Plan was undertaken in a temporarily embarrassed wealthy country with a culture very similar to the US’s and people who the US’s elite recognized as if not equals then not necessarily inferiors. I don’t think it can be repeated in a poorer country with a significantly different culture and a people that the US elite doesn’t even really recognize as human. Also, it has never really been tried. The “nation building” attempts associated with Viet Nam, Afghanistan, etc are about making them compliant and keeping them dependent, not actually building an independent nation.
consciousness razor says
Oh, sorry, I misunderstood. I’m used to hearing people talk about Afghanistan like it’s such an epically, fantastically difficult place to “civilize,” unlike any other. That tends to come from people who wouldn’t have any sense of elite failure, even if it smacked them in the face. I suppose it’s also simply a less compelling story to tell, if such people are just terrible at their jobs and/or don’t want to do them. Doesn’t an exotic, undefeatable warrior race sound more exciting? Let’s just run with that story.
Anyway, no, we’re not good at that. And the only nation we have any right to build is our own, which of course we don’t really do. But even just hypothetically speaking … no.
Sure. And we definitely shouldn’t try to take all of the credit or anything, although I do think it was one rare instance of decent foreign policy on our part. I mean, it’s not as if all of Europe wasn’t very interested in rebuilding itself, so we had to come in and do the heavy lifting for them.
It had a positive impact. And I guess the moral of the story is that, if you were trying to do something like that, then don’t do something utterly different from it in almost every conceivable way, such as the war in Afghanistan for example.
It costs tons of money. And when you’re among the people receiving that money, that means you get to have it.
I’m not saying it’s a fancy explanation, and you could come up with others. The best part about it is how stupidly simple it is, which is why it so often explains people so well.
Pierce R. Butler says
Wow – what a thread. Reminds me of the $&*#! old days, except the porcupine hasn’t put in an appearance yet.
Our esteemed host turns his back … well, elsewhere … for a night and in the morning will glare ineffably at this debris in his virtual front yard and find some way to express his reaction(s). Yeah, not a patch on, say, Kandahar rubble, but still unlikely to gladden one’s cockles or inspire one to lead such comrades to carry creatively on.
Kidz theze daze!
Walter Solomon says
You said you were really gung-ho about war when you were younger and obviously still are to some extent. My question — did you ever consider joining the military yourself and fighting abroad?
It seems hypocritical to ask people to risk life and limb over for ideological reasons if you’re not willing to do so yourself.
And about another point you made in an earlier post, it’s incorrect. I’m non-white, live in a heavily Democratic, Eastern city, consider myself left-of-center and completely support this pull out from Afghanistan. We’ve been there long enough and if we couldn’t properly train an effective Afghan military at this point, it was never going to happen.
For too long, the US has neglected its own domestic problems from police abuse to crumbling infrastructure. Now you can add to that a runaway pandemic we can’t seem to get under control. It’s time we cleaned up our own house.
I see logicalcat is continuing to be anything but, as per usual, and is stuck engaged in some serious mental gymnastics to justify and defend a racist imperialist endless warfare agenda because those gosh darned brown people over there can’t have any sovereignty because without a white ruling presence with a gun to their heads they just won’t choose the right things.
It is tragically hilarious how defenders of the US presence (who conveniently ignore our decades-long list of war crimes in that region while crying about equally morally abhorrent behavior carried out by the Taliban) in Afghanistan, how blatantly they want to completely erode the ability of the Afghani people to have any sovereignty while paradoxically argue that our occupation of their land is the only way they can have freedom (btw, in the history of humanity has any people ever liked being occupied by a military force? hmm, it’s a fucking scooby-doo mystery why they would rather work with the Taliban, who are of their culture, than the US, who are a foreign invading force that has zero interest in doing anything but denigrating the culture). It’s like the rhetoric of domestic abusers – baby, we occupy your land and tell you how to live because we love you and want you to be free.
It seems like a lot of people are under the belief that the US-backed Afghan government was offering a western lifestyle with gender equality and fundamental freedoms, mostly honest governance, and a vaguely functioning economy.
If that were the case, the Taliban would have been utterly uninteresting to most people, couldn’t have recruited supporters and soldiers, and couldn’t have negotiated the surrender of much better-armed units of the government army.
It was not the case. Afghanistan wasn’t just another Nevada.
James Fehlinger says
Intelligence Warned of Afghan Military Collapse,
Despite Biden’s Assurances
Even as the president was telling the public that Kabul was
unlikely to fall, intelligence assessments painted a
By Mark Mazzetti, Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman
Aug. 17, 2021
. . .
At the core of the American loss in Afghanistan was the inability
to build a security force that could stand on its own, but that
error was compounded by Washington’s failure to listen to those
raising questions about the Afghan military.
Part of the problem, according to former officials, is that the
can-do attitude of the military frequently got in the way of candid
accurate assessments of how the Afghan security forces were doing.
Though no one was blind to desertions or battlefield losses,
American commanders given the task of training the Afghan military
were reluctant to admit their efforts were failing. . .
Numerobis, No. 101, I don’t think anybody seriously thought Afghanistan was, or would become, another Nevada. Even the most enthusiastic supporters of US military intervention there understood that Hamid Karzai was your basic corrupt kleptocrat.
But neither were there thousands of desperate people risking their lives to get out of the country, including some falling from planes they tried to climb onto as they were taxiing off the runway. Have you seen the images of all those terrified people desperate to escape the Taliban? Bad as Karzai was, that did not happen while he was in power.
We live in the world we actually live in, in which sometimes the question is which choice is least bad. For all Karzai’s problems, the Taliban is a hundred times worse. And it’s possible to acknowledge both: That Karzai was less than optimal but the Taliban was even worse.
I don’t know why you’re bringing up Karzai exactly, but there definitely were terrified people fleeing Afghanistan throughout his presidency. There would have been a huge number throughout Ghani’s post-occupation presidency had the army opted to put up a fight.
Really, do tell. Because I don’t remember seeing footage of people so desperate to leave they’re trying to climb onto airplanes that are taking off. Or jamming the road to the airport by the thousands and being beaten back by armed thugs. Or pleading on television for help in escaping because they’re afraid of being tortured and beheaded.
I don’t doubt that there were some people who left the country when Karzai was in power, but not like now. You’re just so desperate for the Americans to be just as bad as the Taliban that you’ve lost all sense of proportion.
Seriously? There’s millions of Afghan refugees from before the events of this month. It’s one of the countries that’s got the most externally displaced people. A bunch went back after the fall of the Taliban, but many left during the civil war that’s been raging for 20 years.
Your moral superiority didn’t manage to win hearts and minds over there. If it had, the Taliban wouldn’t have been able to recruit so easily, and wouldn’t have beaten in a week an army that outnumbered them about five to one.
You appear to think I support the Taliban. I don’t. What I acknowledge is that the US wasn’t establishing a liberal democracy. It was propping up a kleptocracy. That made it fertile ground for religious fundamentalists to sweep in.
absof’nlutly Why would anyone expect that we were trying to set up a liberal democracy? The project of the Afghanistan war was driven like all of out interventionist projects by politicians of both parties some of those politicians are fundamentally against having a liberal democracy right here in the U.S. We have always supported which ever foreign politician that supports our interests first and for most.
usually an asshole or group of assholes who should be in prison and not in power.
We have never really attempted nation building largely because of the political conflict within our own country. The fact the the Military is not trained to do that it is not in their job description and is who we have habitually turned does not help either.
It is immensely sad to see these kinds of events grinding up perfectly fine human beings.
Afghanistan is the latest in a long long list of countries we have helped and I would pray if I believed in prayer that it will be the last but i can’t and it won’t .
James Fehlinger says
Longest war: Were America’s decades in Afghanistan worth it?
By ELLEN KNICKMEYER
The Associated Press
Aug. 14, 2021
Updated Aug. 16, 2021
Here’s what 19-year-old Lance Cpl. William Bee felt flying into
southern Afghanistan on Christmas Day 2001: purely lucky. The U.S.
was hitting back at the al-Qaida plotters who had brought down the
World Trade Center, and Bee found himself among the first Marines
on the ground.
“Excitement,” Bee says these days, of the teenage Bee’s thoughts then.
“To be the dudes that got to open it up first.”
In the decade that followed, three more deployments in America’s
longest war scoured away that lucky feeling.
For Bee, it came down to a night in 2008 in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
By then a sergeant, Bee held the hand of an American sniper who had just
been shot in the head, as a medic sliced open the man’s throat for an airway.
“After that it was like, you know what — ‘F—k these people,’” Bee recounted,
of what drove him by his fourth and final Afghan deployment. “I just want to
bring my guys back. That’s all I care about. I want to bring them home.’’ . . .
Was it worth it?
“The people whose lives we affected, I personally think we did them better,
that they’re better off for it,” answered Bee. . .
“But I also wouldn’t trade a handful of Afghan villages for one Marine,”
he added. . .
From James Fehlinger’s NYT link @102:
So, the first paragraph shows that the American political, military and “intelligence” leadership were counting on ordinary Afghan soldiers to sacrifice their lives to delay an inevitable Taliban takeover for American convenience. Since the Afghan “government”‘s armed forces were several times larger than those of the Taliban, and much better equipped, that shows that they knew damn well that they had constructed nothing more than a Potemkin village – they just didn’t expect their stooges to immediately stop holding it up in order to save their lives (or bring their accumulated spoils out, in the case of Ashraf Ghani and the like). The rest of what I’ve quoted is just the standard internal finger-pointing you get when any organization fucks up publicly enough. Difficult for outsiders to know whether any “intelligence” analysts did actually shout in Biden’s ear: “THE WHOLE THING’S GOING TO COME DOWN IN A WEEK ONCE IT’S CLEAR YOU REALLY MEAN TO PULL OUT”. Grim as the outlook is for the urban, educated minority (particularly women) – rural Afghans will mostly continue to live under the day-to-day rule of the local chieftains who have swapped sides – and bad as is the encouragement the event will give to violent Islamist groups everywhere, I think Biden was right to stick with Trump’s decision: reversing it would just have meant more death and destruction, with him or a successor making the decision to leave later on. But the ongoing chaos, and failure to bring out those Afghans most at risk of Taliban revenge, are on him for failing to plan for a prompt collapse, whether the “intelligence” people warned him of it or not. In the UK, Johnson, the Foreign Secretary Raab, and the Chief of Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter are similarly guilty: they were all assuring us in recent weeks that there was no way the Afghan “government” was about to fold – Johnson even said the Taliban had “no path to a military victory”, and he and Raab were on holiday while the collapse was actually going on.
KG@109 I have been thinking along similar lines. Nobody really thought the government set up by the US was going to last. The plan was for the Taliban to take over after most people in the US had stopped paying attention.
consciousness razor says
Sure, but the Biden and Trump administrations are both responsible for that. Even if it wasn’t predicted to happen very quickly, they apparently had no solid plan from the beginning to evacuate many Afghan refugees (especially ones you definitely know about because they had been aiding the military) prior to the start of a collapse, however long that might drag out before the Taliban eventually takes over. Because anything which might happen later than that is anyone’s guess. At that point, we’re not really talking about any sort of “plan” at all, just saying to ourselves “Fuck, who knew? So what do we do now?” or else shrugging our shoulders and doing nothing.
I think it’s also more generally a failure of what passes for our immigration process in this country…. It’s already been 18 months, starting in Feb. 2020 when the withdrawal agreement was made. (And we could start the clock earlier. But even if we go with that, the original final withdrawal date was May 1, three and a half months ago.) None of this shit should work on such geological timescales.
Spoken by someone who is obiously white and never been there. Thousands are fleeing the Taliban as we speek but whatever I guess. The vast majority do not choose to work with the Taliban. They do so under threat of rape and torture. And most did not work with the Taliban in case you forgot the Taliban was a small paramilitary force with a few villages compared to the vast amount of citizens under the care of the US backed Afghan government. Until the Trump deal limited our forces at least. Leftist values like equality of the sexes dont apply to brown people I guess because right now there a hell of a lot of feminists who are fearful for their lives. The culling of university graduates started already. Targetted assinations towards anyone left to Hitler. Our worst nightmare defended by what are supposed to be our common ground allies. Hypocritical first world leftists. You ignore their pleas while projecting your uncaringnnature towards the people of that country onto others.
And you throw as many accusatory strawmans as you could possibly muster. I never ignored our war crimes. Not once. But its fucking clear if you talk to anyone who been there or lived there that the US presence was vastly preferable. Afghanis dont like the Taliban but fuck what they think right? Biden basically pulled an “America First”. At least he has the balls to admit it which is more than I can say about you.
Imagine we didnt win WW2. Imagine if we failed to dispell the Nazis because command were a bunch of incompetent idiots and imagine if we stayed for 20 years only to slink back into our country with defeat and then some dipshit is like “well we committed warcrimes too you know…” Jeez. I mean you wouldnt say that because the nazis were white because lets not forget that you are supporting a peace deal that left the Afgany people and their representatives out of the negotiating table and then try to accuse me of ignoring their sovereignty lol. In case you didnt know what happened during this pull out. So take your projecting ass out of here.
Oh and as someone who was a victim of domestic violence a double fuck you for that analogy. You truly are a terrible person.
Close to graduating high school I was all set to join the Marines until I saw Bush state in front of a live audience during a presidential debate that “God wants me to go to war in Iraq.” That killed any measure of patriotism I had left. Regardless me not serving changes nothing. I have veteran friends now wondering what did their comrades die for.
My thoughts on this is that this is less and less Bidens fault the more I look into it. 20 years of failure can we expect success suddenly? Thats a good defense of pulling put. Everythin else about imperialism or whatever is just virtue signaling nonesense. The pull out was as it was when we went in. Americas interest first.
The majority of the blame is on Bush, Obama and Trump. Who are terrible commanders of military matters where two of them do not understand or are unwilling to pay the political price of winning a committed war which is significant troop presence. They would rather use inaccurate bombs and drones against an enemy which understands the land and has infinite armor thanks to mountain range. The lack of troops meamt that whatever military the Afghan army had would be poorly trained. The lack of troops meant that they had to rely on corrupt government to oversee the money. All of this was a disaster as the afghan soldiers were in it for the paycheck and any cahs they could steal. Not a real fighting force like Taliban are. And the third is a fascist who probaly thinks Taliban are cool.
And again for the final time before any dipshit likes to pretend otherwise I dont support the war. Im not 18 anymore. The best option was not to start this. These are all the frustrated rants of someone who thinks afghanistan was our responsibility only because we were dumb enough to not stop at routing out Al queda. The best thing was not to start in the first place but once there we should have stuck it out instead of pulling out and consigning the region to oblivion. Absentee fathers the lot of you.
Here’s the TLDR version:
I supported the war in the first place. I own all the war crimes and bad decisions. That’s on me.
You all supported the pull out. OWN the bad shit the Taliban does in response to that. No excuses or cries of “but, but…imperialism”. No. Own that shit. That’s on you. The last three presidents ran on pulling out of Afghanistan as a campaign promise. The fascist(Trump) cut a peace deal with the kind of people who would gladly execute everyone in this forum and Biden executed that deal. You got your wish. What happens next is on you just as what happened prior was on me for supporting the war all those years ago.
No, what’s happening now is on you as well, because it’s an inevitable consequence of turning Afghanistan into an American colony in the first place. Since it was never going to pay (other than for sundry military contractors and arms manufacturers), it was inevitable that the colonists would eventually leave – and the event proved that the “democratic institutions” they had constructed were a Potemkin village, which the “government’s” armed forces (far more numerous and better armed than the Taliban) immediately decided was not worth defending. Who are you to disagree with the people who would have been putting their lives on the line to defend the kleptocrats who are now negotiating with the Taliban to retain their wealth and privileges?
consciousness razor says
Totally agreed with KG.
None of it stops being your responsibility whenever the US leaves, and it’s pretty incredible for you to accuse others of being “absentee fathers” at the same time. If the US never left, while you were doing nothing to end it, your fake expressions of contrition would still mean absolutely nothing. As it is, you just don’t get to take any credit for supporting the end of the war, but that doesn’t mean no responsibility for anything else.
So, you were fully aware of them and wanted them to continue indefinitely, because they are “preferable” to you.
No, it was 20 years of success for war profiteers and their racist enablers. Ending that was the failure, as far as those people are concerned. And however you might fit into this picture, you’ve picked some very shitty friends.
Are you sure everything else about imperialism or whatever is not “purity politics” or “cancel culture”? Possibly even a full-blown case of “cultural Marxism” or … [gasp] … “critical race theory”?
I admit, I have a hard time keeping all of the incoherent slogans straight anymore. But I bet it’s probably one of those.
What, as opposed to the interests of the military-industrial complex?
Because it’s not hard to see that you don’t actually give a shit about the interests of Afghans. Otherwise, you would be satisfied that they can rule their own country now. Mind you, that’s not necessarily the same as “happy” about what they may do with the place. But if you actually did feel that way, then giving you whatever outcome you happen to be interested in would not count as sufficient/satisfactory. (Basically just the meanings of those words — it’s not arguable.) So that would not have priority over the interests of Afghans themselves, who are real people who get to make their own fucking choices about their own fucking country (including awful ones, just like we do in our own country).
Like they didn’t commit for 20 years, didn’t spend trillions, didn’t cause countless tragedies, and didn’t have to deal with backlash from the many people opposed to the war…. No, they just should’ve pushed a little harder! Just be more belligerent! [eyeroll]
It’s no surprise, but it’s shameful and pathetic that the thing so many think they’re supposed to learn has something to do with how to conduct the wars “better” next time. But they also can’t even seem to learn any real facts along those lines, because it’s just more mythologizing and apologetics and plain old bullshit. Seems to happen with every fucking war.