Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 04, 2021

On The U.S. Defeat In Afghanistan

Forty two years ago the U.S. launched its war on Afghanistan:

SPIES&VESPERS @SpiesVespers - 22:24 UTC · Jul 3, 2021

#OTD July 3 1979: President Jimmy Carter signs a "presidential finding" authorizing the CIA to spend just over $500,000 on non-lethal aid to support the Afghan mujahideen against growing Soviet influence in the region. #coldwarhist

The 'growing Soviet influence' was the progressive PDPA government that ruled Afghanistan but did not do as Washington asked it to do. It was the U.S. 'aid' to rebels which forced the USSR to intervene. Everything that followed goes back to Carter's signature.

On February 15 1989 the process of withdrawing Soviet military forces from Afghanistan was officially declared complete.

Now, forty two years after Carter's signature, a defeated U.S. flees from Afghanistan.


Taliban take districts in NE Afghanistan from fleeing troops - AP

The Taliban's march through northern Afghanistan gained momentum overnight with the capture of several districts from fleeing Afghan forces, several hundred of whom fled across the border into Tajikistan, officials said Sunday.
Since mid-April, when U.S. President Joe Biden announced the end to Afghanistan's “forever war,” the Taliban have made strides throughout the country. But their most significant gains have been in the northern half of the country, a traditional stronghold of the U.S.-allied warlords who helped defeat them in 2001.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the fall of the districts and said most were without a fight. The Taliban in previous surrenders have shown video of Afghan soldiers taking transportation money and returning to their homes.

'What was the point?' Afghans rue decades of war as U.S. quits Bagram - Reuters

Malek Mir, a mechanic in Bagram who saw the Soviet Army and then the Americans come and go, said he was left with a deep sense of sadness at the futility of a foreign presence.

"They came with bombing the Taliban and got rid of their regime - but now they have left when the Taliban are so empowered that they will take over any time soon," he said.

"What was the point of all the destruction, killing and misery they brought us? I wish they had never come."
"The Americans leave a legacy of failure, they've failed in containing the Taliban or corruption," said Sayed Naqibullah, a shop owner in Bagram. "A small percentage of Afghans got so rich, while the vast majority still live with extreme poverty.

"In a way, we're happy they've gone ... We're Afghans and we'll find our way."


Disaster At Hand: Documenting Afghan Military Equipment Losses Since June 2021 - Oryx

While the withdrawal of U.S. troops and their NATO allies has been praised by some and heavily criticised by others, there is one thing seemingly everyone can agree on: the 20-year U.S.-led mission to defeat the Taliban has been an utter failure.
Similar to its withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the U.S. leaves behind a broken military apparatus that despite the investment of tens of billions of dollars is ill-prepared to face the tasks assigned to it.
The situation Afghanistan faces after the U.S. withdrawal is scarcely an isolated incident in modern U.S. history however. After effectively abandoning its ally South Vietnam in the 1970s, leaving behind a paralysed Iraq in 2011 and now withdrawing from Afghanistan, homecoming celebrations will be tainted by the grim prospects of those suffering the consequences of the War in Afghanistan for decades to come. The zealousness with which these military interventions are begun is only matched by the degree of subsequent indifference to the fate of the country when the realities of conflict become too uncomfortable, setting the stage for an endless repeating tragedy of interventionist disasters. Meanwhile, the local population is for generations to come unwillingly indebted to the whims of U.S. politics, a debt ironically incurred by the equally unwilling investment of trillions in American taxpayer dollars in the industry of war.

Breaking Contact Without Leaving Chaos: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan - Lester W. Grau (2007)

There is a literature and a common perception that the Soviets were defeated and driven from Afghanistan. This is not true. When the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, they did so in a coordinated, deliberate, professional manner, leaving behind a functioning government, an improved military and an advisory and economic effort insuring the continued viability of the government. The withdrawal was based on a coordinated diplomatic, economic and military plan permitting Soviet forces to withdraw in good order and the Afghan government to survive. The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) managed to hold on despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Only then, with the loss of Soviet support and the increased efforts by the Mujahideen (holy warriors) and Pakistan, did the DRA slide toward defeat in April 1992. The Soviet effort to withdraw in good order was well executed and can serve as a model for other disengagements from similar nations.

Despite spending double the time and many more resources than the Soviets, the U.S. and NATO completely failed the task they had set out for themselves to do. They ignored the lessons that could have been learned from the successful Soviet operation in Afghanistan.  They were, unlike the Soviets, thoroughly defeated.

Posted by b on July 4, 2021 at 13:19 UTC | Permalink


With love from the USA "to the gallant people of Afghanistan".

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 4 2021 13:54 utc | 1

Oops, forgot to include the spoiler:

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 4 2021 13:56 utc | 2

The USAmericans were never there to defeat the Taliban or fight for the 'freedoms' of the people of Afghanistan. They were there to exert pressure on the underbellies of Russia and China and to grow opium poppies to fund the CIA. I hope for peace for the people of Afghanistan. I trust them to sort out their own problems.

Posted by: Sarcophilus | Jul 4 2021 13:57 utc | 3

And now to do to Taiwan what we did to Afghanistan.

Onward Christian soldier!

Posted by: oglalla | Jul 4 2021 13:58 utc | 4

@oglalla | Jul 4 2021 13:58 utc | 4

Waiting eagerly for "Rambo in Taiwan" to hit the box office..

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 4 2021 14:06 utc | 5

The USA's "Legacy of Failure" is part of a "legacy of evil" stretching back from First Nations Genocide and Slavery to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, flowing through the Koreas, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Asia, the Americas, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia etc. etc. etc.

The 'legacy' of the United States is poisoning its roots of 'independence' to flower into a monster of biblical proportions enslaved to the Money Power.

At this point anyone who defends Empire is guilty of the love of evil.

Posted by: gottlieb | Jul 4 2021 14:14 utc | 6


China is not going to fuck around with that type of nonsense.

There is a specific group within the 3 letter agency blob who handle regime change and insurgency ops inside of target nations. Larry Wilkerson has spoken about these ghouls many times. My guess is that as soon as a China gets a whiff of such a kinetic operation, the members of that group will wake up one morning to find their skins folded up neatly on their beds next to them.

The world is done playing with these clowns.

Posted by: Sam A | Jul 4 2021 14:18 utc | 7

They haven't gone yet. August/September is the latest completion date for the completion of the pull-down, but even then they will leave at least 650 US servicemen in the Kabul Embassy. (+ 500 Turcs, + undeclared mercenaries ie, "special forces")

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the embassy office would be supported by another Afghanistan office that will be established in Qatar. Under the plan, the authority to bomb Afghanistan will be transferred from the top US commander in the country, Gen. Scott Miller, to Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command. Airstrikes in Afghanistan will be carried out by warplanes based outside of the country, mostly in the Gulf region, what the Pentagon has dubbed "over the horizon capability."

They will possibly try to keep the "cherries on the cake" as they have done in Syria, and bomb them from outside Afghanistan. Cheaper and even more useless. Luckily Pakistan has refused this continuation of war by drone, although the drones will have to overfly part of it.

Posted by: Stonebird | Jul 4 2021 14:23 utc | 8

It is indeed interesting that this all goes back to St. Jimmy, and right after Vietnam, too. It was precisely because it became clear in the early 80s here that they intended to double-down on the Jingo militarism that I decided to wait for the crash we are now in the middle of. That road leads to only one place.

Thank you for writing it up.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jul 4 2021 14:31 utc | 9

good summary, b.
the lesson here perhaps is that the sooner the United States' political, military and economic power is thoroughly defeated in the entire world, the better off this world, our planet will be.

regardless of republican or democratic party control of the executive and/or the legislative branches, it has been the same old, sad Imperial story throughout nearly the entire third world/developing Global South: political, economic and military intervention by the US in their internal affairs; and many times like in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan with an occupation force of thousands/hundreds of thousands of troops and contractors (mercenaries), all of which has achieved exactly nothing even in grand 'geopolitical-strategic' terms, and all of which has led to vast destruction and death throughout the attacked and/or occupied nations.

Not to mention impoverishing the US treasury and the American people, whose standard of living and life expectancy is now falling and will continue so until Imperial America is defeated completely, and until all social resources are committed to the betterment of the entire population.
How Many Millions of People Have Been Killed in America’s Post-9/11 Wars? – Part One: Iraq
How Many People Has the U.S. Killed in its Post-9/11 Wars? Part 2: Afghanistan and Pakistan

of course one could write nearly endlessly on this sad and terrible topic, so....

Posted by: michaelj72 | Jul 4 2021 14:35 utc | 10

Some decent information can be found in these articles...
Part 1
part 2
Part 3

And some pictures of the conflict can be found here...
The Soviet War in Afghanistan, 1979 - 1989

The Taliban was running the place when we got there and they will be running the place when we leave. Spare no expense to preserve the existing order! I am sure the Western Power brokers will pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

Posted by: circumspect | Jul 4 2021 15:16 utc | 11

Will the Taliban join the Axis of Resistance? Will Iran give the Taliban manpads, drones, and surface-to-air guided missles to shoot down American fighter jets? Iran could throw a monkey wrench into the USA plans to keep attacking Afghanistan from outside the country. Iran could also help the Taliban take Baghram air base and drive out the US troops at the embassy and the US mercenaries, if they need any help in that department. Will Russia or Pakistan give the Taliban any assistance? The Afghanistan scene could become more interesting in coming months.

Posted by: Chas | Jul 4 2021 15:33 utc | 12

Airstrikes in Afghanistan will be carried out by warplanes based outside of the country, mostly in the Gulf region, what the Pentagon has dubbed "over the horizon capability."

They are going to have a hard time evacuating the embassy Vietnam style when the Taliban close in with "over the horizon" air cover. At some point they are going to have to keep rotating 24 hour coverage as the Taliban closes in unless of course they finally cut the deal they have wanted for decades with the Taliban. Time will tell.

Posted by: circumspect | Jul 4 2021 16:01 utc | 13

Re-writing the history of the Soviet Afghan War into a Soviet victory is just laughable.

In fact what`s really astonishing about the Soviet and the American Afghan War`s are their startling similarities. Both Moscow and Washington tried to impose their respective development models on Afghanistan. Both of them were/are deeply convinced by their own model and counted on the majority of the Afghan people to be on their side. They just couldn`t comprehend that somebody wouldn`t want to live in "freedom and democracy"/"progressive" socialism. Both of them had no answer of what to do when the majority of the Afghan people did rejected the foreign ideology.

Neither the Mudjaheddin nor the Taliban did ever win a major military engagement. Neither the Soviets nor the Americans were defeated in a strictly military sense and had to "flee" the country. But without popular support they also couldn`t achieve anything. So eventually both of them made the political decision to retreat their forces (both of them in good order) and had to watch their repective puppet regimes to fall.

Posted by: m | Jul 4 2021 16:08 utc | 14

Bemildred @9 Yes, St. Jimmy indeed (in fact I wouldn't be surprised at all if there was some beatification effort in the works for when he finally checks out).
I recall being excoriated some years back for likening Carter's habitat for humanity efforts to a crusader trying to rehabilitate himself by swapping his gore-encrusted armor for a cassock and cord.
MLK jr. and Jeremiah Wright were correct; may the people of Afghanistan forgive the people of the US.

Posted by: robjira | Jul 4 2021 16:11 utc | 15

Do not make light of the soviets. They murdered 2 million Afghans losing 15 000 of their soldiers. While they emptied their own treasury. The United States fared no better. Both delivered brutality to people of Afganistan.

Posted by: charles shamey | Jul 4 2021 16:53 utc | 16

I am with m/14 on this.
The Soviets may have been a bit more efficent in their Imperialistic venture, but Imperialistic it was nonetheless.
Both sides tried to force an islamic culture, virtually totally opposite to their own, to accept their ideology.
Both US and Soviets did this with missionary fevor, and of belief in the supremacy of their own way.

One does not need to hype up enemies of the US as a supposed better example to what the US does.
One of those times where this black and white worldview shines through here sadly.

Posted by: DontBelieveEitherPr. | Jul 4 2021 17:11 utc | 17

I think it's pretty gross that you would say, "The 'growing Soviet influence' was the progressive PDPA government that ruled Afghanistan but did not do as Washington asked it to do."

The PDPA was known as a mass abuser and jailer of the people that inhibited free speech and right of assembly. When the USSR began their occupation to support the PDPA, they enacted mass attacks, bombings and airstrikes on the provinces. This is ridiculously ahistoric whitewashing of a criminal regime

Posted by: Ali | Jul 4 2021 17:36 utc | 18

People don't like it when you say anything counter to a cherished misbelief that they depend upon as a virtue crutch: "Well, so we murdered and tortured and raped some folks. At least we're not as bad as the Soviets/Chicoms/Sandinistas/Cubans/Bolivarian revolutionaries!"

Sorry folks, but the USA/Atlanticist Empire is the most monstrous and brutal of criminal regimes in human history.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jul 4 2021 18:34 utc | 19

Posted by: m | Jul 4 2021 16:08 utc | 14

Actually it was NATO and the euro-puppets that were defeated too, not simply "americans", as you try to manipulate as a typical euro-puppet. Which makes the combined western defeat even bigger as other countries did not participate in the Soviet war.

Btw the world back then was bipolar, with a superpower directly supporting and giving advanced weapons to the mujahedeen, such as tools to bring down aircraft. Meanwhile the combined West entered Afghanistan at peak western supremacy, with no one providing advanced weapons to the Taliban, they were given UN support and russian logistical support, and still could not make it, with the government collapsing even before all westerners are gone from the country.

Posted by: Passer by | Jul 4 2021 18:51 utc | 20

Btw, b, it would be good to change the title of the article from US defeat in Afghanistan into NATO defeat in Afghanistan so that certain euro-puppies do not try to hide their misdeeds around the world behind the US.

Posted by: Passer by | Jul 4 2021 19:00 utc | 21

m @14 and DontBelieveEitherPr @16

The Soviets did not invade Afghanistan to impose "progressive" socialism (or popular democracy, as they would call it.) They were invited by the internationally recognized Afghan government in Kabul, much like the Russian forces were invited to Syria.

What the Afghans wanted in the 1980 was modernity: electricity, telecommunications, roads and transport, running water, infrastructure, medical care, education, literacy. It was evident that Western models could provide none of this, the only answer was Soviet-style socialism. Modernity would require a social revolution and the abolishment of the feudal order. The last 35 years have shown that the Soviet model was right, China has abolished poverty, while India and Pakistan have failed.

My sister visited Afganistan in 2000 and spoke with the Taliban leadership. From what I understood, the Taliban aims were not much different.

The Mujaheddin warlords evidently wanted feudalism, with themselves as the feudal lords. Remember that the Taliban overthrew these US-supported warlords.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jul 4 2021 19:05 utc | 22

thanks b and @22 petri krohn...

ditto @ 19 william gruffs words as well..

Posted by: james | Jul 4 2021 19:10 utc | 23

NATO and the Outlaw US Empire have left far more than just a few troops to guard embassies. They have emplaced something close to a division sized group of their Terrorist Foreign Legion in country. What I see as the main future possibility is a tacit alliance between SCO nations (Afghanistan's an observer) and the Taliban to defeat that Foreign Legion and thus secure the country so it can begin the process of development. IMO, there's a very good chance Afghans will follow a version of China's development path, but it will take several years for that to become clear. Just organizing the peace and ousting the poppy-based economy and its corruption will demand great effort and the proper aid. Nursultan Nazarbayev recently visited Putin in Moscow for a long delayed talk about which little is known. However, I'll bet much time was devoted to Afghanistan, neighboring 'stans, and BRI/EAEU progress.

But first things first, and that will be the formation of a genuine national coalition government under the Taliban's auspices along with the campaign to eliminate NATO's Terrorist Foreign Legion.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 4 2021 21:11 utc | 24

Posted by: m | Jul 4 2021 16:08 utc | 14

Neither the Soviets nor the Americans were defeated in a strictly military sense and had to "flee" the country.

Sorry, you're wrong.

Victory in a strictly military sense (consult the theory) means achieving a defined military goal.

The Soviets failed in achieving their military goal, gave up and fled.

Therefore they were defeated in a strictly military sense.

US/NATO failed in achieving their military goal, gave up and are at present fleeing to where they can throw stones at the Taliban from a more hospitable location.

Therefore, simple logic would dictate, they have been "defeated in a strictly military sense".

In both cases "withdrawal" comes after achieving no military goals whatsoever. That's called "running off with ones tail between ones legs".

The logic is quite simple, don't overthink it.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Jul 4 2021 23:43 utc | 25

Jimmy Carter is most unfairly denied credit for his many war crimes. Afghanistan was just one of them. The poor man needs the recognition of the blood he shed to stand tall among his fellow war criminals!

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Jul 4 2021 23:44 utc | 26

According to Wikipedia the Soviets killed 2 million civilians in Afghanistan. The source is a chapter in a book The Widening Circle of Genocide from 1994: Genocide in Afghanistan 1978—1992 by Rosanne Klass. I read through the 30 pages.

The strongest evidence for genocide is the 5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. But why did these people flee? Was it because of Soviet bombing and chemical weapons, as we are being told?

I find it more likely that the refugee influx was a US policy. Villagers were ordered by the Mujaheddin to flee to Pakistan. A similar event happened during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The whole of the Kosovar Albanian population was transferred to Albania.

The opposing parties in the war where the government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan with their Soviet supporters and the CIA with their Afghan proxies. Which party would have the wellbeing of the Afghan people in mind?

To study the history of the war, the best sources to start with may be the ones Klass labels as "unreliable" and "Soviet disinformation". Other claims of genocide require a critical review.

(The Google books preview only shows one page. You need to press the enlarge button for all pages to become visible.)

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jul 5 2021 2:22 utc | 27

Question remains....when will the US get out of NE Syria? Why are they there?

Posted by: Jose Garcia | Jul 5 2021 4:40 utc | 28

@ 27 petri krohn.. good overview.. thank you..

@ 28 jose garcia.. i think the answer is fairly obvious.. mess up syria, and create a wall to protect israel from the flow of traffic from iran into syria - lebannon... i don't see it working out long term, but usa as servants for israel are doing the best they can..

Posted by: james | Jul 5 2021 4:45 utc | 29

As to whom was defeated, that is up for debate b.

Reading the UNODC and SIGAR reports of the past 20 years, it is clear that some interests have been served well and generously.

Nothing we did not already know within 2 years of this latest intervention.

Posted by: guidoamm | Jul 5 2021 5:40 utc | 30

Petri Krohn 27

Syria the same. Biggest exodus of refugees was when the jihadi's took over northern Syria, around the time they moved into Aleppo.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jul 5 2021 6:40 utc | 31

No mention whatsoever of Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski? It was Z's lunatic attempt to "destroy the Soviet Union via a Muslim uprising" philosophy that led to Carter arming the Taliban.

And now his daughter continues on the noble propaganda work.

Posted by: Sam | Jul 5 2021 6:56 utc | 32

Was not Taliban. Taliban was not formed until 2014.
Brzezinski Family origin is Galicia.
Galicians are craziest of all.

Posted by: Volkodav | Jul 5 2021 7:30 utc | 33

Taliban formed 1994
I mistaked, lack of sleep

Posted by: Volkodav | Jul 5 2021 7:41 utc | 34

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Jul 4 2021 23:43 utc | 25

...US/NATO failed in achieving their military goal,
How do you know what the goals were?

For lack of inside knowledge, we should be basing that premise on historical examples and strategies which makes sense upon close scrutiny.

For one, no matter how appealing the notion of Western failure may be, the mere idea that it set about to stabilize the country and improve the living standard is quite silly. How many precedents of NATO allies expending blood and treasure to improve the lives of people in distant countries can you cite? A quick look at at how the US treats its own citizenry should dispel that myth.

Accepting a nonsensical premise which reinforces the dominant narrative allows the architects to evade responsibility for their actions.

Posted by: robin | Jul 5 2021 8:33 utc | 35

I am truly surprised that the Americans didn't "accidentally" bomb yet another Afghan wedding party or pine nut farmers as a "goodbye gift" to the Afghani people.

After all, nothing says "We were only trying to give you Democracy and Freedom" more than mass murdering civilians with a Predator drone strike.

Posted by: ak74 | Jul 5 2021 8:40 utc | 36

On the Soviet intervention. My understanding is that a Communist takeover had occurred in Afghanistan which was NOT supported or wanted by the Soviets. The Afghan Communists were divided into two factions, let's call them moderates and extremists. The extremists set about trying to impose a progressive secular culture throughout Afghanistan including in the traditional and traditionally autonomous tribal areas. That's what got the 'warlords' stirred up. The Soviets intervened at the request of the 'moderates' in the first place to try to keep the 'extremists' in check. But Brzezinski saw the opportunity this created for mischief making. And the rest is history ...

Posted by: Peter Brooke | Jul 5 2021 8:41 utc | 37

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jul 5 2021 2:22 utc | 27

What did the US get out of trying to screw Syria some more?

(Slight paraphrase ... )

1.) The US? Nothing. We lost our investment.

2.) James is right, it was also about protecting Bibi and his clowns, that is for a few rich zionists.

3.) And of course anything we can do to annoy Russia and show we are not impotent, our "manhood" is still intact.

4.) The Congress here really is incredibly corrupt.

5.) And similarly to appease the religious right whackos.

6.) The Pentagon and it's minions are always up for a bit of looting, preferably foreigners.

None of this we have been doing the last 40 years (or maybe 70?) was ever intended to benefit the US citizenry, that ought to be obvious?

I don't see that the Eurocrats are any better, they just lack the means. You can see they envy us. Cut from the same cloth.

Posted by: Bemildred | Jul 5 2021 10:14 utc | 38

Soviet days: different things on different levels. Those who were there, fought very bravely, and tried, as they could, to help to build a nation. Those who were not there, did not seek to get there, to a war abroad during overall rot of stagnation. It started on socialist-like themes without Soviets, but Soviets were suspicious of US-educated and voluntaristic Amin, feared of him getting away from Soviet influence into US, or Chinese, and replaced him by force by a puppet gov of Karmal, who was loyal but did not become a true national leader. Then Gorbachev's "Catastroika" came to town, with a stronger leader Najibullah in, but Soviets on the way out, under UN sponsored treaty and all that new wishful thinking stuff. Soviets had a potential to make it, despite all the stuff on the top, but withdrawal of 1989 was just 2 years prior to collapse of the USSR, and hard to expect any miracles. Najibullah survived till 1992 but when newly emerged Russia, attempting (in vain) to re-imagine itself under Western values, cut fuel and ammo supplies to that 'radical', he predictably (and heroically) fell down.

Civilian casualties: no smart bombs, so, at times, carpet bombings. Doubt there are any reliable numbers, as who would do that counting.

Posted by: Don Karlos | Jul 5 2021 11:05 utc | 39

Stonebird | Jul 4 2021 14:23 utc | 8

I see in today's Yahoo selection of news items that the British government plans to keep a presence (Military, special services type) in Afghanistan after the US has left! I don't know where they find 'em, but really they should not be allowed out.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Jul 5 2021 12:55 utc | 40

Chas | Jul 4 2021 15:33 utc | 12

Iran could also help the Taliban take Baghram air base

IIRC Baghram Airbase fell the other day.

Posted by: foolisholdman | Jul 5 2021 13:02 utc | 41

@foolisholdman | Jul 5 2021 12:55 utc | 40

I don't know where they find 'em, but really they should not be allowed out.

FYI, Boris Johnson is charge of the asylum.

Posted by: Lurk | Jul 5 2021 13:24 utc | 42

@Sam A #7
"China is not going to fuck around with that type of nonsense. "

In the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China speech, they made clear that Taiwan independence would not be tolerated.

"We must take resolute action to utterly defeat any attempt toward "Taiwan independence," and work together to create a bright future for national rejuvenation. No one should underestimate the resolve, the will, and the ability of the Chinese people to defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

This means that if America wanted to be evil they could try to convince Taiwan to declare independence. I can easily see that leading to WWIII. If Taiwan did declare independence, China wouldn't back down, while the West will see it as an aggressive attack on a nation's freedom.

Posted by: Mighty Druken | Jul 5 2021 13:56 utc | 43

Posted by: robin | Jul 5 2021 8:33 utc | 35

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Jul 4 2021 23:43 utc | 25

...US/NATO failed in achieving their military goal,

How do you know what the goals were?

Basic reasoning:

Step 1:

Map out as many of the possible reasons an empire could throw 20 years, 2T+ dollars, thousands of human beings, all political goodwill and capital it might have among the global population, scaring it's most dangerous opponents into arming themselves and immunising the local population into being eternally hostile to American/NATO involvement in future.

Step 2:

Divide these reasons into 2 categories:

Category A) Stupid ones that lead to nothing but a) material loss b) political loss c) strategic disadvantage

Category B) "Smarter" ones that lead to a) material gain b) political gain c) strategic advantage

NOTE: In executing Step 1, one has at least 2000 years of human history to refer to for examples, case studies of what these goals and reasons may be, so this is not rocket science.

Step 3:

Ask yourself how much of Category A, the US/NATO has achieved (rely on actual documented evidence for this) and weigh it up against what of Category B the US/NATO has achieved

If you find Category B somewhat light and Category A somewhat heavy, it's far to conclude that whatever the goals US/NATO had in mind, whether known to you or not, nothing of material value to that Empire was achieved and much of no value was obtained.

So, even if you don't know what their goals were, if it's obvious that they achieved nothing that has ever in history been deemed of military value then it should be quite clear they won nothing at all.

Like I said to "m" ... don't overthink it, it really is just that simple.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Jul 5 2021 15:46 utc | 44

Posted by: Arch Bungle | Jul 5 2021 15:46 utc | 44

I am sorry to say, but methodology adopted by Arch, while, hm, methodical -- there are steps etc., lacks connection to reality.

Rivers, mountains or squirrels do not have GOALS in the sense of "what we want to have five years from now" etc. Humans do. Humans have feelings, and habitually bend the information they receive according to those feelings. This aspect is only implicit in the usual records like government memoranda or articles published by Hoover Institute. To interpret some sources, we must have more direct clues about the feelings, and I cannot see anything better than artistic expression -- sociologists and psychologists can give you reams of statitics, but again, you have to have some clues about the interpretation.

I cannot find a better source on the feelings in question than Steve Martins's 5 Christmas Wishes.. Very instructive 2 min 44 seconds. In my opinion, very funny not because it is absurd, but because it encapsulates the dreams of American, both ordinary and elite.

Steve lists 5 wishes, with some hesitation.

Some excerpts

You know, if I had three wishes that I could make this holiday season, first, of course, would be for all the children to get together and sing [of harmony and peace].. the second would be for the $30 million every month to me.. and the third would be for all encompassing power over every living being thing in the entire universe.

[after some painful hesitations and re-ordering of priorities]

I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay.. revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in Hell! That would be the fourth wish! And of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of peace and harmony.


Most of that applies to the War in Afghanistan:

crap about the children -- check
power over every living being (and some minerals too!) -- check
revenge on enemies -- check
30 millions every month -- one has to scale it, but, check

There was also a wish for a month-long orgasm every year, that may explain war-porn, torture-porn etc.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 5 2021 16:14 utc | 45

It was a huge success for the US military, MIC and the Pentagon in Afghanistan. They made trillions on the dope, rare earth minerals and all the ordinance that was used up. The USG is laughin their ass of at the stupid America populace. And they will still keep Monsanto in Afghanistan - in order to make more dope.

Posted by: GMC | Jul 5 2021 16:21 utc | 46

Winston Churchill wrote about the Talibs, as he called them, in 1898.

Posted by: Morongobill | Jul 5 2021 16:45 utc | 47

foolisholdman | Jul 5 2021 12:55 utc | 40

To solve the problem they should send many of our "leaders", those who know it all, Macron, Merkel, Boris and Keith Starmer, to Afghanistan. As a "special force" they would be tops, and instantly convert the Taliban by force of character or finger waving - or something. The tribesmen could wave a certain finger back at them in sign of recognition.

** They may have to change clothes and grow beards to fit in. This might not be difficult for some, but could pose serious problems for Macron, beards are not his "thing", and there could be a certain lack of sweaty, shiny footballers skins to touch. Hairy tribesmen do not have the same "feeling".


One thing that b has not mentioned, is that Russia is very worried. It sees Afghanistan as a "flea-pit" (my phrase) for ISIS. The US has already sent many in by helicopter from Syria. The "refugees" from the fighting in the North of Afghanistan will try to seek safety in the Caucus and Tajikstan. )Includes the 1'000 (several hundreds) Afghan Army who recently excaped from the fighting.

As ISIS and terrorists have used refugee routes as a means of infiltrating other countries (such as the EU), this is going to be a major source of instability in the future.

Although Russia is unlikely to "police" the frontier between Afghanistan and Tajikstan, it may limit itself to sending "specialists"?

Posted by: Stonebird | Jul 5 2021 18:54 utc | 48

Posted by: Stonebird | Jul 5 2021 18:54 utc | 48

Russians renamed 101 Motorized Rifle Division as 101-st Military Base, and this military unit is permanently in Tajikistan, according to Wiki, 6-7 thousand strong. Counting Tajik forces, units from Russia seem to be 25% of the total military force in the country.

Given that, I would expect that Russian are helping with border control, not just with air defense and armchair forces.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jul 5 2021 19:32 utc | 49

TASS reports on the situation:

"Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the situation on the Tajik-Afghan border with his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon....

"In the phone call, Putin confirmed Moscow’s readiness to 'provide Tajikistan with the necessary support - both on a bilateral basis and within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).'

"Additionally, the two presidents reaffirmed their intentions to strengthen the relations of a strategic partnership and alliance between Russia and Tajikistan. Putin and Rahmon agreed to maintain contacts at various levels.

"On Monday, the press center of the Border Troops of Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security said that after fighting against supporters of the radical movement Taliban (banned in Russia), more than 1,000 Afghan troops retreated into Tajikistan. Over the past two weeks, several incidents have been reported involving Afghan soldiers being forced into Tajikistan."

IMO, it's likely Russia will remove the Taliban from its roster of terrorist groups so Afghan reality can be dealt with. IMO, there's quite a lot happening that isn't being reported. Taliban has stated it won't enter neighboring countries, but those nations ought to refrain from allowing attacks to be launched from their territory.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 5 2021 23:20 utc | 50

@ karlof1 | Jul 5 2021 23:20 utc | 50 with the latest exodus dynamics

Thanks so much for keeping us barflies up on the latest. I agree that there is much geo-politics going on now that us "lesser beings" may never know about.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jul 6 2021 2:11 utc | 51

It is indeed said that Taliban declared 'non-interference in the affairs of other countries and desire of no outside interference in their country's internal affairs' and that they will not allow 'to carry out any terrorist or criminal activities in other Islamic countries'. But as their ideology/beliefs are same as other groups that do, this may be tactical or temporary as they had more pressing internal issues so far. Moreover they hosted or coexisted with many groups that did operate externally, including AQ, IS, IMU (active in Central Asia republics), TIP (Uighurs). And their archaic form of governance and the laws does not seem to have mechanisms of preventing it, even if they desired to prevent it. They did try to engage in negotiations of turning over AQ's b-L (starting from after the embassies attacks) but that went nowhere and prevented nothing.

They are also a danger to Central Asian republics even without actual interference, as those are autocratic and corrupt, and vulnerable to internal opposition analogues (like IMU).

US withdrawal may radicalize those neighbors not radicalized already and create many problems, not just to Russia (as was happening before with AQ and IS).

Posted by: Don Karlos | Jul 6 2021 3:14 utc | 52


It doesn't feel like a defeat. Establishment media treats it as a pull-out and provide viewers/readers with EXPERT military assessments that say USA should stay. It FEELS like USA is making a choice... like they haven't been forced out.

In fact, we don't really know yet if it is a defeat. It could just be a reordering of forces. We may see a war between ISIS and Taliban? And what is Turkey up to ? Will they be sending troops (they seem to get along well with Jihadis)? Will USA now act as ISIS' air force?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jul 6 2021 3:35 utc | 53

I've been wondering what Erdogan is up to in Afghanistan, taking over when the US leaves to "maintain order" and stuff. It finally occurred to me that one thing he is accomplishing is getting those jihadis out of Idlib. Libya served that purpose too. Maybe he thinks to have an arrangement with the Taliban.

And he is also encouraging the US to leave, "don't worry we'll take over, you won't be embarrassed".

He was fooling around in Ukraine too.

Both Iran & Russia have not had much to say about it yet.


Posted by: Bemildred | Jul 6 2021 4:31 utc | 54

Piotr Berman | Jul 5 2021 19:32 utc | 49

The last thing I would accuse the Russians of is being "armchair" soldiers!

The President of Tajikistan has called up reservists.
"The President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon ordered the military to mobilize 20k reservists to strengthen its forces on the border with Afghanistan".

The other "Stans seem to be doing the same.

The Taliban are reported to be taking control over neighbouring frontier crosssings and posts. Thinking of future BRI routes already ?

Posted by: Stonebird | Jul 6 2021 8:59 utc | 55

If the Taliban is crushing it then I'm curious, what did the U.S. have in Afghanistan that was keeping them at bay?

I kept hearing it was 15,000 troops, was that the real number or was that under-counted because of contractors? I guess this was like doubling the true size Afghan army since they are basically police manning checkpoints who call in some army forces and then air strikes.

I am very curious about this.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Jul 6 2021 11:58 utc | 56

Christian J. Chuba @56: "...I'm curious, what did the U.S. have in Afghanistan that was keeping them [Taliban] at bay?"


And video. Lifetimes worth of narrative in which the USA has god-like powers and anyone who maligns Uncle Sam had better watch out or Rambo will come for them in their sleep. Those Afghanis collaborating with the occupiers feel invincible so long as they think Uncle Sam has their back.

This air of invulnerability is crucial to the empire. In fact there is a particular poster to these fora whose whole raison d'être is to constantly reinforce the notion that the empire is infallible; everything happens according to the American Deep State's plans. If everything that one does is entirely in the plans of the empire, then what is the point of trying to do anything? Narrative empowers the empire's lackeys and paralyzes the empire's opponents.

Posted by: William Gruff | Jul 6 2021 15:41 utc | 57

Christian J. Chuba @56--

Beyond what Gruff said @57 is the Taliban's desire not to bring any further harm to Afghans via Outlaw US Empire bombings since the vast majority killed by the Empire are innocents. I suggest if you want to know more that you read Ahmed Rashid's two books about them, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, which was his first, can be freely read at the link. His follow-on book, Taliban: The Power of Militant Islam in Afghanistan and Beyond, I also suggest, but IMO the first is better since it was published prior to Afghanistan's illegal invasion. Essentially, Taliban members are Afghan popular resistance fighters and mostly Pashtun, but not exclusively so. IMO, they've politically matured greatly over the past 20+ years and learned the need to be as inclusive as possible. IMO, they also no longer want to be impoverished and are thus open to BRI possibilities. Of course, we shall see what happens as time moves forward, but the Taliban correctly see all foreign forces, including the Outlaw US Empire's Terrorist Foreign Legion, as their primary enemies and will not abide their presence within Afghanistan.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jul 6 2021 16:18 utc | 58

What defeat? The USA goes away now because it wants to. This is no war. The enemy is Pashtun mafia posing as Muslims but the USA decided to not destroy them. Ask why. No on knows. Maybe ask the atheist friends of Pashtun gangsters. They are in Chinese government. Pashtunwalla followers of Bani Israil are not Muslims. They are in opium business. Compare to MS-13, then you understand.

Posted by: Gul | Jul 19 2021 17:25 utc | 59

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