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Afghanistan

#1 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 06:14

I guess someone should say something. I confess to ignorance.

It's a disaster for the Afghans, for those who wish for a normal life. Expressing sympathy seems inaequate.

As to what we should have done, well, not this. Sooner or later, we had to find a way out. But not this way out.

Some Biden representatives were saying this is not abandonment. The Afghan Ambassador to the US was on PBS saying, I am not quoting exactly, that it sure seems like abandonment. I agree with her. It's clear from what has happened over the last few weeks that those who were planning our exit had no clue. That needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

But first and foremost, this is a disaster for the Afghans. We have to address our errors, but it also seems obscene to focus right now on how this will affect us.

Again, I confess to ignorance.
Ken
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#2 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 06:42

What this shows is how totally hairbrained has been the past 20 years of attempted nation building

Paul Wolfowitz and his neo-conservative brethren deserve scorn for their arrogance.

“We’re an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality.”

No, you don’t.
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#3 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 07:07

Hysteresis is a bitch

The US's engagement with Afghanistan over the past half century has been a series on never ending mistakes dating back to the days when we decided that the Soviet's needed their own Afghanistan and that funding a bunch of radical Islamic insurgent's would be a good idea.

Flash forward a few years and we decided that we could do nation building at the point of a bayonet with no need for soft power, NGOs, the state department, and all that...

More recently, the US entered into an agreement that we would pull out in May 2021.

For better or worse, the United States is unwilling to either

A. Permanently occupy Afghanistan in the name of nation building
B. Fund the types of economic investments that might actually stabilize the country

No one should be surprised at what happened.
The real tragedy is the price that so many Afghans will need to pay.
Alderaan delenda est
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#4 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 08:55

View Postkenberg, on 2021-August-16, 06:14, said:

I guess someone should say something. I confess to ignorance.

It's a disaster for the Afghans, for those who wish for a normal life. Expressing sympathy seems inaequate.

As to what we should have done, well, not this. Sooner or later, we had to find a way out. But not this way out.

Some Biden representatives were saying this is not abandonment. The Afghan Ambassador to the US was on PBS saying, I am not quoting exactly, that it sure seems like abandonment. I agree with her. It's clear from what has happened over the last few weeks that those who were planning our exit had no clue. That needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

But first and foremost, this is a disaster for the Afghans. We have to address our errors, but it also seems obscene to focus right now on how this will affect us.

Again, I confess to ignorance.

It is abandonment, without a doubt. But it should never have become an occupation in the first place. Before this even started, the UK government told the Bush administration that going in to Afghanistan was easy but the important thing was to have clear goals and an exit strategy. The US chose not to listen, after 9/11 it was personal so instead of clear macro goals like disbanding the terrorist camps and disarming the Taliban, instead it became all about killing the handful of leaders. So when a Taliban surrender came onto the table, at a stroke giving the USA a golden opportunity at getting out fast with the key goals achieved, the Bush administration declined and committed to a war of attrition that most experts even back then said could not be won.

Fast forward to 2018 and the Afghan government was making great efforts to negotiate a peaceful end to the war, which were widely supported internationally. Instead of backing this inclusive process, the Trump administration instead decided to meet with the Taliban secretly without involving the Afghan government - an example of "America First" in action. When that came out it not only undercut any authority or legitimacy the government might have had, it sent a clear message to all Afghans that this really was an "infidel" occupation with a puppet head of state. The final result of that process, in Feb 2020, was a document (Doha Agreement) that was criticised by near enough every Afghan expert but supported by Russia and China. It amounted to a capitulation with no safeguards for the future. In terms of numbers, the US agreed to withdraw 4400 troops immediately and the Afghan government was forced to release 5500 Taliban troops - a 10000 troop switch in a war where the US contingent before the withdrawal was only 13000. The result should have been clear to anyone; it is precisely the sort of policy tying the hands of any future POTUS that so many feared.

And that brings us to the current time. Clearly there was a massive miscalculation by the current administration. They could easily have started shipping out non-essential personnel sooner and organised temporary defences around Kabul. In the end though, any retreat under fire is going to be difficult and have bad optics. And that was more or less inevitable after the Doha Agreement. So my ATB: Bush 60%; Trump 30%; Biden 10%. You can add some for mistakes under Obama if you like but I see these 3 administrations as the key figures in this.
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#5 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 10:09

View PostGilithin, on 2021-August-16, 08:55, said:

It is abandonment, without a doubt. But it should never have become an occupation in the first place. Before this even started, the UK government told the Bush administration that going in to Afghanistan was easy but the important thing was to have clear goals and an exit strategy. The US chose not to listen, after 9/11 it was personal so instead of clear macro goals like disbanding the terrorist camps and disarming the Taliban, instead it became all about killing the handful of leaders. So when a Taliban surrender came onto the table, at a stroke giving the USA a golden opportunity at getting out fast with the key goals achieved, the Bush administration declined and committed to a war of attrition that most experts even back then said could not be won.

Fast forward to 2018 and the Afghan government was making great efforts to negotiate a peaceful end to the war, which were widely supported internationally. Instead of backing this inclusive process, the Trump administration instead decided to meet with the Taliban secretly without involving the Afghan government - an example of "America First" in action. When that came out it not only undercut any authority or legitimacy the government might have had, it sent a clear message to all Afghans that this really was an "infidel" occupation with a puppet head of state. The final result of that process, in Feb 2020, was a document (Doha Agreement) that was criticised by near enough every Afghan expert but supported by Russia and China. It amounted to a capitulation with no safeguards for the future. In terms of numbers, the US agreed to withdraw 4400 troops immediately and the Afghan government was forced to release 5500 Taliban troops - a 10000 troop switch in a war where the US contingent before the withdrawal was only 13000. The result should have been clear to anyone; it is precisely the sort of policy tying the hands of any future POTUS that so many feared.

And that brings us to the current time. Clearly there was a massive miscalculation by the current administration. They could easily have started shipping out non-essential personnel sooner and organised temporary defences around Kabul. In the end though, any retreat under fire is going to be difficult and have bad optics. And that was more or less inevitable after the Doha Agreement. So my ATB: Bush 60%; Trump 30%; Biden 10%. You can add some for mistakes under Obama if you like but I see these 3 administrations as the key figures in this.


You can simply say American foreign policy since 1980. (See: The Limits of Power)
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#6 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 10:20

The following is good reading

I think it's behind a paywall

https://www.washingt...tial-documents/
Alderaan delenda est
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#7 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 11:21

View Posthrothgar, on 2021-August-16, 10:20, said:

The following is good reading

I think it's behind a paywall

https://www.washingt...tial-documents/


If it is behind a paywall, this first paragraph captures the message:

Quote

A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#8 User is offline   FelicityR 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 11:26

A few days ago I was reading the wikipedia entry for Afghanistan, having learnt about the Anglo-Afghan wars from school history lessons long ago. Sadly, for the decent Afghani people, the country has nearly always been in turmoil: wars, coups, assassinations, tribal revolts, etc. for many centuries. It is also the world's leading illicit producer of opium (heroin) and hashish, too. I'm no political analyst, but plain common sense just tells me that military intervention was going to create more turmoil and more bloodshed. If the Americans, British and UN forces thought they could tame the country, they were unforgivably mistaken.
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#9 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 11:33

View PostFelicityR, on 2021-August-16, 11:26, said:

A few days ago I was reading the wikipedia entry for Afghanistan, having learnt about the Anglo-Afghan wars from school history lessons long ago. Sadly, for the decent Afghani people, the country has nearly always been in turmoil: wars, coups, assassinations, tribal revolts, etc. for many centuries. It is also the world's leading illicit producer of opium (heroin) and hashish, too. I'm no political analyst, but plain common sense just tells me that military intervention was going to create more turmoil and more bloodshed. If the Americans, British and UN forces thought they could tame the country, they were unforgivably mistaken.


Quote

"The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended 'global war on terror' without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords."


Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

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#10 User is offline   mycroft 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 11:38

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -- Upton Sinclair

People were saying this day was the inevitable conclusion in 2003, and all years since then. People who knew things, and people who didn't (but just imagined what would happen if someone tried it on their country).

But anybody who admitted that it was the wrong thing to have done was going to pay the political price (and, reading that WP article, I am reminded that "Lieutenant is a military position. General is a political position." paraphrasing Stonekettle). And it was politically cheaper to "keep up the fight" "one more year" "until they are stable" than to be known as "the President [General Staff, government, CIA,...] who lost Afghanistan".

Plus, of course, all the political capital to be gained from money going to defence contractors for all that equipment and services, and criticism to be avoided from "never mind the man behind the curtain, support the troops" (while, of course, treating the actual troops as disposable immediately after discharge, if not before).

So the "status quo", costly in lives, money, and reputation, continued, all the while stretching the rubber band that would have to be released to leave tighter ,and making it even harder to say "enough".

It is going to take decades for this to settle. It was always going to take years, even if the only thing the "Coalition" did was go in, retrieve OBL, and get out. It will be horrible. But it might start now. Might.

Now that we're out of Iraq and Afghanistan, let's deal with Guantánamo. The fallout can't be much worse, can it?
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#11 User is offline   awm 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 13:54

Elianna asked an interesting question today, but the person she asked may not have been old enough to really know, so I'll ask it again here.

For those who remember the US withdrawal from Vietnam, how does the news coverage of the evacuation of Kabul today compare to the evacuation of Saigon?
Adam W. Meyerson
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#12 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 14:10

View Postawm, on 2021-August-16, 13:54, said:

Elianna asked an interesting question today, but the person she asked may not have been old enough to really know, so I'll ask it again here.

For those who remember the US withdrawal from Vietnam, how does the news coverage of the evacuation of Kabul today compare to the evacuation of Saigon?


I suspect that there were less clip showing helicopters over Saigon in 75
Alderaan delenda est
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#13 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 15:56

View Postawm, on 2021-August-16, 13:54, said:

Elianna asked an interesting question today, but the person she asked may not have been old enough to really know, so I'll ask it again here.

For those who remember the US withdrawal from Vietnam, how does the news coverage of the evacuation of Kabul today compare to the evacuation of Saigon?

Here is an example.
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#14 User is offline   Gilithin 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 16:02

Or, if you want a more American perspective, this is the CBS News report.
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#15 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 16:55

View Postawm, on 2021-August-16, 13:54, said:

Elianna asked an interesting question today, but the person she asked may not have been old enough to really know, so I'll ask it again here.

For those who remember the US withdrawal from Vietnam, how does the news coverage of the evacuation of Kabul today compare to the evacuation of Saigon?



It wasn’t as instantaneous if I remember correctly. It also was not presented as a partisan promotional. In those days you had to wait until the news came on at 5:00 unless regular programming was interrupted for a special report like the Kennedy assassination.
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#16 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 17:58

I don't really think I need to comment and join in the exasperation of failed attempts to impose something where it maybe should not be imposed

Reading the comments above - ignoring history, not reading the small print about easy to go in (but not to get out), thinking that somewhere actually is/was historically a unified nation that could be built into one. etc But I also feel that everywhere have their own forms of "democracy" or "changing government". Some countries have elections and some have a fighting season. That is not making light of anything at all.

I have to admit the scenes of the Taliban occupying the palaces looked somewhat more peaceful than Washington DC last year. And I am getting very cynical about media coverage of anything, even more so these days when everyone has their own media arm

PS I have a vague recollection (on good authority) that senior Russian military couldn't understand what we (the USA/UK etc) thought they were doing in there

PPS I should disclaim my total ignorance too. Just know a little like everyone else :)

PPPS Checking my trusted sources of information. Wikipedia, CIA I note that the CIA page has not been updated for 6 days

Finally, sorry, how many people have been severely damaged by those 20 years too
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#17 User is offline   Chas_P 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 18:58

View Postthepossum, on 2021-August-16, 17:58, said:

Finally, sorry, how many people have been severely damaged by those 20 years too
June, 1985

#18 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-August-16, 19:01

View PostChas_P, on 2021-August-16, 18:58, said:



I think you missed my point Chas

There are traumatised or otherwise damaged people everywhere from those 20 years. Also I am sure from the previous incursions by foreign powers

What I also find curious is the seeming inconsistency in the views of certain political tendencies that seem to pick and choose who need to be civilised and who don't in this world

PS In case its not obvious I don't have a solution to anything, any more than anyone else
PPS In case others didn't notice I accidentally used the word "solution" suggesting that the world is a set of problems that the rest of us should be out their solving. That's how ingrained the mentality is

Events take you back though. Believe it or not (not really important) I was in Moscow briefly after the end of the Afghan-Soviet experiment and saw some of the returned servicemen. And many of us of course know people or have close knowledge of people's recent experiences there too
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#19 User is offline   fromageGB 

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Posted 2021-August-17, 03:35

Regime change is never a good idea, when imposed externally.
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#20 User is offline   Chas_P 

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Posted 2021-August-17, 05:19

View Postthepossum, on 2021-August-16, 19:01, said:

I think you missed my point Chas

No, I didn't miss your point; I share it. It just brought to mind the picture of that young Afghan woman on the cover of National Geographic 36 years ago.

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