John Bolton: "The execution of this withdrawal has been bungled and it's one reason we're in such jeopardy now. But it still points to the fundamental aspect of the error of withdrawing at all." pic.twitter.com/QGxTMy0jmz— The Hill (@thehill) August 28, 2021
85% of combat deaths in Afghanistan were White Americans, as combat arms and the special operations components are much whiter than the US general population.— ?????????????.????????.??? (@lndian_Bronson) August 15, 2021
They come overwhelmingly from blue collar, White, Christian, Anglophone, Red State, Trump voting, Flag flying homes. https://t.co/lz1NOVkoYx pic.twitter.com/XEbGwGlAod
Noah Rothman, one of the loudest unreconstructed Jewish neocons from Commentary Magazine who opposed Donald Trump in the 2016 election, has a front page article in the latest edition of National Review called “The Forever War Fallacy.” In spite of the puppet government in Afghanistan collapsing in under two weeks, it turns out that “our mission in Afghanistan was sustainable and vital.”
“In one of his earliest acts as a declared candidate for president, Joe Biden promised Americans that he would “end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East.” In this, he echoed Donald Trump’s pledge to end “the era of endless wars” by withdrawing Americans from “ancient conflicts in faraway lands that many people have not even heard of.” Both presidents tapped into a populistic impulse among voters and their interpreters in the punditocracy who want nothing more than for the United States to declare the nation’s overseas commitments won and done. …”
The phrase “endless war” was coined to describe “The Long War” in Afghanistan which was the longest war in American history. Twenty years after 9/11, Afghanistan was still mired in an insurgency that was only gaining momentum. After trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives were squandered on Afghanistan, the fake puppet government there had zero legitimacy and swiftly collapsed.
“In Afghanistan, the demagogues who wanted to see an end to America’s “forever wars,” regardless of the consequences, got their wish. It has been a disaster arguably without parallel. …”
There are plenty of parallels to Afghanistan.
The most obvious parallel is to America’s defeat in Vietnam. Over 58,000 American soldiers lost their lives in that quagmire. 270 million bombs were dropped on Vietnam. In Vietnam, more Americans and South Vietnamese lost their lives. There were more refugees. The South Vietnamese puppet government held out longer against the insurgency and the end of the conflict was far bloodier than in Afghanistan.
Should the U.S. military have stayed in South Vietnam? The same people made the same arguments back then. We don’t hear much about Vietnam these days because it isn’t a problem anymore. Vietnam is doing fine these days. Now that our imperialists are gone, peace and prosperity have returned to Vietnam. The lesson of Vietnam was that we should have never repeated that folly in Afghanistan.
“As a result of our withdrawal of America’s roughly 2,500 troops and the approximately 7,000 NATO member-state forces in Afghanistan, we have seen more war, not less. …”
No, we haven’t.
The fake puppet government in Afghanistan shocked the Pentagon and “intelligence community” when it folded in under two weeks. The fake Afghan army didn’t even put up a fight. They surrendered en masse. As far as conquests go in Central Asia, it couldn’t have gone much better. The Taliban have also honored the peace deal and granted amnesty to the other side. The war is over in Afghanistan.
“The Taliban’s offensive, the collapse of the Afghan government, and the resulting humanitarian catastrophe at Kabul’s airport — the only remaining site from which Westerners and the Afghan civilians who worked with them could be exfiltrated — looked more like a war than anything American audiences had seen in Afghanistan for years. …”
That’s because the corporate media largely ignored the war in Afghanistan for years and only became outraged when we began to withdraw from the country and the war finally came to an end.
“To stave off an unmitigated disaster, the pullout necessitated the deployment of more troops to an overseas conflict, not fewer. Just to defend the airport, the United States hastily committed two and a half times the number of forces previously stationed in Afghanistan — a force far larger than the one that had deterred the Taliban from mounting the kind of offensive operations they undertook this summer. …”
Isn’t that because the Pentagon and the “intelligence community” so severely overestimated the willingness of fake Afghan army to put up a fight?
“Withdrawal has not ushered in a new era of revitalized American leadership. Just the opposite. …”
We’re tired of the burdens of “American leadership.” There is no difference between American soldiers dying at the Kabul airport and British soldiers dying in far off lands like Sudan.
“It has delivered an abject humiliation for the United States and inspired a revolt of our closest allies. The chairman of the German parliament’s foreign-relations committee called Biden’s blunder “a serious and far-reaching miscalculation.” His British counterpart deemed the president’s actions “shameful,” and Parliament held Biden in contempt. French president Emmanuel Macron castigated Biden for sacrificing his “moral responsibility” not to “abandon” the Afghan people — a rebuke the Biden White House sheepishly scrubbed from its official readout of their conversation. …”
These countries need to grow up and stop relying on American military protection. They need to rebuild their own militaries and reclaim their own sovereignty. We need to withdraw American troops from Europe as well. What are they still doing there anyway? Defending Montenegro?
“And, most importantly, the pullout has made America less safe. America’s near-peer competitors in Beijing and Moscow, both of which have demonstrated a willingness to court international opprobrium by reasserting claims on territory they covet, are emboldened. They are using the Afghan pullout to demoralize America’s partners in strategically vital parts of the world, including the Baltics, Central Asia, and the Taiwan Strait. …”
Imperialists would also have American soldiers die in Taiwan and South Korea, Afghanistan and Iran, Syria and Georgia, Estonia and Ukraine and for the sovereignty of Montenegro. Every conflict on earth is our business as long as the American political class remains committed to imperialism.
“Perhaps most imminently, the Islamist terror threat has been reinvigorated by America’s defeat in Afghanistan. “There is no question that they will provide a safe haven for al-Qaeda,” Barack Obama’s CIA director Leon Panetta recently warned of the reinstated Taliban-led government. …”
The Taliban offered to turn over Osama bin Laden in 2001. George W. Bush could have avoided the war in Afghanistan, but instead he chose to declare war on “evil doers.” In any case, Osama bin Laden left the country in 2001 and died in Pakistan in 2011. Twenty years of occupying Afghanistan has only made the Taliban more popular. It has only created new terrorist groups like ISIS-K. Occupying Iraq and Afghanistan fueled terrorism. According to neocons, it didn’t even eliminate al-Qaeda there.
“Intelligence agencies around the world have indicated that jihadist chatter is spiking, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said the time frame in which he expects terror threats emanating from Afghanistan to mature has accelerated. …”
These same “intelligence agencies” are the people who have created and backed all of these terrorist groups in the first place. It was the “intelligence community” who backed Osama bin Laden and the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s and who destabilized the country.
“As of this writing, American forces are evacuating civilians from the airport in Kabul with the Taliban-backed Haqqani network — a U.S. State Department–designated terrorist outfit that is closely allied with al-Qaeda — providing for our “security.” …”
Why is the Taliban in Kabul? Isn’t it because they took a city of 4.4 million people in hours? How was the Taliban able to just waltz into Kabul in triumph?
“Other than that, America’s latest experiment with retrenchment is going great. …”
America’s retrenchment in Southeast Asia is also going great. It has been over 40 years since the last American soldier died there. Laos and Cambodia fell to communism and the sky didn’t fall in Texas.
“The fig leaf to which Joe Biden and like-minded supporters of American retreat from the world stage still cling is that all of this was inevitable. “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” the president insisted, a shameful slander of the Afghans who fought and died for their country — indeed, who continue to fight alongside Western forces as we scramble to evacuate our own. “The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful, no matter when it started, when we began,” Biden later added, contradicting his earlier assurances that Americans would not be confronted with Saigon-like images punctuating their nation’s disgrace. …”
Yes, why should American soldiers fight and die to sustain a fake puppet government and a fake army in Afghanistan? Why should trillions of dollars be spent to artificially prop up a rotten and corrupt government that was incapable of standing on its own two feet?
“Biden’s case that our humiliation was unavoidable doesn’t have just Democratic heads nodding along. The Right’s more isolationist elements appear to agree. “It’s time for a late-stage empire to come home and rebuild itself as a durable and functioning nation-state,” Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer insisted. “True, the Taliban takeover was inevitable,” The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher agreed, “and we had to get out.” And, some prominent Trumpian figures on the right maintain, at least the Taliban has values. “Why did the Taliban win?” Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson asked. He answered his own question by insisting that, like himself, the Afghan people “rejected what our leaders were selling” them: e.g., the “grotesque” “neoliberal program.” It turns out, Carlson added, Afghans “don’t hate their own masculinity. They don’t think it’s toxic. They like the patriarchy. Some of their women like it, too. So, now they’re getting it all back.” …”
The fall of Afghanistan humiliated imperialists.
It was not a humiliation to those of us who never supported the war and occupation of Afghanistan at any point over the last twenty years. We never supported imperialism in the first place. Of all the places on earth, we certainly never supported imperialism in Afghanistan!
“If the Afghan debacle is worthy of criticism, in their view, it is only in that Biden didn’t manage this declinist project with more aplomb. …”
We’re happy that Joe ended the stupid war in Afghanistan. It was the best thing that he has done. The alternative was staying there forever and going back to war with the Taliban … to accomplish what?
“Advocates of retrenchment insist that the situation in Afghanistan was unsustainable partly owing to the Trump administration’s negotiated “cease-fire” with the Taliban on February 29, 2020, which settled on an eventual withdrawal date in 2021. That cease-fire is the only reason the U.S. has not suffered a combat-related fatality in Afghanistan since February 8, 2020, they insist. …”
Yes, the Taliban has honored their side of the peace deal. The Taliban wants their own country back. We’re happy to give it them. It is their country, not our country.
“But the U.S. resumed air strikes on Taliban positions less than a week after that vaunted deal was secured, after the Taliban violated its terms. Both the Trump and the Biden administrations maintained that tempo of operations until May 2021, when Biden withdrew not just air support for the Afghan National Army but logistical support as well. It was then that “the U.S. pulled its air support, intelligence and contractors servicing Afghanistan’s planes and helicopters,” the Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov reported. “That meant the Afghan military simply couldn’t operate anymore.” Biden briefly resumed air strikes on advancing Taliban positions in late July when it became clear that the entire edifice was collapsing, but by then it was too late. …”
Air power didn’t hold Vietnam or Afghanistan.
“The collapse of the Afghan government wasn’t written in the stars. It was engineered. …”
Granted, we could have continued to prop up the fake Afghan government and the fake Afghan army. We could have resumed the war with the Taliban. Twenty years from now, the children of Zoomer soldiers who are dying in Afghanistan now could still be there fighting off the insurgency.
“Joe Biden also continues to insist that American national security is not impaired by the loss of Afghanistan; to the contrary, it is strengthened, in part because the terror threat across the globe is “metastasizing.” Refocusing our attention elsewhere in the Islamic world will prove a strategic boon because we can, for instance, preserve our counter-terrorism operations in the Afghan–Pakistan region without a permanent presence. The Biden administration’s actions betray this as a fantasy. …”
As the recent drone strikes on ISIS-K have shown, any terrorist operating in Afghanistan can be taken out at vastly less expense by a cruise missile or a drone without occupying Afghanistan.
“Although U.S. war planners were unable to convince Biden to leave a residual counter-terrorism operation behind in Afghanistan, the White House has subsequently scrambled to secure basing, overflight, and military-cooperation agreements with Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors. Why? Because the idea that we can reliably deter and disrupt terrorist operations in this region from “over the horizon” via carriers parked in the Persian Gulf, and without the benefit of reliable intelligence from our regional partners, is fictional. As we learned when Islamic State militants cascaded over the Syrian border into Iraq, satellites and overflights are no substitute for reliable intelligence provided by dependable observers on the ground. …”
And yet, Joe Biden was able to launch drone strikes on ISIS-K without Bagram Air Force Base just as he has done in Syria and Somalia.
“The truth is that our low-cost, high-reward footprint in Afghanistan wasn’t just sustainable; it was vital, just as are the many other similarly imperative deployments the United States maintains all around the globe. …”
Yeah, like, it only cost us $2 trillion dollars and it was totally worth it because the Taliban is more popular than ever and new terrorist groups have emerged there during the occupation of Afghanistan.
“In Iraq, where the United States also hasn’t suffered a battlefield casualty since March of 2020, despite the absence of any Trump-era peace deals with militant groups, the American mission is clear: disrupt insurgent operations, preserve the stability of our Iraqi partners, and deter Iranian regional aggression. Would we sacrifice that mission, inviting an even greater global backlash against American leadership, and emboldening Tehran to execute attacks on Western assets in the Gulf, for the sake of a domestic political narrative? No responsible president would contemplate such a thing — at least, not after America’s ill-fated pullout of all troops from the country in 2011 and our subsequent reintroduction of those troops three years later at a time and place not of our choosing. …”
Yes, we should get out of Iraq and Syria too.
We should stop meddling the Middle East. The Pentagon and the “intelligence community” should stop creating and arming new terrorist groups in the region. We should stop wasting our money on absurd causes like women’s rights and gay pride in Afghanistan.
“American troops are stationed all over the world as a deterrent against chaos, instability, and metastatic threats to Americans at home and abroad. …”
By stationing American troops all over the world, imperialists have meddled in conflicts that are none of our business and have created resentments that have put Americans in danger. This is the ultimate “Big Government” social engineering project. It failed in Vietnam. It failed in Afghanistan. It will doubtlessly fail elsewhere.
“The U.S. maintains deployments in and around the Middle East that fluctuate between 45,000 and 65,000 troops. Would advocates of retrenchment sacrifice that mission — and the Middle Eastern governments that rely on it to prevent non-state actors and Iranian proxies from destabilizing those regimes? If so, they would shatter a sustainable status quo in a move that would likely necessitate more American involvement in the region. …”
We have no business propping up Saudi Arabia and all the corrupt Gulf states.
“What about Africa, where between 6,000 and 7,000 American troops are advising local forces fighting Islamist militant groups? In Somalia, Niger, Chad, and Mali, the U.S. maintains small forward outposts from which it operates drones and supports local governments in a cooperative effort to keep Islamist elements from consolidating and, eventually, exporting terrorism. What about our 2,000 or so soldiers who are helping to prevent Islamist elements from gaining strength in the Philippines and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific? …”
What about Africa?
Do we have to rule that continent too? Do we also have an obligation to all the refugees that might come to the United States from Africa?
“But these deployments, critics of America’s forward-basing posture are quick to note, aren’t producing American casualties and draining the Treasury in the process, which would sap the country of political support for those missions. And yet, in 2020, America lost more of its men and women in uniform in “peaceful” deployments around the world than in either Afghanistan or Iraq. That year, Americans died in missions to places such as Kosovo, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, and Kuwait. …”
Just as British soldiers died all over the world for the sake of imperialism, the same is now true of American soldiers even though this country was literally founded on the exact opposite ideal of self government.
“American soldiers are at risk wherever they serve, and the sacrifice of any life in service to this country is one we must honor. But what is the qualitative distinction between our support for friendly governments in Kuwait City, Amman, and Pristina (whose friendliness it behooves us to preserve) and our support for Baghdad or Kabul? The only consistent argument in favor of pulling back from all of the world’s complications is the McGovernite view that it’s time to “come home, America.” …”
Since the days of William Jennings Bryan, the populist view of foreign policy has always been that we should mind our own business. We should reject imperialism. The fate of all empires is the same.
“Honest advocates of American retreat from the world stage rarely articulate such an outlook in part because it is so tactically and strategically foolish that it has been repudiated by every American administration until this one. We can now see why. …”
Now that Afghanistan is joining Vietnam in the rearview mirror, no one but neocons will be pining to go back there a year from now.
“Few could be satisfied with America’s record on the development of a civil society in Afghanistan. As the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) revealed in an August 2021 report, we made plenty of mistakes in Central Asia. …”
Wasn’t the original mistake not taking the Taliban up on their offer in 2001 to just hand over Osama bin Laden?
“We tolerated too much corruption, made allies of too many bad actors, and were too solipsistic in our efforts to establish political institutions that lacked regard for Afghan cultural conventions. None could say with a straight face that our efforts at democracy promotion over the decades have been successful. …”
Aside from the fact that we spent $100 billion dollars on nation building in Afghanistan and squandered trillions of dollars there and the people of Afghanistan turned to the Taliban out of hatred of the puppet government in Kabul, it was a success.
“And yet democracy promotion abroad is successful when it is incidental to the pursuit of an achievable long-term mission. Somehow, Germany managed to overcome what critics of its political culture insisted was its inseverable attachment to Prussian militarism. Likewise, Japan managed to implement a new social contract free of imperial feudalism. South Korea was a nation ruled by military junta until the early 1970s. Despite unrest and, indeed, attacks on U.S. personnel, the United States maintained a permanent presence in these countries in pursuit of our permanent security interests. …”
What’s the difference between Afghanistan and Germany, Japan and South Korea after an American occupation that lasted 20 years?
“Republican political cultures developed as a secondary consequence of our involvement there, and only after decades of growing pains. Perhaps that would never have happened in Afghanistan. We will never know now. …”
If we had stayed in Afghanistan for a thousand years, maybe it would have worked?
“But even if America’s commitment to a fledgling democratic government in Kabul is over, our involvement in Afghanistan is not. As SIGAR’s bleak and clear-eyed report on the woeful state of the American mission in Afghanistan concedes, “there will likely be times in the future when insurgent control or influence over a particular area or population is deemed an imminent threat to U.S. interests.” No competent American president would or should allow an “imminent threat” of this sort to materialize. Our interests in Central Asia will persist even if they are not seen to by this administration. …”
After spending the last 40 years destabilizing Afghanistan only to squander trillions of dollars and create a haven for terrorists in the process, it is true that it could potentially take the country decades to recover. Perhaps with Chinese leadership the outcome there will be different?
“What did we get out of an exercise that cost America over 2,400 lives and nearly $1 trillion? …”
First and foremost, we changed the demographics of NOVA and made the Beltway a vastly wealthier place than it was before 9/11. We enriched defense contractors. We transferred an immense sum of money from the Heartland to everyone who benefited from the racket. Now, the idiots who lost the war want to resettle Afghan refugees there and create a host of new social problems the likes of which are already on display in Germany.
“First and foremost, zero major foreign-directed terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in the generation that has elapsed since September 11. That’s no small feat, and it did not happen by accident. …”
By invading Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, we created ISIS which didn’t exist before which launched the most recent terrorist attack in Kabul.
“Of course, the geostrategic obligations of the only nation capable of sustained power projection anywhere on earth do not always align with the desires of its electorate. …”
Yeah, like, why should Americans rule themselves anyway? We have neocons who know better like Noah Rothman. Just look at all that they have accomplished in Afghanistan.
“Americans are tired of the mission. That fatigue, which ambitious politicians cannot help but exploit, was foreshadowed in George W. Bush’s 2001 address to a joint session of Congress, in which he outlined a “lengthy campaign unlike any we have ever seen” against terrorism and its enablers abroad. “Our resolve must not pass,” he warned, perhaps with America’s historic apathy toward the world beyond its shores in mind. …”
George W. Bush was the worst president of our lifetimes and history has shown that self-righteously declaring war on “terrorism” and “evil” played out like the critics of his wars said it would at the time.
“And yet, the kind of war Bush envisioned was not so new as to shock the American psyche. It had been outlined nearly 40 years earlier by John F. Kennedy in a 1962 speech at West Point. Then, America faced a threat posed by communist “guerrillas, subversives, insurgents, assassins,” and tactics involving “war by ambush instead of by combat.” He outlined a doctrinal posture that would transform the American military from a reaction force and an instrument of deterrence into a preventative apparatus. It would deploy in smaller numbers but broadly and in pursuit of advantage in America’s struggle against the Soviet Union. …”
So, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos fell to communism, and it turns out that we could actually live with that and move on with our lives.
“It was the logical basis that led the U.S. into the ill-fated morass that came of its support for South Vietnam, yes. But it also informed more successful deployments to Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, and Grenada. It guided the decisions by successive policy-makers to counter Soviet influence in Nicaragua, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, and, eventually, Afghanistan. …”
When I think of interventionist success stories, I think of countries like Lebanon and Nicaragua and Mozambique and Angola.
“And in the end, the United States emerged victorious in that great battle between two competing theories of social organization. We are once again engaged in a generational conflict against an ideology that is incompatible with egalitarian republicanism. It will end as the Cold War ended: when one side surrenders. But America’s political class has misjudged Americans if it believes the public will welcome surrender and defeat as a remedy for exhaustion. …”
Yes, the project of imperialism is incompatible at the deepest level with American republican tradition which is based on the ideal of self-government and independence.
“If you thought Americans were displeased by the way we got out of Afghanistan, wait until you see how they respond to the circumstances that force us to go back. …”
The GOP is welcome to run on the platform of returning to Afghanistan.
“At best, the American retreat from Central Asia represents a new phase in the Global War on Terror — one that delivers us from stalemate and into a situation in which Afghanistan is once again a void in which threats to the U.S. and our allies can develop. As Joe Biden’s defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, reportedly told the president, “We’ve seen this movie before.” And we know how it ends.”
There is no threat in the landlocked states of Central Asia which can’t be taken out with a drone strike or a cruise missile.