Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 19, 2020

The Forever War In Afghanistan Will Soon Re-escalate

Recent headlines on Afghanistan:

Everyone wants the troops to leave Afghanistan except the Pentagon brass and the CIA. They have prevailed over two presidents and are now ready to manipulate a third one into intensifying the war.


Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!
4:05 PM · Aug 21, 2012
Barack Obama @BarackObama
VP Biden on Afghanistan: "We are leaving in 2014. Period."
4:05am · 12 Oct 2012
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money -- rebuild the U.S.!
9:59 PM · Jan 14, 2013
Barack Obama @BarackObama
President Obama: "By the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."
3:58am · 13 Feb 2013
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.
8:10 PM · Mar 1, 2013
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!
1:28 AM · Oct 8, 2020

M.K. Bhadrakumar explains why the Pentagon prevailed over two presidents:

Fundamentally, the contradiction lies here: Pentagon top brass is far from through with the 19-year old Afghan war. They never saw it quite the way Trump sees it — an “endless war” — because they still think they can win it and realise their key objectives. In fact, some amongst them still would think they could have won the Vietnam War if only the Pentagon had a free hand.

When the presidency of George W Bush ended and Barack Obama took over in 2009, the war in Afghanistan could have ended. Candidate Obama was very vociferous about the futility of the war. But the military commanders could anticipate that America’s first Black president was a babe in the woods in the Beltway, as his invitation to Robert Gates to continue as his defence secretary loudly proclaimed.

They sized up that Obama was indecisive and weak and they could change his mind. And they were proven right. They actually got him to approve the “Afghan surge,” which of course was projected persuasively as one last good push to defeat the Taliban conclusively.

Now, that push continued for the next seven years under Obama.
The military commanders again were lucky as Trump, although a white American, was a rank outsider to the US establishment.
Trump didn’t persevere — he was never “hands-on” — when it came to the Afghan war. He never once phoned Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, leave alone received him in the Oval Office. The military commanders could brilliantly string along Trump. They simply exhausted him in a waiting game right up to the home stretch of his 4-year term.

Now the military commanders are getting ready for a new president who is probably as close to their heart, as good as George Bush.

As Trump is too timid to order the Pentagon to remove ALL U.S. troops from Afghanistan the war will continue beyond his presidency.

Bhadrakumar thinks that Biden will let the military re-escalate the war:

What we can expect now is that the military commanders will hunker down with the 2500 troops in Afghanistan until Trump leaves. And then they will recreate a very good case for another “surge”. It isn’t difficult to do that.

That is indeed highly likely. But it is not just the Pentagon pressing for keeping the war alive. The CIA is historically known for its 'interest' in the drug business. That Afghanistan, while under U.S. occupation, became the largest producer of opium is not coincidental. It generates a lot of money that can be used for 'black' operations and other purposes.

The Doha agreement which Trump negotiated with the Taliban will likely be breached the U.S. side as soon as Biden is in office. He will blame the Taliban and will escalate the war from there.

There is one slight shimmer of hope that the situation might somehow change. Today Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan which is directing the Taliban, came to Kabul on a 'historic' first visit:

“You come with a with a series of very important messages ... but fundamental to this is that violence is not an answer, a comprehensive political settlement for an enduring peace within the framework of our values, our Constitution in the Islamic Republic is the way to the future,” [Afghan President Ashraf] Ghani told Khan at the presidential palace.

Khan acknowledged Pakistan had played a key role in getting the Taliban to the negotiating table and that Islamabad remains concerned that “despite the talks in Qatar, the level of violence is rising.”

“Whatever is possible, we will do to help reduce the violence,” and help move the Afghan-Taliban talks toward a cease-fire, Khan said. “The whole objective of this visit is to build trust, to communicate more. ... We will be helping you.”

That does not sound great yet but more communication between Kabul and Islamabad could eventual lead to some real compromise and an Afghan government both countries could live with.

But there are outside forces, mainly India and the U.S., who do want to see an agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan as that would diminish their role. They are more likely to sabotage one than to let it happen.

The nineteen year long war is therefore likely to continue. More war crimes will be committed in Afghanistan and more innocent people will die there. In four years more presidential candidates will have promised to finally end it.  But will any of them prevail?

Posted by b on November 19, 2020 at 18:55 UTC | Permalink

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Posted by: naiverealist | Nov 20 2020 18:39 utc | 98

Oxy, Perco, and others are semi-synthetics. They take the opium and attach a radical group to it and make a variety of painkillers.

Sort of. Opium is a relatively crude product made by drying the milky sap harvested from the pod of the opium poppy Papaver somniferum. In addition to morphine, opium contains codeine as well as their common precursor thebaine. Thebaine is used to produce semi-synthetic opioids, but it is present in relatively low amounts in opium and thus it is usually obtained from the related species Papaver bracteatum (Iranian Poppy). It would be interesting to know which of these two poppy species is predominantly cultivated in Afghanistan. I had assumed it was the former, but who knows?

Posted by: farm ecologist | Nov 20 2020 19:28 utc | 101


When Mr. Bhadrakumar says:

"When...Barack Obama took over in 2009, the war in Afghanistan could have ended. Candidate Obama was very vociferous about the futility of the war."

He is rewriting history...with Orwellian flair.

"But I’m old enough to remember when Sen. Obama spoke very highly of the war in Afghanistan.

In fact, he campaigned on a pledge to rededicate our nation’s efforts to the “good war.” He wrote in 2007, “We must refocus our efforts on Afghanistan and Pakistan — the central front in our war against al Qaeda — so that we are confronting terrorists where their roots run deepest.”

He said on the campaign trail in 2008, “As president, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.” He promised at least two additional brigades of combat troops and an additional $1 billion in civilian assistance every year.

In 2009, when I worked for the Obama administration as director for Afghanistan and Pakistan on the National Security Council, I saw no sign that the new team had any other intent than to follow through with the candidate’s actual words. They wanted to fix Afghanistan, partly to give themselves cover for withdrawing from Iraq. Afghanistan was supposed to prove, with foreign policy, that they were responsible.

Obama did not enter office bent on getting out of Afghanistan. He entered office bent on winning in Afghanistan. Those are different things. You can get out of a war anytime you like, so long as you don’t care what happens afterwards and are not fighting for anything terribly important. But Obama clearly and repeatedly said he cared, and said he believed that war was vitally important, which is why he wanted to win it, not end it."

Posted by: S Brennan | Nov 20 2020 20:03 utc | 102

S Brennan @ 102
That sounds like a very worthwhile contribution to this blog and post. Respect to you for that.
I would love to ask you a very important question to me personally ——-
I was very impressed with Obama as we all were on the left ! Less so after he was first elected and on. My question——-
To what extent was he under the influence of the Israel lobby groups and therefore prevented from doing all he wanted. Particularly on ending wars. ?

Posted by: Mark2 | Nov 20 2020 20:28 utc | 103

@ SB 102
[Obama] promised at least two additional brigades of combat troops and an additional $1 billion in civilian assistance every year.
...two brigades? hah -- I agree with Obama's intentions but let's get the facts straight....
The press reports in Dec 2009, right after he received the Nobel Peace Prize, were that Obama was sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but what he didn't say and what nobody reported was that he had already sent 40,000 more troops (to 70K) so the total became 100K+. Here's a chart on it.

Obama as senator voted for every war budget, and as president was heavily involved in war not only in the new "AfPak" but in numerous other locations, plus his role as drone assassinator-in-chief.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 20 2020 20:50 utc | 104

@Karlof1 #36

Don't forget the French heroin pushers. When the French national assembly voted no more money for their dirty little Vietnam war the French military decided to rectify their cash problem by promoting their alliance with the hill tribes by transporting their raw opium to Marseilles to be refined into heroin and then on sell their product to the USA and others. I heartily recommend the following books by McCoy:

No wonder the CIA tried to suppress 'The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia.' I understand the NZ police academy has a copy.

'In The Shadows of the American Century' is another classic.Required reading to understand the geopolitical situation regarding US decline and the rise of China.

Posted by: Paul | Nov 20 2020 21:22 utc | 105

Framarz | Nov 20 2020 1:13 utc | 51... thanks for your additional comments here and elsewhere.. i was in no way suggesting you work for intel...i was just trying to figure out where you are coming from better.. cheers james

Posted by: james | Nov 20 2020 21:50 utc | 106

Paul @105--

Thanks for your reply! I read that Tomgram when it was first published and already knew about McCoy. S was right; I ought to make a Bibliography and post it at my VK Space so I can link to it. We know a lot; yet, The People know so little. And its the latter that's the Big Problem.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 20 2020 22:27 utc | 107

Talking of wars, Trump has just started one that I suspect the American public will approve of while the Democrats will not be happy. Nah, it's not against Iran, China or Russia but Big Pharma. Will Biden be able to reverse it? Probably not. Is this Trump's revenge on Fauci and Big Pharma for messing with his October surprise? Will it last as long as involvement of the US in Afghanistan? Not if you think it started in 1979 under Jimmy Carter but it might last as long as the police action started by Bush in 2001.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Nov 21 2020 0:04 utc | 108

james @Nov20 0:07 #44

... i would prefer to avoid jackrabbits ongoing theory here - rubber stamped conformists...

Well, you're not the only one that can't bear to look at how the sausage is made.

We enslave ourselves with hopium.

FYI: National Security and Double Government

Why has U.S. security policy scarcely changed from the Bush to the Obama administration? National Security and Double Government offers a disquieting answer. Michael J. Glennon challenges the myth that U.S. security policy is still forged by America's visible, "Madisonian institutions" - the President, Congress, and the courts. Their roles, he argues, have become largely illusory. Presidential control is now nominal, congressional oversight is dysfunctional, and judicial review is negligible. The book details the dramatic shift in power that has occurred from the Madisonian institutions to a concealed "Trumanite network" - the several hundred managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints. Reform efforts face daunting obstacles. Remedies within this new system of "double government" require the hollowed-out Madisonian institutions to exercise the very power that they lack. Meanwhile, reform initiatives from without confront the same pervasive political ignorance within the polity that has given rise to this duality. The book sounds a powerful warning about the need to resolve this dilemma-and the mortal threat posed to accountability, democracy, and personal freedom if double government persists.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 21 2020 2:10 utc | 109

I was very impressed with Obama as we all were on the left ! Less so after he was first elected and on. My question——-
To what extent was he under the influence of the Israel lobby groups and therefore prevented from doing all he wanted. Particularly on ending wars. ?

Posted by: Mark2 | Nov 20 2020 20:28 utc | 103


If there were any inteligent readers here still under the impression that Mark2 was anything other than an idiot his post at 103 should pretty much dispell any lingering doubts on that subject.

This is the guy that constantly claims he's an "antifascist", lol

Posted by: Triden | Nov 21 2020 2:17 utc | 110


"If only our glorious Tzar were free to act as he wished, he'd surely create utopia"

Posted by: Triden | Nov 21 2020 2:18 utc | 111

@ Mark 103
To what extent was he under the influence of the Israel lobby groups and therefore prevented from doing all he wanted. Particularly on ending wars.
How does one say 'kiss butt' n Yiddish?
Candidate Obama's speech to AIPAC, June 2008 here
"As president, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade — investments to Israel's security that will not be tied to any other nation. . . Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. . . Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided. . . .The threats to Israel start close to home, but they don't end there. Syria continues its support for terror and meddling in Lebanon. And Syria has taken dangerous steps in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, which is why Israeli action was justified to end that threat. . .There is no greater threat to Israel — or to the peace and stability of the region — than Iran. Now this audience is made up of both Republicans and Democrats, and the enemies of Israel should have no doubt that, regardless of party. . .I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. . . We should also pursue other unilateral sanctions that target Iranian banks and assets. . . .Now is the time to join together in the work of repairing this world.. . .here

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 21 2020 2:56 utc | 112

Biden wins in Georgia

Posted by: Featherless | Nov 21 2020 3:53 utc | 113

I have to admit I am not current on what is going on in Afghanistan but it looks like these women in the picture of the following article who fled the Taliban are dressed fully covered in a way brought to them by the Taliban decades ago.

I find it strange that attacks always increase at the same rate as talks of a withdrawal increases. Here is a post article with a dead baby picture...

Dead babies make great war propaganda. It appears the US wants and feels it needs the country as a client state permanently but I see no way that the Taliban will ever change their religious views towards Afgan life prior to their organization.

Why keep fighting and keep the US sucked in? Why not make a false peace and let the US leave. Is it disorganized Warlordism or another state like Pakistan supporting them because they want the US money sucked into the region for as long as possible?

Posted by: circumspect | Nov 21 2020 4:42 utc | 114

The Taliban have been laying low and making a "false peace" so the Americans will leave, directed by Pakistan.

The level of attacks has stayed consistent for over a year, they haven't increased as talks of withdrawal increases. What increases is the reporting of the attacks, the fake attacks (ie White Helmets) and the attacks by groups other than the Taliban. The US wants to stay "sucked in" so they make sure the public thinks there is a reason to be there.

Posted by: Jason | Nov 21 2020 5:41 utc | 115

Afghanistan... kicking the shit out of the West since 330 BC.

Twenty-three centuries of resistance..

In the playoffs for toughest nation:
Afghanistan [last two wins versus beat the USSR and the US] takes on
Vietnam [last wins against Han China, the French, the Japanese, and the US and the Han Chinese, again] for the title.
Pretty good evidence for "Home field" advantage: Mountains, a coherent society, and a willingness to take all the punishment needed to kick out the invader.

Posted by: SteveLaudig | Nov 21 2020 6:06 utc | 116

Triden @110
I’m just trying to raise the level of debate out of the gutter that trump, virus and people like you have reduced it to.
I suggest you re read my comment it’s factual. I was engaging a commenter who may or may not have been who he said he was.
Just remember your President works for you, not, you work for your president !
Oh and don’t be a knob.

Posted by: Mark2 | Nov 21 2020 7:40 utc | 117

Don Bacon @ 112
Thanks for that Don, of course I new all that already and was why I started that conversation, as it needs to be had !
What one single incoming president would be capable of standing up to the Israel lobby groups ?
Solve that and you ‘solve’ America.
But all I hear is ‘crickets’
I Enjoy your contributions.

Posted by: Mark2 | Nov 21 2020 7:54 utc | 118

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 21 2020 2:56 utc | 112 -- "How does one say 'kiss butt' n Yiddish?"

How does one say "brown nose" in Yiddish?

Posted by: kiwiklown | Nov 21 2020 9:11 utc | 119

Don Bacon & kiwikloan
Let’s ask trump he sure knows how to bend over and spread for the Israel’s

Posted by: Mark2 | Nov 21 2020 10:06 utc | 120

So has any one got a good trump speech from trump regarding Israel ? No thought not.
The next post is looking like a good topic, media bias ? (Snigger)

Posted by: Mark2 | Nov 21 2020 10:15 utc | 121

When writing of Afghanistan, one cannot forget to mention Opium. Under US care the country not only grows the plant, it also processes the raw ingredient into heroin. For, of course, pharmaceutical purposes only.

Posted by: Joetv | Nov 21 2020 15:28 utc | 122

@ circ. #114
Why keep fighting and keep the US sucked in? Why not make a false peace and let the US leave.
Why keep fighting? Financial and political reasons, profits.

There has just been a congressional hearing here, where three "experts" AKA "analysts" have said that the US should stay in Afghanistan "until the Taliban agrees to stop fighting the Afghan military," and "until the Taliban severs ties with al-Qaeda," and "stops striking U.S. and NATO troops," etc.

But none of these conditions are in the Agreement which state that US troops will be withdrawn if the Taliban:
--doesn't cooperate with al-Qaeda
--sends "a clear message that those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies have no place in Afghanistan"
--instructs its members not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies.
--prevents any group or individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the United States and its allies
--commits to deal with those seeking asylum or residence in Afghanistan according to international migration law
--will not provide visas, passports, travel permits, or other legal documents to those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies to enter Afghanistan.

All of these conditions are listed in Part Two of the Agreement . .here

So the "experts" are making stuff up in order to persist with this losing situation.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 21 2020 16:35 utc | 123

@my #123
The last Taliban condition--will not provide visas, passports, travel permits, or other legal documents to those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies to enter Afghanistan--of course implies that the Taliban will regain control of their country.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 21 2020 16:40 utc | 124

Speaking of war hot air:
Turns out Swedish paranoia over Russian subs intruding was actually herring farts source

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 21 2020 21:02 utc | 125

You don't need to go to the police academy in New Zealand for the McCoy book you mentioned.

A free pdf and other formats are available from the free internet library, Z-Library, at

I didn't look for the other book you mentioned, but it's probably there as well

Posted by: sarz | Nov 22 2020 12:17 utc | 126

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