Kabul–America’s Dien Bien Phu?

Dien Bien Phu: Ripples from French colonial defeat still ...

I have heard several pundits comparing the current debacle in Kabul to the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when the remaining American diplomatic and military personnel fled Vietnam in the face of North Vietnam conquering South Vietnam. Others cite Benghazi, when U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered and a secret CIA base was besieged by Islamic militants on September 2012. But I think a more apt comparison is the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.

Dien Bien Phu was the decisive victory of the North Vietnamese over the French Army in May 1954 and marked the end of French colonialism in Southeast Asia. Viet Minh communist revolutionaries surrounded and overran the the French Union‘s colonial Far East Expeditionary Corps. The Viet Minh captured 11,721 prisoners and killed at least 2,200 members of the 20,000-strong French forces. The last time the French suffered this kind of defeat was during the German invasion of France in 1940.

Which brings me to our desperate situation in Kabul. This is a self-inflicted wound. The following is a report from a retired CIA officer still well connected to events on the ground. I have received confirmation from military buddies:

Folks, for those of you trying to help get people out of Afghanistan. Here is assessment based on information coming out of policy circles and from sources on the ground. Biden is hard over that we will have the last military personnel out of Kabul airport NLT  31 August. We may be gone before then. Drawdown could begin within next 72 hours.

This is not conditions based. Biden has already disregarded all sound military advice. We can expect him to continue to do so. Anybody not out by the time the last plane leaves gets cut away.

On the ground in Kabul all processing of Afghans has effectively stopped. Only American Citizens are being moved. People are finally realizing on the ground that this administration really will do things that are unthinkable.

So to translate this into terms we use in teaching how to respond to a terrorist attack. Get off the X.

Also assessment is that Panjshir Valley will likely be overrun. May hold for a while but not indefinitely. Any Afghan who wants out needs to get across a border.

After we are gone the plan is apparently to take down the internet, expel foreign journalists and begin the Afghan version of the killing fields.

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37 Responses to Kabul–America’s Dien Bien Phu?

  1. BillWade says:

    I thought another “Year Zero” was possible. I’ve heard the food runs outs pretty soon.

  2. EEngineer says:

    There’s an aspect of this that I just can’t grok.

    Is this a “rip off the baid-aid” exercise because any attempt to do it slowly would give those that profit/benefit from extending our stay time to defeat a properly executed slower withdrawal?

    Is this whole mess merely the surface ripples of vicious inter-faction deep state infighting? IE, State vs Pentagon? Davos/EU/ECB vs FED/US?

    It’s all such a clusterfuck that I can’t put ANY logic to it, other than to make every US institution look like the Keystone Cops.

    • Larry Johnson says:

      If you’re looking for an argument I have none to give. I agree with you. A goddamn clown car.

    • TV says:

      “make every US institution look like the Keystone Cops.”
      The hard part would be to make US institutions look as good as the Keystone Kops.

      • Fasteddiez says:

        At least The Keystone kops were funny. Also, when their chief answered a phone call, off they went, instead of dithering, or going to Obamba’s 60th birthday bash, up-close personal, maskless dancing and partying, all the whilst issuing indecipherable, non-responsive, don’t call us, we’ll call you horseshiite. The French and the Germans should bail out of NATO. The next probable German PM said that this boondoggle is the ultimate low point of NATO. Let the Poles, Balts, Ukies, and the Georgians establish a new force against the Russians. NATO, as it now stands is OBE.

    • Ghost_Ship says:

      Biden did announce that the deadline for withdrawal was August 31st back on July 8th. Anyone with any sense should have planned accordingly.

  3. Bill Roche says:

    L.J. do your in country buddies give you any idea how many Americans AND how many Afghanis who helped us (AWHU – they need a name, an acronym) will be left b/h by the 31st. Like many here, I am sick to my stomach and so fn angry at the American military “leadership”. Roche

    • d74 says:

      To extend the comparison with Dien Bien Phu, which I find inaccurate:
      AWHU will die.

      Defeat is only one step in the life of a fighter. The rest follows. It is the death march -400 to 600 km, even the wounded-, the degrading conditions of being a prisoner of a country under-equipped and filled with vindictiveness, the anonymous death at the bottom of a valley rotten with amoebas.
      At Dien Bien Phu or elsewhere, a defeat is never pretty for those who suffer it and are not prepared for it. Even more so when their master gives them up.

  4. eakens says:

    It’s surprising nobody wants to help out a bunch of woke idiots in distress.

  5. Sam says:

    Up to 100 Afghan evacuees flown out of war-torn Kabul are on intelligence agency watch lists, US official warns, as it’s revealed one passenger flown out to Qatar has potential ties to ISIS

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9924131/Up-100-Afghan-evacuees-flown-war-torn-Kabul-terror-watch-lists-official-warns.html

    Are we importing jihadists? From the videos I have seen around the airport most of the folks seem to be Afghan males.

    • JerseyJeffersonian says:

      Yes, Sam, this curated chaos has great potential to turn this into the Mariel Boatlift from Hell. Loads and loads of military age males? Okee dokee.

      Obama and Company have always been working with the Muslim Brotherhood and their ideological companions, and what is Joe Biden (with his retinue of Obama retainers) but an extension of Obama’s seditious regime?

  6. Ghost_Ship says:

    From the British point of view this is certainly no Dunkirk although I’m waiting for certain newspapers to claim it is.
    1. From what I can make out except for some shooting by ISIS no-one is attempting to stop the flights.
    2. From what I’ve read the number of British evacuees is not what it should be.
    3. Where are “the little ships”? Civilian airlines have been flying in and out of Kabul for the last few days. Why isn’t there a mass airlift using chartered civilian aircraft?
    4. Why is the RAF flying 4,000 km round trips from the Gulf when there is an airport in Turkmenistan that are a 1,500 km round trip away?
    5. Why was the RAF/British Government taken by surprise, With Trump, NATO would have to be out by May 1, with Biden, it’s been known that NATO would have to be out by August 31 for a few months. Although there is the surprise that an American president seems to have done what he said he would do.

  7. ancientarcher says:

    Larry,

    I am trying to figure out why this happened. We all know that Biden is not in a state to take decisions – he’s senile and just not mentally capable of thinking and taking decisions of this import. His handlers are pulling his strings and they are not stupid, at least that’s what I hope. You can call them whatever – deep state, MIC, intelligence establishment.

    Why did they take this route for the withdrawal? Agreed, the rapidity of the collapse of the American trained Afghan forces took them by surprise. Still, they could easily have withdrawn with a bit more of their honor intact but they seemed in a awful hurry to get out. Why? Have you heard anything from you contacts as to why they were in such a hurry?

    Thanks

  8. English Outsider says:

    Larry – Where’s the disaster they’re all talking about? I don’t see it.

    All I see is hordes of European politicians angry that we’ve pulled out of Afghanistan. Having spent, many of them, the last few years moaning that we’re there. And now using the fact that the withdrawal operation hasn’t gone smoothly to attack the withdrawal itself. This is an excuse, not a reason, for demonstrating an anti-Americanism that until now was more or less concealed but can now safely be exhibited..

    There is a myth being established that the ANA was a viable defence force and if we’d merely carried on giving them minimal support they’d have gallantly continued the fight indefinitely. Good story and it seems to be told all over Europe and the UK. Blair and Tugendhat tell it virtuously, tearfully wearing their hearts on their sleeves as they do so. Fake as hell

    It was falling to bits, the ANA, if it was ever an effective fighting force. Had we stayed in Afghganistan we’d have had to surge. Would those same tearful politicians have supported that?

    It fell to bits just a little too fast for a smooth withdrawal. My guess is that that was predicted so a messy negotiated withdrawal was the only way. That we’re seeing. True, it has the appearance that we’re being “shown the door” by the Russians and Chinese. Maybe that’s the reality.

    If it is, so what? Afghanistan is their baby now and let’s hope they keep the peace there better than we could. I don’t know what the mood is over your way, but I’m fed up with seeing our politicians milking this episode for their various purposes and pretending they could have done better.

    • LeaNder says:

      EO, from the little I learned on SST, Afghanistan was never a country that was able to sustain the projected ANA numbers. That’s been to some extent on the top of my head, too.

      There is a myth being established that the ANA was a viable defence force and if we’d merely carried on giving them minimal support they’d have gallantly continued the fight indefinitely.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_National_Army#Afghan_National_Army

      • Pat Lang says:

        EO and LeAnder
        You have learned quite a lot. Afghanistan was not a state that could ever sustain a force as large as we insisted on. They never had the money. We always paid for the police, Army and Air Force. Air crews are basically stick and rudder guys, the easy part. It is the maintenance and staff work that is the more difficult part of running anything military especially air forces. This I know about.

        • Bill Roche says:

          Afghani parallels come to mind. Darius tried to subdue Afghan tribes but accepted keeping them away. New cities couldn’t make tribes value greek/slavic/persian culture. Alexander left. BTW, so did the Huns. Britain couldn’t keep 30M men in America w/o enough public enlistment (didn’t matter to George). W/o public support we couldn’t maintain 500M men in Nam. My impression is that Afghan is like shadow boxing except the shadow hits back. We were fighting a f’n region. Why was it our nat’l interest to change that? The elite, in the DOS have never been, by press or Congress, asked to plainly answer that. I don’t believe our gov’t. Do you remember the NYT in 72(?) going front page on Westmorland faking body counts (ours and theirs). BTW, I think Westmorland tied w/the NYT on that one. What the administration is doing today (with press support by “spiking”) is much more treacherous. Wash. transmits intel analysis at 4PM to outfits all over the world. The DIA, CIA, DCI, USAISC and many others could not have fooled every kid at the “Asian desk” about Taliban’s abilities. I “KNOW” the higher ups squashed low level analysis and lied. I was proud of the Army I left, but today, I’m not sure. What wisdom do you offer your “army” of correspondents?

    • asx says:

      The ANA looks specifically designed to be a light infantry heavily reliant on backend support infrastructure and coordination that can only be provided by the MIC at premium prices to the US taxpayer. We could’ve spent far less by equipping them with Toyota HiLuxes and 50cc dirt bikes to match the Taliban with similar or better results.

      Also were the ANA units organized along ethnic lines for cohesion or were they all integrated units with everyone watching their backs? Our idea of what Afghanistan should be(a reflection of our own society) is the culprit. If the ANA were organized strictly along ethnic lines, the Taliban could not have taken over the whole place so quickly.

      And finally no matter how incompetent/ineffective the ANA was on its own, they were quick to understand the signalling the overnight stealth evacuation of Bagram represented. Unfortunately, you could argue that all this chaos and failure is by malicious design and not plain vanilla incompetence.

      • LeaNder says:

        If the ANA were organized strictly along ethnic lines, the Taliban could not have taken over the whole place so quickly.

        Like in Iraq? Assuming to some extent that’s what happened there. Afghanistan was easier since, no existing military had to gotten rid of in the first place? …

  9. Origin says:

    As a years long student of the Colonel and by my own learning, I cannot understand why anyone should be surprised at the current mess. The blame is widespread and the fault is one known to all–it is against us all.

    The withdrawal in haste has been the only anticipated outcome for many years, if not from the beginning. No matter how well planned was the evacuation, as soon as it was clear that evacuations had begun, the stampede would have begun and quickly overwhelmed any plans, no matter how well made.

    Now, as it should have been all along, it is up to the Afghans to determine their own fate.

    Perhaps, the Taliban are the spirit of the nation and the Afghan masses will condone and uphold their rule because the Afghans are Taliban in nature and spirit. Perhaps, the breath of modernity has now irrevocably changed the Afghan spirit to be something different. Though highly unlikely, the Afghan people could just say no and eliminate those individual Taliban who oppress them, either by social persuasion or violence. By eliminating or disaffecting the individual Taliban, the Taliban movement could be defeated. If the mass of Afghans are not Taliban, their numbers would overwhelm if they so choose. I doubt they will.

    The Afghans have suffered and will continue to suffer under their own hands unless they, as a people decide to make a major change in their own culture that is at the heart of their suffering.

    It is up to the Afghans, not us, to determine their own fate. That is proper and just.

    We invaded because they attacked us. Instead of destroying them in retribution, we gave them our help and the blood and tears of our soldiers. They had our help and squandered it. The result was their own cultural choice. We owe them nothing.

    We need to quit the hand-wringing and get back to work fixing our own problems.

    • Fred says:

      Origin,

      Thanks for the Biden Admin/DNC talking points. Keep the guilt trip, you might be guilty of this mess but I certainly am not.
      “The withdrawal in haste has been the only anticipated outcome for many years…”
      You mean all those flag officers lied under oath before the House and Senate month after month, year after year, about the capabilities of the Afghan army. I won’t bother debunking the rest.

      • PHodges says:

        “You mean all those flag officers lied under oath before the House and Senate month after month, year after year, ” Yes we all know this is exactly how it works. No surprise or “gotcha”

      • Origin says:

        I feel no guilt.
        “You mean all those flag officers lied under oath before the House and Senate month after month, year after year, about the capabilities of the Afghan army.”

        Yes.

        • Bill Roche says:

          Is it your opinion that it is ok to lie to the congress or under oath to a court? I think you have mis-represented your feelings. I think Col. Lang w/h said we should all recognize realities as we are able to see them and proceed from there. IMHO the Pres. who d/n do that was Bush. He was our “nation builder”. Obama d/n help either. When we killed OBL it was time to say “mission accomplished” and bring the troops home. He d/n. My impression was that Trump argued for three years w/the military to pack-it-up and finally was getting his way. So this disaster has three “fathers’ plus some Generals. But that doesn’t permit lying. Why ever tell any one the truth.

    • Fasteddiez says:

      There is no such thing as they, as a people! There are too many tribes, who, as far as I understand it, want to live their own lives, as they have always done so. This with a sprinkle of modernity thrown in, here and there. When push comes to shove, I think, the available modernity must take a back seat to unique traditions and beliefs. I could be wrong, however.

  10. Deap says:

    The most chilling image is Taliban soldiers now sporting first class purloined American kit, patrolling the Kabul Airport and preventing Americans from accessing flights out.

  11. Deap says:

    Here is an idea. In protest, let’s all boycott Afghan opium (cum heroin). That’ll show ’em. NYC, you go first. I’ll see if I can bring along LA and SF. /s

    • ancientarcher says:

      Opium production is just about the only thing that showed a consistent increase under the watchful eyes of the Americans. Taliban v1.0 had banned opium cultivation but it increased very rapidly after the Americans took over.

  12. Deap says:

    Biden-Taliban Two Step – Women’s rights established by the UN will be strongly protected.

    NYT reports: …..”In the days since the Taliban swept back into control, their leaders have insisted that this time will be different. Women, they say, will be allowed to work. Girls will be free to attend school. At least within the confines of their interpretation of Islam.

    But early signs have not been promising, and that pattern continued on Tuesday with a statement from a Taliban spokesman that women should stay home, at least for now. Why? Because some of the militants have not yet been trained not to hurt them, he said………”

  13. Sam says:

    This is actually pretty simple. Obama gave back 5 senior terrorists for the deserter. Trump made a deal with the Taliban without the Afghani Gov. Biden has overseen the worst American drawdown in history…and some bonehead decided giving away Bagram first was a good idea.

    https://twitter.com/adamhousley/status/1430589776680296455?s=21

    Whatever deal Trump made, it would appear the Taliban are doing whatever they want. If Trump’s idea was to “partner” with the Taliban which is effectively partnering with Pakistani ISI, he should have listened to Gen. Durrani’s interview first. But…that’s too much work for the muckety mucks. I’m sure Durrani and his bros are laughing and mocking us for the chumps we are from their mansions paid for by future generations of Americans.

    • Fasteddiez says:

      What’s not to understand about the Paks? I’ve read that 16% of Pakistanis are Pathans, so quite naturally, as you say, it is in the ISI’s leadership interest to throw a spanner in the works of Uncle Sam’s empire building.

  14. TV says:

    How about this?
    “Vetting” is a joke and the swamp knows it.
    Those dimwits can’t do a credit check.
    Let in a few dozen or hundred terrorists.
    As covid fades, the swamp and their local Democrat minions need another scary “crisis.”
    Let’s have some terrorist events and throw in covid spreading from the southern border and you’ve created the next panic for the uninformed, badly educated, immature lemming populace.

  15. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Okay, just going to throw this into the mix. I remembered a blog post from a few days back from Steve Sailer that might cast a little bit of light on the sudden collapse of the ANA, namely the extremely high degree of favor which Sharia law finds among the Afghan public. The most rigid application of Sharia law is not uniformly favored, but in the context, this seems of little significance to the societal preference.

    The post is based on a study of the attitude towards preference for Sharia law as the basis for all legal structures in various Muslim nations. I should imagine that for the purposes of that survey, some of the distinctions between differing schools of Islamic legal thought were touched upon only lightly, but it still could be useful.

    https://www.unz.com/isteve/why-the-taliban-won-sharia-is-democratic-will-of-99-of-the-people/

    Given the attitudes of the vast majority of Afghans traced in this study, it seems unsurprising that they would find the ideology of liberal democratic governance and legal thought unpalatable, to say the least. And then further throw in the avid promotion of extreme wokeist religiosity such as LGBTQWERTY by the US DoS, and you might imagine that any who collaborated with the US could easily be tarred with that brush. Given the animosity toward those who “forsake Islam”, they could find themselves in a lot of trouble, a really bad place in which to find themselves.

    • Pat Lang says:

      JJ
      there are many different forms and codes of Islamic law.

      • JerseyJeffersonian says:

        Yes, sir, that is why I made note of that. Sharia doubtless can mean significantly different things under those disparate codes.

        While reading the comment section under that post that I linked to, I observed that several commenters made note of reasons why Afghanis may feel as strongly as they do about embracing Sharia law:

        1) In a multi-ethnic society, but with all of whose members are Muslims (despite varying interpretations, no doubt) it offers some stability in inter-ethnic relations.

        2) The secular legal system was very subject to bribes, and this contrasted unfavorably with Sharia courts.

        3) Emerging from a period of warlordism, the Taliban-run Sharia courts might be quite a relief, as criminal acts and outcomes to be expected for bad actions would be clarified.

        I have to say, oftentimes our common law-based legal systems are no great prize, and do not instill much, if any, trust. The highly ideological lawfare going back decades is a cancer upon the Republic.

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