We all hate losing, but we need to keep some kind of realistic perspective on the stakes and the game.
For example, if you want to play chess with me, I’m aware that I’m not great and never have been, but I can hold my own well enough so that losing definitely stings.
But, when you beat me, I do not stand around trying to scam a draw, or throw the table over, or call in airstrikes on your position. That’s how US leadership (“the most important nation in the world”) (“the leader of the free world”) does things. It’s sickening, and pathetic, especially because it usually means a few Americans die, while a whole lot of someone else lives under the shadow of US bombers and drones, occasionally having a group of friends blown to powder with high explosive, and having to dig their mangled bodies out of dust, shattered concrete, and sort out what part belongs to whom. That’s how the US “loses” – it makes sure that the other side has suffered so horribly that they won’t dare gloat or even whisper, “we won.” Let’s call it an honorable draw, shall we?
I’m referring, of course, to the War In Afghanistan. A war which the US continues to insist is to keep Afghanistan from becoming a center of terrorism. That’s absurd; the real center of terrorism is Langley, Virginia. The terrorists who launched 9/11 were mostly Saudis (awkwarrrrrd!) you know, the guys the US is supporting in a terroristic war against Yemen. Nobody dares breathe the words, “are we the baddies?”
What is really scary about the whole “withdraw from Afghanistan” thing is that, in US attempts to stabilize some kind of power-base in Afghanistan, the US military has resorted not only to its usual strategy of building fortresses in the middle of nowhere from which it can launch “search and destroy” missions to raise its “body count” (a strategy that worked badly in Vietnam) it has tried to prop up local
warlords politicians by having US marines guard their opium poppies against other local politicians taliban. The US actually rejected attempts to negotiate a withdrawal decades ago (“we don’t negotiate with terrorists”) (which must have made the taliban scratch their heads in perplexity) followed by secret negotiations with … the taliban.
Taliban, by the way, is not an organization, it’s a political stance. It’s like saying “the war on evangelicals” – immediately, we must ask which evangelicals? There are taliban that are willing to negotiate and there are taliban who aren’t. The ones who aren’t are often the ones whose kid sister we blew up 8 or 9 years ago and they want to see America humbled for that. I would. I do. I actually do. I want to see America crawl out of Afghanistan like we did out of Vietnam, and have a long contemplative period in which we look at the political processes that got us there, and reform them. It’s not going to happen, I know.
Several presidents have supposedly tried to withdraw. Obama, allegedly, tried to get the pentagon to listen up and reduce the troop count to, oh… zero? The pentagon responded that it needed twice the then current troop level. That’s like going to your dad and saying, “I’m selling my car. Can you give me $5000?” What, huh? Obama, well, I don’t know what was in that guy’s mind but basically he decided he really didn’t give a shit about Afghanistan or Guantanamo or any of that and besides there was Libya and Syria and Yemen and it’s all so complicated and he never wanted to burn any political capital taking on the republicans. Obama, a smart and amoral politician, did not take it to the republicans and settled for hunkering down while they jeered at him. I don’t know why he chose to self-disempower, but he was directly responsible for the rise of Donald Trump, to some degree, because he couldn’t stand up to the racist trolling he was subjected to. I always wondered about that: here was a man who could have had a press conference every day about why birtherism was wrong and racist and he just … took it. Well, the same strategy for Afghanistan, it seems. Trump, the would-be-autocrat and loose wheel of history, arbitrarily announced withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan and was completely ignored by the pentagon. “No, we’re guarding the oil. Sorry. Txt me later.” Biden inherited a mess that his brilliant buddy Obama helped brew.
Because it’s a bipartisan mess, neither side wants to hammer the other over its involvement in a massive crime under international law. Oddly it was the Trump administration, with its relentless attacks against international law, itself by sanctioning the International Criminal Court, that paid the most respect to international law: it gave it the finger, instead of just pretending it applied only to Russia and China. This was satisfactory to congress, which had written a blank check, “Go make war on people. Fuck ’em up.” after 9/11. The idea of an open-ended “authorization for the use of military force” is an unconstitutional farce – but that’s what congress had to do, in order to drop the hot potato that was its responsibility to regulate the executive branch’s war-making powers. History will portray congress as a bunch of moral cripples (because they are) for just voting more and more money for bombs, without even trying a bit of “oooo please don’t do that.”
The executive branch has realized that it’s going to do whatever it wants and the pentagon has realized that it’s not even answerable to the executive branch or congress anymore. [If I were emperor of the US, I would order withdrawal and cessation of all activity, or I’d put the pentagon budget at $0 for the rest of my rule] All of this is the background for Biden’s new announcement that the US is withdrawing from Afghanistan, at a date that is different from the one the Trump administration negotiated, because piss on them. I do not for the life of me understand why they chose Sept 11 – the symbology of that is horrific. They’re implying that the whole bloody mess is justified by 9/11? Well, it’s not. If the US had responded immediately by dropping the 101st Airborne on Tora Bora, literally covering it with American bodies holding shovels, and dug Bin Laden out, then left – some people would have still cheered. But Americans are cowards and don’t fight wars the way they did in World War 1 and 2, anymore. Ask yourself what Eisenhower (a certifiably horrible human being) would have done after 9/11 and you’ll see what I mean.
But against the backdrop of the Mother of All Bombs (make the rubble bounce) and massive civilian casualties, the Biden administration is preparing to orchestrate a pretend withdrawal. That’s right.
WASHINGTON — American troops are set to leave Afghanistan no later than Sept. 11, but the Pentagon, American spy agencies and Western allies are refining plans to deploy a less visible but still potent force in the region to prevent the country from again becoming a terrorist base.
Drawing on the hard lessons from President Barack Obama’s decision a decade ago to withdraw American troops from Iraq — allowing the rise of the Islamic State three years later — the Pentagon is discussing with allies where to reposition forces, possibly to neighboring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to United States officials.
Attack planes aboard aircraft carriers and long-range bombers flying from land bases along the Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean and even in the United States could strike insurgent fighters spotted by armed surveillance drones.
See? They’re still invaded; it’s just that the US won’t be flying its airstrikes from bases inside Afghanistan – they’ll just violate Afghanistan’s sovereignty wherever and however they feel like it. And they’ll spend a fucktonne of money paying other nearby governments for bases, thereby spawning new enemies and spreading military gear all over the area.
What they are really saying is that they’re going to base the entire middle east suppression project somewhere else than the secret bases in Syria and Iraq, which exist because something something Kurdish zone but we don’t support Kurdish nationalism so fuck them but we’re keeping our base here.
Congress will turn its head and cough.
Buncha sore losers. Just throw in the towel, already, and declare a “victory of sorts because it’s not as bad as Vietnam”
One of the collective nightmares that the US is cringing from is the helicopters fleeing the rooftop of the embassy in Saigon; an image burned into the souls of American cowards, everywhere. It’s a powerful symbol of how we cut and ran when our asses were kicked in the Tet Offensive, and it symbolizes – by not showing it – the carnage that ensued in Indochina as its politics re-aligned after our meddling. Add another 2 million dead to the 2 million we killed directly. Americans know – and have always known that that day is coming in Afghanistan. So to the taliban; they are negotiating from the position of the winner. But putting it off doesn’t make it better. What’s going to happen? Well, our political satraps in Afghanistan are going to move to New York City with the millions that they managed to loot, and they will have pretty nice lives, and their kids will become Americans. The problem is that mostly, our political satraps there are some of the shittiest people that we could find – a whole bunch of Manuel Noriegas and Diems, etc. They’ll fit right into the American melting pot; it’s OK as long as they have money.