Quick pace of the end game was astonishing — banner headlines at news outlets this Sunday afternoon: ‘Afghan Government Falls‘ (CNN); ‘Afghanistan Falls To Taliban‘ (The Washington Post); ‘Taliban Seize Afghanistan; US Scrambles To Evacuate Americans‘ (The New York Times); you get the point.
On the ground, a dreadful crisis mode — via Aljazeera a couple of hours ago:
Local television station 1TV reported that gunfire could be heard as night fell near the Kabul airport, where foreign diplomats, officials and other Afghans fled, seeking to leave the country amid the Taliban’s advance.
Massouma Tajik, a 22-year-old data analyst, was among hundreds of Afghans waiting anxiously to board an evacuation flight.
“I see people crying, they are not sure whether their flight will happen or not. Neither am I,” she told The Associated Press by phone, with panic in her voice.
Hundreds or more Afghans crowded in a part of the airport away from many of the evacuating Westerners.
Some of them, including a man with a broken leg sitting on the ground, lined up for what was expected to be a last flight out by the country’s Ariana Airlines.
People in Kabul are afraid of seeing Taliban fighters on the streets of Kabul, Sharif Safi, founder of Kabul Peace Forum, told Al Jazeera.
“Today was different. The whole city was silent. Everyone was panicking. It was around noon that we heard rumours that they [Taliban] entered Kabul city,” Safi said.
“From noon on, where I live, there were some gunfire. People feel devastated. Very strange feeling. The government that most of the people in Kabul support is no more in power. We just hope there is no more bloodshed and destruction,” he added.
Another real-drama of history played out in real-time. It’s been a while since this kind of shit has happened to the US, or this obvious of a mishandled clusterfuck of a mess — coming so fast, Joe Biden’s people really didn’t have a chance, after 20 years of static bullshit.
Afghanistan holds a unique spot in recent/current American history and to watch the whole apparatus fold like a cheap, shitty accordion is not only sad and despairing but a pisser, too. All those veterans who survived, wounded or injured, what a pisser to have gone through terror for naught; the 2.448 killed, thousands of Afghans, the total shit corruption, and the uselessness of $83 billion spent on credit for two decades with shit to show for it.
A must-read at Washington Monthly today with one Afghan veteran’s thoughts on this whole shit affair — well worth the time, emotional and straight in your fucking face.
Direct pisser way-number-one is GW Bush — he fucked the box. The asshole had a hard for Iraq since forever. Paul O’Neill, GW’s first Treasury Secretary, said Iraq was at the top of GW’s agenda within days of taking office; plans were already in the works to have the US military invade Iraq: ‘“From the very beginning, there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” O’Neill told CBS, according to excerpts released Saturday by the network. “For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”‘
Another terrifying observation from O’Neill on GW: He ‘“was like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people.”‘
And sad to say, once Iraq became the total American military focus in December 2001, Afghanistan was doomed. (h/t tweet Digby):
Agree with all of this.
-Fundamental error was of course by GWB/Cheney;
-Compounded error by Obama in 2009, letting generals talk him into “surge”
-Trump, where do we start
-Now endgame tragedy under Biden.
It is horrific, 20+ years in the making. https://t.co/6XiqcIe1xD
— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) August 15, 2021
The Afghan Blame game has already started with idiot Republicans blaming Biden, as in a lot of shit, it’s both complicated and simple — quick background summary/nutshell version via The Washington Post this afternoon:
This ill-defined, kick-the-can-down-the-road approach has defined the Afghan war for most, if not all, of its 20 years.
Before Biden and Trump, Barack Obama promised multiple times that the United States was winding down its presence, only to reverse course.
And before that, when the United States invaded in 2001, the George W. Bush administration could have stuck to a narrow mission that focused on Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
Indeed, in December of that year, the Taliban, smashed by the U.S.-led offensive, offered to demobilize, surrender their stronghold in Kandahar and negotiate a settlement with the new U.S.-backed government of Hamid Karzai.
The Bush administration rejected the offer.
Instead, Bush committed the United States to building a new Afghan state and army.
The latter has completely collapsed over a matter of days, but the former may have been even more embarrassing. From Karzai to Ghani, corruption and impotence have been the government’s defining characteristics.
And all the while, as The Post’s Afghanistan Papers project showed, U.S. officials misled the public with rosy versions of events on the ground.
Another horrible chapter of American history — and like a shitload of others, the Afghan people pay the price.
(Illustration out front found here).