Hurrah! Washington’s Pointless Sojourn in the Graveyard of Empires Is Finally Over
This weekend’s momentous events cry-out for a reformulation of Earnest Hemingway’s famous five word quip in “The Sun Also Rises”.
Per his description of the route to bankruptcy: How did the dismal Afghan outpost of Washington’s Potemkin Empire collapse?
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”
Less than three months ago, Afghanistan’s puppet President, Ashraf Ghani, inadvertently crystalized 20-years worth of lies, delusions, misdirection and malfeasance by Imperial Washington’s policy-makers and proconsuls in response to a question from the press:
Q: How long can your government last without US support?
Yet by midday Sunday Ghani had fled the presidential palace with four cars and so many pallets of greenbacks that they could not all be stuffed into his helicopter. And, of a sudden, there was nothing left of the Empire’s $2 trillion folly to bring peace, democracy, Coca-Cola, long pants and coed schools to this godforsaken expanse of the Hindu Kush.
Then again, it wasn’t just Ghani. Just a few weeks ago, Sleepy Joe was no less sanguine about the future than the Afghan president:
REPORTER: Is a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it is not.
THE PRESIDENT: Because you – the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped – as well-equipped as any army in the world – and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.
Of course, Biden was undoubtedly assured of this salutary situation by Gen. Mark Milley. The latter is the most incompetent four-star to ever serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a distinction for which he had plenty of competition. Yet with the Taliban already overtaking much of the country he assured as recently as July 21 that –
“The Afghan Security Forces have the capacity to sufficiently fight and defend their country…”
Then there was also the US intelligence agencies, which must have been channeling Hemingway’s very words. Just 4 days ago they estimated that Kabul could fall in 90 days and then suddenly revised the figure to 72 hours.
But nothing could top the blinky Washington careerist who now sits in the big chair at Foggy Bottom:
“If there is a significant deterioration in security … I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.”
– Anthony Blinken, US secretary of state.
Left: The Fall of Kabul, 2021 – Right: The Fall of Saigon, 1975
Alas, it surely did. And now the same medieval brutes who were originally recruited and trained by the CIA in the 1980s and who ruled Afghanistan with a bloody reign of terror from 1996-2001, in fact, were in the president’s office within hours of Ghani’s flight. Except during the interim, the Grim Reaper of War had racked-up a horrendous butchers bill:
An October 2019 reckoning tabulated that 157,000 had been killed in the war in Afghanistan since 2001, including –
- Afghan security forces: 64,124;
- Afghan civilians: 43,074;
- Taliban fighters and other insurgents: 42,100:
- U.S. contractors: 3,814;
- US military personnel: 2,300:
- NATO and coalition troops: 1,145;
- Humanitarian aid workers: 424;
- Journalists and media: 67
Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday. © AP
There is no mincing words about it. All the blood, treasure, political capital and moral authority expended by Washington in the prosecution of the the longest war in American history was completely in vain. Full stop.
There is absolutely nothing redeeming about it. Well, except that next time Washington announces a jolly little war in some no count corner of the planet – it is to be devoutly hoped that no one will come, allies will flee and the potential beneficiaries of occupation will scream at the top of their lungs, “no mas!”
As to the facts on the ground and their significance, the great Doug Bandow summarized as well as can be done:
The speed of collapse was shocking: the Afghan government possessed a larger military, better equipment, training and organization, an air force with command of the skies, and popular support, to the extent that such sentiment could be measured. Even many Afghan skeptics like me were surprised to see provincial capitals falling like bowling pins, with security forces surrendering en masse, sometimes without firing a shot. Desperate measures trotted out just a few days ago – such as reviving old ethnic militias and warlord armies – vanished as the Taliban advanced. Suddenly Kabul was surrounded, with surrender its only realistic option. Such is what the endless war crowd managed to achieve with 20 years, thousands of lives, and trillions of dollars.
In this regard, the map below is not just remarkable. It is a red hot smoking gun indictment of Washington’s War Party – proof that it delivered exactly nothing.
At least, nothing the Afghan people believed was worth defending. That’s because what this 37-day transformation of the map shows is that the 300,000 man Afghan National Army and the tens of thousands more domestic police forces stood up by Washington consisted of little more than sunshine mercenaries – -locals collecting their paychecks as usual in a tortured land of warlords, of which Washington was the latest, largest and most amply funded.
So when Sleepy Joe finally said what had to be said – that after 20 years we’re done – -the mercenaries and ghost battalions dropped their uniforms like a hot potato and faded into the towns, villages and mountain redoubts even faster than the South Vietnamese army had done in 1975.
After all, how do you go from 141 to 12 “government controlled” districts in a mere five weeks unless it’s because said government has deserted en mass?
Not surprisingly, the bloodthirsty flotsam and jetsam of the Washington War Party is already at it – leveling the same silly charges of capitulation and betrayal at Biden as they did at Trump when he tried to withdraw from Syria and Obama when he properly brought American forces home from Iraq in 2011.
But as Doug Bandow also observed, the only real alternatives were to leave or stay forever:
Which was no choice at all. There is no justification for America to be allied to a political corpse, sucked dry by a corrupt and incompetent governing class, forced to fight on behalf of those who won’t defend themselves, entangled in combat in a region of little geopolitical importance to America, and tasked with maintaining regional stability for US rivals Russia and China.
As Bandow also reminds, the longest war in American history had no plausible rationale from the very beginning. Washington did not intervene because Central Asia had strategic relevance to America’s security. Even the eager interventionists back in 2001 did not claim that the essential purpose was to spread democracy, end discrimination against women or to to redress human rights violations.
No, the attack on Afghanistan originated in Washington’s foolish recruitment, training, arming and financing of the Mujahdeen back in the 1980s, and for exactly what purpose? To punish the sclerotic Soviet regime for stumbling into the Graveyard of Empires!
As Bandow further observed, the brutal misanthropes who became the Taliban were actually Washington’s own spawn – creatures of the CIA bank-rollers, Charlie Wilson’s War and all.
To the contrary, years earlier Washington supported the Mujahedeen, who were mostly undemocratic, misogynistic, intolerant, antediluvian, and brutal, to kill Soviet soldiers and undermine the Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan termed the Soviet Union. After the latter’s withdrawal there was no reason for Washington to stick around.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks the Bush administration sought to destroy al-Qaeda for its attack and punish the Taliban allegedly for hosting al-Qaeda. But as our friend Bill Bonner cogently reminds,
Just to remind ourselves, after 9/11, the US insisted Afghanistan turn over al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The Taliban, then Afghanistan’s rulers, said they would turn him over if the US produced evidence that he was guilty of masterminding the 9/11 attacks.
Otherwise, they said, it would be an insult to Islamic justice.
The Taliban even suggested a compromise – they would give bin Laden to a third country, where he might get a fair trial.
Nope. The frightful crew of neocon warmongers around Bush the Younger convinced him that a few strategically targeted bunker busters would so rattle the motley Toyota pickup based Taliban army that there would be no need for a deal.
In any event, we now know that Bin Laden and his small band of Arab fighters fled Afghanistan via their custom built escape routes to the Pakistan border almost immediately after their nearly fatal enc
Article from LewRockwell