Afghan Agony: Kabul Chaos

August 16, 2021

Afghanistan continues to boil across the news this Monday morning with Kabul a centerpiece of horror, especially at the airport as thousands seek an exit from a country going to Taliban-shit in a wire basket — real-life scenes so bad images are juxtaposed onto a fictional zombie movie:

As the Taliban established its full-fledged reign over Afghanistan, a never-seen-before chaos prevailed in the country as people, in a desperate attempt to flee their motherland, clung onto moving aeroplanes, only to plunge to their deaths moments later.
The airport in the Afghan capital Kabul swarmed with hundreds and thousands of people trying to escape the claws of the Taliban to take refuge in other countries.
Social media is buzzing with ‘horrific scenes’ from the Kabul airport that seem so unreal that people are comparing them with scenes from Brad Pitt’s apocalypse movie ‘World War Z.’

Somehow, though, reality is indeed worse:

There’s a shitload of tweets/social media examples of this bat-shit crazy at the link above.
And this a nutshell view of the Aghan collapse (per the Guardian‘s live blog)

Hundreds of Afghan soldiers fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan with 22 military planes and 24 helicopters last weekend, including one aircraft that collided with an escorting Uzbek fighter jet causing both to crash, Uzbekistan has said.
According to Reuters, the Uzbek defence ministry said an Afghan military jet had been shot down and crashed after crossing the border.
A total of 585 Afghan soldiers have arrived on aircraft and 158 more crossed the border on foot on Sunday, the Uzbek prosecutor general’s office added.

A total dive of Aghan military, taking everyone by surprise, though, it shouldn’t have been with the last 20 years as a showcase of a zombie/burn-future. The real shit is the US knew — a similar position on the Vietnam war — that the Afghan army/police would cut-and-run once they lost American support — per The Washington Post this morning:

In fact, according to documents obtained for the forthcoming Washington Post book “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War,” U.S. military officials privately harbored fundamental doubts for the duration of the war that the Afghan security forces could ever become competent or shed their dependency on U.S. money and firepower. “Thinking we could build the military that fast and that well was insane,” an unnamed former U.S. official told government interviewers in 2016.

Those fears, rarely expressed in public, were ultimately borne out by the sudden collapse this month of the Afghan security forces, whose wholesale and unconditional surrender to the Taliban will go down as perhaps the worst debacle in the history of proxy warfare.

The capitulation was sped up by a series of secret deals that the Taliban brokered with many Afghan government officials. In recent days and weeks, Taliban leaders used a combination of cash, threats and promises of leniency to persuade government forces to lay down their arms.

Although U.S. intelligence officials had recently forecast the possible demise of the Afghan government over the next three to six months, the Biden administration was caught unprepared by the velocity of the Taliban takeover.
Afghan forces “proved incapable of defending the country. And that did happen more rapidly than we anticipated,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week.”

Over two decades, the U.S. government invested more than $85 billion to train and equip the Afghans and pay their salaries.
Today, all that is left are arsenals of weapons, ammunition and supplies that have fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Another so-called Saigon surprise — not!
The blame-game for this mess will be played ad nauseam by the mainstream press, but as with most things nowadays (and in the recent past) it will be dumb-ass and without real sense. Joe Biden is scheduled to address the nation later today on the situation, and it’s a wonder how he’ll play it.
Amanda Marcotte at Salon this afternoon takes a look at the bullshit:

This past weekend felt like being sucked back in time to the 2003-2005 era, when one had to turn to the lefty press and the blogosphere for sensical analysis because the mainstream media was so bought into the jingoistic war-mongering of the George W. Bush administration.
Journalist Michael Cohen on his Substack blog, for instance, correctly denounced “every armchair pundit” who is refusing to admit that they are “basically asserting that US troops should have never left the country.”
As Michael Tomasky at the New Republic writes, “The lesson of the post-9/11 era is that American power has limits—very severe limits at that.”
National security blogger Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel laments that we spent 20 years on this failed war when we could have instead “done something about climate change.”
Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns, and Money writes, “The foreign policy and military establishment will do everything they can to blame Biden, but the bottom line remains that Afghanistan is a massive failure on their part, and Biden is being asked to believe the same lies he was told as vice president.”

On that front, despite smug claims from a Politico headline that “Biden’s foreign policy experience fails him,” there is good reason to think Biden did what he did because of that hard-won experience.

Biden spent 8 years watching military leaders mislead President Barack Obama into believing that there was a way to win this war.
Indeed, as blogger-turned-journalist-turned-blogger-again Matthew Yglesias — who also learned the hard way the dangers of buying into the media’s imperialist war hype during the Iraq War — pointed out on Twitter, military leaders “were still hoping that turning the Trump/Biden withdrawal policy into an embarrassing shitshow would successfully bully the White House into reversing course the way they squeezed Obama in 2009 and Trump in 2017.”
He also suggested it would have worked if Biden hadn’t spent 8 years witnessing that bamboozling in action.

I suspect the only people left who really are invested in the imperialism masquerading as American beneficence are concentrated in elite political circles in D.C. and thus have an outsized impact on how the media frames this story.
It’s doubtful, however, that most Americans will ultimately remember this differently than they do the end of the Vietnam War or the withdrawal from Iraq — as a sad but inevitable end to yet another misguided American adventure war. Biden won’t be seen as a failure, so much as the guy who just accepted a reality that multiple presidents refused to embrace.

History repeats itself despite that history is seen in real-time…

(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion,’ found here).

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