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Afghanistan

#101 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-26, 20:41

Zach Beauchamp at Vox said:

This is just insanely dishonest.

The reasons that there had been no US service deaths since February 2020 — that very specific date he chose — is *because the US had a deal with the Taliban*.

John Podhoretz at Witchcraft News said:

As we mourn the losses of American servicemembers today in Kabul, please keep this in mind: They would not be dead if Joe Biden had not chosen to pull American forces out of Afghanistan.

The number of deaths today in Afghanistan is greater than the entire number of Americans who died there in 2020. They mark the first service deaths in Afghanistan since February 2020. The change here was the deliberate and conscious decision to “end a war” in which Americans were not suffering combat casualties.

The status quo held. And then Joe Biden, in between licks of his ice cream cones, heedlessly and vaingloriously smashed it to bits. He wanted to be the bringer of peace; he is instead the bringer of chaos. And we haven’t seen anything yet.

https://www.commenta...we-mourn-today/

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#102 User is offline   Lovera 

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Posted 2021-August-27, 02:26

But it's usefull to read this one to understand better at that point we are:https://www.commenta...e-taliban-lost/
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#103 User is offline   Lovera 

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Posted 2021-August-27, 02:42

View Postkenberg, on 2021-August-26, 07:13, said:

I'll start at the "what now" portion of what you say.
1. Accept that we will have very little to say.
2. Fulfill our promises to get people out as best we can.
3. Give some thought to the future.

As to the future, it is unlikely that the consequences of the Taliban takeover will end at the borders of Afghanistan.

Now about "started with the best intentions". Often actions are taken with some blend of self-interest and goodwill. These two motives can blend together. Domestically, I would like to see those who are living on the edge be given a chance to do better. I would like to see it because I hope for the best for people, but I also think the nation I live in will do better if everyone develops as well as possible. This would be good for me as well as them. Ok, back to Afghanistan. A western style democracy, although not perfect, could be good for Afghans. If that had been successful, it would also be good for us and I strongly suspect that was the main thought.

We just did a really crappy job of it. Why? I am not wise enough to give a full answer but surely part of it was that we are outsiders telling the people who live there what to do.

At any rate, we must accept that however much some, perhaps many, Afghans like some, probably not all, of what we were trying to do, that's over. The Taliban is in charge, they will not be calling us for advice on the education of women or anything else, and we have to deal as best we can with a very bad situation for people that we have made direct promises to about getting them out. And then try to look ahead realistically.


Looking to the future in peacetime when there is an acceptable stabilization of the general situation and, possibly, as long as possible to allow to apply directives and objectives that have been given and studied is one thing but these events that now change very quickly tell us, to now, to decant everything as quickly as possible to give way to another complex and more invisible dynamic that re-establishes the terms at stake and avoids further negative impacts.
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#104 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-27, 05:05

Amanda Taub at NYT said:

I have spent most of this week in Mexico City, working on the evacuation of many of our New York Times colleagues from Afghanistan. At the request of the Times, the Mexican government allowed an evacuation flight to land here with more than 100 employees and their family members, opening a desperately needed door when others around the world had closed.

But their journey is not over, so I am writing this newsletter with the 5 percent of my brain that is not presently consumed with questions ranging from how best to get them legal and physical safety in the United States to how to ensure the group has sufficient diapers and baby clothes for the youngest among them.

That remaining 5 percent is taken up with one major concern: whether the American foreign-policy establishment has made a critical miscalculation of what kinds of “credibility” need to be preserved. And that the events in Afghanistan may have dealt a serious blow to the credibility that matters most.

When analysts and politicians refer to “credibility,” they are usually referring to the United States’ ability to convince other countries that it will make good on its word: that it will keep its promises to allies, make good on threats to hostile powers, and suchlike. As Max wrote last week, it’s not clear whether that kind of credibility is very important — considerable evidence suggests that countries tend to evaluate new situations independently of history, and that credibility is more of a justification for hawkish policies than a real concern.

But there is another kind of credibility that gets less attention from scholars, and yet may be important to the actual operation of American foreign policy: credibility with ordinary people in other countries when we ask them to help with American operations.

When the United States promises protection and then cannot follow through — as the world sees happening to the thousands of people massed around Kabul airport, trying to get to safety — that could well have an effect on the United States’ ability to hire and collaborate with people in similar roles in the future.

“Credibility” is usually about credibility to other countries and allies, but this is really about credibility to the people who we need to work with us,” said Elizabeth N. Saunders, a professor at Georgetown University. That is an operational matter as well as a moral one, she said. “It’s just unrealistic to think that we’re never going to need interpreters on the ground.”

It is possible, of course, that individuals are no more likely to look to governments’ past actions when evaluating the risks of cooperation than governments are. There is a lot of research on country-level credibility, but I haven’t seen much looking at individuals’ willingness to cooperate with the United States or another foreign power.

This kind of question — whether individuals will be less likely put their safety in American hands — will play out over years. But I have found myself weighing such calculations as I watch the Times move mountains and money to get our colleagues to safety.

The paper’s leaders are doing so because it is the right thing to do, and because we all feel a personal obligation to make sure that our colleagues have the help they need after they risked everything to help us do our work.

But it is not for nothing that I also feel safer doing my job after observing the scale of this effort to bring my colleagues to safety. Seeing the Times show up for our Afghan colleagues in this way makes me feel more secure that they will show up for me, too, if I find myself in need of help on a future assignment. And that sense of safety, in turn, will make me more willing to take on those assignments, contributing to the paper’s overall mission.

It’s also true that it wouldn’t have happened without help from, among many others, the United States — and especially from the U.S. Marines who helped identify our families at the airport and get them to safety on a Qatari military transport.

When the American evacuation ends, tens of thousands of people will have been taken out of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. That’s not nothing. But it will remain to see how the many, many more people left behind — possibly hundreds of thousands who might qualify for some emergency U.S. visa, according to one study — will weigh on the United States’ ability to gain trust at a crucial level: one person at a time, making a crucial life decision about whether they want the American way to be theirs.

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#105 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-August-27, 07:05

From the Amanda Taubs article:
"But there is another kind of credibility that gets less attention from scholars, and yet may be important to the actual operation of American foreign policy: credibility with ordinary people in other countries when we ask them to help with American operations."


The broad question of just how people choose is important. I guess it's been 60 years or so since Zorba the Greek came out but I still recall, approximately "I no longer ask is a man Greek, is he a Turk, I ask is he good or is he bad. And I swear I sometimes don't even ask that anymore".


I assume all of us have had occasion to say to ourselves "I don't trust that guy". Maybe we can give a logical argument for it, maybe not. And we are not always right. But often we are.
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#106 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-August-27, 09:00

View PostPeterAlan, on 2021-August-26, 19:24, said:

Possibly this piece Ken?


No, not that one.. That second paragraph I mentioned said something about questions being raised concerning our actions and I thought "What questions and who is raising them, this is too vague". I was specifically looking for reasons to be critical of the article since we were discussing how the media might not be playing fair with JB. But then further down they were very specific about questions from foreign leaders as well as serious people here at home. I won't try to recite them from memory. But then I thought "Ok, it passes the credibility test".

I just don't read sources that I don't reasonably trust. Still, I try to use judgment. My most frequent objection comes when reporters discuss statistics. I don't expect a reporter to be an expert, but I think they need to have someone credible review their statistical comments before publishing. This usually isn't deliberate bias. A good start would be for a person, when confronted with a percentage, to always ask "What is this a percentage of? Precisely what of?".
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#107 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-27, 18:41

Matt Yglesias said:

Question of the day

Robert Wright said:

https://nonzero.subs...Y9ftKGqVPEh2J6A

If you want to get terrified by the prospect that withdrawal from Afghanistan will lead to big terrorist attacks on American soil, Robin Wright of The New Yorker can help. In a piece called “Afghanistan, Again, Becomes a Cradle for Jihadism—and Al Qaeda,” she paints a bleak picture by drawing on assessments from (1) a high-ranking member of the military establishment (which, recent events suggest, doesn’t have a clear understanding of facts on the ground in Afghanistan); and (2) “terrorism experts” (who will start telling us terrorism isn’t a huge threat to America on the same day that lawyers tell us we don’t need so many lawyers). Here’s my question: As it becomes clearer and clearer that our national security elites—government officials, commentators, think tankers and other experts—have by and large done a bad job of guiding US foreign policy over the past couple of decades, shouldn’t journalists who cover international affairs start doing things other than gather quotes from the usual suspects? (I should add that Wright—no relation, btw—is, notwithstanding this latest exercise, generally more thoughtful than the average foreign affairs scribe.) Here, for example, is a question I’d love for some MSM journalist to pursue and report on:

Why exactly would Taliban control of Afghanistan translate into big terrorist attacks on America? Let’s assume the worst-case scenario: the Taliban violates the agreement they struck with the US and turns their country into a playground for al Qaeda. But does a nationwide playground really allow al Qaeda to do things it couldn’t already do? Suppose, for example, that you’re running al Qaeda, and you want to plan another 9/11-style attack. Do you really need to have a whole country at your disposal to do the planning and preparation? Aren’t modern terrorist attacks, kind of like modern projects generally, things you can orchestrate virtually, without having some big physical facility where everyone involved spends lots of time together? And, anyway, let’s say you do need a big facility—even hundreds of acres of turf to accommodate a big training camp. The Taliban has controlled big stretches of turf in Afghanistan for years, so it’s not like their finally taking Kabul is a game changer in that regard. And, though it was slightly easier for the US to bomb a training camp before withdrawal than now, it’s still pretty easy. I’m not saying the Taliban’s full control of Afghanistan won’t turn the country into a platform for launching the next 9/11. I’m just saying it’s not clear to me why it would, and I’d love it if journalists at the New Yorker or the New York Times or the Washington Post or anywhere else critically interrogated their sources in ways that shed light on such puzzles.

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#108 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-28, 09:04

From Ezra Klein's conversation with Robert Wright about Afghanistan and the US foreign policy establishment aka the blob:

Quote

KLEIN: And I want to be honest about this. I am a columnist — although I wasn’t then — who supported the Iraq war, to my enduring shame. I have my excuses for that. I was a college freshman. I wasn’t a — somebody covering politics. But when I think back on it, this is the key thing, and it’s what has really changed the way I approach foreign policy myself, which is what I looked at then was George W. Bush, and Colin Powell, and Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton, and Tony Blair — and for that matter, Joe Biden — and all of these people from different parties and different countries, who seem to have access to a level of intelligence that I didn’t — and I assumed they knew something I didn’t.

And then they just didn’t. And not only did they not know something I didn’t — a lot of the things they thought they knew just weren’t true. Draper’s book “To Start a War” that came out last year — I highly recommend it on this. It’s a fantastic look at how much they were wrong about. One of the things I really want to interrogate in this conversation are two dominant assumptions of American foreign policy — one, that we have enough information to do things like invade, and occupy, and rebuild other countries, and then the other — that we have the control over external events, such that we could implement policies like that.

And here I think, again and again, we’ve seen that we do not have that information. The people at the top are often more blinkered and misinformed than the people on the ground, simply because they have this huge architecture of generals and so-called experts telling them things that expats often — exiles — that they often want to hear.

And I don’t say it’s insincerely motivated or it’s not done with an effort to try to make the world a better place, but it is not reliable. And to me there has been no reckoning with its unreliability down to this last couple of weeks, where we have this withdrawal, and the same people who have been wrong in their predictions now about Afghanistan for 20 years are on TV saying they know how they should have actually been done. There’s just no reckoning with the failed record of predictions or the poor empirical foundation upon which we stand.

ROBERT WRIGHT: Yeah. When there is as strong a consensus in support of a policy, like the Iraq war, as there was — virtually everyone in the establishment supported it — then there’s nobody with influence who wants accountability. And maybe that’s part of it. The other thing is most Americans do not care about foreign policy unless Americans are coming home in body bags. That’s what finally did it in Vietnam.

And as a result, foreign policy is disproportionally influenced by a number of relatively narrow interest groups that have their particular issues that they focus on. If you ask, for example, why a policy that some of us think is almost always a bad idea, which is economic sanctions — why are we immiserating the people of Venezuela, and the people of Cuba, and the people of Iran, and Syria?

Well, the answers are actually different, to some extent. There are different lobbies focused on these particular regions. But at the same time, there is a larger world view shared by foreign policy elites that is also part of the problem. You have the problem of particular lobbies, and then you have the problem of the whole blob’s worldview.

And part of the blob’s worldview is that we have to keep meddling in countries — for a noble purpose, right? I don’t doubt the good intentions of the foreign policy elite, but they do feel that they have to keep busy making things better in various countries, even though, if you look at most of the countries we’ve intervened in — whether militarily through direct military intervention, or through proxy military intervention, or through economic sticks like sanctions — it seems to me, usually, we make things worse.

And so we just have to respect the inherent limits of our understanding of things, for one thing. We just have to, on the one hand, I think, work much harder to understand how things actually look on the ground in various countries, how various foreign leaders view the world, and so on, but at the end of the day, still understand that the limits of that exercise can be pretty strict. In other words, there’s only so thoroughly you can understand things.

And even when you understand things pretty well, it’s hard to predict what the outcome of an intervention is going to be. And all of that should add up to a kind of humility that I just don’t think America has exhibited.

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#109 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-29, 07:40

Max Fisher at NYT said:

The US foreign policy establishment had a real opportunity this week to confront and learn from its 20-year failure in Afghanistan. Instead, just like in Iraq, it’s refused, blaming it all on poor execution. American empire can never fail, it can only be failed.

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#110 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-29, 08:53

Again I turn to the warnings from Andrew Bacevich of the disconnect between the public and the armed forces created by an all-volunteer army. I don't think it would have been possible to have had a 20-year war using draftees.
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#111 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-29, 12:29

Joe Cirincione, author said:

Bob Kagan, one of the primary architects of the neoconservative drive to invade Iraq, gets 3 full pages @washingtonpost to declare the resulting 20 years of war a resounding success.

https://www.washingt...ericans-forget/

What are the odds that the Post gives a war opponent equal space to correct his false claims?

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#112 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-29, 18:55

David Rothkoph at USA Today said:

The intellectual dishonesty in critiques of how President Joe Biden is handling the U.S. departure from Afghanistan has been off the charts. That's not to say some of them are not warranted. They certainly are. The swift fall of Kabul to the Taliban was predictable, and there is a case that we should have been better prepared for it. And there is no doubt that the risks we faced were great, as shown by the Kabul airport attack last week that claimed the lives of at least 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. troops.

But some of the arguments we are hearing are indefensible. Among the worst:

1. Biden owns this.

No. The authors of 20 years of war own this. The corrupt Afghan government and the Afghan military who stood down own this. The Trump administration that set the deadlines, drew down the troops, left behind the materiel and released up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners owns this.

2. Well, at least he owns the chaos surrounding our exit.

No. There's no way that the Taliban regaining control would not have led to chaos with many thousands of Afghans seeking to escape the rule of a thug regime. Whenever we began to airlift folks out, it would have started.

3. Well, at least he should have been better prepared for the chaos.

I'm going to give you this one, but it should be noted that efforts to prepare were rebuffed. The Afghan government did not want the United States beginning mass evacuations for the reasons cited in No. 2.

We did not abandon our friends

4. Washington could have given those in jeopardy more warning.

No. Trump said he wanted out when he ran in 2016 and signed a deal with an earlier deadline last year. Biden ran in 2020 saying he would leave. The State Department ordered some federal employees to leave in April.

5. America abandoned our allies.

No. Some of those allies left before we did. Canada left in 2014 but has returned in recent days to help with the evacuation. All knew for years of U.S. discussions regarding departure, and the Trump deal and announced departure early last year. And there has been close coordination during the evacuation process. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has convened meetings every other day with nearly 30 allied and other nations.

6. The evacuation was bungled.

No. It started off badly but turned out to be masterful. The administration and the military adapted quickly. The airlift is one of the biggest in U.S. military history; about 114,400 people had been evacuated as of Sunday.

7. The U.S. departure from Afghanistan will make it a potential breeding ground for terror again.

Afghanistan has been a dangerous place all 20 years America has been there. The swift and inevitable Taliban return to power and the airport attack by ISIS-K, the Islamic State group's Afghanistan affiliate, show that won't change. Meanwhile, there has been a massive increase in terror threats worldwide. Afghanistan is no longer the epicenter of the threat, and we must adapt. We have many tools to respond, as the drone strikes against ISIS-K illustrate.

8. People will be left behind.

It is wildly unrealistic to think the United States could remove everyone at risk from Afghanistan. What's being done is above and beyond expectations. Other forms of political, diplomatic and economic pressure must be used to promote human rights in Afghanistan.

9. We could easily have left troops there indefinitely.

No. There was a cost to that and a risk. The risk grew as the Taliban grew in strength. Trump accelerated that with the release of prisoners held by the Afghan government and his announced May 1 departure date. Staying would have required a bigger investment.

10. But we have left troops in Germany and South Korea.

Not comparable. Those are allied nations facing real imminent threats from major enemies who pose a strategic risk to the United States. We have no similar ongoing interest in Afghanistan.

Troops are not always the answer

11. But the troops could have protected women and girls.

First, as noted, the Taliban were gaining strength for years – despite the presence of the troops. Second, troops are not the means we advance such interests anywhere else. It is not a sustainable or effective approach.

12. But Biden and his team say human rights are at the center of our foreign policy.

That can be true without deploying troops to confront all threats to rights. It must be. Because we'll never do that. Are critics suggesting deployments now to Ethiopia? Myanmar? To protect women elsewhere?

13. The debate about Biden’s performance is not about getting out of Afghanistan. Trying to make it about that is an effort to deflect and distract.

No. Getting out of Afghanistan is the central issue, marking a major shift in U.S. policy. It is about ending a 20-year war. It is about acknowledging a massive U.S. foreign policy failure and shifting to new priorities. That's the point.

14. Biden was part of the problem; he has known about this all along.

No. Biden has been arguing to wind this down for 12 years. When he was vice president, his view was overruled by President Barack Obama. And after 9/11, almost everyone supported going in after al-Qaida. For good reason.

15. But … but … it's messy and painful.

Right. As Carnegie Endowment Senior Fellow Stephen Wertheim has noted, “You don’t get to lose a war and expect the result to look like you won it.”

Bottom line: The airlift is a major logistical achievement. Tragically, in exiting a war like this, some chaos and deaths were inevitable. But getting out was right – and long overdue.

David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) is a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, host of "Deep State Radio," and CEO of the Rothkopf Group media and podcasting company specializing in international issues. This column was adapted from a Twitter thread.
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#113 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-29, 20:31

View Posty66, on 2021-August-29, 18:55, said:

David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) is a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, host of "Deep State Radio," and CEO of the Rothkopf Group media and podcasting company specializing in international issues. This column was adapted from a Twitter thread.


Why are you posting sanity when you know Lindsey has earmarked impeachment as the only valid response to sanity.
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#114 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-30, 09:19

Here is a headline from the WaPo:

Quote




How can there be defeat when there was never a precise goal that would indicate a win? The story is about withdrawing from a conflict for which there was never a precise goal to accomplish.

This isn't the NFL. It does no good to have media reporting as if a scorecard is needed. If there was a loss, it occurred 20 years ago when without a plan on what to accomplish the U.S. left troops in Afghanistan.
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#115 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-August-30, 11:24

As the Taliban set up shop I imagine that they feel pretty good about defeating us. I would not quarrel with that phrasing. And I am pretty sure quite a few Afghans are feeling abandoned, despite WH spokespeople saying we haven't. I think Biden made mistakes early on, and then did a decent job of correcting course. And if David Rothkoph thinks that my intellectual dishonesty is off the charts for saying that, I'll live with his view. Probably "disaster" is a more accurate description than "defeat", but we need to now do the best we can, whatever the word is.
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#116 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-30, 12:24

View Postkenberg, on 2021-August-30, 11:24, said:

As the Taliban set up shop I imagine that they feel pretty good about defeating us. I would not quarrel with that phrasing. And I am pretty sure quite a few Afghans are feeling abandoned, despite WH spokespeople saying we haven't. I think Biden made mistakes early on, and then did a decent job of correcting course. And if David Rothkoph thinks that my intellectual dishonesty is off the charts for saying that, I'll live with his view. Probably "disaster" is a more accurate description than "defeat", but we need to now do the best we can, whatever the word is.


I agree that we have to deal with our situation but I also am positive that words matter - especially in our propaganda-driven world of social media postings.

This was not a defeat - it was a monumental mistake and to call it otherwise only helps those responsible for those decisions to continue to be influential and spin it as Biden’s “loss “.

If it must be defined as a loss, then it was Paul Wolfowitz’s loss.
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#117 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-August-30, 12:36

I hope that JB does not follow your advice. It's a defeat. We can accept that and move on. Or we can argue that it is not a defeat. It is. The Taliban wished to take over Afghanistan. We hoped to stop them from doing so. They did take over Afghanistan. Seems like defeat is a pretty accurate word. I really hope that we do not lose time, focus and energy trying to convince the world that this was not a defeat. Such an effort will not be successful.
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#118 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-August-30, 13:12

View Postkenberg, on 2021-August-30, 12:36, said:

(1)The Taliban wished to take over Afghanistan. (2) We hoped to stop them from doing so. (3)They did take over Afghanistan.
my numbering

1. The Taliban did not wish to take over Afghanistan - The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 so they wanted to regain control of Afghanistan.
2. We did not hope to stop them - we had already stopped them. Our military overthrew the Taliban in 2001 and established a new Afghan government. The Taliban were out of power for 20 years. What we hoped was that the Afghan army and Afghan government would stop on their own
the Taliban from regaining control.
3. Our military was ordered out in 2021. Yes, the Taliban once again took over Afghanistan and neither the Afghan government nor the Afghan army resisted to any significant degree.

This seemed to me an excellent recap of what and why.

Quote

“In the end, we prosecuted the war in Afghanistan because we could,” Eikenberry said. “With no peer competitor, a volunteer force, and deficit spending, we had the luxury strategically and politically of fighting a forever war.”


Btw, you guys might think that I am trying to give Biden a pass on his part but I am not. The withdrawal. to me surely could have been better handled.

What I most seriously attempting, though, is to prevent this conclusion of conflicts to absolve those who most hold blame for the fiasco: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, McChrystal, Patreus, et all.

We should never forget the arrogant and totally wrong quote from a neo-con aide back in those days.

Quote

We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality.


No, you don't. Reality is what you are seeing now, and it isn't a pretty sight. Let's not let these guys get a free pass by blaming Biden's efforts to end the fiasco they created.

This post has been edited by Winstonm: 2021-August-30, 15:05

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#119 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-August-31, 07:14

David Leonhardt at NYT said:

https://messaging-cu...896ed87b2d9c72a

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States and its allies needed less than four years to vanquish their fascist enemies. After the secession of Southern states in 1860 and 1861, the U.S. spent slightly more than four years defeating the rebellion. After the first battles at Lexington and Concord in 1775, the colonies took about eight years to beat the British and create a new nation.

The war in Afghanistan — which ended yesterday, as the final U.S. troops left — lasted 19 years and 47 weeks, dating to the first bombing of the Taliban on Oct. 7, 2001. It is America’s longest war, far longer than the country’s great victories and longer even than its previous protracted defeat in Vietnam or stalemate in Korea.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. has been able to claim some accomplishments. American troops killed Osama bin Laden (albeit in Pakistan, not Afghanistan) and captured or killed other architects of the 9/11 attacks. Afghanistan temporarily turned into a democracy where schools improved and women could live more freely than before.

Yet the main accomplishments proved fleeting.

For all of the bravery and sacrifice of the Afghan and American troops who fought together, their leaders failed to create an enduring government or functioning military. Despite two decades of work and a couple of trillion dollars spent, the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed in a matter of days. The regime was evidently no more enduring than it had been five years ago, 10 years ago — or on Dec. 22, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was sworn in as Afghanistan’s first post-9/11 leader.

Across the span of American history, it’s hard to think of another failed project that lasted so long or cost so much. There have been worse injustices and tragedies in this country, but they were usually deliberate. The U.S. has been attempting to win in Afghanistan for nearly the entire 21st century.

Biden certainly could have overseen a more successful exit than he did, especially if he and his aides had taken more seriously the chances of a rapid Taliban takeover. I also understand that some people believe that an unending, low-level war in Afghanistan was worth the trade-offs. These advocates argue that the number of American soldiers killed each year had fallen into the single digits, while the financial cost was below $20 billion a year (which, by comparison, is a little more than half the country’s foreign-aid budget). In exchange, the U.S. likely could have prevented a complete Taliban takeover and the chaos of the past few weeks.

But it’s worth emphasizing that this option really did mean unending war. After nearly 20 years and no apparent progress toward an Afghan government that could stand on its own, America’s longest war would have continued. It would not have resembled the ongoing U.S. presence in Korea, Japan and Western Europe, where no enemies are launching regular attacks and no American troops are being killed.

It would have involved continued fighting, which has been killing more than 10,000 Afghan troops and more than 1,000 civilians every year. On Sunday, an errant U.S. drone missile may have killed 10 more civilians, including seven children. Continuing the war indefinitely also would have required Biden to renege on Donald Trump’s promise, likely causing the Taliban to intensify its attacks and perhaps raising both the human and financial costs.

Instead, for better and worse, America’s longest war is over.

More perspectives:

Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe has made the case for staying in Afghanistan, citing rising literacy, falling infant mortality rates and more: “All this was being sustained in recent years, and the Taliban was being held at bay, with just a relative handful of U.S. troops to provide intelligence, logistics, and air support.”

Ross Douthat of The Times’s Opinion section disagrees: For years, the U.S. failure was “buried under a Vietnam-esque blizzard of official deceptions and bureaucratic lies.”

Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal laments Bush’s decision to focus on an invasion of Iraq rather than capturing bin Laden when he was cornered in the Tora Bora region: “What a richly consequential screw-up it was, and how different the coming years might have been, the whole adventure might have been, if we’d gotten it right.”

Alissa Rubin — a Times reporter who covered the war — considers another counterfactual: What if the U.S. had accepted the Taliban’s offer of conditional surrender in 2001? (In a recent Fresh Air interview, the author Steve Coll highlighted the same moment.)

Nearly 2,500 American troops have died fighting in Afghanistan. Here are their names. (That list does not include the 13 killed last week.)

According to Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, about 241,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war zone since 2001. More than 71,000 of those killed have been civilians.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#120 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2021-August-31, 08:07

View Postkenberg, on 2021-August-30, 12:36, said:

I hope that JB does not follow your advice. It's a defeat. We can accept that and move on. Or we can argue that it is not a defeat. It is. The Taliban wished to take over Afghanistan. We hoped to stop them from doing so. They did take over Afghanistan. Seems like defeat is a pretty accurate word. I really hope that we do not lose time, focus and energy trying to convince the world that this was not a defeat. Such an effort will not be successful.

It's a defeat, but it's a defeat 20 years in the making, not 2 months in the making.
The easiest way to count losers is to line up the people who talk about loser count, and count them. -Kieran Dyke
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