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Collapse in Afghanistan

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  • Collapse in Afghanistan

    This is turning into a rout. At this rate it might be just days before the Taliban are threatening Kabul, and the US is ironically sending more troops to evacuate its embassy.

    I think this is Joe Biden's greatest blunder; the past few years have shown that the US could ensure the stalemate with the Taliban continuing with just a minimal presence of troops and lots of airpower. Even if the Taliban does not lets terrorists use its territory to attack the US mainland, this will destabilize the surrounding region and beyond leading to the US having to intervene a few years down the road.

  • #2
    Same shit. Different day. History repets itself. Afghanistan fractured when the Mongols left. Afghanistan frractured when the Timurs left. Afghanistan fractured when the Mugals left. Afghanistan fractured when the British left. Afghanistan fractured when the Afghans left. Afghanistan fractured when the Soviets left. Afghanistan fractured when the Taliban left. Afghanistan is fracturing when the Americans are leaving.

    The best you can do is to burn their crops, steal their goats, forcing them to be too busy just making a living than to make trouble (ie, punitive expeditions).


    • #3
      Joe Biden’s credibility has been shredded in Afghanistan

      todayuknews17 hours ago

      If Donald Trump were presiding over the debacle in Afghanistan, the US foreign policy establishment would be loudly condemning the irresponsibility and immorality of American strategy. Since it is Joe Biden in the White House there is instead, largely, an embarrassed silence.

      It is true that Trump set the US on the path out of Afghanistan and began the delusional peace talks with the Taliban that have gone nowhere. But rather than reverse the withdrawal of troops, Biden accelerated it.

      The horrific results are unfolding on the ground in Afghanistan, as the Taliban take city after city. The final collapse of the government looks inevitable. It may come just in time for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that originally led to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

      Earlier this week, Biden was channelling Edith Piaf, claiming he had no regrets about pulling the rug out from under the Afghan government. Last month, the president was still insisting that the “likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely”. Who knows what he will be saying next month? And, frankly, who cares? On Afghanistan, Biden’s credibility is now shot.

      The broader strategic question is what the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan will do for US credibility around the world. Discussing the situation there as a question of high global politics feels distasteful while a tragedy unfolds on the ground. But, beyond simple war-weariness, Biden’s principal justification for the Afghan withdrawal was strategic. In recent remarks, he argued that the US cannot “remain tethered” to policies created in response “to a world as it was 20 years ago. We need to meet the threats where they are today.” The first threat that Biden identified was “the strategic competition with China”.

      So how does America’s defeat in Afghanistan — in reality, a defeat for the entire western alliance — play into the growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing?

      The US failure makes it much harder for Biden to push his core message that “America is back”. By contrast, it fits perfectly with two key messages pushed by the Chinese (and Russian) governments. First, that US power is in decline. Second, that American security guarantees cannot be relied upon.

      If the US will not commit to a fight against the Taliban, there will be a question mark over whether America would really be willing to go to war with China or Russia. Yet America’s global network of alliances is based on the idea that, in the last resort, US troops would indeed be deployed to defend their allies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

      China is already the dominant economic power in east Asia. But most Asian democracies look to the US as their main security partner. So it is very helpful to Beijing if Washington’s credibility is undermined. Of course, the situations and stakes in Taiwan or the South China Sea are different from those in Afghanistan. But events there will still resonate around the world.

      The direct consequences for Beijing of US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which borders China, will be less welcome. The Chinese regime has adopted policies of mass internment and repression in Muslim-majority Xinjiang. The idea of the Uyghurs receiving support from a fundamentalist Taliban government will raise concerns in Beijing. So will the potential threat of terrorist bases in Afghanistan.

      In time, China might face a classical superpower’s dilemma. Is it better to intervene militarily in turbulent Afghanistan, or to leave the country to its own devices? As Andrew Small of the European Council on Foreign Relations points out, Chinese commentary on Afghanistan is already replete with references to the country as the “graveyard of empires”.

      In Washington, the parallel that will be uppermost in the minds of policymakers is Vietnam. There are already reports that America is trying to persuade the Taliban not to storm the US embassy in Kabul in order to avoid a repetition of the scenes when Saigon fell in 1975. Last month, Biden insisted that the “Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army. They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability.” He may come to regret those words.

      The Americans know, however, that if they decide to pull out the last remnants of the US presence in Kabul, they will be in effect signing the death warrant of the Afghan government. The collapse in morale which has already led to successive defeats for the Afghan army across the country would become irreversible. But, in truth, the situation already looks all but irrecoverable.

      Unlike the Afghan government, however, the US administration has a few straws of hope to cling to. The end of the Vietnam war was indeed a debacle. Many questioned American power in its aftermath. But within fourteen years of the fall of Saigon, the cold war was over, and the west had won.

      In the end, the struggle between the American and Soviet systems turned not on events in Vietnam but on the relative strengths of the two countries’ domestic economies and political systems. The current rivalry between the US and China may be determined in the same way. But that abstract thought is little comfort to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.
      In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.



      • #4
        There is NO GOOD way to withdraw from Afghanistan. The best you can do is to scorch earth the place and make it near impossible for the people to make a living, makeing them too busy surviving than to cause trouble.


        • #5
          What did Milley call it? Retrograde. The Taliban look to be trying to take the airport before the redeployment can assist the retrograde.
          In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.



          • #6
            Think I was too optimistic.

            There are confirmed reports of fighting in Maidan Shahr, less than 50 kms from Kabul. The Taliban are reportedly trying to surround the capital.


            • #7
              From two weeks ago. Things remain fluid as ever.

              The Taliban is not going to be able to wade into Afghanistan the way it did in the early 90s. You've got to remember that the militias only took over Kabul once the USSR collapsed. As long as the USSR was holding the militias could not take over Kabul.

              The Taliban came in in 1996. This time with the world backing the Afghan forces it is unlikely that the Taliban is going to get a free run, it is unlikely that the Afghan armed forces will collapse the way they did then. It is going to be a very very long painstaking battle for the Taliban until they start showing their power by being able to take over provincial capitals

              The Afghan forces are not going to give up
              The Paks are throwing everything they can into the pot. There's definitely pak troops in mufti directing things and all their terror outfits have come out to play.

              The Taliban are bribing parties to join their side. So much for the fierce warriors they pretend to be.
              Last edited by Double Edge; 14 Aug 21,, 13:18.


              • #8
                Originally posted by InExile View Post
                I think this is Joe Biden's greatest blunder; the past few years have shown that the US could ensure the stalemate with the Taliban continuing with just a minimal presence of troops and lots of airpower.
                Biden did what the last two wanted to do. Would it have been different if it happened ten years ago ?

                The Americans and wider world will continue to support the Afghan govt and the Afghans will do the rest.

                Even if the Taliban does not lets terrorists use its territory to attack the US mainland, this will destabilize the surrounding region and beyond leading to the US having to intervene a few years down the road.
                Let the PRIC's handle it
                Last edited by Double Edge; 14 Aug 21,, 13:19.


                • #9
                  There's plenty of blame to share around on this, right back to the Bush administration mission creep. Far less blood and treasure lost, if they'd just killed AQ and left the Afghans/Pakistani's to it.
                  I wonder how Quetta and Norther Pakistan will look in 5 years time...
                  In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.



                  • #10
                    Time to revisit WAPO's "The Afganistan Papers"

                    For 18 years, America has been at war in Afghanistan. As part of a government project to understand what went wrong, a federal agency interviewed more than 400 people who had a direct role in the conflict. In those interviews, generals, ambassadors, diplomats and other insiders offered firsthand accounts of the mistakes that have prolonged the war.

                    The full, unsparing remarks and the identities of many of those who made them have never been made public — until now. After a three-year legal battle, The Washington Post won release of more than 2,000 pages of “Lessons Learned” interviews conducted by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Those interviews reveal there was no consensus on the war’s objectives, let alone how to end the conflict.

                    To augment the previously undisclosed interviews, The Post also obtained hundreds of confidential memos by former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld from the National Security Archive, a nonprofit research institute. Known as “snowflakes,” the memos are brief instructions or comments that the Pentagon leader dictated to his underlings as the war unfolded.

                    Together, the interviews and the Rumsfeld memos reveal a secret, unvarnished history of the conflict and offer new insights into how three presidential administrations have failed for nearly two decades to deliver on their promises to end the war.
                    Skip to all documents
                    Below are four revelatory themes from the documents.
                    Year after year, U.S. officials failed to tell the public the truth about the war in Afghanistan.

                    INTERVIEWBob CrowleyU.S. military adviser

                    “The strategy became self-validating. Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible.”

                    — Bob Crowley, retired Army colonel who served as a counterinsurgency adviser at U.S. military headquarters in Kabul from 2013 to 2014

                    The Lessons Learned interviews contradict years of public statements by presidents, generals and diplomats. The interviews make clear that officials issued rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hid unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable. Several of those interviewed described explicit efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public and a culture of willful ignorance, where bad news and critiques were unwelcome. Read the story.
                    U.S. and allied officials admitted the mission had no clear strategy and poorly defined objectives.

                    RUMSFELD SNOWFLAKE2003 memo: 'I have no visibility into who the bad guys are'

                    “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.”

                    — Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. defense secretary from 2001 to 2006

                    At first, the rationale for invading Afghanistan was clear: to destroy al-Qaeda. But once that had been largely accomplished, officials said the mission grew muddled as they began adopting contradictory strategies and unattainable goals. Those running the war said they struggled to answer even basic questions: Who is the enemy? Whom can we count on as allies? And, how will we know when we have won? Read the story.
                    Many years into the war, the United States still did not understand Afghanistan.

                    INTERVIEWDouglas LuteFormer White House war czar for Afghanistan

                    “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing.”

                    — Douglas Lute, Army lieutenant general who served as the White House’s Afghanistan war czar under Presidents Bush and Obama, then U.S. ambassador to NATO from 2013 to 2017

                    Dozens of U.S. and Afghan officials told interviewers that many of the U.S. policies and initiatives — from training Afghan forces to fighting the thriving opium trade — were destined to fail because they were based on flawed assumptions about a country they didn’t understand.
                    The United States wasted vast sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan and bred corruption in the process.

                    INTERVIEWRyan CrockerRetired U.S. diplomat

                    “You just cannot put those amounts of money into a very fragile state and society, and not have it fuel corruption. You just can’t.”

                    — Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan

                    Despite promises to the contrary, the United States engaged in a huge nation-building effort in Afghanistan, drenching the destitute country with more money than it could absorb. There was so much excess that opportunities for bribery, fraud and corruption became limitless. One U.S. adviser said that at the air base where he worked many Afghans reeked of jet fuel because they were smuggling out so much of it to sell on the black market. Read the story.
                    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.



                    • #11

                      Afghanistan: from peace to endless war

                      By: Amin Saikal

                      It is so tragic to see Afghanistan drowning in long-term structural instability and insecurity, savaged by bloody conflict, Covid-19, poor governance and poverty—and betrayed by outside actors. The population is bitterly traumatized, with little hope of recovering in the foreseeable future.
                      This is not the Afghanistan that once was—a functioning state in which peace and security prevailed despite its underdevelopment, and whose policy of neutrality in world politics was widely respected.
                      By the start of the 1970s, and after nearly four decades of stability, the capital Kabul exuded peace and tranquility that was reflected across the nation. One could move freely and securely across the city, limited only by the majestic mountains surrounding it. Cyclists peddled around the country and visitors toured it on bus trips from Kathmandu to Munich.
                      While predominantly Islamic but with a mosaic make-up, traditionalist and mainly poverty-stricken and a very slow pace of modernization, Afghanistan stunned with its natural beauty and its people’s hospitality.
                      Women’s emancipation, modern education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels for both boys and girls, and the arts and theatre and print and electronic media had become measures of its progress. The country stood as a model of neutrality and founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement in world affairs. Its ambassador, Abdul Rahman Pazhwak, was elected as the president of the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, and its capital was named as a possible site for the Vietnam peace conference in 1969. Many young Afghans had reason to envision a bright future for their country. Yet that future never came.
                      On 17 July 1973, any expectation of a more promising future was shattered, marking a turning point in Afghanistan’s destiny and aspirations. There was a coup in Kabul, ending the 40-year reign of King Zahir Shah and bringing a republican phase. The king had presided over the longest period of stability and security in the landlocked nation’s modern history, but his rival cousin, Mohammad Daoud, was impatient with the pace of modernization and angry about the king’s constitutional exclusion of him from any ministerial positions.
                      Daoud took power in an almost bloodless event, declaring Afghanistan a republic with close ties to the Soviet Union but with a major difference with Pakistan over the Durand Line, the border between the two countries and a point of dispute since Pakistan’s creation in 1947. His invocation of the border dispute partly aimed at generating national unity in the diverse population, especially among the ethnic Pashtuns as the largest minority, with ties to their kin in Pakistan.
                      Daoud acted with the help of a small pro-Soviet communist cluster in the military, which had been largely trained and equipped by the USSR since the mid-1950s. Yet, his personal autocratic and patriotic stance could not allow him to be dictated to by anyone.
                      When he’d been prime minister from 1953 to 1964, Daoud was the architect of Afghanistan’s friendship with the Soviet Union, and of the dispute with Pakistan in the context of the Cold War. But once he was confident that he’d consolidated his power as head of the new republic, he sought to reduce his dependence on the local communists and the Soviet Union.
                      In the process, he improved relations with Pakistan and found it expedient to forge close ties with such Soviet detractors as Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. He also solicited support from the United States, though without success as Washington was happy at the time to let America’s major regional ally, the Shah, handle Afghanistan’s vagaries.
                      His political twists and turns left Moscow and its Afghan protégés distrustful of him, and Islamabad rebuffed his claim in the border dispute. With the Shah failing to provide a promised US$2 billion aid, and Sadat able to give not much more than political support and encouragement, Daoud’s plans came unstuck.
                      His domestic political shake-up seriously disrupted the triangular framework of relations that the monarchy had generated with the Islamic religious establishment and local powerholders, or ‘strongmen’, as the foundations of stability.
                      He couldn’t replace that framework with anything more effective, paving the way for the Soviet protégés in the military to stage a bloody coup in April 1978.
                      They killed Daoud and most of his family and entourage and declared Afghanistan a democratic republic with fraternal ties to the Soviet Union. The incompetence and inexperience of these revolutionaries made them increasingly dependent on Moscow’s support, leading to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 20 months later.
                      That generated an Afghan resistance, led by several Islamic groups (the mujahideen), reflecting the socially divided nature of the Afghan society. The invasion also provided a unique opportunity for the US to pay back Moscow in kind for the Soviet assistance to North Vietnam that had resulted in America’s defeat a decade earlier.
                      The US support of the mujahideen through an unreliable ally in Pakistan enabled America to win the Cold War on the back of such Afghan resistance leaders as the moderate Islamist and nationalist, legendary commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, who valiantly fought the Soviets and later the Pakistan-backed Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies.
                      However, the Americans abandoned Afghanistan in the belief that the Soviet defeat meant their mission was over and that there was no need for their involvement in the post-Soviet transition of Afghanistan. That proved costly, as the warring mujahideen turned their guns on one another, with Pakistan the main outside catalyst.
                      Massoud’s assassination by al-Qaeda agents two days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US brought American military intervention. Washington’s specific objective was to destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban who harboured it. The failure of the US and its Afghan allies to achieve that objective and put Afghanistan on a viable course of change and development has confronted it with a multidimensional crisis whose magnitude and ferocity cannot be underestimated.
                      The pre-conflict peaceful and serene Afghanistan is lost. The US and allied forces have left in defeat, as they left Vietnam, and the neo-fundamentalist theocratic Taliban are closing in on some major cities.
                      The militia’s opponents, most importantly women, fear for their lives. There’s a brain drain and capital flight; the ranks of internally displaced people and the flow of refugees to the outside world are daunting for a country that was once stable and envied in the region.
                      No one should expect the conflict to end soon. The Taliban have the momentum, but the Afghan people, if not their political leaders, have repeatedly proved to be resilient in the face of adversity. They now must defend themselves against medievalist fundamentalist impositions.
                      Amin Saikal is adjunct professor of social sciences at the University of Western Australia. He was born and raised in Kabul, and is the author of Modern Afghanistan: a history of struggle and survival (2012) and co-author of The specter of Afghanistan and the security of Central Asia (2021). This article first appeared in The Australian Strategic Policy Institute web portal.
                      In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.



                      • #12
                        Reportedly showing sections of the Afghan Army fleeing to Iran, with equipment

                        Jason Brodsky on Twitter: "Extraordinary scenes of #Afghanistan’s military fleeing to #Iran with advanced equipment, likely supplied by US. Iran’s defense industries will want to get their hands on that equipment" / Twitter

                        The Chinese of course are getting the drones handed over to the Taliban yesterday.
                        In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.



                        • #13
                          Chinooks only at Hamid Karzai International Airport, at this stage. I'd guess the approach lines for fixed wing are too risky.
                          In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.



                          • #14
                            There are reports of fighting inside Kabul and Government forces retreating from the outskirts of the city. Complete blackout.

                            It looks like the Afghan army supposedly 300,000 (obviously much smaller) strong has simply melted away. Don't even know what forces, if any, are defending the capital.


                            • #15
                              Tweet from NBC reporter in Kabul


                              Says city is quiet, no obvious sign of reinforcements or any preparation for a battle.

                              Looks like the Afghans don't want to fight anymore.
                              Last edited by InExile; 15 Aug 21,, 08:06.