Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 19, 2013

Afghanistan: The Beginning Of The End Game

After a first attempt of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban failed in 2012 - the U.S. did not fulfill an agreed upon prisoner release - a new attempt was started yesterday and immediately ran into difficulties.

The U.S. military handed over "full responsibility" to the Afghan security forces in Kabul on the same day as the Taliban announced the opening of an office in Doha, Qatar:

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan simultaneously follows military and political actions and aims which are limited to Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate never wants to pose harms to other countries from its soil, nor will it allow anyone to cause a threat to the security of countries from the soil of Afghanistan.
Of course the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers it its religious and national duty to gain independence from the occupation and for that purpose has utilised every legitimate way and will utilise it in future too.
The statement from the Qatari officials is a quite telling:
The red carpet was out for HE the Assistant Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali bin Fahad al-Hajri, who was the chief guest at the opening of the Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ in West Bay yesterday.
On the efforts of Qatar to bring the US and Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table, he said: “In recent months, the State of Qatar has exerted strenuous efforts to reach convergence of views between the US government and the representatives of Taliban Afghanistan. ..."
While the Taliban were allowed to raise their white flag (video) over Doha there is was no mentioning of talks with the Afghan government. Indeed that government was not informed at all:
While the hall was packed with media from all over the world, apart from the senior Qatari official, no diplomat from any other country, including Afghanistan, was invited to the event. A senior official at the Afghan embassy told Gulf Times that they had not been extended any invitation to attend the milestone event and in fact were taken by surprise when it was announced through Al Jazeera a day before that the Taliban office would be opened on Tuesday.
Also yesterday an assassination attempt by the Taliban on one of the members of the Afghan governments peace council failed. Three guards were killed and 17 civilians were wounded. Still the Afghan president Karzai announced that he would send members of his Peace Council to Doha. But he also demanded an immediate move of the talks to Afghanistan:
"We hope that our brothers the Taliban also understand that the process will move to our country soon," Karzai said of the fundamentalist Islamic group that ruled the country with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001.
But such a move somehow seems not to fit the U.S. or the Taliban's plan. In consequence Karzai today stopped talks with the U.S. about a future status of force agreement (SOFA) needed to keep U.S. troops in the country:
"In a special meeting chaired by President Hamid Karzai, the president has decided to suspend talks about a security pact with the U.S. because of their inconsistent statements and actions in regard to the peace process," spokesman Aimal Faizi told Reuters.
What exactly changed Karzai's mind over night is yet unknown. The Taliban mortar attack that also yesterday killed four U.S. soldiers at their airbase Bagram is unlikely to be a cause. Nor are the constant attacks (video) against U.S. convoys and patrols the reason. It may have been the highly symbolic official raising of the Taliban flag in Doha that Karzai could not condone.

I agree with Pat Lang that there will never be a SOFA for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Karzai will find ways to stretch the negotiations out and avoid a decision. That is why such proposals as the Washington Post editors issue will not be taken seriously:

if there is to be a genuine political settlement in Afghanistan, the United States must drive home a different message: that it will do what is necessary to prevent a Taliban military victory for the indefinite future. If the insurgents believe they can wait out — or negotiate out — the United States, they will never engage seriously with the Karzai government.

The U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan and a short while later Congress will follow popular demand and cut off the money to the Afghan government. Then Afghanistan will have to find a new internal balance.The incapable Afghan security forces will fall apart and revert into ethnic-tribal militia.

The warlords are already positioning themselves. General Dostum, one of the slaughterers throughout Afghanistan's wars, had his bodyguards attack the governor of the northern Jowzjan Province because the governor did not agree with Dostum's plans to recreate the Northern Alliance militia and to restart the civil war.

In the end more than a decade of "western" war on Afghanistan will have resulted in nothing but death and despair and again a very uncertain future for that country. Unfortunately no one in power is likely to learn the lesson and avoid to start such other such futile wars.

Posted by b on June 19, 2013 at 9:08 UTC | Permalink


Ah, this is a replay of the end-game in Iraq. Bush and then Obama hoped till the very end for a SOFA… Out-manoeuvred they where by Maliki and the Iraqi people. I suspect the last US soldiers will leave the Hindu-Kush at dawn with the tail between the legs, just as they did in Iraq. Although they'll have a much harder road than in Iraq (me wonders if Putin is still inclined to facilitate an exit road throughout the north). At least the US didn't build a monster embassy in Kabul… 0.001% of the war budget saved!

PS - today, Steve Bell cartoonist at the grauniad seems to have read your draft post…

Posted by: Philippe | Jun 19 2013 9:51 utc | 1


There will be a lot of money to be made if they transit via Russia, so Putin will let them.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jun 19 2013 10:22 utc | 2

I concur with Philippe, but will add another dimension - Iran's influence was crucial in outmaneuvering US about SOFA, and I'm pretty sure Iranians are working overtime to make US soldiers disappear from Afghanistan as well, for good. Granted, in Iraq they had far more influence, still Iran is negotiating with both Karzai and Taliban (even officially recently), and could replace US funding if needed, plus offer other neighborly upsides. Russia and China would be happier as well if US will have less permanent bases in the region, and could offer incentives on their own.

Posted by: Harry | Jun 19 2013 11:06 utc | 3

So let me get this straight..After 10+ years of fighting to protect women and children (we were made to believe) from the brutal Taliban cum Al-Qaeda, the most powerful military on Earth has finally decided it's better to talk to their enemy than keep fighting them??? What happened to the "It'll be over in weeks/months" and "we do not negotiate with terrarist"????

Gentlemen, I think we're witnessing an wannabe empire who's reach her peak and simply cannot sustain themselves any longer.

Interesting times :)

Posted by: Zico | Jun 19 2013 11:08 utc | 4

Imperial crusader hollande might let through iran, but only as they act "reasonable", that is according to hollande by start arming al qaeda.

...just like israeli regime wants to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 19 2013 11:20 utc | 5

There are two possible interpretations of this:

1) The US is suing for peace. The bad guys won. Time to lick your wounds and go home.

2) The US is formalizing its alliance with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Jihadists are now the good guys.

This has the greatest implications for Syria. As the US is already shipping Taliban fighters from Afghanistan to Syria, in addition to all the other al-Qaeda linked Jihadists, it is better to come clean and announce the engagement to the world.

I will be closely following the workings of the UNSC Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee. Or was it already renamed the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jun 19 2013 11:24 utc | 6

It is either the Taliban, or eat humble pie and beg the Iranians. The nutters of Zion would never allow this.

Posted by: hans | Jun 19 2013 12:04 utc | 7

Qatar again. These petro-states with small populations - partly why Libya was targeted - are historic anomalies. Their unlimited access to cash, and having nothing to do except spend it on wars for the United States and Israel is a fucked up model. And no population to revolt, either.

Madaline Albright talks about carving up Siberia because of it's has too many resources for one country? In that case places like Qatar and the UAE should be under UN mandate with the oil profits going to environmental causes.

These billionaire micro-"states" have to be checked somehow.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 19 2013 12:26 utc | 8


Quite right, seems like US/Israel/Qatar plan for a secterian war against shia.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 19 2013 12:34 utc | 9

The most outrageous points are these:

1. The US (and NATO) basically destroyed the country since 2001, killing tens of thousands of people.

2. Nothing has changed since 2008, when Obama could have negotiated an endgame.

3. Afghanistan was further destroyed over the past few years.

4. Now the US is unilaterally negotiating with the Taliban without any pretense of multilateralism or democratic inclusiveness.

5. A SOFA will not occur.

6. Chalk this one up as another strategic failure of US imperialism.

7. The US will leave behind a civil war.

Posted by: anon | Jun 19 2013 13:06 utc | 10

Afghanistan is not like Iraq. There was a sovereign government in Iraq, whereas in Afghanistan the US still rules. The US pays lip service to Afghan sovereignty but General Dunford and his US cabal still act as the rulers of the land. This is what pisses off Karzai, because Afghans -- Taliban particularly -- make a point of what a US puppet Karzai is. So Karzai reacts, as he has now done in refusing to attend the Doha talks to which he wasn't even invited, apparently.

I've kept track of some of the pro- and anti-sovereignty remarks.

Afghanistan is a sovereign nation.
--SecState Clinton, in Kabul on Jul 7, 2012: Afghanistan is a 'major non-Nato ally'.
--President Obama, Jan 11, 2013: "Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission -- training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. . . .And finally, we reaffirmed the Strategic Partnership that we signed last year in Kabul -- an enduring partnership between two sovereign nations."
--State Dept spokeswoman Nuland, Apr 6, 2013: “We have our own channels to all of those countries with regard to the importance of supporting Afghanistan’s sovereignty, its ability to manage its own future itself in security terms, in political terms, in economic terms,”
--FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency -- The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by a legitimate government.

But maybe not--
-State, May 2013: "Secretary Kerry also affirmed that he and President Karzai remain committed to the same strategy and the same goal of a stable, sovereign Afghanistan, responsible for its own security and able to ensure that it can never again be a safe haven for terrorists.
-Obama hedges in January 2013: "… by the end of next year, 2014, the transition will be complete - Afghans will have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end."
-General Dunford the military czar doles out "sovereignty" to Karzai: "we're balancing increased Afghan sovereignty with a continued presence of coalition forces here who exercise a piece of that sovereignty by definition because we're in the middle of a conflict.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19 2013 13:31 utc | 11

The Taliban on Afghan sovereignty--
The Taliban statement said:
… it is not astonishing that the American soldiers are making fun of [Karzai] and slapping him on the face because it is the philosophy of invaders that they scorn their stooge at the end; even they do not deal with him as human being and in this way punish him for his slavery!

For peace negotiation to take place, it is crucial that the Afghan officials meet the Taliban leaders directly. However, the Taliban have always said that they will not be sitting with officials of the Afghan government at one table. They say that President Karzai is Western puppet who has no authority to take decision on anything, such as resolving the Afghan war through peaceful means.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19 2013 13:34 utc | 12

The Afghan parliament is speaking up on the sovereignty issue.

Afghan parliament disagree with Taliban political office in Qatar

Majority of the Afghan lawmakers on Wednesday opposed with the opening of the Taliban political office in Qatar, and urged United Nations to assist the the government of Afghanistan in Afghan-led peace process.

The parliament of Afghanistan in a statement said they do not recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and called the peace talks without the leadership of Afghan government as vicious.

Afghan parliament in a statement cited by Mohammad Noor Akbari, deputy for the international affairs commission in Afghan parliament said, “Establishment of any liaison representative office without the address of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is against the national and international regulations and is unacceptable.”

The statement further added, “The government of Afghanistan must have the leadership of all peace talks and the reconciliation process should be led by Afghans. The parliament of Afghanistan urges United Nations to assist and support Afghan peace process led by Afghans.”

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19 2013 13:53 utc | 13

Leave Afghanistan? Just like the US left Iraq.

Posted by: ben | Jun 19 2013 14:20 utc | 14

Kate Clark is always good on Afghanistan. She's an experienced expert. Here she comments on the new Taliban office in Qatar. Read her whole commentary if you have time.

The Opening of the Taleban Office in Qatar: Flags, Interviews and an Angry Government

The opening of the office was a propaganda coup for the Taleban – whatever the group in Qatar actually represents in terms of the wider insurgency (more of which later). Already, celebratory videos from the office can be found on the internet showing the group in Qatar raising their flag (see for instance here). For them, in particular, yesterday was a triumph. They have gone from inhabiting a largely inactive office with no real mandate, to being the brief centre of world media attention. They are now guaranteed a steady stream of journalists and diplomatic visitors. And although the idea for the office may have originated with them, they did not need to lobby or work to make this happen. That seems to have been done for them mainly by the US.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19 2013 14:21 utc | 15

One reason, I believe the US will keep a presence in Afghanistan.

Posted by: ben | Jun 19 2013 14:25 utc | 16

There will be a lot of money to be made if they transit via Russia, so Putin will let them

Posted by: beba | Jun 19 2013 14:39 utc | 17

Kerry aggressively push(ed) for strikes on Syria.

Whats wrong with these psycopaths?

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 19 2013 14:41 utc | 18

When it comes to Afghanistan, only through fiction can insiders tell the truth.

Posted by: kerpat14 | Jun 19 2013 14:57 utc | 19

@ 17: "Whats wrong with these psycopaths?"

IMO, just doing what they're told to do by the REAL owners of the USA, the corporate elites. Yes, that includes Obama.

Posted by: ben | Jun 19 2013 15:02 utc | 20

Current (US) theory, developed for Syria, would suggest that if China and Russia were really sincere in wanting to encourage negotiations in Afghanistan they would start arming the so-called Taliban. Particular attention to anti-aircraft weapons would seem to be called for.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 19 2013 15:13 utc | 21

Putin say: Show me the money. The Russians make money for pretty much doing nothing, it's a no brainer. Putin would be stupid if he did stop the shipments, since I'm sure trucks & supplies get "lost" all the time.

Posted by: Fernando | Jun 19 2013 15:14 utc | 22

Remember this next time west talks about "freedom of speech".

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 19 2013 16:25 utc | 23

Maybe it has finally dawned on the geniuses across the Potomac that they need to negotiate with the Taliban if they hope to get all their expensive military junk--junk that ultimately proved ineffective--out of Afghanistan.

Probably it will go to Syria...

Posted by: JohnH | Jun 19 2013 16:28 utc | 24

The AAN's Kate Clark: The Opening of the Taleban Office in Qatar: A Propaganda Coup and an Angry Government

The opening of the office was a propaganda coup for the Taleban – whatever the group in Qatar actually represents in terms of the wider insurgency (more of which later). Already, celebratory videos from the office can be found on the internet showing the group in Qatar raising their flag (see for instance here). For them, in particular, yesterday was a triumph. They have gone from inhabiting a largely inactive office with no real mandate, to being the brief centre of world media attention. They are now guaranteed a steady stream of journalists and diplomatic visitors. And although the idea for the office may have originated with them, they did not need to lobby or work to make this happen. That seems to have been done for them mainly by the US.

The US has tried to portray the opening as the fruits of an indigenous process, as being, in the words of the American senior administration officials ‘Afghan-led’.
There appears to be a willingness to talk, at least between the Taleban and the US, even though their reasons, timelines and agendas are quite different. It will also be useful for the Taleban to have a channel to make their wishes, conditions, world views known; it will force a certain amount of clarity and provide some opportunity for accountability – following Supreme Court attack-style atrocities, for example – although it will need to cut through an awful lot of propaganda. It seems unlikely that any real talks will be taking place in an office which will see a coming and going of people who want their few minutes with the Taleban representation. But it will probably function as a regularized channel to pass on messages.

At the moment, one would have to conclude that the opening of this office has made the Taleban look strong, the Americans desperate and President Karzai angry.

Posted by: b | Jun 19 2013 16:44 utc | 25

Petri #6

exactly, Afghanistan is dead and will do nothing for your career in DC while Syria is just getting interesting and besides, they need the seasoned combat troops.

johnh #22

not really, now the merchants of death can supply the military with all new stuff and get paid for the new generation of stuff which probably doesn't work so well either ( or is that too cynical)

Posted by: heath | Jun 19 2013 16:53 utc | 26

obama talking nonsense again, so first he says hes certain that syrian gov. have used chemicals, BUT then he urge a UN investigation to find out if syrian gov. have done this...
Thats like saying 'I saw one robbed the bank, but please make an investigation to find out who it was'. Obama is irrational as usual.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 19 2013 17:23 utc | 27

What a comic show ...

US Kerry just informed Pres #Karzai that #Taliban flag and sign "Islamic Emirate of #Afghanistan" taken down from office Doha.

#Karzai now ready to "keep wheels moving" #Afghanistan talks w #Taliban says @AimalFaizi after US assurances flag & sign taken off office

Posted by: b | Jun 19 2013 17:44 utc | 28

@27 It's so ridiculous. If we are to believe "¡¡¡WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!" were used wouldn't such a thing be pretty undeniable? Or do "¡¡¡WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION!!!" cause very discreet and limited damage that involves months long process of gathering small details. Shouldn't there be a massive pile of corpses filmed extensively by the "rebel" photographers?

The scene in Halabja certainly didn't leave the event open to interpretation. Why would a chemical weapons attack in Syria be any different?

So ridiculous.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 19 2013 19:31 utc | 29

Just to say: the situation in Afghanistan is unlikely to be the same as in Iraq. Maliki was under pressure from his public to refuse the SOFA. Karzai, much more a creature of the US, doesn't have the same pressures. On the other hand, he is much more likely to end up strung from a lamp-post.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 19 2013 20:00 utc | 30



Where is the evidence?!

No, there is of course no evidence but obama keep lying like no tommorow.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 19 2013 20:25 utc | 31

In spite of everything, Dostum remains lovable. Karzai remains a craven witch, a good counterpart to Obama.

Posted by: Crest | Jun 19 2013 20:32 utc | 32

I dont understand how the taliban opening a bureau in Qatar ( the nearest US ally ? ) is a sign of US losing the war.i see it more as a sign of a starting agreement between both parties,and a prelude to the taliban laying down their arms.

Posted by: Nabil | Jun 19 2013 20:46 utc | 33

Ot, but good for a laugh:

Feds: 2 upstate NY men tried to make X-ray weapon so they could secretly harm Israel foes

Read more:

ALBANY, N.Y. – Federal authorities have accused two upstate New York men of assembling a portable X-ray weapon they intended to use against opponents of Israel.

Prosecutors say 49-year-old Glendon Scott Crawford, of Galway, and 54-year-old Eric J. Feight, of Hudson, have been charged with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists following a yearlong undercover investigation.

Investigators say Crawford approached local Jewish organizations looking for people to help him with technology that could be used to secretly deliver damaging and even lethal doses of radiation against those he considered enemies of Israel.

Posted by: guest77 | Jun 19 2013 20:53 utc | 34

Thanks to the courage of Russia, G8 failed to get their war, atleast for now.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 19 2013 21:41 utc | 35

"Afghanistan: The Beginning Of The End Game"

your ignorance about afghanistan is clearly on display---better read this article before you make grand statements about end games......................

China Metallurgical Group won the bidding for a copper mining project in Aybak, Samangan, Afghanistan. The bidding process has been criticized by rival Canadian and U.S. companies alleging corruption and questioning the Chinese company's commitment to the Afghan people.[35]

Posted by: wes | Jun 19 2013 22:13 utc | 36

Washington's strategic interest in Afghanistan is based on its key geographical position relative to other countries in Central and South Asia, integrated by a "New Silk Road" to promote commercial trade profits.

Robert O. Blake, Jr.
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
February 2, 2012

The broader South and Central Asian region is home to over one-fifth of the world’s population, and provides a vast potential market for U.S. goods as well as investment opportunities for American businesses. India alone has risen to become our 12th largest goods trading partner. Bilateral trade in goods and services has risen $60 billion at the end of 2009 to an expected level of $90 billion when the 2011 figures comes in.

But Central Asia is also of growing interest to the U.S. business community. Central Asia boasts some of the most significant energy and mineral resources in the world and welcomes a greater role for U.S. business. . .For us, the task ahead will be to continue to open doors for greater private sector engagement.

SecState Hillary Clinton -- Chennai
July 20 2011
Historically, the nations of South and Central Asia were connected to each other and the rest of the continent by a sprawling trading network called the Silk Road. Indian merchants used to trade spices, gems, and textiles, along with ideas and culture, everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the banks of the Bosphorus. Let’s work together to create a new Silk Road. Not a single thoroughfare like its namesake, but an international web and network of economic and transit connections. That means building more rail lines, highways, energy infrastructure, like the proposed pipeline to run from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, through Pakistan into India.

The "through Pakistan into India" presumes friendly relations between Pakistan and India, which is a remote possibility. But there is another alternative -- via Chabahar port in Iran up into Afghanistan via an Indian-built highway. In order to benefit the US, this would require a different remote possibility, which is regime change in Iran possibly as a result of 'crippling sanctions.' I wonder if Washington has thought of that?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19 2013 22:56 utc | 37

@Nabil #33
Why would the Taliban lay down their arms when they control many districts in Afghanistan and victory is in sight, with the US military departing and the Afghan army barely operational?

By the way, General Dunford stated on June 18 that there are 20,000 to 30,000 Taliban and 50-75 al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19 2013 23:04 utc | 38

Re-title: ‘Beginning of a new Game’

Just to re-cap, as long as I can remember; “Covert” the CIA armed and Saudi funded an armed group, thus created the ‘Taliban’ in the 80’s, this includes recruiting bin Laden by the CIA in 1979 ( wage jihad against the Russian ‘Soviet’ occupation of Afghanistan). “Overt” Later its origin morphed to the Pakistani-trained mujahedeen as part of the groups growth in turn the US supported the Taliban through its ‘allies’ in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia between 1994 and 1996.

From this and fast forward:

After the September 11 attacks on the U.S. and the PENTTBOM investigation, the United States made the following demands of the Taliban; (Just for fun tick any that has been achieved)

1. Deliver to the U.S. all of the leaders of Al-Qaeda
2. Release all foreign nationals that have been unjustly imprisoned
3. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, and aid workers
4. Close immediately every terrorist training camp
5. Hand over every terrorist and their supporters to appropriate authorities
6. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps for inspection

In-between then and now (Just a tidbit, since one would need volumes) the United States and NATO have been supporting al-Qeada and affiliates during the Libyan civil war and the current Syrian civil war.

Taliban and their allies were responsible for 75% of Afghan civilian casualties in 2010, 80% in 2011, and 80% in 2012 and now with US ‘diplomacy’ and Qatar at the helm, they get a PR office?

I get it, I lost the plot! A fucking PR Office? Alone the sheer cost of this epic disaster would save the entire banking system - It reads like a MAD comic, If I fold the page (If you even read MAD as a child), do I get a picture of reality?…

Posted by: kev | Jun 19 2013 23:15 utc | 39

Frankly, I don't care that much about what the different groups and factions in Afghanistan do or don't do. For a simple reason: It's *their* country and so it's up to them to come up with whatever pleases them.

The important issue, seen from a global perspective, is that zusa is declining and humiliated.

In a way these are two variations of the same structure.

In our world the mil. complex is an important driver for the industry of a country. Weapons sales again are closely connected to 3 factors: Capabilities, price and probably most important, being a/the protecting power (typically with a relation between the first and the last).

So, 1 (there are more, of course) important aspect is that if Russia acts as a protecting power, doing so successfully and doing so based on superior weapons - while at the same time the "incumbent world power" zusa looks bad and fails consistently - quite some countries will loosen their relationship with zusa/nato, quite some countries will strongly consider to get closer to Russia, quite some countries will buy Russian weapons, aso.
This again very much helps Russia to enhance and build up their mil. industries and, as a consequence, build up and enhance their general industrial capabilities.

For most people it's quite simple: zusa had and has big snout but didn't deliver and consistently failed. Russia on the other side did deliver so far. Pretty nobody doubts that the decisive power in the Syria issue is Russia and Iran also still hasn't been attacked (although there Medwedew made an error cancelling the S-300 contracts; I'm confident that Putin will rather soon correct that mistake, quite probably by happily "loosing" at court and, as a consequence, being "forced" to deliver).

Considering all that I think that Syria will become the issue where future generations will say "That's where the zusa broke down, that was their point of no return downwards".

Concerning Afghanistan others have nicely worded it. zusa will either have to find an arrangement with the Taleban or with Iran if they want to someday get their military out more or less unharmed. Both options are quite unbearable and humiliating for zusa.
For the mid-to-long term I see neither zusa nor Russia but China as the decisive power, partner and protector on Afghanistan.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 19 2013 23:19 utc | 40

re 35, bullshit. Afghanistan is strategic, because it is centrally placed, nothing else. Otherwise it is a dead loss. The Chinese have mining rights, but even they are not pursuing them because they've hit upon a buddhist stupa, and French archaeologists are delving into them. The Chinese have departed as they can't make progress.

Posted by: alexno | Jun 19 2013 23:35 utc | 41

@alexno #39
It may be bullshit to you, but it is Grand Strategic Thinking in Washington, the seat of Empire. Do you think that the US is in Afghanistan because of 50-75 al-Qaeda? There are many more elsewhere.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 0:01 utc | 42

@36 Don Bacon

I assume they would lay down arms because they could easily have power legitimately, and thus any government arms would be theirs. Who's their competition in Pashtun areas, the corrupt politicians with their children in Dubai?

Posted by: Crest | Jun 20 2013 0:18 utc | 43

@ crest #41
Nabil in #33 suggested the US hasn't lost the war, with Taliban laying down arms, which I take to mean a sign of defeat for Taliban, not victory.

On your point, Taliban are not popular in Afghanistan. Their power over the people comes from fear. So they need their guns. Granted, the people the US put into power are no better.

But, as Mr Pharma suggests in #38, why should we get hung up on an Afghan matter. As Ann Jones writes:

Afghans, however, haven’t forgotten just whom the U.S. put in place to govern them — exactly the men they feared and hated most in exactly the place where few Afghans wanted them to be. Early on, between 2002 and 2004, 90% of Afghans surveyed nationwide told the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission that such men should not be allowed to hold public office; 76% wanted them tried as war criminals. . .In this way, Afghans were consigned to live under a government of bloodstained warlords and fundamentalists, who turned out to be Washington’s guys. Many had once battled the Soviets using American money and weapons, and quite a few, like the former warlord, druglord, minister of defense, and current vice-president Muhammad Qasim Fahim, had been very chummy with the CIA.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 1:04 utc | 44

My figures on US troops in Afghanistan, based on news reports:
Jan 2009 30K
Dec 2009 67K
2011 100K
Feb 2013 68K - maintain 60+ thru spring & summer
May 2013 66K
Dec 2013 32K
final drawdown after elections April 5, 2014
8K - 12K ??

So there are currently over twice as many US troops in Afghanistan as when Obama took office, with numbers supposedly decreasing this Fall. --"mañana"

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 1:21 utc | 45

Don#42, Re: "suggested the US hasn't lost the war, with Taliban laying down arms, which I take to mean a sign of defeat for Taliban, not victory". Something is not gelling - The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack in Afghanistan that killed four US soldiers, just hours after the militant group said it would hold talks with the US on finding a political solution to ending the country’s nearly 12-year war. So is this Office a PR stunt with a fraction only?

And; post 43, how many PS (Private Security), still funded by the US.

Posted by: kev | Jun 20 2013 1:31 utc | 46

@kev #44
Again, why try to sort this out? It's their country. Did Karzai weigh in with opinions on Boston marathon?

Regarding attacks on Americans, General Dunford, June 18:

The message of us as an occupier has actually, I think, rallied Taliban forces to attack the coalition force and also to attack Afghan forces that were perceived as being part of the coalition force.

So bring 'em home, pronto.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 1:43 utc | 47

@kev #44
Jun 11, 2013
There Are 108,000 Private Contractors in Afghanistan and the Pentagon Has No Idea What They're Doing

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 1:46 utc | 48

Germany and Italy have promised to keep troops in Afghanistan post-2014. Here's a photo of Obama with his friend Merkel in Germany today. (She may be a bit upset that her private conversations are being recorded, but she'll get over it. "Yes We Scan” has been a popular headline across the German press.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 1:54 utc | 49

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19, 2013 9:54:04 PM | 47


Germany, France, Italy, UK, Spain, etc. are not sovereign states if they were, US military wouldn’t ever have agreed to establish military bases in these countries. They are not sovereign on their state security decisions therefore as consequences, on their economic and foreign policy.

Posted by: kooshy | Jun 20 2013 2:15 utc | 50

Regarding the dismal prospects for a SOFA, it's reported that there are 200 US troops ('advisors') in Iraq who are classified as "diplomats." And don't forget Raymond Davis in Pakistan. Davis was a CIA hired gun, a private contractor employee, who assassinated two Pakistan agents. Despite thousands of Pakistanis demonstrating for a Pakistan trial, Davis was called a "diplomat" by SecState Clinton and taken out of the country. (The blurring of the roles of diplomats and mercs contributed to the Benghazi fiasco, also.)

So the SOFA, which establishes the rights and privileges of foreign military personnel present in a host country, may become a relic of bygone years with soldiers on recognized bases, whereas now we have more assassins and who-knows-what in the shadows.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 2:26 utc | 51

Don – Odd they have named the new mission, “Resolute Support” even have video’s, so PR is done, yet The White House has been reluctant or cant specify how many troops what they will do outside training (Counterterrorism). Given that part of the past push was ‘Train the trainers’, so where did all these ‘trainers go’, or were they referring to ‘sneakers’ and using them for training? semantics can cause confusion! Much like the statements “The United States has agreed to lead a training mission in Afghanistan after 2014 that will include troops from Germany and Italy and will operate under a new NATO mandate, officials announced Wednesday” then “However, there still is no underlying agreement that will authorize US trainers to be in Afghanistan after 2014 with full criminal immunity”
OK, what do trainers need with “full criminal immunity”, in a nutshell ‘trainers’ are the co-combatants, they go shooting together, the only change is in this training it’s live real targets they practice on. Guess the employment side for ‘Enemy’ won’t be a long line.

What could possibly go wrong with this excellent new (Old) but smaller than the last endeavor?

Finally, this is not the end, it’s just a readjusted force, it’s not over. Rasmussen said “The Afghan Special Forces (12-14 week training) as the “bedrock” of the post-2014 effort” - so ‘a part’ of post 2014, in real terms this is going into 2015/16…

Question; does Israel ever bitch about Germany being in Afghan as it has a hard time forgetting WWII.

Posted by: kev | Jun 20 2013 2:26 utc | 52

@kooshy #48
Yes, sovereignty is a relative term when foreign influence can affect decisions.

But for simplicity let's stick with the Iraq - Afghan comparison. Iraq had a determined government with a working parliament which made decisions independent of US influence. (Perhaps with Iran influence.) Afghanistan on the other hand is nearly totally under US military command, as I noted above. Thanks to the US, its government is not settled and the people in government are totally corrupt. It also is subject to other influence, via the Taliban acting for Pakistan. These are countries whose boundaries were (mostly) arbitrarily drawn by Europeans, so what can we expect. Afghanistan doesn't recognize the Durand Line, yet it complains that Pakistan doesn't recognize its border! Talk about mysteries of the East.

Regarding Europe, I would say that the EU countries you list are sovereign, and have determined that US bases are beneficial to them.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 2:40 utc | 53

It is beginning to look like Karsai is reaching his Thieu moment. Remember him, America's puppet in South Vietnam. The US entered into the Paris Peace negotiations. The end result was a treaty that allowed the US to withdraw from the Vietnam war. The end result was that the US withdrew. And Thieu was allowed to open a Vietnamese restaurant in Los Angeles. I hope Karsai will be treated as well.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 20 2013 2:50 utc | 54

@kev #50
If you looked at those three videos I posted on the open thread the other day, you saw that the basic problem, seen through Afghan eyes, in their villages, is that after twelve years the country is still not safe, and getting worse, so now you're leaving, and calling it a victory? And you want me to pick up a rifle and defend my village?

It'd be like the Chicago police packing up and leaving town, telling Chicagoans to get a rifle and handle the city's security.

Obama, who never has done anything correctly, is again caught between a rock and a hard place, and can't determine what he should do. So he basically does more of the same, and gives it a new fancy name “Resolute Support” probably to be followed by “Resolute Support II” (with a different ribbon).

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 2:58 utc | 55

@ToivoS | Jun 19, 2013 10:50:53 PM | 52, but you must admit, great food (Vietnamese), as opposed to depleted uranium goat.

@Don, we must not forget, the place is mineral rich, nothing more needs said…

All jesting aside, it's all pretty tragic and just seems to get deeper...

Posted by: kev | Jun 20 2013 3:09 utc | 56

@ToivoS #52
Nguyen Van Thieu got off much better than his predecessor Ngo Dinh Diem whom the US had plucked out of a New Jersey seminary and installed as the President of the US-created South Vietnam. Diem was assassinated under US orders on November 2, 1963, in Saigon. (I was in Saigon at the time but I swear I had nothing to do with it.)

Karzai hopes to do better than his predecessor Mohammad Najibullah who is said to have been castrated by the Taliban and dragged behind a truck in the streets of Kabul before he was publicly hanged.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 3:10 utc | 57

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 19, 2013 10:40:37 PM | 51


Iraq is not a sovereign country either, Iraq is a Shieh majority country with a shieh government for first time in her history, any shieh anywhere in ME knows her long term security can only be established collectively by all Shiehs in the region specially the Shieh security is mostly relied on the largest and strongest established shieh country in the region which is Iran. Iraqi shieh, Lebanese, Bahrainis and finally the Azeri Shieh can’t and wouldn’t feel more secure attaching their security to a foreign power or a Sunie regional client state of an outside power. As you can see now days even secular sunnie goverments can’t be secure with regional Sunnie client states.

See the situation of Iraq today is similar to that of the western Europeans, they need a bigger, a stronger, country with similar mentality to protect them, for them this happened as a consequence of WWI and WWII and the cold war, this made Europeans to become lazy, easy and look for inexpensive cheap security, they found that in US which made them to give up their sovereignty for guaranteed security protection.
In case of Iraqi shieh this happened after Saddam was removed which although this was done by US, still majority shieh Iraq felt more closer for her long term security to Iran than the US, Iranian and Iraqi shieh knew this from the get go, Iran did not need to influence the Iraqis to win their hearts and minds, Iraqis and Iranians were influenced over 500 years ago. It is not easy to reverse this in just a few years or decades.

As long as Europeans have to rely on US for their security and allow US to establish military bases (otherwise US military wouldn’t have agreed) they know (their public knows and doesn’t shy away to say it) they only have a very limited sovereignty.

Posted by: kooshy | Jun 20 2013 3:20 utc | 58

#54 kev, it is indeed tragic. In some respects Afghanistan is one of the better nations on earth. From my reading they have not invaded a neighboring country since it was ruled by the Bactrian empire. The reason is simple. Over the last 2 centuries the only times they have unified is to repel foreign invaders. Besides that the numerous tribes have resisted central control and have ruled themselves. There is something to be said for local autonomy. As many thinkers over the last few centuries have noted is that centralized governments unified by nationalism are only good for massive wars.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jun 20 2013 3:26 utc | 59

Aloha, b, Don, and, barflies...! It's been awhile since I've last commented, but, I did post a new MENA Mashup, if anyone's interested...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Jun 20 2013 3:45 utc | 60

@Don Bacon:

i am sorry to insist, Don, but why open a bureau in "Doha" ? if you are the one who is running the show, you'd be expected to negociate on your own soil.In Afghanistan.It is the only detail that doesnt fit.maybe i am wrong, and the Taliban are better at fighting than at negociating.

Posted by: Nabil | Jun 20 2013 5:01 utc | 61

I think that many thoughts concerning the near and mid term future of and in Afghanistan, Iraq and even globally are flawed in being based on the assumption of the current monopolar sitution to continue.

Looking at things it's quite evident that the end of the "american century" already is in full action and nearing its completion.

obamas "zusa-Europe free trade zone" idea is but another last attempt to keep the imperium alive. Actually that idea comes down to the concept of shifting values from Europe to zusa by weakening Europe.
Without Putin it might actually have worked. The european politicians are used to being whores selling their countries out to bankers and americans.

It's about time to properly readjust our thinking. When considering the future of e.g. Afghanistan, we should get used to think in terms of PAC ("post american century" - who would have thought that one day "PAC" might have this meaning?! Haha).

And yes, maybe the american military will finally do what it's meant for, protecting their country - by more and more openly putting themselves against the politician vermin. Because that, the zionist owned politician vermin, is the only source of unprovoked real danger zusa has been facing since a century.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jun 20 2013 7:12 utc | 62

#35. Sad. The New Silk Road was originally proposed to counter war and imperial domination.

Lyndon LaRouche thought it up after 9/11, which he saw as a coup against the United States.

His concept was much bigger, involving a rapid-rail network from Central Asia to Central America, centring on a tunnel across the Bering Strait (the distance overland is shorter than by sea).

He wanted to break the City of London's stranglehold (mediated as it is through Wall Street), by smashing the base of maritime power. For a generation, the necessary public works would provide the moral equivalent to war, drawing the US, Russia, China, and India together, and bringing prosperity to places like Afghanistan.

Surprisingly, he supported Hillary's candidacy, only to find her heading in the exact opposite direction. Perhaps she was dimly remembering some old briefing paper.

Posted by: Bob Jackson | Jun 20 2013 9:57 utc | 63

Apologies for slight off topic
been reading here still, but, not much to say.
Thought some may be interested in the Aspin doctrine

Obama, Syria and the Aspin doctrine: Plans for a "limited" strike on Syria?

The Aspin doctrine is from the Clinton administration and Clinton, (him) not her... has been making the media rounds.
Is there a difference? Evil is evil no matter which form it is in?
Obama was 'talking" with Billy (child molester) Clinton

btw completely and totally off topic.. did you know that Bill Clinton was a guest on a plane loaded with young girls? The plane of a man who got several massages a day from his young sex slaves
Links back to a 2010 post
The elites are psychopaths and predators and pedophiles
triple p's
that must always be remembered when considering their agenda

Posted by: Penny | Jun 20 2013 11:22 utc | 64

The Pakistani military is now claiming "we did it" and is celebrating its victory over the mighty U.S.

Best of the ordered pieces for victory lap is this one in the Pakistan tribune:

Afghan revelations: Pakistan-US secret diplomacy created Doha roadmap

Months-long painstaking and secret negotiations involving Islamabad and Washington have yielded a detailed roadmap for steering negotiations with the Afghan Taliban which will start to unfold with the release of five Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and the return of the captured US soldier PFC Bowe Bergdahl, at present in Taliban custody.
“The Americans had three solutions for the Taliban problem. First, the Alpha solution, was to beat them into submission and retard their capacity to fight permanently. This failed. The Bravo solution was to fight them hard through a troop surge and force them to accept Afghanistan’s new realities like the presentday Afghan constitution and the leadership of president Karzai. That too did not work. The third, the Charlie solution, was more of a compulsion. Accept Taliban as a legitimate power in Afghanistan, talk to them, accommodate their main demands even it meant abandoning assets like Karzai. I think you are looking at the Charlie solution being played out,” says a military official.

This Reuters piece is also a talking point mesh-up from the Pakistani military:

INSIGHT - Pakistan influence on Taliban commanders helped Afghan breakthrough

Neighbouring Pakistan's role in the war has been ambiguous - it is a U.S. ally but has a long history of supporting the Taliban as its proxy in Afghanistan, part of its wider jockeying with regional rival India.

Western officials believe Pakistan may now calculate that its interest is better served by helping to broker peace that would lead to the emergence of a friendly government in Kabul capable of stabilising Afghanistan and preventing chaos spilling over the border.

Several military and civilian officials told Reuters Pakistan helped persuade the "relevant Taliban commanders" to talk to the Americans and Afghans and also sought to convince them that getting into talks was in their interest.

"It would not have been possible without our facilitation. Convincing the Taliban that it was in Afghanistan's interest and also convincing the other parties that this is what the Taliban actually have in mind," one senior army officer said.

The India, main foe of Pakistan, feels screwed and is already looking into (old) new ways to countermove:
Obama’s ‘peace at any cost’ talks with Taliban may recoil on India

Heading into 2014, when almost all western troops will pull out of Afghanistan, it’s turning out that America’s Red Lines on terror were drawn with vanishing ink. From 1 January to 6 June, civilian casualties are up 24 percent compared with the same period last year, three-quarters inflicted by the Taliban and its partners. The Taliban has refused to reject al-Qaeda. Its leaders refuse to sit across the table with representatives of Afghanistan’s elected government.

New Delhi needs to start worrying, and soon: the Taliban’s march back into office will have lethal consequences not just for Afghans, but India and the region.
Islamabad has cashed in on Obama’s desperation, selling its leverage over the Taliban hardliners in return for equities in Afghanistan’s political future. It argues that the Taliban leadership, if given power in Kabul, will be able to buy off ground-level jihadists fighting alongside al-Qaeda and its sister organisations.

The Taliban leadership, it hopes, will return the favour by using its influence with jihadists fighting against the Pakistani state, like al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
For all practical purposes, the talks in Doha will hand Pakistan and its jihadist proxies the keys to Afghanistan’s future—a decision that could impose enormous costs on India.

New Delhi will have to resume serious dialogue on military assistance with the Northern Alliance, which battled the Taliban until 9/11. It will have to think seriously on the use of offensive covert means to target the jihadist leadership in Pakistan. New Delhi will also have stop dragging its feet on requests for military assistance from Afghanistan, made by Karzai last month.

“I think the time has come for India to revitalise its relationship with its historic friends, who resisted Pakistani expansionism in Afghanistan before 9/11,” former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh told Firstpost. “The moment of decision is inching closer.”

General Dostum is said to already distribute weapons for the times to come ...

Posted by: b | Jun 20 2013 12:50 utc | 65

I have a little difficulty believing that Pakistan is really going to benefit from whatever has happened here.

Pakistan and Afghanistan together is empowering Pakistan, sure...
but the TTP and AQ will be used when needed to ensure they don't get too out of line
And what of Baluchistan?
The Port at Gwadar?
I don't know........

Posted by: Penny | Jun 20 2013 13:07 utc | 66

End of US interest in Afpak will mean a lot of business gone. Let me tell you from Bavaria - it got very quiet in the countryside since the US army left.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 20 2013 13:36 utc | 67

Doha has been an amusing topic at State the last few days, with State spokesperson Jen Psaki trying to explain the inexplicable. It actually started on Jun 18 with "Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on Afghanistan" and then continued on Jun 18 and 19 at the press conferences. The principal sticking point, besides the Taliban initially opening a new virtual embassy, was the fact that Washington and not Kabul would be holding the first talks with the Taliban. It goes back to the sovereignty issue I raised up-thread.

Some snippets:
Background Briefing Jun 18--

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, I think the U.S. will have its first formal meeting with the Taliban, and indeed first meeting with the Taliban for several years, in a couple of days in Doha. And I would expect that to be followed within days with a meeting between the Taliban and the High Peace Council, which is the structure that President Karzai has set up to represent Afghanistan in talks of this nature.

Presser Jun 18--
QUESTION: But why is that? Why wouldn’t the first meeting be between the Afghans?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I mentioned a bit of the U.S. stake here and the issues we feel are vitally important to discuss. That will certainly be a part of that process. This is an Afghan process moving forward, and certainly will be Afghan-led and Afghan-focused moving forward. But as I mentioned, the U.S. has a stake. Obviously, the State Department, the White House, and others have been engaged in this process, the Secretary has been, and so that may be the order of meetings.

Presser Jun 19--
QUESTION: Jen, so – also, Jen, there’s another thing that they’re angry about, or I would say Karzai is angry about, which is that they would say that they are taking the back seat to the United States. . . .

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I would point to comments we’ve made for months and months about how these negotiations and discussions need to be Afghan-led and Afghans talking to Afghans. . .we’re continuing to coordinate with the Afghan Government and the High Peace Council on the next steps. . .I can tell you is that we’re coordinating closely with them, and our goal, of course, is to play a positive role in moving towards a political reconciliation here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 14:49 utc | 68

The unsuccessful US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has always had an underlying Pakistan vs. India factor. India has a historic interest in Afghanistan, and recently these interests have bee promoted at the highest levels by the US. Pakistan's worst nightmare is to have an Indian client om its western flank. Pakistan doesn't want to become an Indian sandwich, which is why Pakistan has supported the Taliban in killing US troops for years now.

In other words, US security interests don't coincide with Pakistan's. General McChrystal made this chrystal-clear years ago in his assessment to the president on Aug 30, 2009:

'Afghanistan's insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan. . .and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan's ISI [Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence ]."

"Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India.".

But despite these facts the US continued and expanded its wrongful efforts in Afghanistan, and promoted Indian interests.
Dr Maria Sultan, head of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, said in an interview in Jang:
“The United States wants to assign more roles to India in Afghanistan. However, instead of proving helpful, the Indian role has becoming a cause in further deepening the crisis. The terrorism spread by the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in Pakistan through Afghanistan continues in the name of India-US cooperation in war on terror."

George Perkovitch:
"Pakistan is willing to fight until the last Taliban or coalition foot soldier falls in order to pursue its interests in Afghanistan, while India is willing to fight to the last American to keep Pakistan from exerting indirect control over a future Afghan government. Neither position serves American interests."

Nicholas Burns, US State Department: "India has a major role to play in Afghanistan... I think the Indian role in helping Afghan villagers and helping the Afghan government has been very positive. I don't think we (can) say India cannot participate in rebuilding of Afghanistan because of differences with Pakistan."

"US Ambassador Holbrooke assured [India FM] Rao that he is in favor of Indian assistance programs in Afghanistan and is not influenced by what he hears in Islamabad." -- wikileaks

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20 2013 15:02 utc | 69

Don #69

In the event of a war with India, thats where the Pakistani Army was going to retreat to. Thats why the Pakistanis support the Afghan Tribesmen so heavily and what put them at loggerheads with the US government which expects anybody to drop their own interests for DCs.

Posted by: heath | Jun 20 2013 15:37 utc | 70

At Petri Krohn no 6.:

quote from Petri:

1) The US is suing for peace. The bad guys won. Time to lick your wounds and go home.

2) The US is formalizing its alliance with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Jihadists are now the good guys.


3) A bunch of ppl got to make a bomb of money, let’s not forget the drug trade and AID monies, alongside the military-contractors plus Gvmt. circuit, which involves ppl who write new school-books (yes that took place under booted Bremer) organize women’s groups, doctors who run (ooops, advise) on clinics, cement sellers, marble sellers from Italy, ppl who tout barbed wire, traffic lights -- sell wheat and other staples after destroying local agri, etc. to quote just a few examples of low-on-the-pole profiteers or higher stakes in the agri market.

Now the revenue stream seems to dry up with a relative, ‘disengagement’ of the superpower and its allies, which protects the W’s actions with guns and huge prisons, to mention only that, plus a weak semi-corrupt not properly compliant national Gvmt, these ppl/orgs all leave (and many left many years ago, they got max dough and scampered) to go onto greener pastures.

More like a Mafia heist than anything to do with the Taliban - Pashtun peasants and ‘warlords’ - Al-Q, international politics, except for the fact that destruction is for some more profitable than any other move. For some, and only within a short time span.

The drug trade will continue with a profit-sharing scheme. The Taliban will aways be amenable to foreign powers, trade...and that is what was wished.

Remember, the invasion of Afgh. was agreed on gingerly and somewhat sub rosa by the Int. community, *before* 9/11. The Taliban being all moralistic about drugs and burning or slashing poppy fields was to make the price rise and give them more bargaining power, as they control what is going on on the ground to a large degree.

This is just a view from one angle but imho deserves mention. The US loves the Taliban as a controlling mechanism, provided they submit enough, and the US has tried many times to make a deal with them ..even before the invasion.

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 20 2013 15:52 utc | 71

Don Bacon@53. Your remarks on sovereignty are misleading.

The idea that NATO is a voluntary association of free peoples etc flies in the face of history. Younger readers should not be misled.

After May 1945 the most popular and best organised parties I western Europe were the Communists and their left socialist allies. The conservative, liberal, monarchist and religious parties had all been compromised by their alliances with fascists and with the Nazi occupation regimes.
The threat, perceived by the United States, was not that the Red Army would invade western Europe but that the voters of France, Italy and elsewhere would invite it in. GDH Cole the British historian wrote that, bad as it would be for Europe to be dominated by the Soviet Union it would be far more dangerous to allow the United States to rule it. Cole, a member of Labour National Executive, was by no means a far left figure, in fact he was the mentor of Hugh Gaitskell, who became the prototype of the US Embassy approved Labour leader. At the time he wrote “The Intelligent Man’s Guide to the Post War World” his view of the danger of American domination was perfectly rational. 65 years later we can see that he was right: Europe has become subservient to the point that to call its states “sovereign” is ludicrous. None of them is: ask a Palestinian.

The United States poured money and agents into Europe to build counter forces to the left. It cleaned up old fascists, dusted off the few Resistance figures that the right had to offer, made agreements with churches and rebuilt rightwing and anti-socialist parties which it used to blunt the threat of socialism.
In Spain and Portugal where unpopular fascist regimes hung onto power, in the face of popular opposition, the United States maintained the dictators rather than risk popular election of socialist alternatives. Franco, Hitler’s protégé, became Washington’s sonofabitch and held onto power for three more decades.
NATO, the Cold War and the system of military bases, far from arising out of the spontaneous desire of the people of Europe to host them, were imposed to give the United States a “first strike” capacity in its aggressive posture towards the Soviet Union and to ensure that european governments did not slip into neutralism or pro-Soviet stances.
Since then those bases have been a key part of maintaining NATO which is wholly subservient to the Pentagon and has been throughout its existence. Now that there is no Soviet Union this is undeniable: NATO and the military bases have always existed to project US power and to protect its domination of Europe, which is vital to its insane fantasy of becoming global judge, jury and executioner.

kooshy @58 misses the point too:
"this made Europeans to become lazy, easy and look for inexpensive cheap security, they found that in US which made them to give up their sovereignty for guaranteed security protection."
There was nothing cheap about the US security deal. Nothing threatened Europe from the outside. Vast sums were wasted on maintaining armies and "defence" systems.
And right wing, anti-working class parties were, largely, maintained in power until the formerly "left" parties had been corrupted into collaborationist clones.
For the monument of these policies see Europe today with falling living standards, enormous debt burdens (largely incurred in collaborating with the USA)and record levels of unemployment.
The theory that Europe has been protected by the USA is based upon misconceptions: the only threat to Europe came from the USA which insisted that Europe assist its imperialism or suffer dire consequences. Thos was cheap protection as in "protection racket."

Posted by: bevin | Jun 20 2013 21:40 utc | 72

bevin 72

without wanting to appear to speak for Don Bacon, I think he meant NATO was less those 'voluntary association of free peoples' rather the right wing party fat cats who desperately wished to remain in power.
But the Communists were just as compromised, you either sang from Moscow's hymm book, where you gave enormous ammunition to the right or Stalin tossed you to the wolves as the Greeks found out in 1947. Either way Stalin didn't care as the Iron Curtain was a long way from Moscow and him. And Communists everywhere had compromised with fascism right up until the German artillery start firing on 22 June 1941.
but those right wing fat cats couldn't without carrots as well as sticks, out socialisting the socialists with government programs that cost enormous amounts as well as the defence costs of belonging to the US Empire, just as the New Dealers cost American society incredible amounts too

Posted by: heath | Jun 21 2013 1:47 utc | 73

Posted by: bevin | Jun 20, 2013 5:40:45 PM | 72

“There was nothing cheap about the US security deal. Nothing threatened Europe from the outside. Vast sums were wasted on maintaining armies and "defence" systems.”

Europe did not and could not spend as much as US on military technology and armament as much as US to maintain a balance power between the eastern and western blocks, the entire European community did not and could not pay and maintain as many nuclear armament as USSR or US. Western Europe for US was the equivalent of Eastern Europe for USSR. Once the USSR collapsed and there were no more threats, US changed and expanded her mission, and refused to leave Europe. Consequentially European countries remained with limited sovereignty, this I don’t see will be changed till the time US no longer can pay for it. possibly in another 10 years or so.

Posted by: kooshy | Jun 21 2013 2:33 utc | 74

I'm glad that I sparked some thinking and opinions, but my principal concern is the sovereignty problem in Afghanistan, not Europe.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 21 2013 2:46 utc | 75

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 20, 2013 10:46:25 PM | 75


Afghanistan will eventually fall back to what she has been, meaning after everybody who dropped in with lives and lots of money has gone the northern part will be influenced and paid for by Iran, and southern Pashtun by Indian Muslim now days Pakistan, this time Iran’s support for the north would be much more open and intense to prevent Taliban moving north, as before Iran will have full support of India and Russia.

There is nothing else that can be done in Afghanistan except balancing power in between tribes and ethnicities. US will never see a pipeline goes through Afghanistan; she will remain dependent on Iran energy for foreseeable future Energy, Language, Culture and Marriage, and even Media is how Iran will have the control in northern Afghanistan.

Posted by: kooshy | Jun 21 2013 3:13 utc | 76

Quoting my comment from 66

"Pakistan and Afghanistan together is empowering Pakistan, sure...
but the TTP and AQ (Sunni fighters) will be used when needed to ensure they don't get too out of line"

News today:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Militants opened fire on a Shiite Muslim mosque where worshippers were gathering for Friday prayers, and then a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside, killing 15 people in the latest attack aimed at the minority sect, police said.

The attack hit the city of Peshawar, which is on the outskirts of Pakistan's tribal area, the main sanctuary for Islamic militants. They have targeted the city with scores of bombings in recent years.

Three militants initiated the attack on the mosque, located inside a Shiite religious school, by firing on a policeman who was standing guard outside, said senior police official Shafiullah Khan. The policeman was critically wounded, Khan said.

The militants then entered the mosque, where one of them detonated his suicide vest. The other two militants escaped, and police have launched a search operation to find them, Khan said. Fifteen people were killed and scores more wounded, he said.

Zawar Hussain, who was inside the mosque when the attackers struck, said their firing set off panic among the roughly 300 worshippers inside. Then came the explosion.

"After the blast, I fell down. People were crying for help," said Hussain. "I saw bodies and badly injured worshippers everywhere."


Posted by: Penny | Jun 21 2013 10:46 utc | 77

I'm agreeing with donbacon on the Afghan issue. The country is very important strategically for many of the same reasons now as 200 hundred years ago. Silk, gas, minerals it's all trade at the end of the day. It's still a ground route to the Sub-Continent and Indian Ocean for Russia. It's a very important region for all the major players - China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, The US

Time was never called on "The Great Game" and many of the actors are still the same, with the US as the imperial power instead of Britain and the addition of some other newcomers. I don't think time has been called yet.

Posted by: BillyBoy | Jun 21 2013 12:00 utc | 78

Bevin @ 72

Two words that say it all

Operation Gladio

Posted by: Penny | Jun 21 2013 12:21 utc | 79

@kooshy, #76
Gertrude Bell, the 'founder of modern Iraq,' 1920: (also applies to Afghanistan)

“In the light of the events of the last two months there's no getting out of the conclusion that we have made an immense failure here. The system must have been far more at fault than anything that I or anyone else suspected. It will have to be fundamentally changed and what that may mean exactly I don't know. I suppose we have underestimated the fact that this country is really an inchoate mass of tribes which can't as yet be reduced to any system."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 21 2013 13:02 utc | 80

So instead of recognizing reality in Afghanistan, an inchoate mass of tribes, we have meetings in Brussels to loosen the strings just a bit, and call it "resolute support."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 21 2013 13:06 utc | 81

Looks like talks are not(?) happening: U.S.-Taliban peace talks stalled, hope fading

Secretary of State John Kerry and Ambassador Jim Dobbins, the Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, met on Sunday morning with Qatari Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani to discuss the stalled U.S.-Taliban peace talks. The meeting, held behind closed doors at Wajbah Palace, lasted around 30 minutes. It was the second Taliban-related meeting in 24 hours.
During a joint press conference with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al Thani on Saturday, Secretary Kerry indicated that the window of opportunity may be closing.

"If there is not a decision to move forward by the Taliban in short order, then we may have to consider whether or not the office has to be closed," he said.

While Kerry publicly thanked "our good friends the Qataris" for their efforts to coordinate the process, diplomats were privately frustrated that the Qataris allowed for the Taliban to manipulate the high-profile opening of the Doha-based political office. Kerry stopped short of acknowledging the Qatari failure to thoroughly manage the process. He simply said that while the terms of the office opening had been "painstakingly established" those terms were "not adhered to in the early hours."

So Kerry blames the Qataris. On the other side it is HIS job to get the Afghanistan drawdown into some diplomatic solution.

It seems that some insider folks in Washington are quite critical of him as Sec State and want to shot him down. There were two pieces, on by AP and one by the NYT today, that looked a bit like his time is already nearing its end. This Taliban mess-up will be water on their mills.

Top US diplomat Kerry makes grand promises but needs to deliver on foreign policy ambitions

Following a Star, Kerry Applies Personal Touch

Posted by: b | Jun 23 2013 16:01 utc | 82

@ 82
U.S.-Taliban peace talks stalled, hope fading

CBS News doesn't have it quite right. The peace talks are supposed to be "Afghans talking to Afghans," with preliminary US-Taliban talks.

State, Friday

MR. VENTRELL: I’m not sure if I’ve seen a statement overnight from the Afghan Government, but we’ve been clear all along. Our position has been that we want to get Afghans talking to Afghans. That’s what the point of this reconciliation is and what we’re working toward. We separately have some issues to discuss with the Taliban, principally among them Sergeant Bergdahl.

I could go into my (tiresome?) sovereignty spiel again, but I won't. Unless pressed.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 23 2013 16:48 utc | 83

No historic parallels can be exactly accurate, but isn't this hoped-for "reconciliation" between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan sort of like expecting the Vichy government of France and the French Resistance to "reconcile" in 1944? It's a fool's gambit: "a foolish strategy, an unwise move or a dangerous maneuver."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jun 23 2013 22:05 utc | 84

On Friday, this piece in Asia Times talks about using the Taliban to wedge C.A. allies away from Russia:
Afghanistan is the theater where the strategy to harness the militant jihadis was first attempted by the US in a hugely successful way in the 1980s. The Afghan playpen is still open for the US to pick up the threads where it left in the early 1990s.

Paradoxically, it suits the US geo-strategy to have the Taliban return to power and Afghanistan becoming an "Islamic" state. The talks in Doha aim at working out the ground rules of a "peaceful co-existence" between the US and the Taliban.

What Russia would apprehend is that it is a matter of time before this co-habitation between the US and the Taliban would mutate into a tacit "division of labor" between the two protagonists with regard to Central Asia. The strengthening of the Russian military presence in Tajikistan anticipates such a turn of events in the geopolitics of the region.

Posted by: Maracatu | Jun 24 2013 3:14 utc | 85

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