I confess to being knocked off-keel by the Republican reaction to the Kabul bombing.The roots of the U.S. withdrawal from its 20 years in Afghanistan were planted in February 2020, when the Trump administration cut a deal with the Taliban agreeing to release 5000 imprisoned Taliban fighters and to leave the country by May 1, 2021, so long as the Taliban did not kill any more Americans. The negotiations did not include the U.S.-backed Afghan government. By the time Biden took office, the U.S. had withdrawn all but 2500 troops from the country.That left Biden with the option either to go back on Trump’s agreement or to follow through. To ignore the agreement would mean the Taliban would again begin attacking U.S. service people, and the U.S. would both have to pour in significant numbers of troops and sustain casualties. And Biden himself wanted out of what had become a meandering, expensive, unpopular war.On April 14, 2021, three months after taking office, Biden said he would honor the agreement he had inherited from Trump. “It is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself,” he said, “but it was an agreement made by the United States government, and that means something.” He said that the original U.S. mission had been to stop Afghanistan from becoming a staging ground for terrorists and to destroy those who had attacked the United States on 9-11, and both of those goals had been accomplished. Now, he said, “our reasons for remaining in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly unclear.”Biden said he would begin, not end, the troop withdrawal on May 1 (prompting Trump to complain that it should be done sooner), getting everyone out by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks that took us there in the first place. (He later adjusted that to August 31.) He promised to evacuate the country “responsibly, deliberately, and safely” and assured Americans that the U.S. had “trained and equipped a standing force of over 300,000 Afghan personnel” and that “they’ll continue to fight valiantly, on behalf of the Afghans, at great cost.”Instead, the Afghan army crumbled as the U.S began to pull its remaining troops out in July. By mid-August, the Taliban had taken control of the capital, Kabul, after taking all the regional capitals in a little over a week. It turned out that when the Trump administration cut the Afghan government out of negotiations with the Taliban, Afghan soldiers recognized that they would soon be on their own and arranged “cease fire” agreements, enabling the Taliban to take control with very little fighting.
A reader comment, to which others and I responded, led to further discussion:
HALE IRWINThe Afghan army collapsed because Trump (ignorant asshole) pulled all support for them in his agreement with the Taliban. May he and his self serving Republicans all burn in hell.RIP Brothers and Sisters.Semper Fi
Laurie PThank you for your service Hale. Your sentiment is heart wrenching and clear. I mourn with you...bringing me to tears
Ally (Oregon)Semper Fi
Christopher (Ohio)Exactly. If I was in the Afghan Army and learned the U.S. just bargained one on one with my enemy, I'd know I was screwed and would resort to self-preservation mode. I don't blame them for what they did, but I wonder if some will go guerrilla to exact some revenge.For those who gave their last full measure, it was not in vain. We will not forget.
Christine (FL)Semper Fidelis. Said do well. Thank you, Hale.
Sloan BashinskyI think it didn't matter how America pulled out, it would be disastrous. I think that's why Trump didn't pull America out during his first term, figuring it would cost him the 2020 election for sure. I think it's pure horse manure Republicans and MAGAs and the right-side media blaming Biden for what was inevitable. Perhaps this will teach America a lesson about getting into wars in foreign countries?
Christopher (Ohio)There was no easy way out, there was only trying to control chaos. Have we finally learned the lesson we can't bend nations to our will with our military? Had all that money just gone to humanitarian purposes like schools, hospitals, etc. we'd be so much better off as a world.
Sloan BashinskyHow about all that money going to provide every American good, inexpensive health care? How about all the dead, maimed, wounded battle-shocked American soldiers still being alive and well? How about their families and friends not being all torn up and mangled in their souls? Did America learn nothing from Vietnam? The exit from Afghanistan seems much more horrific.
Christopher (Ohio)All war is horrendous, this one seems worse by proximity. Casualties in Vietnam totaled 58,000 with 40,000 in combat. The plight of the wounded depended on the quality of their local VA, that is if they could get to one. The American people learned a lot, as did the government and military but not enough to avoid the long term mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq.Advancements in medicine and technology kept fatal casualties low in the most recent war for members of the military, not so much for the civilians who became victims of Isis or the Taliban or of sterilized drone attacks.My hope is we've finally accepted the U.S. cannot create a democracy by military force. Instead we need to use that money for humanitarian pursuits that can set the stage for a country to create their own form of democratic government.
Sloan BashinskyAgain, I think the many billion$$$ spend by America on the Afghan war should have been spent improving the lives of Americans, starting with affordable good health care. I am not against foreign aid, but I think the American view that it is called to spread democracy is, well, a bit ... ambitious? ... conceited?After all, America is not a democracy, is it? At least not in presidential elections. Not in gerrymandering voting districts. Not in a defeated president attempting a coup and not being arrested and tried and hanged for it. But I drift off the topic.I fault Joe Biden for voting, as a Congressman, for the 2 Bush-Cheney wars. I do not fault Biden for trying to finish the deal Donald Trump made with the Taliban. America very much needed to get out of Afghanistan long before now. It was new President Barack Obama's God-assignment to get America out of those two wars, and he accepted the Nobel Price for Peace instead.The Vietnam war was a false flag war. America wanted access to Vietnam's rubber plantations and other natural resources. The CIA was in Vietnam helping Ho Chi Minh defeat the French. Ho wanted to do business with America, but America asked too much. Not caring for China, Ho turned to the Soviet Union. Along the way, two prominent Americans, who didn't like America being at war in Vietnam, were killed. John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Kennedy's Democrat Vice-President Lyndon Johnson promised Americans on TV that he would never send American boys to die in a war in Asia, then he did just that. His Republican President successor Richard Nixon got elected on a platform he had a plan to get America out of Vietnam. His plan was to build up the South Vietnam military and then pull out American troops. I give Nixon credit for getting America out of a war that never should have happened.Afghanistan is a very different country from Vietnam. It is MUSLIM. Very conservative MUSLIM. It is tribal. It is ancient. It astounds me that Americans, their presidents, their generals and admirals actually thought the American military could change Afghanistan. Thought an Afghan military based on the American model would survive an American military pull out. Look no further than what happened in the false flag Iraq war after President G. W. Bush announced America had won.America was in a global war with a RELIGION, which viewed Christendom as infidels.The American right is screaming about a lot of U.S. Military hardware being left in Afghanistan. Well, how much of that hardware was in the hands of the Americanized Afghan army, which rolled over and made a deal with the Taliban? How could any American be surprised that happened? How could any American general or admiral be surprised that happened?Big American corporations made a great deal of money off the Vietnam war, and off the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The longer those wars lasted, the more money those big American corporations made. There was longtime dream of a natural gas pipe line being run from east of Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea. After Trump was elected in 2016, he said the natural resources of Afghanistan and Iraq, minerals and oil respectively, should be monetized to repay America for what it spent on war in those two countries.There really is such a thing as karma. It really does increase when it is ignored. Consider the Afghan refugees President Biden is bringing to America during an international pandemic. Will that be a super super spreader event? How many of those refugees are Taliban, Isis, Al Qaeda sleeper agents?
Christopher (Ohio)1. It was Republicans who put us there2. It is Republicans who want to disable the social safety net3. America is supposed to be a democratic republic but thanks to court packing even that is in question. It was never going to be a pure democracy but we use the term to indicate it's preferred to be governed by a majority of the people.4. The refugees will be vetted for terrorists and Covid at the same time, we can do two things at once.5. The hardware was meant for the Afghan army that folded b/c Trump negotiated with the Taliban and not the govt. Much was destroyed but obviously not enough. The hardware was the reason for the war as part of the never ending cycle of contributions by the military industrial complex to members of Congress and Presidents who get us into wars.
Karma works both ways. The Taliban started the whole mess by harboring al-Qaeda which led to 9/11 which led to the invasion that took out the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now the Taliban is back. How interested will they be to repeat the same mistake. They got what they wanted namely to be back in power, now karma is making it much harder than before for them to run the country. The need international support but can't get it if they return to their former ways.
Sloan BashinskyYou make very good points. It will be interesting to see how far the Taliban are willing to compromise their traditional ways to get infidel money that allows them to run Afghanistan :-). It will be interesting to see if infighting breaks out in the Taliban. However, I confess that I am a lot more worried about what is going on in America, where I and my children and their families live, than I am worried about what is going on in distant Afghanistan, where America never should have gone in my opinion. I don't see how any American could think the land war invasion of Afghanistan would work out good for America. Perhaps if America hires the Mossad to screen all the Afghan refugees, that will weed out most of the radicalized Muslim sleeper agents? :-) Can the Mossad weed out refugees infected with Covid-19? Should the refugees and returning Americans all be separated and quarantined before being allowed into public America?
Meanwhile, let Americans not forget the Saudi Osama bin Laden was an American ally fighting with the Afghan resistance against the Soviets. Osama was an American ally until his home country, Saudi Arabia, allowed American and other Coalition infidel forces station in Saudi Arabia, Muslim Holy Land, prelude to driving Saddam Hussein's Iraq army out of Kuwait. Saddam had polled the American lady ambassador re how America might feel about Iraq taking part of Kuwait, which Irag felt was part of Iraq? The lady ambassador said America would not object. Imagine Saddam's later surprise to be betrayed by his friend, the American president, we today call Daddy Bush. Saddam and Iraq were American allies. A buffer against Iran. Daddy Bush ignored Ross Perot's plea not to go into Kuwait. Perot said Iraq would sell that oil to America. That's what started this entire mess.
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