Some Thoughts on Afghanistan

As the Taliban have now effectively taken control of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, there is much that our political class, policymakers and media talking heads should reflect on and many lessons to learn. But it appears unlikely that this will happen.

I remember going to my first antiwar rally in October of 2001 to protest our attack on Afghanistan in retaliation for 9/11. No one I knew wanted to go with me. I didn’t see how dropping bombs on regular Afghanis who had nothing to do with Bin Laden or the 9/11 attacks would help anything, especially after the Taliban had offered to hand over Bin Laden if the U.S. would stop bombing their country – an offer George W. Bush refused. It was a fairly small protest in San Francisco organized by the ANSWER coalition. I wouldn’t stop feeling like an outcast for my views until a year and a half later when antiwar protests swelled in the leadup to the invasion of Iraq. But the Bush administration merely blew off the largest and most coordinated antiwar rallies in the history of the world as “a focus group” that could be ignored.

As Sarah Lazare said on Twitter, the US press should be talking to those of us who were against this debacle to begin with, who could foresee the problems with trying to oppose a tactic with war, with trying – in the case of Afghanistan – to build a modern democratic country that is far from even being an industrialized country in terms of development and has no experience with democracy but is still largely a tribal nation that has been at war for most of the last 40 years (see my previous post on Afghanistan). I feel terrible for the plight of Afghan women and the prospect of sharia law, but we really had no business giving false hope to the women of Afghanistan that they could live as a modern western country when that was not the conditions that exist in Afghanistan – even with a western country propping up a corrupt and unpopular government. It certainly wasn’t going to be the conditions when that western country leaves. Now I see pundits and even left-leaning commentators on Twitter using this as an excuse for why we should have kept delaying the inevitable and stayed forever. If the government we are propping up collapses after 20 years, it will collapse after 25 or 30 or 50. The problem isn’t leaving too soon, the problem is the original policy of going in in the first place and thinking we can throw money at people who will then build a functioning democratic government with no skills, history or experience to do so. Sticking with something that doesn’t work after 20 years won’t make it suddenly work, it is just a form of denial.

Ironically, some of us are old enough to remember when George W. Bush campaigned on a more “humble” and less interventionist foreign policy and railed against “nation-building.” Watch this clip for yourself.

As for the speed with which the Taliban have accomplished taking over many provincial capitals and now Kabul, I can only wonder at how utterly inept our intelligence analysts must be to have predicted last week that Kabul could fall within 30 – 90 days and then have it happen less than a week later. This begs the question: do these people have a clue what’s going on anywhere in the world? Below is a press conference from a couple of weeks ago in which Biden says he doesn’t think the Kabul government will collapse upon the exit of US troops. Though Biden deserves some credit for following through on Trump’s withdrawal process, It would have been better to have prepared the American people for the fact that the Taliban were likely to take over and that the logistics of the withdrawal were not going to be pretty. But that would have entailed acknowledging that the policy was misguided to begin with and reminding us that we have been consistently lied to for years by military leaders and politicians about the situation in Afghanistan.

5 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Afghanistan”

  1. “I can only wonder at how utterly inept our intelligence analysts must be “…Yes, our intelligence analysts are inept, but when they’re part of a pilfer and plunder agenda the outcome is only a secondary consideration. They enriched themselves and their contractor friends at the fiscal expense of the American taxpayer as well as the human expense of the Afghan people.

  2. Success has one thousand fathers, failure is an orphan.
    When you are trying to point out one father of the failure, you might be missing out some significant grandfather.
    This debacle didn’t start with the American invasion of Afghanistan, it started with at least two sine-qui-none grandfathers:
    1. The 19th century great game between the British-Russian empires for Central Asia was pursued continuously by the 20th century American-Anglo Alliance after WWII.
    2. Jimmy Carter took Zbigniew Brzezinski’s ill advice to supply Afghan terrorists with money and weapons through Pakistan destroyed the last chance of the Afghan people to build a modern republic.
    So, when Bin Laden bombed us with tacit Taliban support, not taking out Taliban is not rational, legal, nor moral. Besides, if Taliban had been sincere about turning in Bin Laden to exchange for US’s leniency towards their complicit role, they should have just turned Bin Laden in immediately to end their criminal role in this case.
    I never trusted Bush administration since the first second of his inauguration. Unfortunately, under the circumstance of Al Qaeda/Taliban attack on US homeland, there’s no legal, rational, and moral ground to protest against the American invasion of Afghanistan.
    Avoiding civilian casualties does not mean avoiding war. If that had been held as the sacred cow, we should not have even declared war on Japan after the Pearl Harbor attack. Instead, we might as well just have asked the Japanese government to turn in Admiral Yamamoto to close the case.
    Our debacle today is mainly caused by the fundamental flaws of our foreign policy pursuing the hypothesized enemy, Russia, based on the self-fulfilling prophecy of the Heartland theory, by utilizing the Chinese imperialists and Islamic extremists as our proxies. Of course, the degeneration of our troubled republic into an inefficient, ineffective, and incompetent oligarchy makes everything much worse.
    Micromanagement chronologically or geographically, naïve pacifism, blind antiwar movement, self-impose isolationism don’t make anything better.

  3. I don’t want to be criticized as only criticizing without providing solutions. Here is what we should have done, and some of them can still be implemented. Better late than never.
    1. We should have focused on Afghanistan. We should not have invaded Iraq. So, Taliban should have been completely eradicated.
    2. We should have invited Russia and India to transform Afghanistan. We should not have tried to do it along or with some uninterested NATO countries, targeting Russia as the enemy.
    3. We should not have provided any money and weapons to Pakistan and Turkey, for both of them were supporting Taliban directly or indirectly.
    4. When Taliban had been quickly and thoroughly destroyed, we should have been able to pull out quickly and safely.
    5. We should have pulled out a big portion of troops from Europe and Turkey, and should never have experienced any shortage of troops in Afghanistan.
    6. We never really had to provide the Afghan army so many expensive weapons, if Taliban had been eradicated and the supply line and logistics from Pakistan completely cut off.
    7. We could have even divided Afghanistan into multiple countries according to their local tribal or ethnical demarcations. So, a single Taliban unification would never have occurred.
    All the steps could have saved money, lives, reduced chances of war, eradicated terrorism, and provided human rights to Afghan people, especially women.

  4. • Zbigniew Brzezinski to the Mujahideen: “Your cause is right and God is on your side!”

    How ironic and prescient:
    Brzezinski: “This land is yours – you will go back to it one day … “

    But I am surprised and concerned that the ’official narrative’ is being promoted here.
    Jimmy: “So, when Bin Laden bombed us with tacit Taliban support … “. I think not.
    • On the Morning of 9/11 – The Truth In 5 Minutes – James Corbett

    • Donald Trump: “You May Find The Saudis Were Behind The 9/11 Attacks”

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