I think the political fallout from the withdrawal from Afghanistan will be essentially nil in the long run, whining from editorial page warmongers notwithstanding. Also, this person who wrote to Josh Marshall has an interesting take that’s probably right. It’s paywalled, so here’s a long excerpt:
President Biden has a long memory; the events of 2009-10, when then-President Obama was jammed by the military leadership into what proved to be an aimless, futile surge of US forces into Afghanistan, have to be a major factor in his thinking. A more deliberate, better planned withdrawal would have been preferable to what we are seeing now in many respects — notably, to get more of America’s Afghan friends out of the country.
Had Biden directed a withdrawal of this kind, how would the US military leadership have responded? If Biden suspected the response would have been a months-long campaign of foot-dragging and leaking — to pressure him toward the military’s preferred course of staying in Afghanistan indefinitely — would he have been wrong?
I misjudge the man if he were not convinced this very thing would happen. There seems little question that 99% of the impetus for withdrawing now from Afghanistan, in a way that cannot be reversed, is coming from Biden personally. As a matter of strategy, and as one of keeping faith with Afghans who depended on us, this withdrawal is suboptimal. Biden is fully responsible for it.
But from his point of view it probably looks like the best option available — the others being, respectively, no withdrawal at all and a protracted, semi-public tug-of-war with senior military officers deeply invested in putting off unpleasant decisions about an Afghan project that has defined so many military careers. Biden looks determined not to let the military leadership do to him what it did to Obama a decade ago.
The real important political story of the day is that the Biden Administration just increased SNAP benefits by 25%.
An excellent tweet from the good Senator, may he rest in peace. I also agree with the assessment by the reader from TPM.
O/T. Without crediting Adam Silverman by name, Tom Sullivan over at Digby’s place cites Balloon Juice:
Also, I’d guess that Biden figured it was better to do it now rather than later. Congress is away, elections are next year. And there are multiple other issues brewing.
This was Adam’s post:
I don’t think that Obama was “jammed” on Afghanistan. He made the generals specify exactly what they wanted and metrics and a timeline, IIRC. He was smart enough to understand the situation and the politics. He chose the best path at the time.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
If we get the goofy cheese of “Love, American Style” and “Match Game ‘73”, count me in….
The increase in SNAP benefits is huge. I doubt it will get the plaudits it should, but it will be huge for reducing child hunger. NO CHILD should be hungry in this country.
I think his real choices were even worse than that. There would have been another push for a “surge” to undo Trump’s deal. The Taliban didn’t just pop up out of holes and miraculously re-appear- they were building. If you look at the timeline that’s the pattern- there’s a reduction in troops and then a period goes by and there’s a demand for a surge. Obama’s reduction in troops after Obama’s surge left more troops there than were there in 2003. Status quo, surge, reduction. That’s the 20 year pattern.
Afghanistan is now China’s problem to deal with.
The Taliban are horrible, but they were horrible before 9/11 and we never intervened. We intervened for specifically military strategic reasons that were achieved, more or less, and we stayed just because we knew leaving would be wrenching. I just don’t think Americans care about Afghanistan. They barely care about each other.
The only people really squawking about this are the usual neocon suspects who, thanks to being mostly never-Trumpers these days, have been completely exiled from the contemporary Republican party. As hard as it is to watch Afghanistan fall back under Taliban rule, the speed at which our puppet government and its pretend army collapsed simply confirms how futile our continued presence there really was.
@Jeffery: They are pretty much the only empire left that hasn’t had a turn there, aren’t they?
@Another Scott: Obama got rolled by the generals. That doesn’t make him a bad president. All presidents make mistakes, and I’m sure Obama thought the surge was the right move at the time. But given what’s happening there now, I’m mystified by the claim that a surge was a good decision. Manifestly not, given what’s happening now. What did it achieve, besides delaying the inevitable?
Too, for me, the situation is complicated by the contractors. Do I cynically believe contractors lobby to stay there forever and surge and draw down and surge and draw down? Yeah. I do.
@dr. bloor: How much of that is because empires have a habit of disappearing shortly after they invade Afghanistan?
I’m not saying there’s a curse involved, but it fits the evidence.
Until some genius comes up with a foolproof plan for purging Afghanistan of a fundamentalist militia with untouchable bases in Pakistan and unblockable funding from Saudi Arabia…. invading and occupying Afghanistan is never going to be a successful policy.
This was as true in 2001 as it is in 2021. The resolute unwillingness of the manly-man fanbois and their Media enablers to go anywhere near this inconvenient truth tells you all you need to know about their seriousness.
We can’t all be simultaneously shocked by the speed of the takeover and also believe it was stable with the smaller force. The “stable with smaller force” has now been conclusively disproved. That wasn’t true. The Taliban were building strength in 2020. They had to be.
I recall an argument I had with RW nut at work many years ago. He claimed that the Russians were threatening a naval invasion of Afghanistan. If one bothers to look at a map, you can see that Afghanistan is 1) landlocked, 2) the nearest coastal areas are in Pakistan and Iran, 3) there are no ports in the area. This is the level of argument that one has to deal with.
Trump made the shit agreement (via Pompeo, of course) with the Taliban for withdrawal by May 1. My assumption is that the White House team made the call that politically, now is is better than later in every scenario. As has been hashed over by all thoughtful people (referring only to the BJ comments, of course), Afghanistan was always going to be fucked up and bullshit, and never able to stand as a democracy. Pull the plug, declare victory, and by the next election that sad country will be a footnote, the corpse kept kicking by our ever-rightwing mainstream media.
Yep, staying was not an option. This is a stupidity that has been repeated by several over the last few days, e.g., “what would it cost to keep a few troops over there?” Trump had already drawn US troops down to a level that could not stop a concerted Taliban offensive. Staying would have required another escalation. It also appears that the Taliban had pre-arranged surrenders of Afghan forces, and were simply holding off waiting for the appropriate moment. They could have pulled this trigger any time. Biden got the deadline extended to September, which is two weeks away but, of course, the Taliban couldn’t resist the opportunity to roll up things a bit early to embarrass the US. That obviously has some deterrent value for them, much as it did for Viet Nam after expelling the US.
That embarrassment is what really has the foreign policy types and pundits in a tizzy. They are embarrassed that they were all wrong. Now, they’re furiously spinning to blame Biden and avoid that conclusion but, as Marshall points out, the speed at which the Taliban rolled up the Afghan “government” is glaring evidence that Biden was right. While they might sympathize with the plight of women and others left in Afghanistan, I suspect many, if not a majority, of Americans will not be upset about getting out or the way the departure occurred. There’s too much other crap of more immediate importance to dwell on this. For others, it will just go into the grab bag of random grievances they trot out to attack political opponents. Expect the Hawleys and Cruzes to make a 180 and attack Biden on this.
Not only did the US not intervene, it actively supported the Taliban against the Soviet Union’s invasion back in the 1980s. The Afghan Taliban of today are in part a monster of America’s own making.
They were building (again) and that would have become apparent (again) and it would be surgety-surge-surge.
This whole thing is nonsensical. If Engel is right and the “intelligence” really was that they would take over in 72 hours that has to mean the smaller force wasn’t securing the situation. The 2020 “lull” they’re all pointing to – “no combat deaths! It’s secure!” was instead the period where they were building.
@Amir Khalid: Viet Nam only recovered after the US ignored it for 15 or 20 years. If people are going to make comparisons, that should also be mentioned.
I think this will go down as one of the biggest military disasters in world history. Not the withdrawal and Taliban takeover, which was inevitable. The spending $50 billion plus on training and military hardware for a country which immediately becomes an enemy. This has been fubar since 2002.
Biden sees himself, I think, as a transitional figure who is Presidenting at the end of a long political career and is willing to take political hits. And he’s now getting the inevitable (shallow) popularity decline that comes from presiding over generally sucky times, much like Barack Obama. If it leads to some Trump 2 taking office we’ll rue the day… but having political power has to be for something, and sometimes it’s doing things that get you heat. You can’t keep it in reserve forever instead of doing the right thing.
@narya: As long as no fetus was going hungry, I doubt that half the country will see the SNAP increase as a good thing.
edit: Child poverty? Republicans could give a flying fuck.
hells littlest angel
Americans will barely remember this by the time of the 2024 elections. The 2022 elections, for that matter.
Just for the record, I believe the number being floated is right around one trillion US dollars.
@Amir Khalid: Well, we supported the mujahideen. Some of them became the Taliban, some of them were the people the Taliban overthrew.
@hells littlest angel: If the Republicans take the House in 2022, they’ll install Trump as Speaker. No one is even going to remember who was President from 2023-2025.
@Spanky: Or two. A trillion here, a trillion there…
@Matt McIrvin: Which is one reason you so rarely see Rambo III in the broadcast rotation…
@hells littlest angel: Too long. Halloween. We’ll be fighting our own Taliban here.
I’m late to the party here, but everyone else is right.
If the Taliban hadn’t begun making inroads until a few months after the U.S. pulled out, there could be an argument that the U.S. forces were necessary to prop up the government and removing them caused it to topple.
That isn’t what’s happening. The Taliban have had this ready for months and are just now pulling the trigger. The “government” pre-surrendered months ago, probably as soon as the tangerine announced the withdrawal. Or even earlier than that.
Knowing that, there was nothing to do but get out.
@Amir Khalid: …the worse thing is that while the US was willing to invade Afghanistan, we turned a blind eye to the rich people in Saudi and the Gulf states who were actually bankrolling extremist and terrorist movements. And we’re still doing it.
@MattF: To be fair to Shalimar, a $trillion does average out to $50B per annum. I doubt it was doled out so evenly, of course.
Can’t really keep up with all the news. With all that training and equipment, did the Afghan Army even put up a bit of a fight? Fire a single shot? View from the really cheap seats is they didn’t do diddly except lay down their arms and run. Did they leave the keys in the ignition for all those Humvees we have them?
The political risk President Obama ran, if a foreign terrorist attacked happened during his presidency was huge.
The shit storm that would’ve come would’ve been like a Biblical flood of shit drowning America.
I think that drove a lot of his political decision making regarding the Afghanistan surge, drone strikes, etc.
@Spanky: A lot of that is money that will never hurt us: food, construction, salaries, and graft. I was trying to isolate just the weaponry and training to use it. You’re right, I’m probably way too low.
@The Dangerman: No. No. Yes.
This is grossly overstated. For example, the British got involved in Afghanistan in the 1830s. Their empire was a going concern more than a century later, and its eventual failure had nothing to do with Afghanistan. The real reason that Afghanistan has repelled so many invaders is that there isn’t much there of value, so everyone rightly concludes there’s no point in staying when they hit strong resistance.
@Tony Jay: and you know what is even more telling, in your first paragraph in this post, you’ve included more succinct accurate information about Afghanistan than has ever seen the light of day in either US or UK MSM broadcasts.
I am getting tired when the big picture is used to blue the lines and when granular is the approach at hand when you don’t care to show any lines at all. How many people actually understand who is funding and supporting these people or even fully understand that this particular patch is a case of Pakistan doing what is in Pakistan’s best interests with nary a verbalization of anyone in the West having a good idea on what those interests might be?
@The Dangerman: They’d sold their equipment to theTaliban.
Oh hell no. It isn’t even the first time this country has conducted a goat rodeo of this scale and with these results.
@Amir Khalid: Yep — that fact should not be allowed to go down the memory hole. True story: when I was a kid, I remember reading a hagiographic article about the Taliban in “Readers Digest” while in the waiting room at the dentist office!
I don’t think they called themselves the Taliban at the time. Ronald Reagan, who was president back then, called them “Freedom Fighters” who were heroically opposing the Soviet invaders. It sticks out in my mind because I asked my mom about it when I got home, and boy did I get an earful!
@Shalimar: It’s still money that’s gone. Our tax dollars. Gone. Just about the same amount that looks like will be freed up for infrastructure, as a matter of fact.
This is incorrect. The US supported a different group, the Mujaheddin, who were reasonably successful in resisting the Soviets but were ineffective at putting together a government when the Soviets pulled out. The Taliban were a Pakistani-funded group that successfully filled that power vacuum, largely because so many people in Afghanistan preferred almost any government to chaos.
Obviously I don’t have to do it and it would be incredibly difficult but if the Taliban can put an army together couldn’t “he and his generation” (which sound like a huge group of people, even a majority) also put one together? Do they have a choice? It’s either that or the Taliban wins by default, right?
@Amir Khalid: Thank you, Americans tend to conveniently forget that, along with our interference and fomenting coups in Iraq and Iran to install our own puppet rulers, and destabilizing most of Central America with over a century of interfering for the sake of the industrialists/fruit companies/”war on drugs”. And helping the Saudis fight their proxy war with Yemen. I don’t know what the answer is, not even sure what the question should be at this point.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
I can see them doing it, in which case there could never be a joint appearance by Biden and Harris anywhere, including the SOTU.
@The Dangerman: here’s where the military BJ pedantic comes out: HMMVs don’t have keys. It’s just an ignition switch. When you get out of the vehicle and go to secure it for the day, there’s a steel cable underneath the steerwheel that you pull up, through the wheel, then secure it via padlock. But all of our vehicles are designed with no key, because I can’t even imagine a world where you’re in X situation, go to leave, then “uhm, where’s the key?”…
@Roger Moore: It’s the same people!
Just got a news alert that Biden will address the nation about Afghanistan from the White House later today.
@Tony Jay: One of the reports had the Taliban simply paying Afghan military leaders to turn over their weapons and disband. Follow the money. How is the Taliban funding their operations? Who is backing them?
Just like in Iraq*, after 20 years of training and arming the Afghan Defense Force immediately collapsed when faced with combat.
What. A. Surprise.
@VOR: Saudi Arabia. At least, that’s who used to be funding them. It might have broadened more recently.
A very good point: I’ve been reading all these accounts of how the Taliban basically pre-paid their takeover by paying off the arrears from the “Afghan Government”, and was wondering where they (supposedly this scruffy militia hiding out in caves) got all that money? Not just buying off soldiers and officials with their back pay, but also, reportedly arming themselves by buying (US-supplied) weaponry: for which, apparently, there were always willing sellers.
I think I know the answer (as you cite), but I’m sure there will be little investigative reportage on this.
The blind-eye we turned was to Pakistan. They’ve been propping up the Taliban for the last 20 years.
The non-Taliban government was allying itself with India. India, at one time, was the second largest donor of non-military aid behind the USA.
The thought of its western neighbor being friendly with India drove a lot of Pakistan’s decision making to keep the Taliban going.
The issues in Afghanistan were a lot more than the U.S. versus the Taliban.
Regional politics also played a significant role in sustaining the Taliban.
At some point Iran decided backing the Taliban to some extent because the enemy of my enemy is someone I can work with. I think this coincided with U.S. forces returning to Iraq to fight ISIS.
The regional political situation in Afghanistan is complicated, and a large part of the reason the Taliban has been able to keep going for so long.
@Leto: I’m on no coffee and mostly asleep, but what is the functional difference between a key in the ignition and a key to unlock the padlock?
The militias of the largest ethnic group (Pashtuns) take over, and this is a surprise?
I’ve wondered for years whether the best outcome for Afghanistan and Pakistan wasn’t just to effectively toss the live bomb to Russia, China, and Iran, and tell them “here, have fun with it.” (After all, it’s not like they can afford a jihadist stronghold right on their border either, even less than we can in fact).
Well, either way, we’re about to find out.
We need to have vote on a declaration of war.
Actually, mujahidin is not a proper name. It is the plural of mujahid, which means one who fights a jihad (i.e. a righteous struggle). I’m sure every single one of the Taliban considered himself a mujahid.
@Leto: We welded a link of a chain to the steering wheel and bolted a chain to the floorboard of our vehicles and padlocked them. Field expediency.
Love the lyric reference to Big Thief. Perfecto.
The Moar You Know
@Shalimar: Your figure is not even remotely close. We’ve pissed away $890 billion dollars there. Almost a full trillion. I want my fucking money back.
I’m serious about that. There’s a fuckload of contractors and senior military folks who painted a picture of a stood-up, ready-to-rock Afghan military that was going to be capable of holding the country and it didn’t take them six weeks to fold completely. There’s a procedure to get money back from federal contractors who lie to or defraud the government. I suggest we start doing so.
They called themselves the mujahidin, and not all of them became Taliban. Plenty went Northern Alliance, including Ahmed Shah Massoud, the main guy in it who was assassinated by al-Qaeda the day before 9/11.
If the Infotainment industry wasn’t willing or able to lay out the truth of who funds and supports the Taliban (and numerous other fundamentalist terrorist groups/militias around the world) back in late 2001, then they are never, ever going to do it.
They don’t want those dots connected any more than they do the dots connecting the foreign policies of Riyadh and Tel Aviv, because that would be very serious and lead to real problems that challenge the global status quo a hell of a lot more than pissing away a few trillion dollars and however many lives it takes knocking around in the Afghan highlands.
The real issue is that no one with the ability to ‘do something’ about the real issue wants to touch the real issue, because they are fully aware of how much push-back they’d get. So the shit goes on.
@Betty Cracker: I’m talking about this (CFR timeline):
The generals never, ever wanted a timeline. They never ever wanted metrics of how success would be measured. He gave them what they said they needed and a deadline. That paved the way for the actual drawdown and for actually leaving.
My $0.02, FWIW.
@The Dangerman: Functional difference is when you’re in a fire fight. You want to eliminate as many variables as you can, and having a key ignition is a big one. What happens if your driver is shot? What if the driver doesn’t secure them properly? What happens if your driver has to get into another vehicle (for whatever reason)? Driver is hit by an external IED (outside the vehicle) while engaged in the firefight and no longer has that area where the keys were?
Honestly the only time you’ll secure the vehicle like that is when you’re in-garrison/on-base, or some other secure location like that. Also I had the same question early on, but after some combat vets shared some experiences it really made sense.
@Amir Khalid: Yes. I was watching Mika Brezinski clutching her pearls on MSNBC this more with no mention of the fact that her father started this whole mess.
@raven: Yeah, they took that design and simply incorporated it into all vehicles moving forward. Though I’m not sure why you’d need to padlock a horse… /s :P
@WaterGirl: You could argue that the GOP does give a flying fuck about child hunger and is enthusiastically in favor of it, as the one thing even better than workers themselves being hungry and desperate for work at any (below market) price.
Ingraham pretty much admitted it on TV last week, hee-hawing her way through the bragging confession.
We consistently underestimate their bad faith.
Mike in NC
In contrast to the Fat Orange Clown Administration, always trying to deny SNAP benefits, school lunches, and anything else he could take away from the not rich people in this country. Simply because he was brought up as a sociopath, determined to hurt and humiliate.
@Barbara: Biden’s in charge now, PDBs will not be ignored. If intel indicates something’s up, we have cruise missiles, drones and we can even send a small force if neccessary.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
The solution is pretty strait forward, burn the towns and village of the Taliban to the ground, kill the Taliban every chance you get until they are no more, do the same to the Saudis and Pakistanis if they keep supporting the Tabin. The problem is that solution is too unspeakably gastly for a group that just annoys us.
Don’t got to war unless you are willing to inflict the worst kind of cruelty on the other side over and over again. Was is not a game.
CNN: Biden will speak from the White House at 3:45 pm today.
@sab: “Started” is a real stretch when talking about anything in South West Asia.
@Chris: You are right — there was a split. But I think it’s inaccurate and misleading to say the group Ronald Reagan referred to as “Freedom Fighters” (aka, “Mujahideen”) is a completely different group from today’s Taliban. From the Council on Foreign Relations’ Afghanistan page:
@Kay: Remember Erik Prince running around trying to get support for the idea of creating a new Ductch East India Company to run the place (which he would have been in charge of, naturally)? I kind of wish we would have handed it to him to bankrupt his little mercenary company. Let’s pay King Prince to rule the place.
@Another Scott: I want someone(s) to follow the money on Afghanistan. The contractors and military industrial complex were making bank.
How many retired generals made bank on Afghanistan and its forever war? What about think tanks and “intellectuals” and politicos?
@Spanky: The particular wingnut fantasy they’d be nurturing with that move involves impeaching and convicting Biden and Harris to install Trump as President, which is never going to happen (since it requires a Senate supermajority) and makes no sense, unless they’re willing to countenance a double assassination instead. Would even a Republican House majority go for that?
@Enhanced Voting Techniques: And make sure those gutless motherfucker in congress declare it!
@The Moar You Know:
Enhanced Voting Techniques
It’s also were the outcasts of South Asia end up. These people won’t be living in a near desert in the mountains if they liked outsiders.
It’s not completely different by any means, it’s just that the – far more common – phrasing of “we supported the Taliban in the eighties” is also inaccurate, I’d say. Basically, the mujahidin broke apart into different factions as soon as the Soviets weren’t there to hold them together.
Incidentally, another interesting faction from this era is what they used to call “Arab-Afghans,” i.e. Arabs who volunteered to fight the Soviets and then went home with a bunch of training, experience, and connections, and started to put it to use against other enemies. Al-Qaeda ultimately grew out of that.
It’s always about the money, how much we should spend and where and doing what with said money.
A surge and draw down shows military strength and uses a lot of resources, which benefits contractors so for the military/industrial complex it’s a grand deal and for rethuglican politicians it is a sales pitch. It’s “Doing what we can with less risk.”
We spend so much for our “defense” that we tend to use the stuff that money buys to justify the continued spending. It gives a bad message about the use of force, which is one reason we have a political party that now uses civilians dressed up in military costumes and with military style guns as a quasi political farce because so many people are seeing through the concept of “Overwhelming Military Bullshit.” The right has convinced itself that the Taliban or whoever will be here next week if we don’t attack them around the world. Sure we need to protect our selves and it’s a bit nice that we have less piracy to control all that shipping of goods around the world, so that business interests are protected, but maybe if we actually manufactured some of that stuff ourselves the profit margins and the need for unemployment might just be a bit better in balance and more people could purchase the crap they don’t need and as a bonus we wouldn’t be creating so many tools of war. Just a thought.
Someone on the internet pointed out no one remembers or cares that Ford was President when Saigon fell.
I said that yesterday (but not at BJ, so it doesn’t count)….
an old geezera veteran observer of events, I seem to recall that despite the angst generated by the Fall of Saigon in April of 1975 (and Vietnam was a deeper and bloodier “investment” for the US than Afghanistan ever was), by the time the election season rolled around the next year, it was pretty much a non-issue.
Does anyone here think the GOP outrage machine will actually be able to stay focused on this for longer than about 10 minutes before they find something else to be outraged about? (besides which the blood is on their hands as much as anyone’s.)
DC insiders will try and try to make this an issue, but it’s been over 20 years of this disaster and it’s a staggeringly unpopular “war” from anyone except: DC talk show circuit clowns, military leaders who have used it to build /advance careers, and contractors who have made stunning amounts of cash off this. No one else wants this.
@Betty Cracker: Taliban didn’t exist back then. Founded 1994.
@sab: I don’t think so. I think Bush Jr started this whole mess.
Afghanistan has been messed up for a long time on it’s own as well.
I think quite a lot of people in America don’t much remember or care that Ford was President, period.
@Another Scott: From your CFR excerpt:
Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but it’s 10 years later, and we’re watching an absolute shit-show unfold on TV, so I don’t see the argument for how U.S. interests were served by the 2009-2011 surge. Looks like we delayed the inevitable at great cost. I’m grateful Biden has the courage to cut our losses and GTFO. It sucks for everyone involved, especially the Afghans, but there just weren’t any good options — not in 2009, and not in 2021 either.
Truly do not know the Biden administration stance on relations with Pakistan but they’re surely not as cozy with the Saudis as TFG, so progress there.
We will find that Taliban 2.0 are not at the cave-dweller level of sophistication of the first version. What that means for the people of Afghanistan is anybody’s guess.
I love the editorializing in that announcement. “shift blame” — it’s called the facts!
Here’s hoping that Putin thinks he’s got the bandwidth to take on Afghanistan, because he likely doesn’t.
Couple themes I am hearing repeatedly are the Afghan government’s graft and corruption have been monumental, one reason they mostly fled so quickly, and that the Taliban have literally been buying weapons off Afghan troops and police as they swept through the country. They evidently have lots and lots of cash.
Oh, man, Twitter is now demanding that I sign up in order to read tweets. I guess I knew that would happen some day.
Why isn’t the media celebrating the end of the civil war with essentially no blood shed? Oh, that’s right, blood shed and battles make for great stories and eye balls on sites. Sick bastards, all.
Well, I guess we don’t really know how much blood is going to be shed.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@hueyplong: More likely the Iranians since they hate the Taliban. The Northern Alliance is Russia’s proxy in all this.
It’s cynical of me, but already at the time, I thought the surge was happening entirely because Obama
1) didn’t think it was politically feasible to pile an Afghanistan withdrawal on top of an Iraq withdrawal without looking like he at least tried to salvage Afghanistan (remember, a lot of his 2000s branding required him to separate “the good war” from “the bad war” to signal to all the VSPs that he wasn’t one of those unserious hippies who’re against war in general), and
2) didn’t think it was politically feasible to go for the kind of massive commitment of troops and resources into Afghanistan that would be required if there was to be any chance of actually salvaging Afghanistan (the only time that might have happened is right after 9/11, and, well, we saw how that went).
The entire surge was kabuki theater for the sake of America’s political demands. Sad, but a fact.
@zhena gogolia: Just don’t tweet, and if you do, ignore the comments that you might get in return.
It seems that in Afghanistan there are two major opposite forces. Those wanting to actually have something resembling a life and those wanting power at the muzzle of a gun. Sort of like most every other place on earth with the exception that there are a few willing to provide the guns, instead of them having to purchase them. And there are plenty of those around the world willing to make money building guns and bullets. We do similar, building a relatively strong military, with a lot of big guns and instilling in at least a large segment of our population that military service in the protection of the monied interests is grand. (They don’t of course state it that way…) Take most of our police forces as an example, or many of the Sheriffs and their entire departments. Humans have done this for their entire existence. A few countries have toned it down a bit but not here. And yes it is true that humans will take things by force if they feel that there is no other way, even as they never look for or consider any other possibility.
Afghanistan is just an extreme example. A poor country with few resources, so not worth stealing it’s assets and it becomes a political football, to be kicked around in a “defending against one’s enemies so that we don’t have to fight here,” battleground. That’s what it’s been for the US for the last 20 yrs.
This post and the thread linked below from the Afghan Central Banker are the only two things that have helped me understand what happened this weekend.
The Banker was shocked at the corrupt, instant collapse of his government.
Apparently, Mr. Biden also believed that after 20 years, the Afghan gov would do something to help their country. No, they fled.
I love the disobedient schools :)
It would be great if Texas would turn blue because then we would get all these combative, conflict-enjoying Texans.
I have been reading all of these garbage pieces from David French, Max Boot, Bret Stephens, et al. One of them — can’t remember which — said the quiet part out loud: we’re been in Korea for almost 75 years, why not Afghanistan?
These people are monsters.
I mean, it’s amazing how they just keep voting to extend their mission / job. Must be nice.
Interesting thread from Ajmal Ahmady the suddenly out of office head of Afghanistan’s Central Bank. He pretty much calls the fleeing of the president without a plan unforgivable.
eta: I see @MazeDancer got here too.
The Moar You Know
@hueyplong: Vladimir Putin is many things, but stupid is not one of them. He’s going to let this be someone else’s problem.
Maybe we’ll learn more about this specific country and situation as more facts emerge from the people who were in power themselves.
Just kidding. We’ll keep getting the Vietnam photographs. That one photograph.
@JML: The GOP doesn’t need to stay focused on this. The goal here is to create a sort of ‘flash memory’ where all of a sudden everything that went wrong is Biden’s fault, and from now on they can just say “Democrats lost Afghanistan and squandered all our sacrifices there” and media will nod and move on because its old news. And then that’s the idea that gets solidified with the American public.
They need to spin furiously for about a week. They know it.
@Suzanne: Hmmm, maybe we should turn that question around: we’ve been in Korea for 75 years. Why?
@JML: The GOP will flog this precisely because the idiot pundit class will obsess about it. It’s like the deficit, even more so because, like the deficit, the GOP had the biggest role in creating the problem in the first place.
I got in the car this morning, turned on NPR (yeah, there isn’t any other news in my area that is less laughable than NPR) and heard an insufferable asshole in mid-rant, about Afghanistan, abusing the host, and I thought “who is this weasel?”, and at the end of the interview they identified him as John Bolton, and there can’t be enough time in the sidereal universe for me NOT to hear from John F’ing Moron Bolton, ever again. He was on the air several years ago, with a hard-on for having pulled the US out of the international criminal courts. If these dicks are coming back, I need to move out of the country.
@Suzanne: Someone on one of the stations mentioned that we have been in Germany for decades. Then said in both South Korea and Germany, we are protecting them from possible agression from their neighbors. We are not involved in a civil war with them.
If anything else, I hope MSM wil talk about the fact that the citizens of Afghanistan chose the Taliban over us. They don’t like us.
I’m surprised that he’s surprised that the members of a Potemkin government would to anything but resort to “every man for himself” once the wind started blowing harder.
@gvg: James Michener’s Caravans (1963) was set in contemporary Afghanistan. Michener described the female repression, reactionary clerics, pervasive corruption, and poverty that still afflict the country today.
I’ve read Caravans twice, but only recently learned that it was the basis for a movie of the same name released in 1978. It featured Anthony Quinn and Jennifer O’Neill.
Maybe they think they can use it grab their Party back from Trumpism and return to the tax cutting, deregulation and warmongering glory days. I personally think that ship has sailed, but they’re all back.
It’s not the same people, or at least the rank and file weren’t the same. The Taliban got their name because their core group were a bunch of young madrassa students. They may have had some overlap with the earlier Mujaheddin, but they were absolutely not the same group.
To summarize a very long and complex story, after the Soviet invasion, the US funded and supplied a very heterogeneous collection of people fighting against the invasion. When the Soviets finally withdrew, they were able to overthrow the regime the Soviets had been supporting, but the government they set up quickly collapsed from infighting. The Taliban were created by Pakistan to take advantage of and/or solve the chaos left by the government collapsing, and the forces they overran in the process of taking over the country were the remnants of various Mujaheddin groups. Some of the Taliban might have been members of the Mujaheddin before, but they were not the same group.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@MazeDancer: The way Ahmedy is talking it sounds like senior leadership in Afghanistan were paid off to go surrender monkey.
I have decided to limit my “news” intake to Balloon Juice for the foreseeable future. I am unwilling to listen to the “experts” who are bemoaning what is happening in Afghanistan and blaming Biden. I understand fully the tragedy that this is for many, especially women and girls. My heart aches for them. But I cannot see what Biden could have done to prevent this, given the policies of the Trump administration that he inherited. Trump was determined to get out of Afghanistan no matter what. And I’m not even sure Trump was wrong!
The Taliban has taken over the country essentially without firing a shot! Apparently few if any Afghanis were willing to defend the Kabul government. So if we are asking “Who lost Afghanistan?” the answer seems to be a government which had no real support, which was incompetent, and which was corrupt to the core. And this is not new. How much money did Kharzai and his people steal?
The fact is that the US did not “lose” Afghanistan. We never had it to lose. There is a lot of “blame” to go around. But here’s the real question: why would anyone “want” Afghanistan?
The pendulum is never static. Few remember that Afghanistan was the only member of the United Nations to vote against the admission of Pakistan in 1947.
Tensions between the two mirrored the ebb and flow of the ethno-nationalist movement to create Pashtunistan from parts of both countries* (essentially expunging the ill conceived Durand Line), to the point that for a time Pakistan closed its border with Afghanistan in protest.
*Which into this century still simmers as a bone of contention.
Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University:
Biden Was Right
The rapid collapse of Afghanistan’s military and governing institutions largely substantiates US President Joe Biden’s skepticism that US-led efforts would ever have enabled the government to stand on its own feet. Even two decades of steady support failed to create Afghan institutions capable of holding their own.
“The ineffectiveness and collapse of Afghanistan’s military and governing institutions largely substantiates Biden’s skepticism that US-led efforts to prop up the government in Kabul would ever enable it to stand on its own feet.”
The Moar You Know
@Betty Cracker: The South Koreans don’t need our manpower. We’ve got 28,000 troops there. The South Korean military is about 600,000 strong and is the sixth-largest armed force in the world.
I’ll take a wild guess: we’re probably there with a pile of nukes.
@Jeffery: To the extent that Afghanistan will be China’s problem to deal with, they’ll do what they have to do in order to gain access to Afghanistan’s large deposits of lithium. There are no electric vehicle batteries, among other things, without it. They’ll make a deal, and if the Taliban or anybody else tries to fuck with them, well, let’s just say Allah will have his hands full finding enough virgins in what will prove to be a very crowded heaven.
I am not being flip, but I had a friend in the early 80s who was a wanderer (now a doctor) and he spent about two months in Afghanistan one fall — felt perfectly safe traveling around (one American, one Egyptian, and one Iraqi, all men) and he has always said that you cannot overestimate the number of male Afghanis who are high every day, all day. Hashish was/is the great equalizer and pain killer. He suggested that is one reason he stayed as long as he did.
Just adding that detail to the fact stream.
This makes a lot of sense.
The Moar You Know
@Zelma: He wasn’t wrong. Not about this. The Afghan people (there is truly no such thing, there is no such thing as an “Afghan nation”, but I use the term for convenience) don’t give enough of a shit about themselves or their daughters and sons to fight back at all; that’s been made very clear in the last week. We damn well should not be willing to do for them what they absolutely refuse to do for themselves. Trump did the right thing to get us out and so did Biden.
And now I have to wish my hands with acid for typing that.
@NotMax: This is a great point. I have always said (in my international crim class, especially) that Pakistan is the most dangerous country on the planet. It has multiple regional enemies, long histories of tribal grudges, internal instability (really unstable) and nukes. And it’s biggest enemy, India, is also nuked up and only a few minutes away from a high yield nuclear drop. Too few to correct a mistaken launch.
It really does. Anyone who looks at what just happened and says “it was working!” – what was working? It was working before it was tested? Hypothetically, it was working. Until it had to work, then it failed.
Hate to sound like a broken record on this, but –
Afghans are the people.
Afghanis are the unit of currency.
The Moar You Know
@Immanentize: There is no nuclear delivery system in the world where this is possible. Just wanted to get that out there.
I remember when we had them growing watermelons instead of poppies. It seemed bizarre. So heavy and fragile and such water hogs. I would have stuck with poppies too.
@Immanentize: New used to get what we called “surfboards” of black Afghani. It’s been 45 years and I can taste it now!
That’s one totally valid point. The other totally valid point is: maybe we still need force in Korea to achieve our military objective. I would submit that once we kicked al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan and got bin Laden, we no longer have a military objective there.
But these clowns just want to keep it going forever. They remind me of rich kids who go to law school on their parents’ dime so they can delay getting a real job.
@Roger Moore: See #80 for the CFR take. It’s not 100% accurate to say they’re “the same people” as I did, and it’s also not 100% accurate to say they’re “a different group” as you did, IMO. The influence of various meddling foreign powers waxed and waned, but in many cases, guerilla fighters who were known as the “Afghan mujahideen” in the 1980s and “the Taliban” in the 1990s are literally the same religious fanatics. Maybe it’s more accurate to say the Taliban evolved from the Mujahideen.
@Kay: Hash is made from cannabis, poppies are made for opium or smack.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) they are too obsessed with battling the chimera of CRT as well as mask mandates at local school board meetings and punishing transgender kids for offending their God to even notice the actual policy changes that Biden is making.
A big chunk of that was because it was important for the Cold War. Since the end of the Cold War, South Korea has been an important economic partner, and their continued safety and stability is important to us. Of course South Korea has also managed to achieve a stable democratic government and is able to provide most of the military needed for their own defense. The force we have there is mostly as a promise that we’ll support South Korea in the event of a North Korean invasion.
@Roger Moore: Right — they’re basically a tripwire for North Korea. IOW, NK can’t invade without fighting U.S. troops and therefore going to war with the U.S.
@Immanentize: So they really are like our Founding Fathers!!
In the colonial period in the US, apparently much of the male population was drunk all the time, also too. (It’s supposedly one of the reasons why Jefferson wanted to make grape cultivation and wine more popular – it was a little more difficult to get drunk on than rum.)
@The Moar You Know: Do you mean once a nuclear missile’s launched, there’s no way to send a self-destruct signal?
Right. I just remember the watermelon planting offensive. Watermelon isn’t even particularly nutritious.
@The Moar You Know:
@NotMax: I thought Afghans were the rugs?
@Betty Cracker: I have a post scheduled for that for 3:30. I don’t think he’s gonna mince words.
I am on the Biden LIVE beat while TaMara is taking a break.
@The Moar You Know: You have way more faith in human beings who are generational adversaries than I do.
You mis-spelled “kleptocracy”. South Korea is… weird. I think it’s the relatives who live next door who cause the country to be crazy but it is no bastion of representative democracy any more than the People’s Republic of China is Communist.
@raven: I have to ask — how big were the surfboards? Old style long board, Or more like the new short boards? :-)
IMO, the most salient point in this crisis is how much credence the US gave to the generals who assured them the Afghan Army could hold anything long enough for an orderly evacuation.
The Afghan Army appears to have been compromised all along. Completely and totally compromised. Not incompetent, not badly trained, but compromised.
I’d like to know how that happened.
Uh, no. Looting and Genocide would be on page 1 of his playbook.
@Another Scott: True. Johnny Appleseed was not selling apple pie — he was promoting hard cider and mash. No one cared much how “sweet” an apple was.
@Kay: But it does resonate with a certain crowd, neh?
@Robert Sneddon: Huh? There are multiple factions within the country who have formed parties and the government changes hands due to elections. That’s all for show? Have those Koreans just been ripping us off the way Trump said they did. I’ll have to reconsider my assessment of them then.
@Immanentize: He was spreading Swendenborgianism is what he was up to.
I don’t think “kleptocracy” is quite the right word for South Korea. We usually use that to describe countries where the government is closely associated with what would be organized crime in other countries. The problem in South Korea is more that their economy is dominated by a few Chaebol, whose controlling families thus have an outsized influence on national politics. Nonetheless, they are still recognizably democratic; they have popular elections that elect leaders who have real control over the country. They have a deep problem with corruption, but honestly it’s hard for the US to point too many fingers when it comes to wealthy interest having too much control over politics.
ETA: It would probably be close to correct to talk about South Korea as a corporate state than a kleptocracy.
@Immanentize: They were small but. . .POW!
@Roger Moore: Cumshaw
@The Moar You Know: Our force there is essentially a “tripwire”. Attack South Korea and you’re attacking US Forces. Pretty freaking big tripwire if you ask me, but politics are what they are. I doubt we’ve stationed any nukes there: we have subs that will do the job.
@zhena gogolia: Happened to me this morning, also too. I think they’ve been playing with it for a while.
Open the tweet in a Private Browsing window (or similar). You might need to refresh it after doing so, but it should work. (It does for me – Chrome on Winders.)
(“Fight the Jack!!1”)
@The Moar You Know: I know it’s difficult to say you agree with Trump about anything but I do agree with him on getting out of Afghanistan. Of course, many in the media are pretending as if Trump never made a deal with the Taliban and planned for an earlier exit. They ignored most of the malfeasance of Trump and his administration right up until January 6th, hiding behind claims of their objectivity but now can’t wait to slam Biden over the tragedy of Afghanistan. They’re busy talking about how this will be a stain on his presidency and drive his popularity down.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say the people in Afghanistan don’t care about care about their children maybe they believe they’re making the pragmatic decision to survive. Maybe they’re living to fight another day, maybe they hope to leave or lay low until things change or they’re sick of war and being occupied.Of course, I’m sure you’ve read the Afghan army wasn’t getting paid because of corruption. Whatever the reason they decided not to fight, they didn’t, that’s their choice and we can’t do it for them.
I can only hope the Biden administration gets out as many people as possible and we can accept many refugees into this country.
Anyone becomes much easier to corrupt when you fail to pay them.
The Moar You Know
@Ken: That’s the case.
@Just Chuck: It was a lot bigger when were actually on the Z.
Oh, I’d say there was plenty of planning by Afghan leadership. And it would surprise me if they weren’t paid off by the Taliban.
I’ll give the Taliban props for using dollars instead of bullets to put an end to resistance. I would guess that any violence coming is going to be strategic, either to keep the population in check or to blacken the US’s reputation. Possibly both, but I’m hoping the lives lost will be minimal.
@Roger Moore: I have vague recollections of the Cold War ending when I was a young person. But a few years back, our former neighbor’s daughter, whom we’ve known since she was a first grader, saw her U.S. Army soldier husband shipped off for a tour of duty in Korea. Maybe there are less expensive signs of fealty. Pinky swears or something.
J R in WV
They were called the Mujahadeen back then, which is probably Pashto for freedom fighters. And young Islamic men from all over the Islamic world flocked to fight with the Mujahadeen.
I may have the spelling crocked up, don’t care enough to look it up. Close enough for a rant! They were trained by our Green Berets, supplied by Reagan. And now here we are.
The GQP 404 page error where they were bragging on Trump’s withdrawal plan is also pretty funny!!
The Moar You Know
@Leto: you have no idea how happy I am to hear that.
I don’t know what a private browsing window is.
@Peale: Don’t laugh, there is still a Swedenborgian Center on Beacon Hill. And I think it is growing!!
@Betty Cracker: There are actually almost 8,000 dependents there now. It used to be a “combat” area and then a “hardship tour” but no more since we skedaddled off the DMZ.
J R in WV
So Cole probably didn’t have keys to the tank when he was a tanker back in his day? I didn’t have the keys to the sub-tender I was on either — but I was an E-2, not the O-6 Captain of the ship…
. . . . ;~)
PS Our Captain got transferred to command of a Naval Hospital in Korea after a minor ship-handling error resulting in scraping all the scuppers and hardware off the starboard side of the ship against the 16×16 timbers of the mole.
There was also a stack fire on one of the tugboats trying to keep the ship from ramming the mole… there was a stiff breeze from the NW and the port side of the ship was a huge sail. The Navy doesn’t work with sails much any more. We almost dropped the anchor chain too, both yellow shots were over the capstan and the red shot was showing.
I think you’re being sarcastic, but it’s not Pashtun, it’s Arabic.
@Hoodie: but at the end of the day, the deficit doesn’t move votes. And I frankly don’t see the fall of Afghanistan moving votes. It’s the GOP institutionalist and internationalists that want to stay and have been yammering about “winning’ there for the last 20 years…and they’re getting shouted down in their own party by the isolationist faction that’s wanted out for a decade.
the isolationists aren’t going to suddenly turn around and scream “we never shoulda left!” just to pwn the libtards.
Sure, the GOP noise machine will blather on for a while about how Afghanistan is all Joe Biden’s fault…but it won’t hold the ratings. JMO.
@raven: I have a lot of friends who absolutely love Korea. Consider it a second home. They really enjoy a lot of the cultural stuff there, the people are just super nice/friendly, the enjoy the cuisine, and it honestly helps that they all speak English (mandatory starting in elementary school). When I first joined, Korea was still a hardship tour (1 year there, no dependents) but that changed about 4-5 years in? You could take your dependents but then it was a 2 year tour. At the time, I didn’t want to subject either me or my family to that (1 or 2 years). But after living in Italy and the UK for almost a decade, I realize that that was probably short sighted and I/we probably missed out on some really cool things. I also chalk it up to I was 21, still pretty clueless, etc.
@Spanky: Yes, according to this article in the Washington Post many were paid off to relinquish their weapons, so it would make sense that others were paid off too.https://apple.news/AeciAsQmURieP8RIaWKcSQg
J R in WV
Bolt-cutters. The military has a ton of really heavy-duty bolt cutters that can cut any padlock every made. Probably one in every vehicle… just my guess.
I bet all the padlocks have the same key, too, that’s how our local Federal office works. Hell, I have one of those keys, and I never worked for the Feds!
@raven: Yep, our former neighbor will probably join hubby there eventually — with their kids. I wonder how much all that costs and what the alleged benefit is.
@J R in WV: I understood the first half of that, but the second half was basically, “ARRRRR, me swabbies! Hoist the main sail, shiver me timbers, swab the poop deck!” :P
So when I was a freshman in highschool, I was in Navy Jr ROTC. We had a field trip in the spring to Charleston Naval Base where we took a ride out on a mine sweeper into Charleston harbor. I was able to go up on the conning tower/bridge area, where the captain/commander of the vessel let me sit in the captain’s chair. Even had me kick back. Ofc after a mins I fell asleep. I think he was counting on that because they cut it hard to starboard and I honestly thought we capsizing. To say they had a good laugh was an understatement. I quickly excused myself down the ladder and stayed on the main deck. It also firmed my resolve to never join the Navy!
@Enhanced Voting Techniques:
Yes, he said that without saying it. And, apparently, no one let him on the con.
Repeating link, because it’s an eyewitness thread, well worth reading:
I have no doubt that many people – especially women – are going to suffer under the upcoming regime. But them not immediately slaughtering masses of people is a good sign for the moment.
We shouldn’t underestimate their political skills while we vehemently disagree with them.
@Kay: Best Sunday morning garden chat ever!
@Betty Cracker: Fun Travel and Adventure, FTA is what we said!
Actually I bet it’s pretty decent and cheaper than stateside.
eta I wonder if she can now? It’s a one year tour unaccompanied and two with dependents. It looks like you have to set its up ahead of time but maybe they would want the trooper to “extend”.
@JML: “We wanted to leave, but not THIS way.”
@zhena gogolia: What are you using? A phone or a computer? Mac or Windows?
In Chrome on Windows, if you right mouse button click on a link, one of the options is “Open link in incognito window”. Other browsers / OSes call it something else (Private browsing, etc.).
That’s what I meant. I hope it is clearer now.
Are we really done in Afghanistan? I thought we were still conducting air strikes.
J R in WV
Ford who? ;~)
Glad to hear from you Amir, hope you’re doing well during Pandemic Phase iII … we’re OK, hermited up in the Appalachian hills.
@WaterGirl: Correct, and they would raise holy hell about it. Now, they’re too busy dinging Biden for Shrub’s fuckup. I was worried that state Republicans would take this time to sneak more shit through wrt voting suppression, and maybe they are, but at least Biden et al. know that this is also the time to ram through all of their stuff while Biden takes the heat for generals’ and the neocons’ 20-year failure.
@Matt McIrvin: All the more reason to grow our domestic, non-metro energy sector.
@Ken: It means “fighter for the faith” (“mujra” = fighter, soldier, etc, “al din” = of the faith)
@Betty Cracker: part of the benefit is what we all talk about in terms of “soft power/diplomacy”. Cultural exchanges. We here on the blog continually talk about how American’s need to gtfo of the country and see how the rest of the world lives. This is one small way that it can happen. Another small benefit is just to the service members and their families. There’s a definitive strain on families when the member is deployed for a year. Ofc all of this is tied into the larger discussion on our overall foreign policy.
@Leto: where’s the key to the padlock?
One thing that I think we (certainly I was forgetting this context) may be glossing over in our memories of the Obama Afghan surge was that Osama bin Laden was not yet dead. One of Obama’s primary foreign policy missions in his first term was cleaning up that particular fuck-up from his predecessor. OBL wasn’t in Afghanistan, but he wasn’t that far (and we didn’t know for sure that he was no longer there).
So I think the Obama surge needs to be seen in that context as well.
@raven: It’ll come down to the location they’re being deployed and if the dependents can clear medical. Those two are tied together. 1) Can the incoming base support dependents and 2) do the incoming dependents have any medical conditions that the incoming medical facility can’t handle? But also it just comes down to the member and their family; do they want to do that? Some families simply don’t want to do that. They don’t want to leave the States, don’t want to leave their friend/support/family group, don’t want to disrupt their kids lives in school, etc. Avalune and I were a bit weird in that we had already decided that once I retired, we were going to tour Europe (via bicycle) for at least 6 months. The kid would’ve been out of the house, I was retired, we were still young, etc, but then the military decided it for us. We were both over the moon happy, but it took some convincing for our son. He was 14, had an established friend/family network, and it was a big change for him. All these years later he can look back on it and understand what an incredible opportunity it was for him. Not all families/people can recognize/appreciate this, but he’s a pretty good kid. (All credit to Avalune on that btw)
...now I try to be amused
Historically, Afghanistan was only valued for where you get to from there. The discovery of rare earth metal deposits gives it some intrinsic value for the first time in its history.
The Fall of Saigon was so devastating to Ford that we wound up with 12 years of Reagan and Bush.
Late to the thread, but couldn’t agree more. The Boomer navel gazing and garment rending about Saigon is so tedious.
Spoiler: No American born after 1970 gives a fat fuck about Vietnam. Your cultural identity, olds. Not ours.
Yeah. That pretty much sums it up.
I saw something to the effect that Boris Johnson has recalled Parliament to discuss Afghanistan and some of the British media seemed to be stirred up.
If you’re a captain or major who harbors ambitions of someday wearing stars, peace is bad for business.
Just Some Fuckhead
Yeah, just making up something and saying that’s probably the reason seems like a good idea.
This is absolutely accurate — once those sumbitches are lit off and launched, that’s it, game over.
Tense just a little bit , ain’t it??
Always been that way. General LeMay didn’t want any way for a wimpy president to change his mind.
@MazeDancer: The Ahmady thread. Cinematic. A horror show, to realize how perfidious the leadership. They’re already there. Or already gone.
I guess Afghans are gathering en masse at the airport partly because they believe it to be under US protection?
It is easy to imagine being one of them.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@MazeDancer: This maybe a shocking first in history; the bankers weren’t involved in a bribery scandal.
My bet is it was the Saudis who bribed them to deney Afghanistan to the Iranians.
@different-church-lady: I bet if you asked the average american who was President when Vietnam fell, they’d go with Carter.
@opiejeanne: In-garrison (meaning stateside)? Motorpool desk, central location (with appropriate sign out logs/etc; think of it like when you go to drop off your vehicle at the dealership/repair guy. They don’t leave the keys in the vehicle.). In-country? At the main bases (the huge fortified places), they have their own motorpool with similar setup. Out in the FOBs, like mine? I honestly don’t ever remember us locking them. We had our own secure mini-compound, but if insurgents were attacking us we would’ve regrouped into our building, fortified, and awaited rescue. Because all the other people around us (the Army personnel, Aussies, special forces) would’ve done the same. There wouldn’t have been a convoy to one of them as they were going turtle as well.
If there was a bug out situation where we were supposed to go to the Army side (as in we had time to move), get your bugout bag (3 day supply of undies/t-shirts, basic hygiene, more ammo), get in the vehicle, and move. Await rescue.
And like JR said, there’s always bolt cutters. We didn’t have any in our vehicles but bolt cutters would’ve worked on the lock or the cable.
@Kay: The “lull period” was the Taliban abiding by their part of the agreement with Trump/Pompeo. Had we reneged or otherwise annoyed them, they would have resumed the attacks on our forces at their leisure.
To be fair, I believe the logic behind it was
1) If it was possible to signal a nuke to detonate in mid-air, it was possible that the enemy could hack your system or discover your codes and effectively render every nuke you have useless.
2) It was thought that being able to detonate nukes in mid-air would throw way too much ambiguity into the process. It might encourage leaders to play chicken and fire off some nukes “for effect.” It might also encourage leaders to do something “clever,” like fire off a nuke, then get on the Red Line and say “oh my God, we’re so sorry, that was a total malfunction, don’t worry, we just disarmed it, what lands in the middle of the Capitol Mall/Red Square will be a total dud, we promise!” Etc.
I’m sure LeMay being afraid of wimpy presidents changing their minds didn’t hurt, but are legit reasons for it to be that way, too.
Afghanistan is not an Arabic area, and Arabic is not spoken there. Look it up. Pashtun is the majority ethnic group, Pasto is the language. ETA: OK, I was incorrect, Dari Persian is slightly more common that Pashto.
No, wait… I’ll look it up for you, from Wikipedia: Another good place to look that kind of info up is the CIA Fact Book, FYI.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Videos I saw were curious,… they seemed to be treating it like a big block party and none of horror of the fall of Saigon.
Well, technically you can recall B-52 or B-2 bombers before they drop their loads. But once the bombs are away, yes you are right.
The technology would be easy to implement but it isn’t. The reason, of course, is that the military doesn’t want to risk enemy targets being able to “turn off” bombs aimed at them before they land.
SN in CO
@Ken: The British Empire got its bloody nose from Afghanistan in the 1860s-1870s – but didn’t “disappear” until after World War II. So while I sort of agree with your point, object fact is that the British Empire was still on the upsurge when it overreached in Afghanistan.
Probably an understatement. In recent months there had been targeted killings of women who worked outside the home, including some women who worked for a TV station. A number of women who worked in public health, administering polio vaccines were killed. And in one province some women were killed for wearing tight clothing.
This may be a good sign, but I don’t know that brutal reprisals should be expected.
The question may be how the Taliban intend to transform Afghan society.
@The Dangerman: As Leto noted, the padlock almost immediately became “optional”. Ignition switches tend to be a bit more long term.
@Enhanced Voting Techniques:
(WaPo) Scenes of deadly chaos unfold at Kabul airport after Taliban’s return
Video at the link.
The most brutal irony of the Vietnam conflict is that we ended up better off today for having lost there.
We now have normalized relations with them, but without the cost of maintaining an imperial military outpost in perpetuity, or having US troops on the opposite side of a DMV, and in the range of a hostile country at all times, like Korea.
I was born in 1964 and I remember nothing about Vietnam. I would have been 4 years old during the Tet Offensive and if we had owned a TV back then I would have been watching Sesame Street not Walter Cronkite. I have vague memories of the fall of Saigon and the boat people. Which is when Vietnamese refugees started showing up on the west coast, my church resettled some of them. But I have no memory of the event in any sort of partisan political sense.
Its been twenty years in, and I feel so much of the American public learned nothing
@mapaghimagsik: Christ, how much did most of the American public learn from the Civil War and Reconstruction? To expect them to pay attention, let alone learn anything from Afghanistan is a fool’s hope. At least most Americans know where Afghanistan is now. As Ambrose Bierce put it, “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography”.
Did not know that. Deeply ironic.
@Anonymous: The “it” in my “it’s not Pashtun, it’s Arabic” was referring to the word “mujahideen“, not to the languages spoken in Afghanistan.
Technically the British Empire is still around. It’s just called the Commonwealth these days. Who’s face is on Canadian coins? And who is the legal head of state of Australia?
But yes, it isn’t the same British Empire it once was.
@Kay: If he is booed, it will be because several of the families have asked him not to appear until and unless he has the government release what they know about Saudi culpability in the 9/11 attacks. So fuckwit Thiessen is just planting the seed for a potential outcome that has already been publicized, but for an entirely different (and unwelcome to the NeoCons) cause.
Adma Silverman (next post) has mentioned Massoud. Is he pashtun?
The prestige language of the Muslim world is Arabic, and the languages spoken by Muslims around the world typically have a lot of loan words from Arabic, especially words that have a religious context like jihad and mujahid.
J R in WV
I was a swabbie, aka deck ape. No rum, tho, dammit!
We handled freight with cranes (including torpedoes) small boats, mooring ropes, anchors, stood bridge watches at sea, and painted anything that couldn’t walk away. Also swabbed the decks twice a day. And damage control parties to control fires and holes in the hull, which thank Poseidon we never had one of. From time to time they handed me a 1911 .45 sidearm, which the first time it happened blew my mind… a real pistol, not like a f/in Glock.
The languages spoken in Afghanistan are secondary. The word Mujaheddin (note: transliteration varies; I’m using the one that my spell check approves of) is Arabic, even though the people using it spoke Pushtu or Dari. It’s common throughout the Islamic world to use Arabic terms, even in areas where Arabic is not the primary language, especially when they are claiming a religious purpose for what they’re doing.
J R in WV
@…now I try to be amused:
There are also tons of gemstone and crystallized mineral deposits, partly because of the same geology that created the lithium rare-earth deposits. Acquiring the gems and crystals once they’re mined is a trick, getting out of country with them is the other trick.
@RaflW: Apparently, we can spot truth.
Adam has devoted his new post to the Ahmady thread.
If you were really worried about not being able to start a vehicle, you could just leave the keys in the ignition. It seems to me that the big difference is that ignition keys are fail safe while cable locks are fail operational. IOW, if you lose the key or break the ignition lock, the vehicle won’t run. If you forget to lock your cable lock, or if you cut the cable, the vehicle will run. That makes it a better choice if you’re more worried about not being able to start your vehicle when you need it than having it stolen.
@Kay: You’re right. After seeing, on the weekend, all the screaming op-eds by anti-Trumper Republicans in all the papers of record and on my tv, I thought, to myself. this is their way of coming back into the fold of the GOP and maybe wresting it back from the MAGA T’s. Also establish their bona fides and smack those weakling Dems all at the same time. To show the GOP’ers that they are still faithful conservatives.
While I’m not at very surprised at the collapse of the American supported government, I just feel for the poor Afghan peoples, especially the women and children. Why are Muslims/ Arabs so misogynistic? I don’t think I’m overgeneralizing here, but if I am, someone please explain.
Thanks! On Mac you Control -click and you get it. Thanks!
@J R in WV:
We can both commiserate on that one.
There’s the part of me that understands this in the military sense, then the other part that sees all the epic trolling this could lead to :P
Then what’s the point in having it? Might as well just super glue them into the ignition. Which they would do. And then you still have to worry about the vehicle being stolen/taken for joy rides. And now you’ll need a second key. This is one of those design features that’s been reduced down to it’s simplest iteration due to the nature of the task at hand: combat. Also we haven’t even starting talking about night ops and the fun times all of that entails. Simplest iteration.
Consider what Christians were like 600 years ago.
@J R in WV:
The pakistani ISS just won it. Good luck with that.
My idea was that you’d leave the keys in the ignition when you wanted to be able to start quickly and take them out when you wanted to protect your vehicle from theft. It gives you a similar ability to change the security level depending on the threat.
The real difference is what happens when the security model breaks down. Having keys is more likely to leave you with an inoperable vehicle, while having the cable lock is more likely to leave you with an easy to steal vehicle. The military has chosen a different option from the civilian market because it has better options for securing easy to steal vehicles- locked motor pools and armed guards- and worse downsides to not being able to start vehicles when needed.
Well, they don’t have a Party anymore and no one listens to them. The War On Terror was really the height of their power.
Their were endless discussions of why Democrats were to blame for Trump but almost no dicussion of how Republicans managed to lose their own party. Mystifying.
I’ll bet President Biden did not believe that. I bet he knew/knows the reality. He also knows that we are not making the situation better and that the only people that can do that are the Afghanistan people themselves.
What happens when you arm and launch a nuclear weapon and then blow up the transport system?
Also remember how close the targets are to the launch point and likely that the entire weapon and launch vehicle are likely not as technologically advanced as the major nuclear countries weapons are.
None of this supports the concept of a refined nuclear weapons power. And that concept that there refined nuclear weapons entities is almost laughable in any case, but at least there are a number of safety concepts considered, that likely do not exist with some of the smaller, poorer nuclear powers. In fact we know that many of our own type of controls do not exist in some of the smaller friendly countries and are far likely not to exist in some of the others.
For the most part, you get a radioactive mess but not a high-order nuclear explosion. The high explosives go off and scatter the nuclear material all over the place, but you don’t get the big boom. This isn’t a matter of some special safe weapons design only advanced designers can manage. Implosion-type nuclear bombs- which is essentially all of them but the absolute crudest type- require everything to go perfectly in order to work. Slip up in even the tiniest way, and you get a fizzle.
@Immanentize: fabric afghans aren’t rugs. They’re knitted or crocheted blankets, in my experience anyway. We had a friend who was in the Peace Corps in the 1960s and she married an Afghan. We used to joke that he kept her warm at night.
Hell, Trump set it up to ensure a Taliban takeover the moment we left.