Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 21, 2017

Afghanistan - Trump To Announce Four More One-Year Wars

Updated below

This evening Trump will announce a new "path forward" in the occupation of Afghanistan. According to the usual leaks it will be very same path the U.S. has taken for 16 years.

Several thousands soldiers from the U.S. and various NATO countries will (in vane) train the Afghan army. Special Forces and CIA goons will raid this or that family compound on someone's say-so. Bombs will be dropped on whatever is considered a target.

Trump will announce that 1,000 or so troops will be added to the current contingent. About 15,000 foreign troops will be in Afghanistan. About three contractors per each soldier will be additionally deployed.

Trump knows that this "path forward" is nonsense that leads nowhere, that the best option for all foreign troops in Afghanistan is to simply leave:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 21 Nov 2013

We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let's get out!

But neither the military nor the CIA nor the local Afghan government will let the U.S. leave. Fear mongering is abound: "What happens if Afghanistan becomes a hotbed for international terrorists?" But few if any international terrorist incident in the "west" were ever organized in Afghanistan. In all recent incidents the culprits were locals.

For the military it is all about optics. The generals do not want to concede that they lost another war. The CIA wants to keep is militarized forces and drones which it justifies through its engagement in Afghanistan. The drug production in Afghanistan, which the U.S. never really tried to suppress, is rumored to finance "black" CIA operations just like it did during the Vietnam war and throughout various South American conflicts. The members of the Afghan government all live off U.S. largess. The war in Afghanistan is a racket paid for with the lives of countless Afghans and U.S. taxpayer money.

Now tightly under control of neo-conservative leaning generals Trump had little chance to make a different decision. He had asked his team for alternatives but none were given to him:

The president told McMaster “to go back to the drawing board,” the official said. “But he just kept coming back with the same thing.”

Trump's former strategic advisor Steve Bannon promoted an idea of Eric Prince, a shady provider of international mercenaries. Afghanistan would be given to a private for-profit entity comparable to the Brutish East-India Company. That company, with its own large army, robbed India of all possible valuables and nearly became a state of its own. But Prince and Bannon forgot to tell the end of that company's story. It came down after a large mutiny in India defeated its armed forces and had to be bailed out by the government. The end state of an East India Company like entity in Afghanistan would the same as it is now.

Then there is the fairy tale of the mineral rich Afghanistan. $1 trillion of iron, copper, rare-metals and other nice stuff could be picked out of the ground. But in reality the costs of picking minerals in Afghanistan is, for various reasons, prohibitive.

The Bannon/Prince plan was lunatic but it was at least somewhat different than the never changing ideas of the military:

The Defense Secretary [Mattis] has been using this line in meetings: "Mr. President, we haven't fought a 16-year war so much as we have fought a one-year war, 16 times."

That line has already been used five years ago to describe the war on Afghanistan. (It originally describes the 10 year war in Vietnam.) Mattis did not explain why or how that repetitive one year rhythm would now change.

A "new" part of the plan is to put pressure on Pakistan to stop the financing and supplying of Taliban groups. That is not in Pakistan's interest and is not going to happen. The Trump administration wants to hold back the yearly cash payment to the Pakistani military. This has been tried before and the Pakistani response was to close down the U.S. supply route to Afghanistan. An alternative supply route through Russia had been developed but has now been shut down over U.S. hostilities towards that country. The U.S. can not sustain a deployment in Afghanistan without a sea-land route into the country.

The Afghan army is, like the government, utterly corrupt and filled with people who do not want to engage in fighting. More "training" will not change that. The U.S. proxy government is limited to a few larger cities. It claims to control many districts but its forces are often constricted to central compounds while the Taliban rule the countryside. In total the Taliban and associated local war lords hold more than half of the country and continue to gain support. The alleged ISIS derivative in Afghanistan was originally formed out of Pakistani Taliban by the Afghan National Directorate of Security which is under the control of the CIA:

In Nangarhar, over a year ago, the vanguard of the movement was a group of Pakistani militants who had lived there for years as ‘guests’ of the Afghan government and local people. While initially avoiding attacks on Afghan forces, they made their new allegiances known by attacking the Taleban and taking their territory.

ISIS in Afghanistan, founded as an anti-Taliban force, is just another form of the usual Afghan warlordism.

During 16 years the U.S. failed to set a realistic strategic aim for the occupation of Afghanistan. It still has none. Without political aim the military is deployed in tactical engagements that make no long lasting differences. Any attempts to negotiate some peace in Afghanistan requires extensive engagement with the Taliban, Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran. No one in Washington is willing to commit to that.

Trump's likely decision means that the story of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan will continue throughout the next years exactly as it happened during the last 16 years. The decision, once made, is unlikely to change until the next presidential election. The 16 one-year-wars in Afghanistan will become 20 one-year-wars for no perceivable gain.

The only conceivable event that could change the situation is an incident with a large number of U.S. military casualties. That could lead to a groundswell of anti-war sentiment which could press Congress into legislating an end of the war. But are the Taliban interested in achieving that?

Update (Aug 22 2017):

Trump announced exactly what we predicted above. The military dictated the plan to him just like it did to Obama. Here is the transcript of Trump's speech. It is no different form the one Obama held in 2009: Undefined aims, undefined troop numbers, undefined time limits - bashing Pakistan (which will bash back) and no new idea at all. As long as the U.S. does not pull out the war will continue without any end in sight:

TOLOnews @TOLOnews - 4:43 AM - 22 Aug 2017

Taliban respond to US President #Trump’s announcement, claim to continue fighting “as long as US troops remain in #Afghanistan".

Posted by b on August 21, 2017 at 17:54 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Another possible ending could be the petro-dollar going south, and the US running low on diesel.

Posted by: Permafrost | Aug 21 2017 18:30 utc | 1

All wars stop at the very moment when no more money could be made out of pain and suffering of the people.

Posted by: Kalen | Aug 21 2017 18:57 utc | 2

Left unvoiced is the actual strategic reason for the Outlaw US Empire's occupation of Afghanistan: It puts Imperial Stormtroopers smack-dab in the middle of China and Russia's plans for Eurasian economic and eventual political integration while allowing the CIA to reap the benefits of its opium/heroin export program which is used to destabilize nations globally--including the homeland--which fits in quite well with the sole Neolibralcon policy goal of Full Spectrum Domination. As b mentioned, only dialog between regional actors--all of which now have some form of SCO membership--will finally solve the Afghan Problem. Of course, it would be of immense benefit if the pretext for the Outlaw US Empire presence there was proven to be the massive Big Lie that it is, but I don't expect the Truth to become known about until ??? G

Given the strategic reason above, I don't expect the Outlaw US Empire to retreat from Afghanistan until the Neoliberalcons are defeated domestically, which will require a massive Movement within the nation to regain control of the federal government and monetary policy--gaining just the Executive isn't nearly enough as Trump's proven.

Oh, and isn't it just delicious Karma that the USS John McCain was rammed by a tanker? Here's Finnian Cunningham on the current state of McKale's Navy,

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 21 2017 19:03 utc | 3

It is all about 4 more years of ongoing destabilization of the ME

The only solution that those in power want is for all to pledge fealty to the God of Mammon/global private finance.

The only solution for the rest of us if for nations to stop buying US Treasuries that continue to fund this sickness.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Aug 21 2017 19:13 utc | 4

OT: For those wondering what happened with Syrian Perspectives, it changed platforms and has a new URL,

On Topic: It appears Mercouris at the Duran decided to write something similar to b, but that site's new format is still plagued by very long running ad scripts making the content very difficult to read. Can't even copy/paste the URL. What a shame!

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 21 2017 19:14 utc | 5

Sending additional troops to the "graveyard of empires" is a dumb idea. Especially if the Pak supply route is closed.

Posted by: @Madderhatter67 | Aug 21 2017 19:24 utc | 6

thanks b.....

make work project........... it never ends.................

"But neither the military nor the CIA nor the local Afghan government will let the U.S. leave. Fear mongering is abound: "What happens if Afghanistan becomes a hotbed for international terrorists?"

of course this is the rationale for it all - terrorism....

war on communism, war on drugs, war on terrorism....

not sure what they replace terrorism with, so for the time being it will have to be the rationale de jour........

@2 kalen.. propping up the us$, ensuring the continuation of the us$ is indeed paramount..

@5 karlof1... thanks.

Posted by: james | Aug 21 2017 19:26 utc | 7

Defund the war machine and piss off the war party. Stop the printing press of paper "money."

Repeal the 16th amendment.

The US Fed thinks that it can manage the healthcare of 320 million Americans while simultaneously, it cannot manage the healthcare of 9 million Veterans.

Repeal the 16th. F*ck em.

Posted by: JSonofa | Aug 21 2017 19:34 utc | 8

The "Corporate Empire" never leaves, until it extracts what it wants, from whom it wants.

Posted by: ben | Aug 21 2017 19:38 utc | 9

Waste of time and effort. Nothing will change.

Posted by: Laguerre | Aug 21 2017 19:42 utc | 10

@5 karlof1

I'm not a great fan of the Duran new design, but I can read its stories okay. I think you may need to use Firefox browser and install the AdBlock Plus add-on. It's free and easy. The wonderful thing about Firefox is its built-in Reader View button, which strips all the excess media out of a page and formats just the story itself in a perfectly readable column width, with a nice size font. You can actually lean back and read. It's amazing how this helps comprehension. I often read b's articles and even a lot of the comments this way.

Here's the link for the Mercouris article, which I haven't read yet: 7 reasons why by comparison with the USSR the US is losing in Afghanistan

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 21 2017 19:55 utc | 11

The alternative would be to find people in the U.S. govt who actually understand the Taliban. You would think that after 16yrs, that we would have developed some expertise on the true structure of Afghanistan.

The only beef we had with the Taliban was that they harbored Al Qaeda. Couldn't we bribe them and let them keep their own country as long as they don't host international terrorists? I don't know the answer to this question but that is the 'new' approach that I'd explore. I recall that the Taliban seemed a bit put off when Al Qaeda destroyed the WTC and asked to review the evidence. They made some reference to not wanting to violate some guest code. Perhaps we were too heavy handed with them.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Aug 21 2017 20:00 utc | 12

Doubling down on failure (or insanity by doing the same thing but expecting a different result).
For some reason, our troop training skills are not working. The ones we trained in Iraq gave up Mosul. The ones we trained in Jordan joined al Nusra and ISIS in Syria. And the ones we've trained in Afghanistan still cannot secure the country.

Posted by: Curtis | Aug 21 2017 20:07 utc | 13

funny hit list.....

The following members of the United Nations have made statements about their recognition of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol as federal subjects of Russia[35][36][37][38]:

North Korea[42]

Posted by: james | Aug 21 2017 20:17 utc | 14

'We haven't fought a 16 yr. war we have fought the same 1yr war 16 times'.

It is distressing that our core competence is selling each other BS. It reminds me of all of the slick arguments I hear about how woefully underfunded the U.S. military is.

We must have hired Consultants because I've read over a dozen articles with the same format ...
1. As a percent of GDP our military budget is at historic lows (creative accounting, it's closer to 5% of GDP, not the advertised 3%).

2. 50% of our aircraft are not operational, along with other readiness scare stories (so we should reward incompetence?)

3. The military is only 15% of the budget (flat out lie, it's 40% of discretionary spending and owns about that much of the annual debt service that they also don't count. If you eliminated Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, our payroll taxes would disappear, not our deficit)

But the argument sounds good and never gets challenged on FOX/CNN.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Aug 21 2017 20:20 utc | 15

Agree with Karlofi, the US will not abandon the $1 trillion per annum heroin industry it has developed in Afghanistan.

The banksters take a 20% cut for laundering the money, the rest goes to Langley to fund its many projects.

Posted by: Perimetr | Aug 21 2017 20:23 utc | 16

Grieved @11--

Thanks for your help hints. I was finally able to read the entire article with almost no interruptions. As the title suggests, it's a compare/contrast essay detailing the two different experiences, goals and costs incurred. Mercouris points out that the USSR didn't lose in Afghanistan--it fulfilled its policy goal and left--which is contrary to the West's propaganda on the subject. It's a decent read, but Mercouris, like b, neglects to mention the actual strategic goal of the Outlaw US Empire's invasion and occupation.

Also Grieved, thanks for your thoughtful comments in your reply to me on a previous thread. Liked your comment at The Saker's latest Neocon thread.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 21 2017 20:26 utc | 17

@16 Perimetr is spot on.. Projects like manufactured riots and race strife anyone?

Posted by: Lozion | Aug 21 2017 21:31 utc | 18


"former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said that it “made no sense” to expand the military’s presence without a new strategy, while Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin put it this way:

"We’ve tried this before, we’ve tried to fortify our effort in Afghanistan under Republican and Democratic presidents, and the fact is we’re still in a situation where the Taliban controls a massive part of the territory," Durbin told MSNBC in May. "We need to have an honest answer to the question: Will the Afghans ever be in a position where there is less corruption and there is less incompetence and they’re able to stand up and defend their own nation? It’s time for some honest answers." "

And Donald Trump has the answer tonight? When Durbin says "their own nation", I believe he is referring to the geographic boundaries assigned by Western commerce. That is the failure of understanding, that a central government imposed on the warlord/tribal mosaic that is the Afghan territories is doomed. Rather than troops, as Christian C. suggests @12, sending tons of cash might be more persuasive than arming one band against another. A complete waste of spec ops troops absent a true civil war against a hated tyrant.

Posted by: Stumpy | Aug 21 2017 21:42 utc | 20

3 karlof1

The US project in Afghanistan started before the Eurasian project got going. Afghanistan is is peripheral to the Eurasian project for the time being; it is currently economically unimportant and will remain so until considerable development of infrastructure in the region takes place. Having the resources is one thing. Having the infrastructure to develop those resources is quite another.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Aug 21 2017 22:08 utc | 21

Plan “B” for Afghanistan will be to let a corporation lead the war:

The US proceeded with its war in Afghanistan despite warnings by knowledgeable Western soldiers familiar with the region:

Sir John Glubb

Posted by: Krollchem | Aug 21 2017 22:22 utc | 22

This sums up the US troop surge in Afghanistan:

“In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just a part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.”*
~ Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, 1935

Posted by: Krollchem | Aug 21 2017 22:39 utc | 23

Thirdeye @21--

Total Vision 2010--the policy paper that announced the #1 policy goal of the Outlaw US Empire, nee New World Order--was published in 1996, and the plan to invade Afghanistan was put into motion about 5 months prior to the "justification event" on 911. Total Vision 2020 is the latest update to the initial policy goal and was published during Bu$hCo.

The Eurasian vision was begun during Deng's years as China's leader and has accelerated ever since.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 21 2017 22:42 utc | 24

@21 Think of the vast amounts of equipment, weapons, fuel, food, bottled water etc. consumed daily. It all has to be flown in or moved across Russia by rail (do they still do that?) and the troops and contractors have to be rotated in and out. Afghanistan has considerable economic importance.

Posted by: dh | Aug 21 2017 22:44 utc | 25

I'll attempt to read between the lines for those outside the US trying to understand all this:

DynCorp's annual military contractor revenue from the US Government is reportedly more than Germany's entire defense budget of around $42 billion (€36 billion). Only a few billion from Afghanistan, but business there could use a shot in the arm.

Billionaire psychopath Stephen Feinberg controls DynCorp, bathed in the river of blood/profits from Afghanistan (among others). He doesn't like the US military's performance there - it's hurting business. Feinberg wants to fire US Afghanistan commander Gen. John Nicholson (via his lapdog Trump, of course) but that alone will not help DynCorp much.

DynCorp is missing out on the lucrative combat merc market in Afghanistan. Most of the military contractors it supplies are support, and only a few 'security' types are armed. Feinberg knows supplying actual combat mercs is where DynCorpo will reap the real profits.

Problem for Feinberg is the US military hates mercs and won't use them much (mostly because mercs are homicidal psychopaths). Solution? Why stop at firing Nicholson? Fire ALL the US military commanders in Afghanistan and replace them with obedient, profitable dual-citizen DynCorp commanders. The Mini-Me US President Jared Kushner just loves this plan. Maybe he gets a few DynCorp stock options out of the deal.

Some other issues:

Outsourcing the US Military might wake up a few of the intellectual lepar military commanders to their duty to defend the US Constitution. US Military coup?
Solution: Mad Dog Mattis, of course: "Obey your Commander in Chief's unconstitutional orders, you insolent bastards! Constitutional law and critical thinking is way above a general's pay grade - leave that to CNN. Train your merc replacements in Afghanistan and shut the hell UP!

Title 10 of the US Legal Code on the military prohibits using mercs in combat
Solution: Screw the law - that's why DynCorp bribes Congress. Rather than using illegal Title 10 military contractors in Afghanistan, Congress and Trump will classify their activities from now on under Title 50: intelligence activities. See? Nothing at all to do with military operations.

The US military doesn't control the current CIA spooks and won't be able to control the new DynCorp mercs
Solution: If all Afghanistan mercs are reclassified as Title 50 spooks, then they report to the CIA and its chain of command. The US military in Afghanistan will not and doesn't need to control them - that's the point.

Who will command US troops if the military commanders are sent packing?
Solution: The Afghani slaughter will become a CIA operation, not a US military one. It will complement the CIA's booming opium 'fund-raising' business there. US combat troops will just be assigned to the CIA operation (combat, not poppy farming). Give all the US soldiers sent there some kind of special berets (anything but green) and call them Special Forces. Shhh! They're now involved in secret spook operations. Don't ask any questions.

How can the CIA possibly command so many mercs and US soldiers in Afghanistan?
Solution: That's where ex-Blackwater war criminal Eric Prince and his private UAE-based army and air force come in. The CIA will simply hire contractor commanders for 'their' command structure that will replace the current US military one. Whether Prince rebrands his current commanders as DynCorp or uses some other ruse, he can flesh out the line staff from his current merc army. The CIA will chose all the senior contractor commanders who will then be hired by whatever DynCorp names that business.

Who will be the overall commander of military ops in Afghanistan going forward if Gen. Nicholson is canned?
Soluton: Trump will choose an overall commander, reportedly with the title of viceroy. My jaw hit the floor at that one. Here's Wikipedia:

"...A viceroy is a regal official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roi, meaning "king"..."

Chief DynCorp psychopath and dual-US/Israeli citizen Stephen Feinberg himself is interested in the job according to Prince. An investment banker commanding psychopath mercs slaughtering Afghanis in the name of the US - imagine that. Plus, Afghanistan is right next door to Iran - convenient for US invasions and such. Oh, that's right. DynCorp is a business. They'll gladly invade Iran for anyone with a big enough bag of shekels.

"On your knees and bow your heads, Afghani peons! All hail the supreme commander of all Afghanistan, Viceroy Stephen Feinberg."

Surely Trump can't sell this plan to the US public. They're pretty dim, but this scheme is just over the top!
Solution: Think again. This will be spun as a mere 1000 US combat troop surge... oh, and a few contractors. Intelligence contractors, not mercs. The details of who they are and what they will be doing is classified. Just never mind them. And as soon as US military commanders and troops have their replacements trained up, they'll get to come home. Yay! Imagine the CNN video at the airport of a weary US soldier returning from Afghanistan to his loving family. JOY!

But what about the utter debasement of the US Constitution and myriad of war crimes the US government will commit by doing something so insane?
Solution: Buy DynCorp stock and shut the hell up about the American's dumb-assed Constitution. Besides, who are you to question the Viceroy?

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 21 2017 22:44 utc | 26

For some reason, our troop training skills are not working. The ones we trained in Iraq gave up Mosul. The ones we trained in Jordan joined al Nusra and ISIS in Syria. And the ones we've trained in Afghanistan still cannot secure the country.

Posted by: Curtis | Aug 21, 2017 4:07:36 PM | 13

There are also success stories. The training program in Mali had good students and bad students. Good students joined the rebellion of the Tuareg and clobbered the bad ones. Bad ones were pissed to be sent by civilian government to the scorching sands of Sahara and made a coup. The Tuareg had enough weapons from the fallen Libya to engage in infighting, temporarily won by the group that claimed ISIS affiliation. Each group had some degree of success.

Common theme is that USA offers no idea that would fire up troops under training. Did they try "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" (the catch-phrase of the comic-book character Superman). Or Here I come to save the day! I think that the crux is economic development and decrease in abject poverty, but does anyone in Administration have an idea how that could be done?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 21 2017 22:47 utc | 27

@26 "Imagine the CNN video at the airport of a weary US soldier returning from Afghanistan to his loving family. JOY!"

I can see it already. He will have his faithful dog with him that he rescued from a ruined Afghan village. His faithful translator unfortunately wasn't so lucky.

Posted by: dh | Aug 21 2017 22:52 utc | 28

RE: PavewayIV | Aug 21, 2017 6:44:33 PM | 26

Thanks for the update, will pass this on to friends in D.C. A plan that Hillary would certainly approve of . . .

Posted by: Perimetr | Aug 21 2017 23:00 utc | 29

Just as Obama was a fraud, Trump is likewise a fraud.

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 21 2017 23:51 utc | 30

I think it just boils down to Trump just wanted to look behind the curtain.

Get to see the program...

Posted by: Forest | Aug 22 2017 0:12 utc | 31

- The warlords are NOT "on the same page" as the Taliban !!!! The afghan people are/were abused by the warlords, were suffering under the warlords. The warlords performed henous crimse against the afghan population.
- The afghan people were treated better by the Taliban than by the warlords. That allowed the Taliban to make a comeback in the 1990s. But it also meant that the afghans suffered under the religious islamic fanaticism of that same Taliban.
- With the US invasion the Taliban was defeated and allowed the warlords to make a comeback and now the afghan people were suffereing from/under the warlords again. The warlords were needed by the US military to protect the transports that bring in all the goods that the US military, other foreign troops and all mercenaries need to continue their "occupation" of Afghanistan. Without those supplies those military forces will be "left hanging out to dry".
- Generals like David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal were both in command in Afghanistan and recognized this hopeless situation and left their afghan post early. McChrystal retired and Petraeus became director of the CIA.

Posted by: Willy2 | Aug 22 2017 0:16 utc | 32

Same same, but different..

Posted by: Lozion | Aug 22 2017 1:38 utc | 33

Thanks for the solid article, b.

But in reality the costs of picking minerals in Afghanistan is, for various reasons, prohibitive.

Somehow I doubt that it's possible to generalize this way, but that's probably not what you meant. Anyone knows about this in more detail?
During 16 years the U.S. failed to set a realistic strategic aim for the occupation of Afghanistan.

In my understanding, the occupation/ military presence *is* the strategic aim. It demonstrates global military reach and ambition of NATO/ the US, and it prevents a stabilization and growing together of Asia under Sino-Russian leadership. A thorn in the side.

Two years ago iirc, the Taliban were willing to negotiate, and peace seemed possible. However Mullah Mansoor and some other supposedly moderate Taliban leaders were killed, ISIS radicalized the scene, and there's been little talk of talks since.

Posted by: smuks | Aug 22 2017 1:38 utc | 34

So Mr.Trump is doing a surge again. What year is it? 4000 soldiers sent in secret to protect the heroin flow that winds up in the veins of the children of the dullard déplorables who voted him in. He mentioned Afghan would pay their "fair share" of the cost of this great crusade against terror. Wonder what a dirt poor place like Afghanistan could offer to rich America? What's the value of their rare earth mineral deposits again?

Posted by: Almand | Aug 22 2017 2:05 utc | 35

@PavewayIV Love your work.

Australia's ABC ran an interview last night with an analyst saying Au wont be asked for more troops, the empire thinks we're doing a fine job with the 300 who are there.

Important for the facade of a coalition though.

And this from The Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog

So, while the commitment of additional US personnel—possibly for many years—won’t lead to a ‘win’ in the traditional military sense, it will nevertheless send an important message to the Afghan Government that the US and NATO will not abandon it. It will also send a message to Russia, which has increasingly been meddling in Afghanistan, including by arming the Taliban, that Washington isn’t about to give Moscow free rein in Afghanistan.

The country that invaded claiming Russia is "meddling" (I nominate meddling for word of the year).

Posted by: Bolt | Aug 22 2017 2:07 utc | 36

The only conceivable event that could change the situation is an incident with a large number of U.S. military casualties. That could lead to a groundswell of anti-war sentiment which could press Congress into legislating an end of the war. But are the Taliban interested in achieving that?

Well, one can only hope, no?

Posted by: V. Arnold | Aug 22 2017 2:09 utc | 37

Trump says the US must not make a "hasty withdrawal" from the longest war in US history.

Posted by: Perimetr | Aug 22 2017 2:30 utc | 38

Russia and China seem on reasonable terms with Pakistan. Russia has been talking to Taliban, and also Iran. Will be interesting to see what happens.
Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires.

This from 2001.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 22 2017 2:52 utc | 39

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 21, 2017 6:44:33 PM | 26

Good rant.
Trump is being reported on as having said (words to the effect) that in future AmeriKKKa's military deployments will be determined by facts on the ground. And that's against the backdrop of having made it clear that he thinks the Afghan SNAFU is wasteful and pointless.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 22 2017 3:11 utc | 40

The president told McMaster “to go back to the drawing board,” the official said. “But he just kept coming back with the same thing.” - b

Pretty soon Trump is going to have an entire portfolio of schemes running in the name of the US, not one of which he believes in, but which he lets run because they're advocated by his team members. They'll run until they inevitably fail - at which point any CEO could feel justified in firing their advocates.

I hope it doesn't wear his spirits down, having all these loser plays running. I hope instead their public failures culminate in his anger. I don't know why it is, but we're in a time when the neocons are failing at everything they do. They're outing themselves as losers. It has always been said that the US hates a loser. We may get to see of this is true, and if it's powerful enough for the neocons to bring themselves down by their own hand.

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 22 2017 4:23 utc | 41

Same old, diff'rent day, new schmuck, same as the old schmuck.

What PavewsayIV said. USA dopes are chumps who have no clue about what's really going on. None.

It's all Reality TV here. Trump entrances the masses while behind the curtain all the same dirty deals go on & on & on.

The Taliban has wanted to make peace not war several times over the past 14 years & were more than willing to give up Osama bin Laden. But the Evil Empire wasn't having that. Much more profitable to wage endless war.

CHA CHING!!!' I'm sure Trump's negotiated to get his cut off the top. Eff the stupid deplorables.

Posted by: RUKidding | Aug 22 2017 4:28 utc | 42

One question I'd like to raise here, while generally agreeing with most of your comments about US foreign military entanglments. How does Israel perceive this strategy? Would a withdrawal and subsequent breakdown of the Afghan puppet regime not have allowed a rise of ISIS 2.0?
I know from other comments and articles that Israel would love to surround Iran with weak terrorist infested hell-holes with all the consequences this entails and a US withdrawal in Iraq triggered just that. The rise of IS.

I am not familiar enough with the situation in Afghanistan on the ground to know the actual strength of ISIS there vs. Taliban. But the CIA's helping hand can do miracles as we saw in the Levant. It's more a question to you guys here, how much is this move actually helping Iran and therfore running counter to Zionist interests?
Bannon's dismissal is directly linked with this move and everyone familiar with that man knows his affinity to Israel and Zionism.

I'm just trying to look beyond the more obvious implications of the US being bogged down for another x number of years in Afghanistan and what it means for the wider region and especially Iran here, not justifying US illegal mililtary engagements.
Looking forward to your thoughts here....

Posted by: Alexander P | Aug 22 2017 5:02 utc | 43

The US officially supports the groups Iran is supporting in Afghanistan.

Same in Iraq.

US foreign policy only makes sense for Israel if Iran is attacked or at least 'contained'.

Which is not happening.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 22 2017 5:31 utc | 44

Correction: I had stated incorrectly that DynCorp had more than $42 billion in contract revenue from the US Government. That figure is what the US spends on military contractors for overseas operations. DynCorp is hoping to get a much bigger slice of that for themselves.

Feinberg runs Cerberus Capital Management, which owns DynCorp through a holding company, Delta Tucker Holdings. He bought DynCorp seven years ago hoping to cash in on future government contracts, but DynCorp has not been a great performer for Feinberg so far. They have only made about $2 billion a year in government contract revenue, mostly from the US, but Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also 'customers'. It lost about $200 million during each of the last three years. DynCorp has about 11,000 employees.

A nice, juicy merc contract would do wonders for Feinberg's investment. He's not done with Trump yet.

Trump specifically ruled out the 'rapid withdrawal' option in his rambling announcement, but didn't even mention the merc option. If he expects the Taliban to negotiate, he needs to have someone beat the hell out of them first. The US military obviously isn't up to the task, nor would Trump want to send US troops into Pakistan. Making a deal with the Pakistani government to allow secret CIA ground ops in their country would solve a lot of problems for everyone.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 22 2017 5:38 utc | 45

The Atlantic has a pretty comprehensive write up of Trump's nothing burger announcement.

Trump's Plan for Afghanistan: No Timeline for Exit

Despite prime-time billing for the president’s announcement, Americans heard a familiar argument about extending the war in Afghanistan.


Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 22 2017 5:43 utc | 46

It is likely that stated agendas are not the real agenda. The stated agendas might lose but the people behind it are winners.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 22 2017 5:50 utc | 47

Ah yes, of course, Bannon is mainly attacking McMasters now in Breitbart. McMasters was the one who explained to Congress that Iran was not in violation of the nuclear deal.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 22 2017 5:54 utc | 48

@44/48 Yes somebody, glad you see the connection here. The US withdrawal was definitely desired by Tel Aviv and its minions in the Alt-Right in the US. Now that this plan failed, Bannon is back at the writing table firing at McMaster. Another interesting quote in this regard:

Effectively, based on this strategy, Israel's immediate war desires on Iran, to send in terrorists galore while attacking on all sides and with a multinational coalition, have just been snuffed in their crib. - Nikademus Lawman

The best thing of course would be to remain in Afghanistan and hand over control to an international coalition to stabilize the country (US - China - Russia - maybe India). The Neo-Cons, CIA and military industrial complex though will make damn sure this won't happen.

Posted by: Alexander P | Aug 22 2017 6:24 utc | 49

@ Alexander P who asked how Israel thinks of all this

The first to do is question your assertion about the US being bogged down in Afghanistan. If indeed the goings on there as PavewayIV would assert are making the US money through control of the opium trade, maybe bogged down is a political/media construct.

It is my understanding of the ME that Israel wants all weak neighbors. With the US mucking around in places it has not been invited and bullying leaders in other countries, Israel's continued war crimes are overlooked as old news....what more could they want but someone acting more crazy than themselves.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Aug 22 2017 6:34 utc | 50


Suddenly everyone's an expert, especially those who've been wrong about a million times already.

It s like watching CNN when they roll out their talking heads. Everyone one of them an expert too. You can tell they're experts by how authoritively they say their experty stuff. Right or wrong has nuttin to do with it.

Posted by: Just Sayin' | Aug 22 2017 6:35 utc | 51

I saw Trump's most telling tweet yet, where he openly says he's now "going against my instinct."

What an insight into how truly weak, scatter-brained, and ultimately lacking in any self-confidence he is, the moment he's outside his real estate/reality show comfort zone. And I thought Obama was the nadir as far as being the geek wanting to be accepted by the "cool kids".

Posted by: Russ | Aug 22 2017 7:13 utc | 52

Paveway, you made my day! Anything on Kyoto, Bluenext and th carbone tax?

Posted by: Mina | Aug 22 2017 7:38 utc | 53

Overview of US forces in Afghanistan

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 22 2017 8:38 utc | 54

1. Maintain drug money to fund various 3-letter agency programmes (including affordable domestic opiods).
2. Keep the 'knife-in-the-back-of-Iran' option open for future Israeli options.
3. Empty the military warehouses for future inventopry production maintenance (as Syrian & Yemen options close).

#2 is to most obvious strategic priority.

Posted by: x | Aug 22 2017 8:46 utc | 55

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 22, 2017 1:38:17 AM | 45

The US as represented in Afghanistan does NOT want the Taliban to negotiate.

Or how do you explain drone strikes like this. The funny part of this NYT article is that they blame Pakistan but state that the drone strike was done by the US.

He was on his way home from a secret visit to Iran in May 2016, driving across a remote stretch of southwestern Pakistan, when he called his brother and relatives to prepare them for his death.

More than a year after the event, Afghans on both sides of the war and a growing number of Western security analysts say that Pakistan most likely engineered Mullah Mansour’s death to remove a Taliban leader it no longer trusted.

“Pakistan was making very strong demands,” the former commander said. “Mansour was saying you cannot force me on everything. I am running the insurgency, doing the fighting and taking casualties and you cannot force us.”

After Mullah Mansour’s death, Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, an Islamic cleric with no military experience, was selected as leader of the Taliban. Yet Afghanistan has seen little reprieve with his death, as hard-liners within the movement took over and redoubled their offensive to take power.


Mullah Mansour had been intent on expanding his sources of support as he prepared an ambitious offensive across eight provinces in Afghanistan last year, they said.

He relied on Pakistan’s Intelligence Service and donors from Arab gulf states, as well as Afghan drug lords, for the main financing of the Taliban, but he was also seeking weapons and other support from Iran, and even Russia. He met officials from both countries on his last visit to Iran.

Mullah Mansour’s outreach to Iran was also aimed at getting the Taliban out from under Pakistan’s thumb, according to his former associate and Afghan officials, so he could maneuver to run the war, but also negotiate peace, on his own terms. That was where his differences with Pakistan had grown sharpest.

Mullah Mansour had resisted orders from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, to destroy infrastructure — schools, bridges and roads — to increase the cost of the war for the Afghan government. He opposed the promotion of Pakistan’s hard-line protégé Sirajuddin Haqqani to be his deputy, and he had dodged Pakistan’s demands to push its agenda in negotiations.

Duh. Who would have suspected hardliners would take over after this?
Poor US pushed by Pakistan ....

This here is the original NYT's spin on the assassination.

By using the military’s Joint Special Operations Command rather than the C.I.A. to carry out the attack, the United States denied Pakistan the fig leaf of a covert operation, which in the past has given the Pakistanis the ability to claim they had been consulted beforehand.

The fact that the top official of Afghanistan’s Taliban was able to travel freely through Pakistan, and even into Iran, contradicted years of denials by Pakistani officials that they were harboring Taliban leaders. Mr. Obama offered no apology for the decision to strike Mullah Mansour in Pakistani territory, saying it was a simple case of self-defense.

“He is an individual who as head of the Taliban was specifically targeting U.S. personnel and troops inside of Afghanistan who are there as part of the mission I have set to maintain a counterterrorism platform and provide assistance,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam. Killing Mullah Mansour, Mr. Obama said, sent a message that “we’re going to protect our people.”

Posted by: somebody | Aug 22 2017 12:14 utc | 56

Transcript of Trump's speech here.

New strategy for US... "In this struggle, the heaviest burden will continue to be borne by the good people of Afghanistan and their courageous armed forces. As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us."

Looks like the US commander will be viceroy of Afghanistan rather than Prince.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 22 2017 12:23 utc | 57

"What happens if Afghanistan becomes a hotbed for international terrorists?"

Well, at least it can be said that they will be far away. And let those nearby deal with it. Why not let Israel get bogged down there?

Posted by: Bart in VA | Aug 22 2017 12:46 utc | 58

Peter AU 1 | Aug 22, 2017 8:23:47 AM | 57

And the putrid effluent, from the U.S. continues to flow forth...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Aug 22 2017 12:51 utc | 59

With no antiwar fervor to speak of being displayed anywhere, this may drag out another 50 years.

Posted by: Morongobill | Aug 22 2017 12:52 utc | 60

the terrorist haven argument
We already tolerate a terrorist haven in Pakistan.
The Neocons aid and abet Al Qaeda's largest terrorist haven in N. Syria.
So what is one more terrorist haven going to give them?

I wish DT would take a deep breath and put things into perspective.

the myth of the surge
Gen. Jack Keane claims that the Afgh. surge only failed because Obama put a timetable on it. This is a favorite argument but by definition a 'surge' is temporary so the Taliban already knew that they just had to wait it out.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | Aug 22 2017 13:10 utc | 61

China has been looking at Afghanistan as part of its silk road plans.

"we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us.'
The US takes over Afghanistans resources and anything else in the country that is profitable. The locals will be constantly pissed, and the US military will protect "US interests" in the country in the name of fighting terrorism.
This is a setup to keep US in the country permantly and block China's plans. Much of Trump's speech seemed aimed at China with the US also bringing India further into the game.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 22 2017 13:13 utc | 62

How the USSR extricated itself and advice that NATO will not be taking any time soon: Papers 3 Lessons from the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.pdf

Posted by: Shakesvshav | Aug 22 2017 13:48 utc | 63

RE: Grieved | Aug 22, 2017 12:23:15 AM | 41

I generally appreciate your comments, but I have to say that I think you are engaging in wishful thinking here (assuming you do not routinely speak with Trump) when you write, "Pretty soon Trump is going to have an entire portfolio of schemes running in the name of the US, not one of which he believes in, but which he lets run because they're advocated by his team members. They'll run until they inevitably fail - at which point any CEO could feel justified in firing their advocates. . . I hope it doesn't wear his spirits down, having all these loser plays running."

As far as I am concerned, anyone who completely reverses his position on essentially all the major issues he supported during his campaign -- as Trump has done with his "entire portfolio of schemes" -- is at best a weak-minded coward, and at worst, a con man(e.g.Obama). Most of the "schemes" are going to get a lot of innocent people killed and will amount to war crimes. I don't give a damn how much political pressure Trump was put under, he caved almost immediately after entering office and is now dancing to the tunes of the neocons. Exactly what "spirit" did he show when he fired Flynn and now Bannon?

Lots of people who voted for Obama wanted to make excuses for him, too. It was always that "he wanted to do the right thing but he was prevented from doing so by the people around him". Yeah, right. That murderous son-of-a-bitch lied through his teeth from day one. I am willing to suppose that Trump is a cowardly fool, but that doesn't make things any better or give him a pass for his contemptible actions.

Posted by: Perimetr | Aug 22 2017 13:52 utc | 64

If the US withdraws, Afghanistan will be divided between Iran and Pakistan ( The west is proeminently shia and they speak persian, the East is sunni and speaks urdu(pakistani).
The USA hates the idea that Iran could expand there and they doubt Pakistan will be able to control the Talibans to prevent them from taking control.
That is one element dictating IS policy in the region.
The Russians have lost interest in Afghanistan and will just watch the US suffer there. The Iranian who have received ( and integrated) millions of afghan refugees, mostly Shia is waiting to see the US suffer.
The US foreign policies based on showing off and using military strength instead of brain is destructive and doomed.
Trump is becoming Bush jr II...

Posted by: virgile | Aug 22 2017 14:14 utc | 65

.. and China will have a piece of Afghanistan.
More to disturb the US...

Posted by: virgile | Aug 22 2017 14:16 utc | 66

Another thing:
The timing of this "speech" about the need to continue the criminal graft, corruption and grifting in Afghanistan is mainly, imo, to distract the rubes from the ongoing clusterfeck that is Trump's Presidency. It neatly distracts from: 1)the Nazi mess at Charlottesville; 2) Mueller's investigations, which have swept up Trump family members & close associates; 3) the mess of Trump's administrative staff mostly all leaving or being summarily fired after a matter of months; 4) the fact that Trump's gotten almost none of his programs passed (and doesn't look promising for the future); 5) the various leaks which have demonstrated what a weak, know-nothing idiot Trump is.

Added bonus: by pretending that Trump, himself, made some sort of "decision" about the alleged "need" for more WAR, Inc in Afghanistan - I mean what's REALLY going to change there? It'll just be business as usual - means that the US propaganda machine can crank up the volume on saying how NOW Trump has "pivoted" and is ever so Presidential-ish. Gag.

And like a young child taken to the Doctor for a shot & mom gives him an ice cream cone afterwards for being a brave good boy, Trump is being "treated" to one of his Nazi rallies in Phoenix tonight. Gag. I hear that "they" are busing in the idiots to shriek out their adulation of the dementia-ridden man-baby, just like they did in Poland. Probably didn't have to buy them off like they did with some of the Poles.

Posted by: RUKidding | Aug 22 2017 14:17 utc | 67

One item from Fort Russ today on the increasing drug production (opium and heroin) in Afghanistan:

"We regret to state that the situation in Afghanistan in the field of drugs continues to deteriorate. According to expert estimates, in 2017 a sharp increase in drug production is expected. Drug production in Afghanistan has already exceeded last year's figures; about a third of the population is involved in the cultivation of opium poppy" said the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department of Information and Press.

The agency noted that Russian diplomats are at a loss as to why the United States and NATO, who have been present for many years in the region, can not help the government of the country in the fight against drug production.

Russia should stop pulling its punches on this. They know damn well that NATO is protecting drug production, not hindering it. The $800 billion to $1 trillion dollars per year supplied by the industrialized heroin production (created after the 2001 US invasion) is an absolutely crucial source of revenue for the CIA and the too-big-to-jail banks that launder the drug money.

Posted by: Perimetr | Aug 22 2017 14:19 utc | 68

Bannon stated bluntly that the economic rise of China is the main threat the US is facing. Trump is the same. What he is doing now is turning the mess that is an aimless occupation of Afghanistan (that he cannot pull the US out of) into part of a larger long term strategy to block Chinese economic expansion.
In his speech there was much about Pakistan harbouring terrorism. China is currently building an economic corridor through Pakistan to the Indian Ocean.

China on Trump's speech..
""Pakistan was on the front line in the struggle against terrorism and had made great sacrifices and important contributions in the fight against terrorism," Hua Chunying, Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

"We believe that the international community should fully recognize Pakistan is anti — terrorism," Hua Chunying said."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 22 2017 14:35 utc | 69

Thierry Meyssan defines US grand strategy his articles. It seems shocking, incredible, impossible, but I have been seeing signs that lead me to the same conclusion.

US policy is not to support stability, but to create chaos, suffering, death, and destruction.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Aug 22 2017 15:07 utc | 70


The US can't effectively train any other country's troops, although it doesn't help that they're always training 'new' recruits after they destroy the country, the government, and the military structure that previously existed. By contrast, Russia effectively trained the Syrian military to vastly better performance in only a year. Of course, in that situation they were advantaged by the fact that they were starting with an actual military and structural command rather than a bunch of guys bribed to become soldiers.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Aug 22 2017 15:26 utc | 71

ref antiwar fervor
the life of a Philippino costs about the same as a Yemeni: ziltch
even with Catholic church support

Posted by: Mina | Aug 22 2017 15:43 utc | 72

When it's all over - and the USA's power suddenly slips beneath the waves Titanic-like, I'm sure we'll say the same sort of thing we said about the USSR's sudden collapse in 1990.

"Wow! But they were a superpower. Who could have seen THAT coming?"
"So all the time they were running on empty?".
"You mean that the people in charge KNEW it was all smoke & mirrors?"

As Mao said in 1956 to US journalist Anna Strong (apropos the USA):
In appearance it is very powerful but in reality it is nothing to be afraid of; it is a paper tiger. Outwardly a tiger, it is made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain. I believe that it is nothing but a paper tiger.[4]

Posted by: Guy | Aug 22 2017 15:53 utc | 73

somebody@56 - "The US as represented in Afghanistan does NOT want the Taliban to negotiate."

Generally speaking, of course not - the US would prefer to eradicate them. But it's like Saudi Arabia trying to eradicate the Houthis in Yemen: it's never going to happen. At the VERY best, you can force the Houthis or the Pashtun Taliban to retreat back into the mountains, but they'll be back. If you do manage to subjugate and pacify them by force and occupy their territory, it will be temporary. It has nothing to do with ideology. They're both pretty damn fierce fighters and both share a fanatical rage at anything that looks like a foreign occupation of their lands.

The US made the initial mistake of bribing local Pashtun tribal mafia warlords in Afghanistan in the 80's because they were so tough. The Taliban Pashtun didn't like the criminal warlords and for damn sure didn't like the Americans (nor the Soviets before them) sniffing around Afghanistan. Their answer was to take over Afghanistan. Despite endless MSM hysterics about 'terrorists', the Taliban really had no other ambition besides Afghanistan.

Pakistan (like everyone else) does not want an unstable, unfriendly neighbor. They supported the Taliban because they were the only real force capable of creating and maintaining a stable Afghanistan. Pakistan isn't a big fan of Taliban 'methods', but that's Afghanistan's problem. Besides, the Taliban were a hell of a lot better than the warlord's Mad Max Post-Soviet Afghanistan (thanks, USA!). The Pakistani-Taliban relationship is way more complex that this today. For instance, Pakistan also has to worry about al Qaeda and ISIS influence in Pashtun/Sunni western Pakistan. The Taliban can deal with al Qaeda, and they absolutely hate ISIS.

I suppose the Pakistanis would have rather supported another 'nicer' powerful, indigenous Afghani force instead of the Taliban all this time, but there was no such thing. Pakistan's options have not changed since the 90's.

"...Or how do you explain drone strikes like this. The funny part of this NYT article is that they blame Pakistan but state that the drone strike was done by the US..."

When the US drove the Taliban into Pakistan (2001 invasion), the Taliban became dependent on Pakistani (especially ISI) support. They knew exactly why the Pakistanis were being supportive, but the Taliban resented the fact that they were so dependent on them.

A few years ago, Mansour started looking to other Afghanistan-neighboring countries for support, including Iran. Why would Iran support Sunni extremist Taliban taking over Afghanistan again? Same reason Pakistan supports them: stability and a powerful authority you could deal with (vs. warlords or the current, hopelessly-corrupt US puppet government). The least evil alternative as far as Iran is concerned. Besides, the Taliban hate the US and Israel and would never allow any anti-Iran scheming or foreign occupiers in Afghanistan.

So Pakistan saw Mansour as a threat to their relative control (via support) to the Taliban. A Taliban presence in Pakistan that was not dependent on Pakistan to exist was kind of dangerous. For Americans, the fear was not only the Taliban itself, but an Iranian-supported, Iranian-friendly Taliban. Mansour had to go. The ISI fed the US intel about his movements, and the drone took care of the rest.

The ISI has no intention of providing kill-list locations to the US for the entire Taliban leadership for the reasons stated above. Pakistan is never going to go on an internal Taliban hunt despite US the desire for them to do exactly that.

The US and Israel have some overlapping desires to occupy and control Afghanistan, but the US has plenty of its own. If it can't defeat the Taliban, then it will insist on some kind of power-sharing or partitioning agreement rather than admit defeat and leave. The only tool the US has left is to send in mercs or get al Qaeda or ISIS to start hammering the Taliban (ensuring any negotiations 'favorable' to the US). It's not like the US wants to sit down today and beg the Taliban for future US influence. They want the Taliban to come crawling to the table and beg the US.

We'll see how THAT turns out! [smirking...] Stupid neocons never learn.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 22 2017 17:14 utc | 74

Watch out Afghanistan here come the TRUMPS.

Basically, Trump plans to have the people of America subsidize the corporate exploitation of Afghanistan..

The British Government did the same to the North America inhabitants. As a result Americans were
enlisted to assist Colony owned American business interest to toss out the British owned corporations
and to install in the place of the British corporations the American owned British corporations.
All that changed, as a result of the American revolution was which Aristocrat the constitution
was going to allow to get rich.

Exploitative capitalism has always been global its in keeping with the global Jewish tradition..
Natural resource wealthy Afghanistan has attracted the entire Trump family of bandit corporations,
military might, war technologies, accountants, and of course Wall Street.

Posted by: fudmier | Aug 22 2017 17:20 utc | 75

"Actually, Afghanistan's problem does not (have) a military solution.
If it had, the ongoing war in this country would have been halted few years back when there have been thousands of American and NATO forces.

Taliban feel themselves part of this society and they are fighting for getting a portion in the government, and this is a reality because they are also residents of this territory. But foreign troops, especially, the US emphasize on war which by no way can bring stability to this nation."

Posted by an Afghan friend of mine on FB a few months ago, still true now. PS he is no fan of the Taliban, he's just stating facts on the ground.

Posted by: Laura Roslin | Aug 22 2017 18:05 utc | 76

If the US withdraws, Afghanistan will be divided between Iran and Pakistan ( The west is proeminently shia and they speak persian, the East is sunni and speaks urdu(pakistani).

Posted by: virgile | Aug 22, 2017 10:14:31 AM | 65

To the regret of many, Afghanistan IS NOT a neatly organized country. Dari (similar to Farsi = Persian) is spoken in the northern part and Pashto (not particularly similar to Urdu) in the south, but there are also Pashto speakers in the north. Shia come in two basic sects. Iran-like Twelvers live in the center (not the west), in Hindukush valleys, and Ismailis are present mostly in north-east, but they do not seem to have local majorities in larger districts. Iran has influence in Herat and surely among the Shias, but Herat is a Sunni city and region. No one will find direct rule over swaths of current Afghanistan particularly easy.

One has to observe that regions in Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asia that border Afghanistan are poor and troublesome sections of the respective states. That in part explains why in 19th century there was no impetus to partition Afghanistan.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 22 2017 18:18 utc | 77

One poster here consistently posts shortened urls. What's the point?
Maybe I'd find the linked piece interesting, but I am certainly not going to click a link when I cannot see where it will take me. And very few people would have the patience to copy a shortened link to a preview site, to check it out in preview first, before proceeding.

As one of the many pieces on the web decrying shortened urls puts it:
Using the full URL promotes honesty, transparency, and good digital hygiene. Posting shortened URLs does the opposite.

Please, no shortened urls!

Posted by: Petra | Aug 22 2017 18:23 utc | 78

Reuters spew:

No decision yet on size of U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan: Mattis

Nothing new, just more of Reuter's paid-for optomistic spin. I did find this graphic of troops/contractors over the years to be helpful in explaining why Feinberg/Cerebus would have paid $1.5 billion for DynCorp in 2010 - I'm sure it looked like a gold mine to him back then. 2014 US budget cutbacks and US troop withdrawals from Afghanistan were a couple of things he didn't see coming. He bribed... er, made last minute campaign contributions to Trump of about $1.8 million, so Trump owes him.

What Feinberg does see is the current futility of expecting the Afghan army and police to protect the place. That's a job for DynCorp psychopaths, damn it! If the US won't pay, then maybe Goldman Sachs can lend some money to the Afghan government and THEY can hire Feinberg's mercs. Hey - a customer is a customer.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 22 2017 18:55 utc | 79

paveway... thanks for your numerous posts.. i think you are reading it right... was interesting to find out more on this character feinberg.... geez, the usa is overloaded with this type of people in places of power... it's sickening..

Posted by: james | Aug 22 2017 19:15 utc | 80

james@80 - I still insist the only sure-fire way to stop radical Islamic terrorism is to nuke Riyadh, Doha and Abu Dhabi. Yes, I know that makes me an anti-Wahhabist religious bigot, but all that damn head-chopping... What the hell?

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 22 2017 20:02 utc | 81
.....Trump was also intrigued, in two discussions with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, by Ghani’s mention of the Afghanistan’s huge mineral reserves — which, he told Trump, the Afghans themselves lacked the technology and the resources to exploit. By some assessments, more than $1 trillion in mineral wealth, much of it in the form of lithium, could lay in the rock and soil of Afghanistan. But many analysts say that, given conditions in the country, it could be many years before it can be tapped at a significant profit.

After Trump raised the question of mineral wealth one Cabinet meeting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — a former ExxonMobil CEO who oversaw projects in several dangerous nations — warned him about the risk of investing in politically unstable regions.

Trump nevertheless tasked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross with examining any potential investment opportunities for the U.S. in Afghanistan, according to a senior White House aide.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 22 2017 20:09 utc | 82

AriusArmenian @ 70 -- Thanks for the Voltaire links. I'd realized the US was wreaking havoc deliberately, but I had not understood where this type of warfare had come from.

Reading the Thierry Meyssan articles has left me thinking...and feeling sick to my stomach.

Posted by: jawbone | Aug 22 2017 20:34 utc | 83

@ PavewayIV

So if you are elected commander-in-chief, what will you do? Leaving Afghan was done before too, ending with 911. N--ing the hell out of 3 capitals is, well, you don't mean it right? (...It's not good for the climate change...).

Regulars vs 'mercs', I might be getting what you say, but from the outside, little difference, even nominally, paid (by state) volunteers vs paid (by X) volunteers. Latter more likely to harass and greater annoy locals, but in any case, regulars or mercs, so far no foreign occupier was able to switch locals into loving them. Are US regulars really better than Sovieticos? (Doubt; and no more Sovieticos anyway, thanks to Ronald).--- Yet staying and not trying at least some rapport (while not controlling Waziristan) obviously not going to work at all. So what's all that British Imperialism up to, --and where they are all gone, to begin with?

Posted by: Don Karlos | Aug 22 2017 21:44 utc | 84

@Peter AU 69

Good point. Pakistan is the No. 1 state where 'something might happen' at the moment, imo. Again, a scapegoat proxy is blamed for 'supporting terrorism', same as in the case of Turkey.

Plunging the country into chaos would cause a real headache for China and the SCO - of course, it would also very much complicate things for US troops in Afgh.
Was the ouster of the PM some kind of prelude?

Posted by: smuks | Aug 22 2017 23:00 utc | 85

@81 paveway.. funny enough, the usa seems to need those same 'friendly' wahabbi infected countries to continue this phony war on terrorism they have going... what do they do in new york to deal with cockroaches? they are unwilling to do the same here, but instead would like to defumigate innocent countries!!! talk about fucked up and backward, but this is how i have come to understand us foreign policy - always completely opposite what the the usa professes..

Posted by: james | Aug 23 2017 1:24 utc | 86

The Taleban’s large presence, their obvious intention to eliminate rival groups and their superior manpower and resources limit the space for Daesh to establish a footprint in areas such as Sayad, and in fact in most areas of northern and north-eastern Afghanistan. With Salafist influences and sympathies for Daesh spreading among some limited religious circles and younger fighters, or due to funding and supply issues, local commanders might find it opportune to signal readiness to ally to Daesh, or at least explore the option. This seems to have been the case with commander Ghazanfar. His case and research quoted above also show that the Taleban are still able to rein in such commanders in most cases. In this light, to interpret the Sayad attack as a joint ‘Taleban-Daesh’ operation stretches the facts too far.

Posted by: Bolt | Aug 23 2017 2:25 utc | 87

Don Karlos@84 - "...N--ing the hell out of 3 capitals is, well, you don't mean it right?..."

Oh, I would do something far, far worse than that. Read on.

"...So if you are elected commander-in-chief, what will you do? Leaving Afghan was done before too, ending with 911..."

See, the problem with that observation is it ignores one of the most significant reasons for the Taliban's existence: Saudi imperialism via the exporting of the Wahhabi control/hate religion and Saudi-funded and controlled extremist groups that spring up in targeted countries as a result.

If I was CIC, I would immediately order all of CENTCOM to drop what they were doing and prepare to shock-and-awe the GCC for leadership beheading. Not literally of course (but they would certainly deserve it). Oman wouldn't have anything to worry about - they seem OK as far as I know.

I would give the rest of the GCC say 48 hours to turn over all the royals, oligarchs, intelligence, military and Wahhabi leaders responsible for enabling or supporting foreign extremism, however indirectly. If they didn't, their countries would be regime-changed and the culprits seized anyway. Seized either within the GCC or wherever they were boozing and whoring it up in London. And all the suspects' assets have to be handed over as well.

I would also order the US alphabet agencies to obtain or seize every last bank or financial record related to the suspects or their businesses inside or outside the US including all the shell companies, charitable organizations, political donations, lobbyist payments, etc. That might be nice to have for some delousing here in the US, but that's another project entirely.

The GCC countries would never comply of course, so CENTCOM would surely get the green light. The objective would just be to grab the few thousand most likely responsible or involved with promoting or financing violent extremism. Cast a big net - the Hague can try to sort out the innocent during their crimes against humanity trials. We'll put their seized assets in interest-bearing accounts and return them if they're found innocent.

Might as well grab or examine their financial records in the GCC banks and financial institutions while we're there. If any banks or financial institutions resist in the least, I will ask the Air Force to level every last building they have any presence in. No double-tap BS - TACPs immediately start calling for JDAMs down their elevator shafts until the roof is at street level. Hey, humor me here. I'm old-school USAF, not presidential material.

Some GCC citizens would be furious with us, but others (Shia come to mind) would be throwing flowers at US troops. Whatever - we're not staying long. It's just a gigantic snatch and grab - CENTCOM gets two weeks tops. Generous bounties on the heads of any vermin that manage to evade capture. We would have no beef with the little people (at least the ones not shooting at us). They would probably help!

Of course regime-change and purges rarely accomplish anything inside a country. It just gives a different group of ambitious lower-level psychopaths the opportunity they have been waiting for. Can't help that. We're not sticking around to see how it turns out - sorry. They can work it out for themselves just like the other countries they helped destroy.

The message to the new leadership would be clear enough though: keep your Wahhabi sect of hate inside your own country. Any action that even appears to be - directly or indirectly - exporting Wahhabism, supporting it in foreign countries or contributing to the development of extremists anywhere will win you a cell at a black site of our choosing until your court date comes up.

I have no problem with Sunnis outside of the GCC seeking out Wahhabism on their own. Madrasses and Mosques anywhere can still teach it - who am I to outlaw it? People can choose to hate who they want, I will only prevent Saudis/Wahhabis from 'helping' them choose. One caveat to those running madrasses, mosques or other Wahhabi-oriented institutions outside of the GCC: first violent extremist traced back to you however indirectly will get you a warning, second one shuts you down, third one and your going to be our guest for a while. Yeah, I know you don't encourage violent extremism, but you own anything and anybody that walks out of your institution. Life is just so unfair!

That's what I would do in Afghanistan.

That's right, I forgot about the Taliban. I would tell the Taliban the country is theirs - we're leaving. US troops, spooks, citizens and companies will be permanently banned from ever setting foot in Afghanistan again. One last thing: we're arming every last Afghani man, women and child before we leave. Good luck, head-choppers!

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 23 2017 3:24 utc | 88

Paveway 88
Send them to god and let him be the judge rather than the Hague. Other than that, a good plan.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 23 2017 4:25 utc | 89

@88 paveway.. i missed that quote from don karlos @84 "Leaving Afghan was done before too, ending with 911..." what???? this is more of the insanity talking.. i feel like i have just revisited bush junior making war on afgan, as a result of 9-11.. meanwhile almost all the supposed hijackers on the 9-11 planes are saudis... i just loved how osama bin laden morphed into saddam hussian too... that was a real fun trick performed by the us ministry of propaganda and their dispensers - nyt, wapo, wsj and etc..

hey, while you are at it, how about sending bush jr and a few of the others to the hague too??

Posted by: james | Aug 23 2017 4:45 utc | 90

PavewayIV is on a roll.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 23 2017 7:09 utc | 91

Petra posted:

One poster here consistently posts shortened urls. What's the point? Maybe I'd find the linked piece interesting, but I am certainly not going to click a link when I cannot see where it will take me. And very few people would have the patience to copy a shortened link to a preview site, to check it out in preview first, before proceeding.

As one of the many pieces on the web decrying shortened urls puts it:
Using the full URL promotes honesty, transparency, and good digital hygiene. Posting shortened URLs does the opposite.

Please, no shortened urls!

Not only is B putting us at risk of malware by allowing URL shorteners (those URLs could take us anywhere), even without the malware there are huge intelligence risks. Whoever is monitoring this weblog can go to those URL shortener link stats and see just how many people clicked through and even who they are. Naked URLs are very difficult to monitor.

On the Typepad platform B has no way of automatically getting rid of URL shorteners unfortunately (if we moved him to WordPress we could automatize URL expansion but self-hosted WordPress entails much higher maintenance costs for a busy site like this one so I don't recommend it). At one point I even tried to contact B about helping with the move but I no longer believe it a good idea due to the long term maintenance burden.

There's a manual way to deal with the URL shortener though. Any comment with URL shorteners in it should be deleted immediately (no platform for those who use URL shorteners). The commenter should be sent a polite request/warning. Any commenter who repeatedly posts links run through a tracking URL should then be banned.

In the meantime, I'd highly recommend that other visitors to Moon of Alabama refrain from clicking on any URL shortened link they see here. In the best case, you are being tracked. In the worst case, silent malware or spyware awaits. While most of us are not exciting targets, this sort of cheap scalping is just the sort of thing junior NSA hackers engineer to get noticed. Like target practice.

Make them work a little harder.

Posted by: Uncoy | Aug 23 2017 14:38 utc | 92

if someone else shared this, i apologize for not seeing it in advance...

m. k. bhadrakumar has some interesting insights others might enjoy in a few articles on the topic of afganistan..

Afghanistan is ripe for proxy war

Posted by: james | Aug 23 2017 16:28 utc | 93

Second posting:
It is my understanding these "terrorist" the President is talking about are actually citizens of the nation under attack who are tired of their nation being used as a great big field in which to grow heroin for the white people in the Christian, Western World. China, got tired of that other Banker King and his buddies the European Royalty along with the Vatican making the Chinese buy their drugs, back then, so, what has really changed except the player's? White people are hated so much, are under such pressure, because the white guy's running the world into the ground, just cannot get enough of the world's wealth. The white guys in Washington D.C., the white guys in London England, the white guys all over the world robbing, raping, murdering other people in other nations just to satisfy or some what satisfy their bloody, murderous, greed. The Western World is one big Criminal Enterprise and the Christians know it, that's why the Christians are so hated by the other people in the world. So much even the white Christians Politicians, Judges, Police and Military are turning against them, so the old white majority is not the chosen people anymore, so the white majority Christian people have lost favor with even the white Christian Vatican, so despised, we have become that we cannot even stand to know ourselves. This is because of the white criminals in Washington D.C., using terms like the US Military, America, the US, etc., when insisting on who is doing what to whom. It is not white people running all over the world stealing, raping and killing other people in other places, it is the criminal Banker's Organizations, his white Politician's doing what they are told to do by his Company, his Corporations, his Banks and his Generals. Sure white people the world over have and are reaping some of the benefits of a world under criminal control, still, the big winner is the Banker King and his family, the richest family that has lived on Earth. Rich enough that it can buy the whole world up and have wealth left over. The world must shutter and shake to think this family could get its own Army, the United Nations Army. This should be the biggest worry white people have, that the King will get his own army and thereby not need them anymore, at all. Already white people should see, if they just wipe that smile off their faces for a moment, that smile that has them blind. White people should see the Criminal Enterprise that is the white Banker King and his white army of terrorist, are, turning against white people as a people and toward the darker, easier to control peoples of the world; against the white peoples Christian Religion and toward the darker religions in the world. Already, we should see the hand writing on the wall if only white people would turn off the distractions and turn on their natural instincts. Natural instincts that would tell them, hey, we are gradually being surrounded by people who just want, to kill us...anyway?

Posted by: Sam | Aug 23 2017 20:51 utc | 94

re URL shorteners, Uncoy

The reason for URL shorteners on MoA is the danger of breaking the right page limit, which is a more common problem here. Evidently the A HREF solution is better, if people use it.

Posted by: Laguerre | Aug 23 2017 21:15 utc | 95

re Afghanistan

Evidently Trump's surge is not going to work. It's just postponing defeat.

Personally I think he will have lost interest tomorrow, and there will be little follow-through. Signing all these papers is boring, it could put me at risk of being criticised.

Posted by: Laguerre | Aug 23 2017 21:24 utc | 96

The Mini-Skirt Deception: How McMaster Got His Afghan ‘Surge’

by Justin Raimondo Posted on August 23, 2017

Posted by: @Madderhatter67 | Aug 23 2017 21:40 utc | 97


You can find out what the link of an a href="" is when you hover your mouse pointer over it. Most browser will show the long link at the bottom

Posted by: somebody | Aug 23 2017 22:03 utc | 98

@PavewayIV @james

OK, I see what the Paveway plan is. It will solve some problems, and is not without precedent (eg British and Soviets replaced an incorrect Shah of Iran by an upgraded version in 1941).

It may also cause some other problems, possibly more difficult than those solved. Saudis are part of the Empire fabric, a bipolar bad cop by design. If the bad cop is gone, a replacement is needed, and Empire ways may have to change. Two things to consider:

(1) House of Saud is a feeble pro-Western guardian of holy sites (compared to realistic alternatives). If it is undermined, its replacement may be a 'Saudiban'(a Saudi Taliban), or a Saudi version of Iranian revolution, while having lots of economic resources, and control on Hajj and holy sites. Dealing with all that may be rather difficult, more so than in a place like Afghanistan.

(2) Saudis do lots of dirty lifting for the Empire for a long time (a major economic weapon against USSR-Russia, damping oil prices, with few other comparable tools, and throughout the Middle East, against Iran, Turkey). Once this is gone, it needs to be dealt with differently. Like for example, perhaps stopping cold war on Russia instead of restarting it at present, since a nice CENTCOM fortnight trip to Moscow is not really possible, unlike to feeble pro-Western Riyadh. (and to Tehran, might be rather difficult).

(Still, in the long run, leaping into unknown may be preferable to being frustrated forever, I guess).

Posted by: Don Karlos | Aug 23 2017 22:14 utc | 99


Pakistan's motivation of supporting religious Taliban against Pashtun nationalism is that Pashun's own a large part of Pakistan.

I think the following interpretation is likely correct.

One of the media and academia’s axiomatic constructions about Pashtun is that Taliban are Pashtun nationalists. This construction is based on distorted one-sided information and selective references to the Pashtun history that too are misrepresented to concur with the notion that Taliban are Pashtun nationalists. Drawing upon the current Pashtun ground realities and history, I will argue that Taliban, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, are mere proxies of the Pakistani state to wipe out forces of entho-nationalism among the Pashtun as well as temper with Pashtun cultural identity on both sides of the Durand line in the state pursuit of the foreign and domestic policy objectives set and controlled by the military establishment of Pakistan.

Let me say on the outset that the Pashtun experience of having been assaulted with state proxies in garb of religion is not new. In the past the Mughal and the British states have done the same in order to force the Pashtun to behave in line with the states’ strategic interests. There are basically three big pan Pashtun nationalist movements in the Pashtun history. All the three movements were perceived as clashing with the contemporary states’ interests. Thus all the three were assaulted with states’ proxies and propaganda skillfully camouflaged with religion.

Same take in a different way from "the diplomat"

Posted by: somebody | Aug 23 2017 22:27 utc | 100

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