Out-of-country experience this Tuesday morning, and a look at the Afghan disaster. As I posted earlier this month, when I started this blog in April 2007, war was the main topic, with conflict-clusterfucks raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the latter getting just about-all the attention.
And now more than 14 years later, the US has finally pulled the plug on the Afghan adventure after early 20 years of shit-on-a-stick warfare in the middle of nation building (though, Joe Biden claims that wasn’t the original intent) and lost both the war and the nation — duh! Not called ‘the graveyard of empires‘ for nothing.
Despite having a couple of decades to work-out this shit, the US doesn’t seem to have a full, secure grip on how to aid the Afghan government that’s been losing the war since forever. Beyond the ominous sounding, “Over-the-horizon” air operations after the US fully departs, there’s not much solid shit.
Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com this past Sunday appears to sum-up the situation:
The US has been arguing for weeks now that they will retain military capacity in Afghanistan, and has been assuring the Afghan government that they will be supporting them.
This comes amid Afghan officials insisting they’d be fine without US support, and amid mounting losses the Afghans are facing despite the US troops being present as it is.
After 20 years, the US is so used to being at war in Afghanistan that even when the troops leave they can’t imagine not being able to attack that nation.
It’s not clear what that’s going to look like, but they just assume attacks can happen.
What another horrible mess — Vienam, Iraq, and now Afghanistan, third time’s the charm:
— Panther?? (@Panther7112) July 12, 2021
History sucks for the US and its clusterfucked-affairs with foreign countries — a vision comes to mind regarding the Afghan withdrawal and the shit left behind. Reality of the US planning (if any planning at all) of actual boots-on-the-actual-ground most of the time is way-out-of focus with that actuality, piling-up on the human-disaster side.
A must-read review on that existing pulled-grenade situation is by Emma Graham-Harrison at the Guardian this morning, writing from Kabul — some snips:
Instead of retrenchment there was collapse, and intelligence agencies have ripped up their assessments of the strength of the Afghan military.
The US now fears Kabul could fall within months.
In its desperation to stem the losses, the government has summoned one of the darker spectres from the country’s recent past, urging warlords and regional strongmen to call up militias that fought the Taliban — but also each other — during the all-out civil war of the 1990s.
As recently as last year, Ghani (Afghan President Ashraf Ghani) had been trying to disband these groups.
In the fog of confusion, fear and blame that has settled over government-controlled parts of Afghanistan, there is perhaps just one thing that the entire political spectrum can agree on: no one foresaw the scale or speed of the collapse of the Afghan security forces in recent weeks, even those who wanted a strategic retreat.
“There is an acknowledgment on our side that we didn’t foresee this [Taliban] advance, we weren’t comprehensively prepared,” said one official with access to the president.
And the terrible consequence for an ending:
In June more than 20 members of the commando forces were killed in a Taliban ambush as they spearheaded efforts to retake a district in the north.
It took two days to bring their bodies home, and in the fierce heat of the Afghan summer they had become almost unrecognisable.
Among them was Sohrab Azimi, the son of a former defence ministry spokesman, who had been trained in Turkey and the US and was widely known.
Social media filled with the grief of friends after his death.
One close friend called in to help identify the bodies said he could only narrow it down to two corpses, and the army had to use fingerprints to confirm the identity.
“What was painful for me was that Sohrab choose to die proudly for his country, but never choose to have his body like this,” he said.
“He was the most elite of the special forces — what do you think will happen to the ordinary policeman who comes from Badakhsahn and dies in Helmand.”
That man is not in the military but has now lost two close friends in Taliban ambushes, and the death of Azimi has undermined his faith in the government and pushed him to consider for the first time trying to flee abroad.
“Recently I feel this is not where I belong, I don’t feel my life is valuable here, I don’t trust the government,” he said.
“I never want my body like that, for my brother to see that. For the first time in my life I feel I have to go away.”
Just one story in a devastated, naked city — there’s thousands more, all those Afghans who worked for the US military, from interpreters to janitors might be left to hang:
Don't leave them behind.
It's Kabul Airlift time (Saigon Airlift for the 21st century)
— Matthew VanDyke (@Matt_VanDyke) July 10, 2021
A nightmare observation/conclusion from that New Yorker piece linked in the tweet above — Shaharzad Akbar, the chairwoman of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission:
Akbar told me that she is not “anti-withdrawal; I’m all for it,” but that the way the Biden Administration announced its decision—linking it to the anniversary of September 11th, for example — showed “very little consideration about the impact on a very fragile peace process” and on the Afghan population.
Her greatest fear is “all-out war,” such as that which engulfed the country during the nineteen-nineties, a conflict laced with mass killings, rape, and other atrocities.
“There’s little reflection on failures and America’s role in these failures,” Akbar said.
“That’s frustrating to watch. We are being left with a huge mess. We are being told to deal with it mostly on our own. Of course, it’s our responsibility. It’s our country. But it’s not a mess we created on our own.”
Yet soon, she will face death. The Taliban aren’t real-nice people.
History in the sad making…
(Illustration out front: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Agonizing Horse,’ found here),