The Final Collapse of the US/NATO Project In Afghanistan

            Aug. 15, 2021 will be remembered as the date that the US/NATO project in Afghanistan suffered its final death blows. There already has been and will be much more commentary on why the collapse happened and who is responsible. Was it Biden’s decision to complete the withdrawal? Was it Trump’s decision to treat the Taliban as legitimate negotiating partners? Was it rampant corruption within the government ministries and the security forces? Very little of that commentary will take up the ethnic/tribal factors which must be legion but are likely poorly understood outside of the circles of regional experts. I will leave others to argue over the answers to those questions.

            The comparisons to the fall of Saigon in May of 1975 will also continue to be made, especially now with embassy staffs being evacuated to the Kabul airport by helicopter. The problem with the historical parallels though is that Afghanistan in 2021 doesn’t at all resemble Vietnam in 1975. There’s one lesson that seems to me to be drawn from both, however: neither government–one backed up by the US and the other created by the US/NATO combine–could command the support of the population. Without such support, a government is destined to collapse no matter how much the population fears the enemy.

            Taliban surrounds Kabul

            By all accounts, Taliban forces are at the gates of Kabul and have a team at the presidential palace negotiating the transfer of power from the government to the Taliban. Head of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah is said to be mediating the process, reported Khaama Press.

            An interior ministry official told Reuters the Taliban were coming in “from all sides” but there were no reports of fighting. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the group was in talks with the government for a peaceful surrender of Kabul. The Taliban leadership issued a statement saying that they have ordered their fighters to not enter the city by force. “Taliban fighters are to be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed,” the statement said.

            “Negotiations are underway with the other side to ensure that the transition process is completed safely and securely,” a Taliban spokesperson told ABC News. “No one’s head, property or honor will be harmed and the lives of Kabulis will not be in danger. The Islamic Emirate instructs all its forces to stand at the gates of Kabul and not try to enter the city.”

            All Western embassies are reported to be evacuating their staff, including in many cases Afghan nationals who were employees of the embassies, by helicopter to the airport. U.S. officials said diplomats were being ferried by helicopter to the airport from its embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district. “Core” U.S. team members were working from the Kabul airport, a U.S. official said, while a NATO official said several EU staff had moved to a safer, undisclosed location in the capital. Among the other countries reported to be reported evacuating their embassies are Germany, Italy, the UK, and the Czech Republic.

            Biden Sends More Troops

            In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, following a White House meeting of national security officials, Biden announced that he had authorized up to 5,000 US troops to be deployed to the airport in Kabul “to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of US personnel and other allied personnel and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance.” Secondly, “I have ordered our armed forces and our intelligence community to ensure that we will maintain the capability and the vigilance to address future terrorist threats from Afghanistan.”

            Thirdly, Biden said that he had ordered Blinken to support President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan leaders “as they seek to prevent further bloodshed and pursue a political settlement.” Blinken, he said, will also engage with key regional stakeholders.

            Fourth, Biden added, “we have conveyed to the Taliban representatives in Doha, via our Combatant Commander, that any action on their part on the ground in Afghanistan, that puts US personnel or our mission at risk there, will be met with a swift and strong US military response.”

            At the same time, Biden doubled down on his withdrawal decision. “When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on US forces,” Biden concluded. “Shortly before he left office, he also drew US forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict. I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”

            Later, the Pentagon issued a statement, attributed to an unnamed defense official, clarifying that the additional troops going into Kabul will come from the brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division that was already being mobilized to go to Kuwait.

            The Taliban Takes Over More Cities

            The White House statement came as the next two cities, Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and Jalabad in the east were falling to the Taliban. The Taliban also captured Logar province to the south of Kabul and Kunar province to the west.

            Ghani issued a pre-recorded statement in Friday but apparently hasn’t been heard from since. He declared that remobilization of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) is his top priority and that required measures are underway to reach this end, but he vowed to prevent further bloodshed in the country.  Ghani thanked the Afghan forces for their bravery in defending the country and said he will not allow the imposed war to bring more devastation and death to the people. “Under the current situation, remobilizing of the security and defense forces is our top priority and required measures are underway for this purpose,” Ghani said.

            “I know that you are concerned about your present and future but I assure you as your president that my focus is to prevent further instability, violence and displacement of my people,” Ghani said. “To do this, I have started widespread consultations within and outside the government, with political leaders and international partners and I will soon share the results with the people.”

            As for the Afghan security forces, it seems that they just gave up fighting. There are reports of Afghan troops in border areas fleeing into Uzkebistan, Iran and other countries, rather than fighting. “Everyone just surrendered their guns and ran away,” Rahimullah, a 25-year old soldier who joined the army a year ago and served in the Shahr-e-Bozorg district of northeastern Badakhshan province, told the Wall Street Journal. “We didn’t receive any help from the central government, and so the district fell without any fighting.”

            The WSJ reports that the U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Doha allowed the Taliban to project themselves as a moderate, benevolent force just as Ghani’s political rivals in Kabul plotted to replace him with some sort of transitional administration that would facilitate a peace deal. Former President Hamid Karzai, in particular, tried to position himself as a neutral third force, frequently lashing out at Ghani and the U.S., according to the Journal’s account. 

            “The government ended up completely isolating many people,” said Hekmat Karzai, a former deputy foreign minister and a cousin of the former president. “It became a self-licking ice cream fantasy. It just talked to itself and had very senior positions led by very inexperienced people who hardly understood the reality,” he said. “Do the troops have a reason to fight?” he asked. “I feel that the Taliban isn’t enormously strong. It’s that the government is in disarray.”

            In addition to the security forces, the warlords that once fought like tigers against the Taliban and who were supposed to save the country were apparently neutered by nearly 20 years of collaboration with the US and NATO. Both Ismail Khan in Herat and Rashid Dostum in Mazar-e-Sharif gave up without much of a fight. RT published videos of Taliban fighters enjoying themselves in Dostum’s mansion, helping themselves to rich foods and other luxuries. The videos represent a “searing propaganda victory” for the Taliban, one pundit argued, noting that Dostum was a “near-mythic” figure who had once controlled vast swathes of Afghanistan.

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43 Responses to The Final Collapse of the US/NATO Project In Afghanistan

  1. Pat Lang says:

    Ashraf Ghani is reported to have fled the country.

  2. Sam says:

    The fact there was no real exit strategy, terrible execution of the pullout, and Afghanistan has fallen apart in 10 minutes, only proves that Forever War, Inc isn’t a foreign policy. It’s another swampy racket, and it’s been wasting American lives and dollars for far too long.

    https://twitter.com/stevedeaceshow/status/1426873220033130497?s=21

    It is not just foreign policy or military strategy & procurement that’s a “swampy racket”, what about the IC and of course domestic policy including covid response?

    The leadership across the fascist state – Big Government and Big Business is no longer about national interests and competent management of those interests but sophistry and symbolic rhetoric while they rape and pillage what’s left of the American heritage. Fat Milley will lecture us about making the military woke but will not be held to account for an incompetent withdrawal. And we are expecting he’ll do a competent job of taking on the PLA.

    Ultimately we the American people have to accept responsibility because despite evidence to the contrary we keep insisting on handing the fascists power in each election cycle. We’ve done that for decades and all we’ve got is more oligarchy, less liberty and our standing in the world shredded. Of course the fascists give us bread & circuses including rhetoric of “greatest nation in the history of the world”. We’ve met the enemy and he is us.

  3. Lelush says:

    It seems that not eveybody is so worried in Kabul after all….These people are welcoming them as saviors…

    https://twitter.com/Natsecjeff/status/1426891748274491394

  4. Origin says:

    It is now clear. It is up to the Afghan women to secure their own freedom.

    The primary political principal of human history is that the most ruthless usually win. Are the women sufficiently ruthless to destroy the misogyny that enslaves them? Afghan women far outnumber the men. It is their choice.

    The collapse of the American nation building project was as inevitable as it was misguided. The only surprise is that it took so long.

    Now, the westerners will be shocked and dismayed as barbarism engulfs the Afghan tribal territories, something that is not a nation. If they are surprised, the surprise only reflects their ignorance.

    The westernized Afghan men have shown their colors—they will not fight for their female children’s future. America gave them their chance to form a modern society, but they decided they did not want it. They have shown that they are mostly grifters living off of the American taxpayer’s largess. Now, they will get what they ordered unless the women decide otherwise. We owe then nothing more.

    If the women in Afghanistan are to have any future beyond slavery, it is they who must now be ruthless. The women of Afghanistan have more power than they could ever imagine. The Taliban must sleep every night. The women can act as a quiet force banded together if they have the courage. They know who is oppressing them the most.

    If the Taliban are as feckless as the majority of the men who put down their arms, ruthless isolated punishment during the night of the male masters might, just possibly, result in the end of the medieval system of fundamentalist oppression of the women and girls. The women of Afghanistan are either slave or free. They cannot be both.

    The women’s power lies in the night.

    If enough Taliban are ruthlessly and silently punished and shamed in their solitary sleep, the women might impose some freedom and equality for themselves and their girls against their men. The women must decide they are free. The price will be steep, but once that decision is made, they will be.

    Origin

    • Ishmael Zechariah says:

      re: “If the women in Afghanistan are to have any future beyond slavery, it is they who must now be ruthless. The women of Afghanistan have more power than they could ever imagine. The Taliban must sleep every night. The women can act as a quiet force banded together if they have the courage. They know who is oppressing them the most.
      Origin,
      It might not be good to instigate the weak to revolt if you do not also sign up for saving their fundament when SHTF. Just imagine how an Afgan (talib or other) would react if one of his women refused to sleep with him. Think he will go sulk in the living room while she locks herself in the bedroom? Who is she going to appeal to once the inevitable happens?

      I do agree that those who wish to be free must pay the price. OTOH I am not sure all muslim women desire to be free in the Western sense. In Turkey some (not all) of turbaned tayyiban with intellectual pretensions actually defended the right of a husband to discipline his wife (or wives).
      It will be interesting to see how the Afghan saga unwinds.
      Ishmael Zechariah

      • Origin says:

        “Think he will go sulk in the living room while she locks herself in the bedroom? Who is she going to appeal to once the inevitable happens?”
        No, not refuse sex.
        The women need to shame a good bunch of Taliban by making men no longer to be men and to clip their trigger fingers off while the sleep. That is what ruthless means. The women need to force a cessation of the right of a man to discipline his wives. If this is ever to end, the women must ruthlessly discipline the men, else, they will continue to live in the 6th century.
        They Afghan women will never do it because they are slaves and have been slaves for millennia and will be for many more millennia.

        • Poul says:

          The idea of ruthless women is just not going to happen.

          And for the same reason that we don’t see rampant murder in the West. It’s the fear of punishment from the law. Imaging the type of punishment she and her daughters could get for pulling such a stunt.

          If she runs away after the deed how is she going to survive? She can’t get a job. There is no man to protect her from being preyed upon from bandits and other rough menfolk. You need to be of a suicidal mindset to do such a thing.

          In the West women’s rights are correlated with their ability to support themselves financially. That why the industrialization of Western society created the possibility of social change. Industry jobs meant you as a woman could leave the conservative villages and gain some personal freedom.

    • Bill Roche says:

      Such a question for Afghani women presents a conflict of feminism, Islam, and Morality. Sorry, I have nothing against gender equality but the Taliban’s complete victory today means a return to the 9th c. in Afghanistan. This is especially sad for the women. I have always wondered what middle eastern and central eastern men have against women. The relegation of the female to subservience predates Islam and is evidenced in Judaism (still in Orthodox Jews). A child of the west, I would have never had the courage to dis my mom. The blows would have not needed the night.

      • Deap says:

        Women stir lust in men. How they deal with this psycho-biological issue is their destiny.

        I believe this issue has been dealt with in literature since the dawn of the written word. Why indeed was Achilles anger in the first words of the Illiad? Over a woman.

        What is the common denominator in many/most mass shooting – confused sexual identities.

        • Fred says:

          Deap,

          “Women stir lust in men.”

          You haven’t been to the beach lately, have you?
          “the Illiad”
          Ah the virginal Helen, launched a 1,000 ships, rolled around the silk sheets with Paris, saw Astyanax’s head bashed against the walls of the sacked city of Troy, sailed back to Sparta with Menelaus, ever a “princess”.

        • Serge says:

          Autism/antidepressant use are the common denominator

    • Fred says:

      Ah, Game of Thrones fantasy redux.

    • cofer says:

      You can’t be this disconnected.

  5. Lelush says:

    Attitude at Iran´s consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif….

    https://twitter.com/snarwani/status/1426845330239336448

  6. Lelush says:

    Interesting thread by Maxim A. Suchkov on how this was possible and the probable exercise on controlling the narrative by main world powers…including Russia….

    https://twitter.com/m_suchkov/status/1426836309562306564

  7. Eric Newhill says:

    Reports emerging now that the airport is taking fire and that the security situation has changed. Very bad news, if true.

    • Lelush says:

      And, who will be interested in a disorderly transition of power?

      It is said that CIA related militias like the one at Khost region, stated they will not surrender…

      I would not discard West related rogue elements sabotaging the efforts terminating their profit means…

      Anyway, it seems to have been an isolated skirmish…already neutralized…

    • BillWade says:

      Saw one video of two people hanged in the street.

  8. Barbara Ann says:

    Kabul in 2021 may not resemble Saigon of 1975, but that is not the point. The US has just lost the GWOT in the most spectacular fashion imaginable. Who’d have guessed you couldn’t win a war against an abstract noun? I doubt the domestic psychological impact of this event will be small. There is already a realization among the serving and non serving public that the civilian and military leadership has consistently lied to it for 20 years. To say that this event has come at a bad time for America would be an understatement.

    • Deap says:

      How much US wealth transfer to the Democrat-voting military industrial complex took place during this same period of time?

      • Sam says:

        The MIC is not just Democrats. It is very bi-partisan and historically more GOP leaning. And Trump too. Look at how much he borrowed to transfer to the MIC! Looking at everything from a partisan and/or ideological lens is precisely why we are here. That’s exactly what the fascists want – divide & distract.

  9. Lelush says:

    Germany declaring they will not evacuate translators, alleging they will not forced them to join them….

    The Germans always fall on feet….They always will rise their head over the water eventhough that has to be by stepping on your shoulders while you are submerged…

    • Bill Roche says:

      In life guard school it is called a double drowning. BW a double because it is human nature to save yourself. Who is different?

  10. Lelush says:

    It is said the resistance could be mounting at Pansjir Valley, where Massud´s son is located along militias….

  11. Lelush says:

    Al Jazeera broadcasting the Taliban taking a break to thank God for the victory…Everything due its time…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeCn9FN94RU&ab_channel=AlJazeeraChannel

  12. Lelush says:

    Switch on to Al Jazeera streaming linked above as it seems the Taliban have already changed the flag and the proclamation of the Islamic Emirate is imminent..

  13. jon stanley says:

    my general recollection of events in Oct of 2001 is that the ‘Taliban’ fell away a lot quicker and with less fight than most thought would be the case. To the extent that recollection is correct, or near correct, I wonder if it was, back then, and is now, a case of people grasping who is going to ‘win’, at least in the short term. And trying to ‘win’ points, or at least not lose ‘points’, with the soon to be new rulers? IOW…people don’t so much support the ‘taliban’ as much as they support the inevitable winner? (short term winner?)……the quotation marks around the word Taliban is because I can’t get it out of my head calling them Pashtun. Broadly speaking of course.

  14. Sam says:

    B-52s are expected to bomb a base containing Mi-17V-5s, BlackHawks and MD-530F helicopters as well as Cessna 208Bs, AC-208Bs & A-29B Super Tucano attack aircraft.

    https://twitter.com/ukdefjournal/status/1426639323609411587?s=21

    What’s not to like about this? MOAR money for next quarter’s earnings release.

  15. Lars Moller-Rasmussen says:

    The statistic which tells it all is the difference in time elapsed from foreign troop withdrawal to regime collapse.
    In South Vietnam it was two years (1973-75). In Afghanistan it was three years (1989-1992) the first time, but only a few weeks the second time.

    • jerseycityjoan says:

      I was thinking this too. I had looked up the fall of Saigon a while back and was going to look it up again before making a comment but you beat me to it.

      It has been something to see the new and replayed videos on TV of the people denying the similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan and to realize now that the comparisons between the two are all in Vietnam’s favor.

  16. mcaohen says:

    frankly

    he came from the east
    had coal black eyes
    the mark of the beast
    he dressed in disguise

    he gathered up an army
    in the name of the Lord
    as far as one could see
    a mighty horde

    he led them from city to city
    which they burnt to the ground
    they showed no pity
    destroyed all they found

    finally they came to a mighty river
    where they encamped for the night
    a cold wind blew a shiver
    in the dying light

    the next morning there stood
    on the opposite bank
    a single warrior in cape and hood
    his name was frank

    a challenge went out
    one man against the horde
    no doubt an uneven bout
    with only shield and sword

    they say frank put up a brave fight
    slew many an enemy warrior
    but finally fell to an axe bite
    that broke the barrier

    I can tell you quite frankly
    what the moral of the story might be
    it is to choose your battles wisely
    if you ask me.

  17. Barbara Ann says:

    Interesting that a Bezos’ blog op-ed by Max Boot is tying the disaster very clearly to Biden personally. Bets Biden’s cognitive decline is ‘discovered’ and we have a resignation before the 9/11 anniversary?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/08/15/twenty-years-afghanistan-mistakes-this-preventable-disaster-is-biden/

    • Fasteddiez says:

      I won’t take that bet. Biden is safe for now. He can issue pronouncements from his teleprompter, which is all he has to do to hang on.

  18. blue peacock says:

    I agree with the decision to get out of Afghanistan. We should never have done occupation & nation-building. That’s just not in our DNA.

    I know Dubya and the neocons had to have blood-revenge for 9/11 but as we see time & time again we never investigate the lapses and never learn lessons. For example, why didn’t Dubya’s neocon administration look deeper in to the PDB warning of AQ determined to strike in CONUS? Wouldn’t the FBI and counter-intel want to know why there was no follow-up when the FBI learned that a bunch of Saudis wanted to learn to fly but not takeoff & landing? Or the activities of Saudi embassy officials and the jihadists? As far as Afghanistan is concerned could they have done something short of full out occupation and instead just hunted down OBL & AQ?

    Of course, the Afghan project ramped up under Obama with Petraeus and others in the military general staff suddenly believing they were super intellectual strategists with COIN. Remember the “surge”??

    It was knowable & inevitable right from the very beginning that we would tire and leave. It was just a question of who had the political courage to cut the losses. It was not at all necessary to drag it out for 20 years and spend $2.3 trillion dollars.

    It is plain as daylight that we are an unserious country when it comes to management of national strategic affairs. The focus and attention is all about domestic political games and optics. Well, the optics sure don’t look good now when we can’t even manage a withdrawal with an opponent not shooting at us. Withdraw the troops without evacuating US dependents and then send troops in again to manage a chaotic evacuation with images once again of helicopters on embassy roof. And the best, no one will be held to account for this mismanagement. In fact they’ll get a raise and promotion.

    What we’ve shown over the past several decades is that we can blow up shit in Third World countries who have no ability to retaliate. And we can’t even do a proper job of that as we have seen in Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Afghanistan.

    It is inevitable and one need not be an uber military strategist to know that if we get involved in any kind of military adventure with a serious military opponent we’ll get our ass handed to us.

    Of course the Party of Davos that runs the show and the average guy doesn’t give a shit. One is too busy squeezing every last nickel and the other just wants bread & circuses.

  19. BillWade says:

    Dead bodies lining the streets of Kandahar, civilians – no military uniforms at all. Please don’t be naive about a peaceful transition.

  20. Bobo says:

    Well sunrise is coming shortly in Kabul. We have most likely seen 20 plus military planes arriving in the past 24 hours thus we should of taken out 5,000 plus Americans or Afghanis acceptable to our State Department which leaves 3 to 5 thousand more or another 24 hours. Should that not be the case then its time for good old Joe to step aside and let Kamala clean up this mess. Jill it’s time to move on and take that boy home as he screwed the pooch on this one. Perfect timing for the assisted living facility as it is an excellent excuse, anything else will be highly painful.

  21. Sam says:

    “And yet here we are because no one wanted to tell the simple truth that American ingenuity & dollars & weaponry cannot remake the world in our image.”

    https://twitter.com/mehdirhasan/status/1427074742918463492?s=21

    Remaking Afghanistan to resemble us was a lie. While that may have been the rhetoric it definitely wasn’t in the execution. If that was the plan they would have gone about setting up an entire administrative infrastructure instead of fake elections where people who had no natural support magically got elected. What is unspoken is that there was no terminal objective and a serious execution plan to achieve it. Instead it very quickly turned into the Swamp racket.

    Watch a short segment of this interview with Gen. Asad Durrani, the former Pakistani ISI Chief in 2015. Tell me is Fat Milley or Mad Dog Mattis or EEO Austin or even adulterer Petraeus sufficiently competent to match the deviousness of this Pakistani general? We know that Pakistan is the control agent of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Khalil Sheik Mohammed ran 9/11 out of Pakistan and Osama hid there for years after he fled Afghanistan.

    https://twitter.com/mehdirhasan/status/1427008166529847304?s=21

  22. Sam says:

    There’s a crisis meeting right now at Camp David. They’re trying to figure out which hashtag will stop the Taliban.

    #BringOurGirlsBackHome

  23. walrus says:

    Kabul airport is chaos. There are now disgraceful videos of Afghans trying to hang on to American C17s as they try to take off. The runway cleared by Apache gunships. Bodies are seen to fall from departing aircraft, landing in Kabul suburbs.

    Comment: This makes the fall of Saigon look like a picnic. American prestige, for want of a better word, is seriously damaged.

  24. Joe100 says:

    I wonder if there will be a YouTube video of this:

    “The Western-backed former Afghan leader, Ashraf Ghani, departed his country with so much money that it couldn’t all fit on his helicopter, and he was forced to leave some cash at the airport, the Russian Embassy in Kabul has said.

    Speaking to RIA Novosti, its spokesman Nikita Ishchenko dubbed Ghani’s escape an “eloquent characterization” of the fall of the “regime.”

    “Four cars were stuffed with money. [They] tried to fit all the money on the helicopter, but not all of it fit. Some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” he explained, without elaborating how he obtained the information.

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