Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 08, 2021

U.S. Launches New Afghanistan Initiative Which Is Unlikely To Fly

The U.S. has an agreement with the Taliban which commits it to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by May 1. Should the U.S. stay longer the Taliban will again start attacking U.S. troops and bases in Afghanistan and the conflict will continue as it did over the last 20 years.

The agreement also foresees peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But President Ashraf Ghani has been dragging his feet with regards to peace talks. He believes that the U.S. will stay in Afghanistan, that he does not have to make concessions and can continue to stay in office. Meanwhile the Afghan army is losing the war. The Taliban already rule most of the the countryside. They are ready to take the cities which are still under government control as soon as the U.S. pulls out.

The Biden regime does not want to pull out to then immediately see the Taliban win the war. It needs some face saving period of 'peace in Afghanistan' to justify a pull out. It also wants to keep some CIA counter-terrorism force in the country which is something the Taliban are unlikely to allow.

Over the weekend The Biden administration launched a new attempt to create a power sharing agreement for Afghanistan. This would include the Taliban into the current government under President Ghani. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is putting pressure on the Afghan government to agree to that:

In a letter to President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan requesting his “urgent leadership,” Mr. Blinken signaled that the Biden administration had lost faith in faltering negotiations between Mr. Ghani’s government and the Taliban. The unusually blunt letter, in which Mr. Blinken asked Mr. Ghani to “understand the urgency of my tone,” reflected American frustration with the Afghan president’s often intransigent stance in stalled peace talks.

The letter (also here) was delivered by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalizad to President Ghani, his rival Chairman Abdullah Abdullah and to the Taliban.

In it Blinken announced that he would ask the UN to convene the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States to discuss a unified approach for supporting peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which supports the Taliban, is likely to reject any inclusion of its arch enemy India into such a process.

Khalizad also delivered a draft of an Afghan Peace Agreement (pdf) which is essentially a new constitution for Afghanistan but with all the elements that created the current failed system. (Writing constitutions for countries which have fundamental internal disagreements is a British and U.S. pasttime which rarely works.) The proposal foresees an interim government with a few Taliban seats in the parliament. It sets out new elections which the Taliban generally reject. The proposal includes the creation of a new High Council for Islamic Jurisprudence to advise the independent judiciary. That is probably the sole good element and the only one the Taliban could agree with.

While Blinken has claimed to have coordinated all this with U.S. allies, the EU special envoy to Afghanistan expressed dismay:

Roland Kobia @RolandKobia - 12:17 UTC · Mar 7, 2021

#Afghanistan has a Constitution, had elections, held Loya Jirgas, has Joint Declaration with the US, is engaged in Doha process. The IRA has the support of vast majority of international community + the world in UNSC and Geneva has committed to protect achievements & Republic.

As a third point Blinken will ask the government of Turkey to host a meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban to finalize a peace agreement. (Turkey, one snarky commentator said, because it has much experience with getting along with Islamist fundamentalist.)

There are a few additional points in the letter which the Taliban will reject:

The proposals also called for the Taliban to remove “their military structures and officers from neighboring countries.” Pakistan has provided a sanctuary for Taliban commanders and fighters crossing back and forth into Afghanistan and has permitted the militants to maintain a political council in the country.

Both Pakistan and the Taliban are unlikely to agree to such a proposal.

President Ghani is furious about Blinken's letter. Other interest groups in the Afghan government also reject it. They think it is a bluff. Unless the U.S. stops the money flow to Kabul and pulls out its troops there is no need for Ghani and other to proceed.

The Taliban will also reject the proposals. They want the U.S. to leave and they feel sure that, after that, they can win the civil war and reinstall their Islamic Emirate. Their backers in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are likewise convinced that there is no need to change course.

The new U.S. proposal is a dead end. It is somewhat astonishing that the State Department could not come up with a better initiative. Then again it is nearly twenty years into this conflict and it still mixes up Afghan nationals and their currency:

Department of State - @StateDept - 9:00 UTC · Mar 8, 2021

The State Department is proud to honor 7 courageous Afghani women who were assassinated as #WomenofCourage for their efforts to help others and used their voices to empower those around them. Their efforts will not be forgotten.

Posted by b on March 8, 2021 at 17:28 UTC | Permalink


Hey, has anyone seen this:

How 'bout 'em apples?

Posted by: Mao Cheng Ji | Mar 8 2021 17:34 utc | 1

Thanks for the posting b

It reminds me of the circus act of the plate spinner which I have used before as analogy about all the facets of our civilization war. Given that empire have been in Afghanistan for decades now, one has to question if empire's desirous end result is ongoing conflict. That certainly looks like it to me. Keep the plate of FUD in Afghanistan spinning to compromise or add to other circus acts/spinning plates going on in the region.

The spinning plates analogy is useful in the sense that it contributes to the understanding about the wobble/spinning of the plates keeps the global narrative under control....need a little more control, wobble a plate somewhere a bit.

My point being that the new Biden initiative was likely never intended to fly but to keep the plate spinning and the wobbles under empire control.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Mar 8 2021 17:59 utc | 2

Afghanistan is just one more thing to 'undo' from the Trump Administration. Trump tried several times to withdraw from Afghanistan and was thwarted each time by those in the US government who want a permanent footprint in this particular region.

The USA is still in Korea some 65 years after that war, which is officially still ongoing. As an Empire, the USA cannot afford to appear weak to itself or the whole charade of a dysfunctional, broke, criminal enterprise crashes and burns on the petard of imperial hubris.

Posted by: gottlieb | Mar 8 2021 17:59 utc | 3

This might become complicated and dangerous if this is true: Biden White House power vacuum, leadership vacuum

They even talk about taking away the nuclear code and the power to go to war from Biden. Does anyone know more?

Posted by: Fran | Mar 8 2021 18:11 utc | 4

If Biden actually announces that the US has (not will, not going to, not thinking about it, not proposing, not considering) withdrawn all US troops from Afghanistan - he will have accomplished something of merit.
But I expect pigs to fly first.

Posted by: c1ue | Mar 8 2021 18:17 utc | 5

Every second the corrupt, incompetent, useless, imperialist Zalmay Khalilzad is still involved in a "peace/reconciliation process" is another second demonstrating that the US isn't serious about it.

Posted by: Wind Hippo | Mar 8 2021 18:37 utc | 6

@Posted by: Fran | Mar 8 2021 18:11 utc | 4

The Duran? Really? You are posting a link to the site here, among adults, and expecting to be taken seriously?

Posted by: olivio | Mar 8 2021 18:54 utc | 7

"Turkey, one snarky commentator said, because it has much experience with get rid of Islamic fundamentalist." Actually, as a sop to Erdoğan to try and pull him further away from Russia and, yes, Iran. The US needs Turkey to help create maximum chaos in the ME, and certainly if the US and/or Israel are contemplating a little local war in SW Syria in the near future.

Posted by: Bluedotterel | Mar 8 2021 19:00 utc | 8

Imperial actions in Afghanistan have never worked out well, no matter the oppressor.

Posted by: Duncan Idaho | Mar 8 2021 19:03 utc | 9

Abby Martin has a new video describing the Taliban's preparations for the usual upcoming US failure to abide by any agreement.

Supposedly the Taliban fully expect the US military to remain despite agreeing to leave. So, they are planning something similar to the infamous Vietnam war Tet Offensive.

Quote from the YouTube video- "The Taliban are in position for a major offensive. That offensive will include mass casualty attacks on Americans if we miss the withdrawal deadline."

I hope that is correct. That is only way US troops will ever leave.

Posted by: Mar man | Mar 8 2021 19:26 utc | 10

Won't work, Guaido isn't free at the moment.


I wonder if all the different undisclosed odd things and potential re-arrangements, are not more a question of hard cash. Even in Afghanistan and with the publicised "Pacific" efforts, the Baltic efforts, a thousand bases, etc. the total US outlay is tremendous. NATO, which is "taking over" many of the expenses and are (I presume) stopping buying F-35 boodoggles, is only a backstop.

With the total number of countries involved in US wars, plus the total cost of the "black-ops" and well paid mercenaries in others, the military "budget" is virtually without limits.

IF the US has to start to think about ; a) rebuilding the infrastucture in the US ;
b) always agreeing to the Pentagon's budget ; c) the loss of income, both taxes and other. (as most countries will have to admit if there is a lessening of their lockdowns.); d) Loss of purchase power. ; e) MMT, funny money, only lasts as long as people will accept it. ; f) Have we forgotten about the debts of the US?

Where can cuts be made ? Only in ongoing Operations. Particularly one that has been going on for 20 years.

The US built Carriers but did not budget for maintenance, so "wars" have the same problem, they cost a lot just to keep going.


We know that the users of Mellon Bank (Oligarchs) and the other billionaires NEED to attack Russia to keep the "good times rolling", and they are the ones responsible for sucking the capital out of reach of the 99%. Afghanistan could block the BRI, (the BRI excludes the US,) but also blocks the investments that the Oligarchs have made in China.

They might lose out. oooh the poor things.

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 8 2021 19:27 utc | 11

When you have the Third String and the Scrubs running things it doesn’t work out very well.

Posted by: William H Warrick MD | Mar 8 2021 19:37 utc | 12

Thanks for this overview, b. IMO, it needs to be understood in light of a pair of essays, Crooke's, and the latter of which concludes as I have: "American leaders will soon be forced to choose between realism and idealism."

The two essays Bemildred pointed at in the week in review thread; but since both deal with the decline of the Outlaw US Empire (Roussinos) and the attempts to reboot it (Crooke), their discussion fits within the context of the irrational policy that muddles both realism and idealism regarding Afghanistan.

It should be noted that the Empire's Terrorist Foreign Legion is according to this map located next to Pakistan's border in somewhat close proximity to Kabul. So, CIA Terrorism forces are already in-country.

I'm convinced of at least one thing: Biden is merely the mouth voicing policy he has no say in the making.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 8 2021 19:39 utc | 13

Stonebird @11

I highly suggest reading the two essays I linked @13.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 8 2021 19:43 utc | 14

Stonebird @11

I highly suggest reading the two essays I linked @13.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 8 2021 19:43 utc | 15

I imagine there are a lot of Afghani people who have had to make some hard choices in the past 20 years, regarding loyalties. If/when the US pulls out, there will be a lot of chickens coming home to roost for “collaborators”.
I’d be freaking terrified.
What a disaster, and it never needed to happen. And no Americans will pay the piper, just the Afghans.
Makes me ashamed to be American

Posted by: Cadence calls | Mar 8 2021 19:57 utc | 16

I've read the Biden administration plan described in Hashte Subh. Empty as a pecan shell. God he and his team is shallow.

Posted by: Dogon Priest | Mar 8 2021 20:02 utc | 17

Ghani ain't stupid. He knows that his government will not survive long* without American boots on the ground to prop it up, so he has every incentive to make sure that those Americans don't leave, lest he meet the fate of Najibullah.

*Understatement of the Decade, there.

Posted by: Feral Finster | Mar 8 2021 20:06 utc | 18

So what happens to the CIA opium poppy business. Lots of sabotage money at stake there.

Also, and maybe more important, what about the blocking and sabotage of the Chinese 'Bridge and Road' land route to Europe. Does the US think the Taliban will undertake this? Doesn't seem likely, especially when the Chinese start putting serious money into Afghanistan.

Posted by: Jams O'Donnell | Mar 8 2021 20:49 utc | 19

Washington is populated with imperial wannabe morons - any half intelligent imperial power would have bought and paid for Mohammad Najibullah to stay in power and flattened ISI and the Saudis, but nah, Washington is the City of Morons (or should that be morans?)

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Mar 8 2021 21:13 utc | 20

Mr. Ghost Ship

Indeed the late Dr. Najib's government was the best government that Afghanistan had ever had.

The religious zealots in the Iranian establishment did not foresee the catastrophe that was about to unfold in Afghanistan either; "Islam is the answer" blew up in their faces there.

Posted by: fyi | Mar 8 2021 21:34 utc | 21

karlof1 | Mar 8 2021 19:43 utc | 14

Somewhere over the rainbow
bluebirds fly
Oh why, oh why, can't I.

Interesting symbolism for the four; Dorothy (US), he left out the Lion (looking for courage; UK), the Tinman (Capitalism?; without a heart), Strawman (EU with nothing in the head).

It is clear that the "wizards" are trying to retain power, the goodies and control upstream (after the reset). This includes the Emerald City, which is the world. The difficulty for them is how to make the transformation AND gain control over the dissidents such as China and Russia at the same time. Which is where I think they may have overstepped. They may be banking on "Banking and Corporate hidden investments" giving legal control later. As happened to many Jewish owned assets after the war, that had to be repaid/returned. The Major "families" Thyssen and others who were nominally loosers, still have power and assets today.

The "Greedies" want their personal status quo to remain. The Greening is supposed to be a way of commanding the actions and lands of others as Crooke says. It is probably only a cooooincidence, I am sure, that Gates is buying acres of arable land.

One thing I am sure of is that the BRI is making them pay attention. Simply because it is a success, and success leads to envy. Which leads to either destroying it or grabbing it, (Greening is the latter).


PS. The US has stopped Turkey selling 14 home made helicopters to Pakistan. There have been three attacks on oil tankers at border crossings, Iran/Afghanistan. (CIA-MEK probably). The US hasn't left Afghanistan yet, and maybe only the Armed forces will.

The CIA and mercenaries might try to set up another of those "extricated from local control" land grabs such as in Syria/Iraq. The mercenaries can do murderous things that US forces might be held responsible for, and it opens up the possibility of stealing lucrative resources to make a quick profit on the side.

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 8 2021 21:39 utc | 22

President Ghani should study the career of one of his predecessors, Muhammad Najibullah. He served during the time of Soviet occupation but was driven from power after they left. He ended up being tortured to death, castrated, and hanged from a traffic light pole. The precedent is set.

Posted by: Donnie | Mar 8 2021 22:07 utc | 23

Stonebird @22--

Thanks for your well reasoned reply! In the context of Empire and its perpetuation, which is the more valuable asset: Occupied Palestine or Afghanistan and an Indian Satrapy? If the goal is to contain China and Russia, then the latter is far more valuable. And IMO it's a better position from which to keep pressure on Iran since you no longer have numerous vulnerable assets to lose in a war. Staying in Afghanistan satisfies all the Imperial factions and makes possible an exit from the Persian Gulf trap.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 8 2021 22:12 utc | 24

The US leaves now, or it leaves later, under the same conditions.

Incidentally, there's an interesting review of a book on British performance in Afghanistan.

It's a bit self-flagellating, and excuses the Americans.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 8 2021 22:19 utc | 25

Sorry this is O/T

Brazilian Supreme Court just invalidated the criminal convictions of ex-President Lula da Silva, restoring his political rights and rendering him eligible to run against Bolsonaro in 2022. He was leading all polls when convicted in 2018. Glenn Greenwald@ggreenwald

Posted by: JohninMK | Mar 8 2021 22:49 utc | 26

If the Taliban are so certain to win then they would be fools not to agree to pretty much anything that actually gets the US boots out. And they would even have the ability to smooth the diplomatic fallout by letting a new administration save face by simply waiting a bit longer.

Or, to put it another way, if the Taliban actually control most of the country and can take the cities, then their strength is in Afghanistan, not Pakistan. Removing some useful supplies to Afghanistan and posting new signs on installations in Pakistan and putting new juniors into Pakistan bring seniors to the action would not be a problem.

So either the Taliban is not as strong as talked up, or the Taliban is too fractured internally to maneuver without risk of breakup or the Taliban is not just dependent on Pakistan still, if not susceptible to some degree of Pakistani control.

Militarily, "control" of the countryside is not the same task as taking control of cities. To win, the Taliban need to take cities. To win by force of arms, they need to defeat the US military in a straight-up battle on ground where air control and the built-up terrain favors the defensive.

As I recall, Najibullah didn't fall until a couple of years after Soviet withdrawal.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Mar 8 2021 23:24 utc | 27

@27 Perhaps the Taliban have simply concluded that any "agreement" acceptable to the Afghan government would require conditions that the Taliban must carry out *before* the USA leaves e.g. they must first disarm, and only then the commitments apply to the other side.

Signing that agreement ensures the US troops never leave.

Better not to sign that at all.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Mar 8 2021 23:59 utc | 28

If the Taliban wants to get rid of the US occupation,They only need to concentrate on choking
the resupply of occupying forces. target all convoys from the Pakistan border along all the difficult terrain of Afghanistan. No army can survive choking resupply logistics, re Napoleon in Russia.

Attacking and decimating US convoys from Pakistan is key to stopping US presence in Afghanistan.

Posted by: CarlD | Mar 9 2021 0:23 utc | 29

>>While Blinken has claimed to have coordinated all this with U.S. allies, the EU special envoy to Afghanistan expressed dismay..

The big thing here is that the EU has shown itself as more warmongering on Afghanistan even compared to the Biden Administration.

I remember very well how core EU countries urged the US not to withdraw from Syria too.

What the EU wants is worldwide Empire made by the US hands, since their hands were cut off in 1945.

Thus it hates US attempts at isolationism. Big Daddy must remain around because we are nothing without Big Daddy.

Posted by: Passer by | Mar 9 2021 0:42 utc | 30

Well said Passer by 30

Posted by: CarlD | Mar 9 2021 0:57 utc | 31

One problem with countries like Afghanistan or Egypt is that EVERYBODY believes that either one follows holy Quran and the "proper" interpretation to the letter (which is quite backward in Afghanistan), or the person is hopelessly corrupt. So the guys who are lenient about chadors, music etc. are hopelessly corrupt.

So there are only two choices for other countries. Either stick with the hopelessly corrupt or give up any idea about sticking the nose into the internal affairs. So it is clear what the West is choosing.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 9 2021 0:59 utc | 32

Posted by: olivio | Mar 8 2021 18:54 utc | 7

Thanks for this, beat me to it. ;)

Posted by: TominAZ | Mar 9 2021 1:01 utc | 33

Let's remember,

The EU is a Rothschild's invention and caters to their whims.

Just as the US is nothing more than a leashed pitbull obeying its Rothschilds masters.

There will be war when my sons want it said the Baroness.

So, here we go.

Posted by: CarlD | Mar 9 2021 1:02 utc | 34

Why do we talk of 'countries' anymore. Special interest groups run everything, and there is too much money to be made through this occupation for it to come to a premature end.

Posted by: Jezabeel | Mar 9 2021 1:11 utc | 35

Yeah, Right@28 is correct that if the Afghan government refuses to accept anything less than Taliban surrender, then the Taliban would be correct in refusing to leave...but the thing is, that the Afghan central government requires the US funding and foreign military to keep the cities. The OP sort of hints at this by noting the only way the Biden administration could force Ghani et al. to negotiate a survivable surrender is to cut them off. The OP is assuming this won't happen and therefore the Taliban will send the US troops fleeing. But this seems to be driven more by the desire to portray Biden as a total failure after six weeks (forget waiting over four years like for Trump,) rather than accepting the new feature: The implication that the US is losing patience with Ghani.

Posted by: steven t johnson | Mar 9 2021 1:19 utc | 36

@steven t johnson | Mar 8 2021 23:24 utc | 27

If the Taliban are so certain to win then they would be fools not to agree to pretty much anything that actually gets the US boots out. And they would even have the ability to smooth the diplomatic fallout by letting a new administration save face by simply waiting a bit longer.

I agree that this Letter isn't à message to Ghani but a prayer to the Talibans in order to save face.
Leaving but not applying some treatry negociate by Big Orange!

Are Talibans so stupid? Could somebody have any more confidence with any US Administration?
Do you know that Blinken, Since 20 years, was always (Irak, Afghanistan, Lybie, Syria...) in favor of warmongers?

Everything is POSSIBLE. A big mistake, too....

Agincourt 2.0?

The French army was the most expensive, and the heaviest in the western world. She threw herself at the self-confident and arrogant English. Unfortunately she had to fight on unsuitable ground against a light and mobile infantry.

Royal power was already undermined by a power struggle between Burgundians and Armagnacs.  By 1415, however, the feud between the French royal family and the House of Burgundy led to chaos and anarchy throughout France.

Unable to unify and conduct the politics of the kingdom, the King Charles VI "the Mad "
is known for his mental illness and psychotic épisode.

Posted by: Bernard F. | Mar 9 2021 1:44 utc | 37

Just a hypothetical, but suppose the alleged withdrawal is spoiled by some idiot with a loose trigger finger.

One of two things: The occupying forces find a pretext to stay if not escalate. Or, they implement an aggressive retreat and bomb everything that moves from the air thus avoiding the body bag optics.

Most likely in my view us that the initiative to withdraw fizzles out with some token violence then returns the status quo.

Does anyone believe that the Taliban has the resources to conquer cities? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Posted by: Stumpy | Mar 9 2021 1:55 utc | 38

The US is fighting the Taliban who are supported by US allies?

Something is amiss.

Posted by: jiri | Mar 9 2021 2:11 utc | 39

I agree, choking supply lines would create serious problems.

The other thing that needs to happen for the Taliban to force out the occupiers is someone (Pakistan, Iran, Russia or China) needs to supply them with anti-tank and anti-helicopter weapons.

USA/NATO logistics and supply line rely heavily on helicopters. Afghanistan's high altitudes make MANPADs particularly effective.

I am guessing Taliban has better weapons than what they have shown. Before the current cease-fire those weapons were just beginning to show up on the battlefield.

I don't see USA/NATO leaving without significant casualties and I believe there are a number of nations who would be happy to help create those casualties...the main issue is timing.

Posted by: Haassaan | Mar 9 2021 2:15 utc | 40

"Blinken announced that he would ask the UN to convene the foreign ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States"

"Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the United States" ...

One of these things ... is not like the others.
One of these things ... doesn't belong.
Can you tell which thing is not like the others?
Before I finish my song.

As Bob points out, "one of these things just doesn't belong here ..."

M. K. Bhadrakumar also has a post in the context of this proposed Afghan transition, where he sees an opportunity for India and Pakistan to start a new chapter.

Posted by: Canadian Cents | Mar 9 2021 2:19 utc | 41

America and its Coalition of the Killing allies absolutely positively cannot leave Afghanistan!

After all, there are still many Afghan wedding parties, pine nut farmers, and assorted peasants for America to bomb back to the Stone Age.

Also, let's not forget that Australia still has to fill its quota for slitting the throats of Afghani children.

The Anglosphere's Rules Based International Order™ must soldier on....

Posted by: ak74 | Mar 9 2021 3:18 utc | 42

The US will stay in Afghanistan because it's strategically located near China and Russia as well as Iran's back door. This allows the US to immediately expand it's operations and threaten all three any time they want. Even without such an expansion the threat alone puts political and military pressure on all three.

Posted by: Glenn S Olson | Mar 9 2021 3:22 utc | 43

A couple of people have mentioned a film called "The Mauritanian" and more importantly Glenn Greenwald's interview of Mohamedou Slahi the chap who the movie is based upon.
I haven't watched the movie for a number of reasons; I don't watch any movie or TV show which features the in real life, imperialist and human oppression supporter Benedict Cumberbatch nor any film such as this film a hollywood production chocka with imperial propaganda.

The character of Mohamedou Slahi is presented as a victim without agency until amerikan lawyers get involved. It is the actor who plays Slahi's lawyer (Jodi Foster) who has been nominated for awards. Doubtless Cumberbatch will also pick up a statue or two as well, he plays an amerikan lawyer (his accent is an indication of cumberbatch's lack of talent) with a heart of gold who has some type of epiphany when prosecuting Slahi.
So the subtext of the movie actually is 'amerika got it wrong with some of the people they abducted, imprisoned, tortured and in some cases murdered, but that is OK cos amerika also got him free' blah blah.

I don't have the stomach for such tosh but if anyone does want to check the movie out without further enriching any hollywood creeps, it is right here.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 9 2021 5:36 utc | 44

@ jiri | Mar 9 2021 2:11 utc | 39.. not really... war merchants on both sides of the aisle fighting it out and screw afganistan - all with a usa approved rubber stamp.. what is not to like for wall st and company??

Posted by: james | Mar 9 2021 6:04 utc | 45

@Mar man #10

So, they are planning something similar to the infamous Vietnam war Tet Offensive.

Not if they read history. Tet was an ideological victory for the communists but a severe military loss for the Viet Cong. After Tet the VC were seriously weakened and the NVA did the major fighting for the rest of the war.

Posted by: troy | Mar 9 2021 6:18 utc | 46

@29 “Attacking … US convoys from Pakistan is key to stopping US … in Afghanistan”
@40 “USA/NATO … supply line rely heavily on helicopters. … MANPADs particularly effective.”

The US armed AlQaeda against USSR in AfPak with Manpad anti- helicopter missiles, so hard to believe that US relies on them: others note that truck convoys thru Pak are protected secretly by payments to Pak, presumably disguised. So truck routes or their protectors would have to be threatened.

Posted by: Joe B | Mar 9 2021 6:18 utc | 47

@olivio | Mar 8 2021 18:54 utc | 7
Yes, we do expect all contributions to be taken seriously, including yours. What are your arguments?

Posted by: Norwegian | Mar 9 2021 6:32 utc | 48

Glenn S Olson @43

Agree completely - a map tells you all you need to know.

Posted by: spudski | Mar 9 2021 6:35 utc | 49

@Fran | Mar 8 2021 18:11 utc | 4

This might become complicated and dangerous if this is true: Biden White House power vacuum, leadership vacuum

They even talk about taking away the nuclear code and the power to go to war from Biden. Does anyone know more?

It does not require very complicated analysis to understand that there is now a gaping power vacuum in Washington DC, Biden has totally lost it and is unable to function on even the most basic level, much less dealing with issues such as Afghanistan. Alexander Mercouris and Alex Christoforou highlighted this rather well. The situation with Biden has become acute much faster than anyone thought, he has had no press conferences and there appears to be none scheduled. Biden is getting more and more confused and the live feeds are cut when he attempts to take questions. This situation can't last very long. My original guess was that he would last about a year, but now it seems he is losing it completely already.

In Embarrassing Senior Moment, Biden Forgets What Pentagon's Called, Blanks On Secretary Of Defense Name

Joe Biden appears to be getting worse.

After bumbling through a public appearance last week - at one point mumbling "What am I doing here?" while forgetting the names of key Democrats, the President of the United States on Monday couldn't remember the name of the Pentagon, or his own Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin - who spoke minutes before Biden took the stage to offer remarks during International Women's Day.

Just how is a country like Afghanistan supposed to deal with the US in a situation like this? Who is running the country, does Blinken have the required backing?

Posted by: Norwegian | Mar 9 2021 6:55 utc | 50

@47 Joe B

"The US armed AlQaeda against USSR in AfPak with Manpad anti- helicopter missiles, so hard to believe that US relies on them:"

Hard to believe, but true nevertheless. It is the nature of the terrain and the fact that the Taliban control many land routes between the cities that make helicopter transport a necessity.

The second article is interesting as it demonstrates the dependency on helicopters for travel within Kabul itself.

Talk to veterans whom have served in Afghanistan, ask them how they got around. Mostly by helicopter. Why Taliban fighters haven't been supplied with weapons to take helicopters down is an interesting question.

An interesting article on Iranian influence in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Haassaan | Mar 9 2021 7:45 utc | 51

B, do you mean loosing war or losing war?

Posted by: hes | Mar 9 2021 8:59 utc | 52

karlof1 | Mar 8 2021 22:12 utc | 24

or Afghanistan and an Indian Satrapy?

One small correction here, Pakistan is moving towards the BRI and they have mentioned making a direct road route to China, even going so far as to propose building tunnels to include a pipeline!. So you get India, which is only on the sidelines for the BRI at the moment, and is tending towards the US (the Satrap) ; Pakistan in the middle but with North-south access, + China Access AND access via Baluchistan to Iran. Potential acess to India ; Afghanistan which is isolated.

I can see pressure being put on Pakistan by the US to cut Chinese access to the southern ports, and join India to Afghanistan.

The idea that Pakistan will supply missile technology to the Taliban is doubtful. One) the tribal Taliban are not very centrally organised, therefore training would only be of smallish groups at a time. two). Whose missiles and who pays for them? Three) The Pashtun and other groups have members on both sides of the frontier. four). The US stopping Pakistan buying helicopters makes sense (re: other posts showing that they are the key to "power projection")

The US relies on a centralized political center which it can take direct control of (Guaidoed). The Taliban live in small villages and rely more on social and religious "cohesion" and cooperative aims. (I mean by that ; representatives discuss and choose). They do provide representatives to negotiations with the US, but these are obliged to refer back to the "tribes".

Pity the area is dangerous, and several with nuclear weapons. (China, India, Pakistan)

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 9 2021 9:27 utc | 53

The US Tyranny will stay for the foreseeable future, as they are to utilize Afghanistan in their coming destruction on the Jews' behalf of Iran.

Posted by: Brad Tifman | Mar 9 2021 9:39 utc | 54

@51 "Why Taliban fighters haven't been supplied with weapons to take helicopters down is an interesting question."

The second article notes helicopters used for personnel transport in Kabul, but that “Pakistani authorities have threatened to cut off critical overland supply routes” for NATO suggesting that supplies come by truck.

The third article notes that “Iranians provide … training to the [mercenary refugee] Fatemiyoun… using the Man-Portable Air-Defence System (MANPADS) … targeting ANDSF helicopters …also trained and supported by the Russian Military… to counter threats posed by a rogue Taliban.”

Perhaps Russia opposes helicopter attacks in Kabul, or the Fatemiyoun can’t get TOWs or ATGMs there, and the truck supply routes are too protected?

Posted by: Joe B | Mar 9 2021 9:47 utc | 55

Some of the challenges of Afghanastan. Enjoy! From nearly 12 years ago.

see what happens at 1:13

Posted by: tucenz | Mar 9 2021 10:16 utc | 56

@ Posted by: Haassaan | Mar 9 2021 7:45 utc | 51

"Why Taliban fighters haven't been supplied with weapons to take helicopters down is an interesting question."

Indeed it is.

As for the Russians being the suppliers, that ship has likely sailed after they joined the war in Syria in 2015. That game can be played both ways, and i don't think 40 year old Mi24 and Mi8 are as advanced in countering Manpads as the latest US equipment. As to why that wasn't implemented before, well, things didn't quite get so hostile between US and Russia until after 2014 really, so a small window to to really implement such a drastic escalation when plans to join Syria were likely already being discussed?

As for other potential actors, China or Pakistan presumably have plenty of capability to supply them. Perhaps the actual cost of Manpads and the political blowback are deemed not worth it. The same goals of halting US progress, draining resources and demoralising the public are being achieved with much less expensive artillery and AK47's and no shortage of both imported and native cannon fodder.

We must also look at comparing Soviet v US efforts. It's my understanding that even though the Soviets had less overall troops than Nato at the height of their deployment, Nato never effectively managed to control as large a part of the country, rather just strategic pockets, meaning it wasn't as critical to combat them with such overt tactics perhaps?

Either way, it's never too late. Once choppers start falling out of the sky, the US will be effectively useless as a fighting force, both operationally and politically with the blowback at home from all the casualties.

Posted by: Et Tu | Mar 9 2021 11:53 utc | 57

olivio | Mar 8 2021 18:54 utc | 7

She was asking for insights, not insults.

Posted by: DeQuincey | Mar 9 2021 12:12 utc | 58

Update; the Russians are organising a meeting between the Gov. => Taliban on the 18 March. Notice that India is not said to be among the Invites.

Posted by: Stonebird | Mar 9 2021 12:21 utc | 59

How is that Narco State thingy going?


Afghanistan: The Making of a Narco State

Article is from 2014, but it is as relevant as ever.

If you understand the Afghan government as a narco state, then the fact that opium production has actually increased
–while the U.S. spent billions on counternarcotics efforts and troop numbers surged –
starts to make sense. A completely failed state – Afghanistan in 2001 – can’t really thrive in the drug trade.
Traffickers have no reason to pay off a toothless government or a nonexistent police force.
In such a libertarian paradise, freelance actors – like Saleem, the heroin cook – flourish.

But as the government builds capacity, officials can start to demand a cut.
It’s not that there’s a grand conspiracy at the center of government, but rather that,
in the absence of accountability and the rule of law, officials start to orient themselves
around a powerful political economy. Big drug barons with links to the government take over the trade.
People who don’t pay, or who fall out with government officials, might find themselves killed or arrested.

Was amused to read that the State Department spokeswoman had pulled out the standard-issue, fill-in-the-blanks form
(entering in the **blanks**: counternarcotics, reductions and opium harvests):

US interagency Form-BS-451-F:

"The U.S. government, for its part, acknowledged that there are no quick solutions at hand.
“The U.S. interagency is developing an updated xxxxxxxxxxxxxx strategy for xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx,”
“These are long-term efforts that build the foundation for eventual xxxxxxxxxxx in xxxxxxxxxxxxx.”"

And her is what she said:

"The U.S. government, for its part, acknowledged that there are no quick solutions at hand.
“The U.S. interagency is developing an updated **counternarcotics** strategy for Afghanistan,” says Jen Psaki, the State Department’s spokeswoman.
“These are long-term efforts that build the foundation for eventual reductions in **opium harvests**.”"

Also, did you catch that word "interagency", that is what the Deep State has called itself in testimony.

Sorry for the length of the quote, but it is so so enlightening.

4) Vindman was a creature of a bureaucracy that has often opposed Trump. In his testimony, Vindman's perspective could be mind-numbingly bureaucratic. One of his favorite words is "interagency," by which he means the National Security Council's role in coordinating policy among the State Department, Defense Department, the Intelligence Community, the Treasury Department, and the White House. His bible is something known as NSPM-4, or National Security Presidential Memorandum 4. He says things such as, "So I hold at my level sub-PCCs, Deputy Assistant Secretary level. PCCs are my boss, senior director with Assistant Secretaries. DCs are with the deputy of the National Security Council with his deputy counterparts within the interagency." He believes the interagency has set a clear U.S. policy toward Ukraine.

"You said in your opening statement, or you indicated at least, that there's a fairly consensus policy within the interagency towards Ukraine," Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman said to Vindman. "Could you just explain what that consensus policy is, in your own words?"

"What I can tell you is, over the course of certainly my tenure there, since July 2018, the interagency, as per normal procedures, assembles under the NSPM-4, the National Security Policy [sic] Memorandum 4, process to coordinate U.S. government policy," Vindman said. "We, over the course of this past year, probably assembled easily a dozen times, certainly at my level, which is called a subpolicy coordinating committee — and that's myself and my counterparts at the Deputy Assistant Secretary level — to discuss our views on Ukraine."

That is a classic bureaucrat's view of government and the world. Needless to say, Trump does not do that sort of thing. The president is remarkably freewheeling, unbureaucratic, and certainly not always consistent when it comes to making policy. But he generally has a big goal in mind, and in any event, he is the president of the United States. He, not the interagency, sets U.S. foreign policy.

Still, Vindman was deeply upset when Trump, relying on Rudy Giuliani and others, turned his attention to Ukraine. "In the spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency," Vindman said in his opening statement. The outside influencers, he suggested, were undermining the work of his "interagency colleagues." In the words of the Washington Post, Vindman was "deeply troubled by what he interpreted as an attempt by the president to subvert U.S. foreign policy."

Vindman's discussion of the interagency, while dry as dust, might contain the key to his role in the Trump-Ukraine affair. In the last few years, the bureaucracy with which he so clearly identified has often been at odds, sometimes privately and sometimes publicly, with the president. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, writing in a new book, said two top officials, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House chief of staff John Kelly, sought to undermine Trump to "save the country."

"It was their decisions, not the president's, that were in the best interest of America, they said," Haley wrote. "The president didn't know what he was doing."

That view extended deep into some areas of the government. Now, parts of the foreign policy bureaucracy are in open war with the president, channeling their grievances through the House Democrats' drive toward impeachment. When he testifies in public, Vindman will be the living embodiment of that bureaucratic war.

Posted by: librul | Mar 9 2021 14:30 utc | 60

Did you catch that [sic] ? @60

Vindman: "assembles under the NSPM-4, the National Security Policy [sic] Memorandum 4"

It is huge! And oh so telling.

The NSPM-4 ( )
is the "National Security Presidential Memorandum–4" and
*not* the "National Security Policy Memorandum–4"

This interagency doppelgänger, Vindman, whiteouts the President and essentially puts
itself in that role.

As I recall, the last time I checked Vindman was working for a subsidiary of
the Brookings Institute which is ... you guessed it ... very Deep State.
So the Deep State protects it's own and has a cozy safety net for it's disciples.

Posted by: librul | Mar 9 2021 15:22 utc | 61

Posted by: Norwegian | Mar 9 2021 6:55 utc | 50
Thanks for your response - I see the whole situation also quite worrysome, now also whith the situation between Iran and Israel heating up again and only Harris available for Netanjahu to talk to.

Posted by: DeQuincey | Mar 9 2021 12:12 utc | 58
Thanks for your support. :-)

Posted by: Fran | Mar 9 2021 16:23 utc | 62

Fran | Mar 9 2021 16:23 utc | 62

Thanks for your response - I see the whole situation also quite worrysome, now also whith the situation between Iran and Israel heating up again and only Harris available for Netanjahu to talk to.

One could argue that Voltaire's prayer has been heard

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it.


Posted by: Norwegian | Mar 9 2021 16:52 utc | 63

@Posted by: Norwegian | Mar 9 2021 6:55 utc | 50

Biden is getting more and more confused and the live feeds are cut when he attempts to take questions. This situation can't last very long. My original guess was that he would last about a year, but now it seems he is losing it completely already.

Hillary Clinton already has a bag packed ready to go.

Think it is time to review the process of appointing a new VP. With the removal of Biden Fake VP Harris would move up to Fake Prez thus leaving
a vacancy for Hillary there at VP. (A brief search tells me a simple majority in both the House and Senate is what is required for appointing a new VP.)

I think those behind the scene would prefer a different order of transition. Biden was designed to be a "place holder" Prez.
Place holder for whom? Hillary is my safe bet, but time will tell. But it is necessary for Biden to hang in there until
Fake VP Harris is first replaced. How do they remove her? What have they got on her? With Harris gone Hillary could then
move into the VP role with Biden still playing at President.

Biden/Harris becomes
which after Biden wets himself

Posted by: librul | Mar 9 2021 17:35 utc | 64

@librul | Mar 9 2021 17:35 utc | 64

With the removal of Biden Fake VP Harris would move up to Fake Prez thus leaving
a vacancy for Hillary there at VP.
Exactly, that was my prediction last year and it looks like it might become reality.

I also like your "place holder" theory and it seems quite plausible that Harris was supposed to go first via some scandal and then Hillary finally becoming Madam President after Biden lost it. They really are that crazy.

Posted by: Norwegian | Mar 9 2021 18:20 utc | 65

Stonebird @53--

Thanks for your reply! Escobar related Pipelinestan developments within Iran and between it and Pakistan that will bring the two nations much closer. Imran Khan has completely removed Pakistan from its role in antagonizing Iran to please the Outlaw Empire. Within this very long and educational essay about Iran is an equally important map that conveys some basic historical facts relative to the region being discussed--they were once controlled by Persia/Iran--well before the arrival of the British, Persia exerted a lot of influence over the region that few in the West are willing to acknowledge and want everyone to forget. But as the essay relates, the events depicted on the map remain current topics of discussion within Iran, and likely elsewhere. It may seem to early to say this, but IMO the Arc of Resistance now extends to Pakistan as the link to the Sauds is left to wither and die.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 9 2021 19:06 utc | 66

"Afghani" is Persian word meaning "from/for Afghanistan". It can mean a currency or a citizen. That's technically not incorrect.

Posted by: A | Mar 9 2021 21:33 utc | 67

I've read much about Afghanistan since the late 1990s, but this report's the most depressing of so many previously depressing articles, IMO. From this report, we can see why China and other nations don't want the Outlaw US Empire having anything to do with their development. Iraq also serves as a similar example. Then there's the degeneration of the USA itself. The self-proclaimed Wealthiest Nation of All Time is also the biggest lie ever told. It's beyond disgusting; it's putrid--like the children described in the article: Wasting.

"The war in Afghanistan has been a disaster from Day One. In 2005 the Senlis Council noted that 'After five years of intensive international involvement in Afghanistan, the country remains ravaged by severe poverty and the spreading starvation of the rural and urban poor. Despite promises from the U.S.-led international community guaranteeing to provide the resources and assistance necessary for its reconstruction and development needs, Afghanistan’s people are starving to death… More than 70% of the population is chronically malnourished, while less than a quarter of the population has access to safe drinking water.'

"And now, fifteen years later, the UN Children’s Fund informs us that 'Afghanistan has one of the world’s highest rates of stunting in children under the age of five: 41 per cent. Stunting is a sign of chronic undernutrition during the most critical periods of growth… The rate of wasting in Afghanistan is also extremely high. Wasting, as its name suggests, is literally wasting away to skin and bones. The crushing result of acute malnutrition, it poses an immediate threat to a child’s survival.'

"As Afghan children starve and waste away, the Special Inspector General reports that his work 'reveals a pattern of U.S. agencies pouring too much money, too quickly, into a country too small to absorb it.'"

Oh, the money got absorbed, but by those it was never meant for. It's a microcosm of Outlaw Empire policy, which is the opposite of Midas--it corrupts everything it touches. Afghanistan would be far better off without any Western boots tromping around, and calling its woes the Plague of the English Speakers would be very apt.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 10 2021 0:45 utc | 68

Karlof1 13

Thanks for that, I always like reading Crooke's big picture views.

I see the use of cause celebre threads through US policy from the 60's; feminism split the '68 movement, human rights gave us R2P and now 'climate' is a stick to beat China for its industrial success off the back of capital chasing cheap production.

Posted by: DeQuincey | Mar 10 2021 1:49 utc | 69

Karlof1 13

From Crooke:

By implication, Biden’s executive orders make the release of CO2 in any corner of the world into a U.S. national security issue.

I guess that means breathing...

Posted by: DeQuincey | Mar 10 2021 1:53 utc | 70

Mr. King Lear

There is a Twitter site

on Khor-asan, Land of the Sun.

The author is a sad man from the Land of Lamentations, Afghanistan. And, he is looking for a country. He even mentions his dream of another Persianate country called Khorasan.

Unfortunately, I do not think it possible, and I also agree with you that current format of Afghanistan is unworkable.

The Persianate Iran, unfortunately, does not have ruthless cruel but efficient nation-builders like the late Shah Ismaeil Safavi or the late Agha Mohammad Khan Squad. At any rate, the Iranian people would not want such country-bumpkins in Iran.

It is sad, since only Iran and Iranians can lead Afghanistan and deliver a better future to her inhabitants. Pashtuns are not fit to rule at all.

Posted by: Fyi | Mar 10 2021 2:52 utc | 71

Mr. Karlof1

Some of the money is visible in the suburbs of Washington D.C. in the form of multimillion dollar houses owned by Afghans.

Afghanistan has been sustained, in part or in whole, for almost all of its existence by Great Britain, USSR, and US.

Posted by: Fyi | Mar 10 2021 2:59 utc | 72

@ Posted by: DeQuincey | Mar 10 2021 1:49 utc | 70

It was born by necessity.

The factor of legitimacy of the USA hegemony post-WWII in relation to the old empires (British, French, Italian, Belgian, Dutch, Iberian, German) was its promotion of the end of colonialism (Open Door).

But this had a collateral effect: it gave the colonial peoples the perspective of independence and self-determination (nationalism). This was a problem for the newly born American Empire, because it only wanted the colonial privileges of the old empires to be transferred to itself, not the true independence of the colonies. Besides, there was an alternative on the other side of the world, in the form of socialism, which exerted extra pressure on the capitalists in the dispute for the soul of the Third World.

As a result, the USA came out with the concept of being an idea or a set of values, not an empire. It then sells itself as the guardian and propagator of freedom and democracy, so that it can colonize other nation-states without colonizing them (neocolonialism). That was the most stable solution they came out with.

Posted by: vk | Mar 10 2021 4:40 utc | 73

King Donkey Rear .Org is back shilling narrative for the imperial establishment, as usual. "Just do what the empire wants and it will all work out great! Just 'partition' Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Russia, China, every country that stands against empire and the world will become an 'Identity Politics' paradise remade in America's image!"

These shills for empire honestly believe that is the end game for history and they imagine it is a wonderful thing: a "United States of the World". It just shows how delusional and sick they are. Hopefully these last few years in the US have shown many people just how much of a dysfunctional, dystopian nightmare that would be.

That, of course, is over and above the fact that these clowns' imagined global capitalist utopia is an economic impossibility in any case.

Posted by: William Gruff | Mar 10 2021 10:20 utc | 74

The 'initiative' was never meant to fly.

It was meant to fail and drag out the US occupation of Afghanistan for as long as needed to keep an eye on China.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Mar 10 2021 14:41 utc | 75

Posted by: King Lear | Mar 9 2021 22:24 utc | 68

Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, and Turkmen populated north becoming a Independent Khorasan (ruled by the Northern Alliance). In addition to this all U$ troops would leave the country.

This would in fact entrench the US troops within Afghanistan on even more favourable terms than they have now.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Mar 10 2021 15:08 utc | 76

Satirical beyond the Pale

British baroness suggests 6 pm curfew for men to make ‘women a lot safer’

Posted by: Bernard F. | Mar 11 2021 23:44 utc | 77

Et Tu @57 "i don't think 40 year old Mi24 and Mi8 are as advanced in countering Manpads as the latest US equipment."

The Russians have pretty advanced electronic counter measures that can easily be added to any of those and other choppers. In a demonstration video they fire an AA missile from a portable launcher at a chopper hovering 1m above the ground at about 200m/600f distance. At about 10m distance from the target the missile is interfered with and banks hard to the left totally missing the target. They also showed a system that projected an invisible "force" field that set off incoming grad rockets in the air. Guess it works on most explosive munitions.

Posted by: GoverntheMente | Mar 14 2021 1:50 utc | 78

That pork chop is already cooked too long. It's hard, dry and tough. Cooking it longer will make it worse. Adding beans can't hide that somebody really screwed that chop up.

Posted by: Rabbit | Mar 16 2021 0:46 utc | 79

Why not bring in UN peacekeepers to secure the urban areas and or partition Afghanistan. Though that sounds like a very bad deal for any ethnic minorities left alone with the Pathans. Maybe they could get UN troops to secure the areas with the Hazara and others. It's not unfeasible, look at East Timor or UNIFIL. There are plenty of countries who will sign up some forces for these missions for decades such as the Irish soldiers in Lebanon or Australians in East Timor.

Posted by: Altai | Mar 16 2021 12:16 utc | 80

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