UPDATE: The Collapse of the US/NATO Project In Afghanistan

Willy B

              Our esteemed host has asked me to produce another update on the collapse of the US/NATO project in Afghanistan. I do this with the understanding that the situation is changing rapidly but first I must begin by amending the introduction that I wrote yesterday because, as many will know, we have to go much earlier than that. Among slightly deeper thinkers, the US/NATO failure on Afghanistan will be traced back to the US invasion of 2001, based on the belief that the plotting of the 9/11 attacks began there. But I would propose that the axiomatic basis for the US failure in Afghanistan originates much earlier, to Zbigniew Brzezinki’s plan to use Afghanistan as a wedge to bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1979. It took Brzezinki 20 years to spill the beans but spill them he finally did in a January 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, in which he revealed that he convinced Jimmy Carter to issue a directive providing secret support to the opposition to the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. Carter’s directive was issued on July 3, 1979, almost six months before the Soviet invasion on December 24. Brzezinski believed that the US meddling he proposed would cause a Soviet military response and voila!, they would have their Vietnam.

            A key part of Brzezinski’s strategy was the buildup of jihadi groups using the Saudis to train them and opium trafficking to help finance them. This operation gave birth to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and fostered the growth of jihadi terrorism throughout Southwest Asia. There’s much more to the story but others with a history of involvement of such matters will know it in ways that I cannot.

            As I write this, the UN Security Council is meeting in emergency open session. Will it have the insight to overcome this history and seek alternative approaches that will actually work or will it continue floundering in the dark?

            Chaos at the Airport

            As some readers have already noted in comments posted to my article of yesterday, chaos now reins at the airport in Kabul. The developing situation prompted the Biden Administration to announced yesterday that the total number of US troops to be deployed at the airport would go up to 6,000, with the addition of two battalions from a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. focused solely on facilitating these efforts and will be taking over air traffic control,” the statement said. “Tomorrow and over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families and other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals. And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas…”

            Signs of the US takeover of the airport were evident hours earlier, however, when, as one example, an Emirates flight from Dubai was forced to turn around with landing. “There were surely many people booked on the return flight to Dubai,” former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted yesterday.

            Was There a US Intelligence Failure?

            Did the Biden Administration make its decisions based on false intelligence or did it ignore accurate intelligence assessments in favor for reasons of policymaking? ABC News noted that just days ago a US military analysis predicted that Kabul could fall within 90 days but not by the weekend. “This is a crisis of untold proportions,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told NBC News Sunday as Taliban militants swept into Kabul. “This is an intelligence failure. We underestimated the Taliban and overestimated the resolve of the Afghan Army.”

            But unnamed US officials are saying that in fact key intelligence assessments had consistently informed policymakers that the Taliban could overwhelm the country and take the capital within weeks — essentially repeating the 1975 fall of Saigon. “[U.S.] leaders were told by the military it would take no time at all for the Taliban to take everything,” an anonymous U.S. intelligence official told ABC. “No one listened.” Other intelligence sources said that Biden and his team of advisers had reached their decision about the U.S. military’s withdrawal — which was all but completed on July 4 — based on a variety of factors that went beyond Kabul’s fate.

            An anonymous senior congressional official told ABC that intelligence officers had warned the U.S. leaders about a swift and total victory by the fundamentalist Taliban militants who had held power in Kabul during the late 1990s up until after the Sept. 11 attacks. “The intelligence community assessment has always been accurate; they just disregarded it,” the official told ABC News, speaking about the Biden administration.

            Blinken reportedly floundered when asked about the collapse on ABC’s This Week. He insisted that that “this is manifestly not Saigon” — even as live video from Kabul showed helicopters ferrying American officials out of the U.S. embassy compound to the military side of Kabul’s airport.

            Biden himself said on July 8 that “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

            “What is happening in Afghanistan is not the result of an intelligence failure,” former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell tweeted on Sunday. “It is the result of numerous policy failures by multiple administrations. Of all the players over the years, the Intelligence Community by far has seen the situation in Afghanistan most accurately.”

            Then there’s the predictions as to what the future will bring with the Taliban in control of Afghanistan. Gen. Milley, according to anonymous sources, told senators in a briefing call yesterday that U.S. officials are expected to alter their earlier assessments about the pace of terrorist groups reconstituting in Afghanistan, reported AP. In June, AP notes, the Pentagon’s top leaders said an extremist group like al-Qaida may be able to regenerate in Afghanistan and pose a threat to the U.S. homeland within two years of the American military’s withdrawal from the country. Based on the evolving situation, officials now believe terror groups like al-Qaida may be able to grow much faster than expected, according to a person with direct knowledge of the briefing. The Biden administration officials on the call with senators – among them were Milley, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin — said U.S. intelligence agencies are working on forming a new timeline based on the evolving threats, the person familiar with the matter said. 

            Taliban Takover Kabul

            In Kabul itself the streets are reportedly empty, with no sign of governmental authority and Taliban members occupying security posts at government buildings. The Taliban, driving Rangers, Humvees, motorcycles, and their personnel vehicles, are apparently patrolling the Kabul and are guiding the traffic on some squares, reported Khaama Press.  

            Separately, Khaama reported that after the “escape” of Ashraf Ghani, Abdullah Abdullah, former President Hamid Karzai and head of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbadin Hekmatyar came together and shaped a temporary council. The purpose of the council will be to negotiate the transfer of power to the Taliban. All three issued video statements but Abdullah and Hekmatyar were particularly critical of Ghani. Abdullah accused Ghani of leaving behind a mess while Hekmatyar accused Ashraf Ghani of continuing the war and remaining stubborn to transfer power peacefully to a government that is acceptable to all.

            As for Ghani’s whereabouts now, Kazakh Foreign Ministry Spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov denied that he is in Kazakhstan, as some reports claimed. “Ghani is not in Kazakhstan,” he told TASS. 

            The Russians, in any case, are accusing Ghani of leaving the country with carloads of cash. “As for the collapse of the regime, it is most eloquently characterised by the way Ghani fled from Afghanistan: four cars were full of money, they tried to put part of the money into a helicopter, but everything did not fit. And some of the money was left on the runway,” Russian diplomatic mission spokesperson Nikita Ishenko told Sputnik.

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21 Responses to UPDATE: The Collapse of the US/NATO Project In Afghanistan

  1. BillWade says:

    I haven’t been able to ascertain if this is real or not but it’s kind of apropos:

    QuarantinedCoof
    @QuarantinedCoof
    General Milley in an early morning meeting today told press officials: “This is catastrophic what’s going on right now in Kabul. I’ve authorized sending in Seal Team Six to rescue the Afghanistan Girls Robotics Team. We cannot let a defeat for America be a defeat for feminism.”

  2. TV says:

    “US Intelligence Failure” should be one word, describing a persistent thread in postwar US history.
    Allen Dulles said that the CIA could never reveal their successes.
    He was right.
    They don’t have any successes to reveal.

    • Carey says:

      > Afghan withdrawal timeline is 100% my decision, saysJoe Biden <

      Oh, *of course* it was- who could think otherwise?

      It sure is getting a lot of Press (as is Mr. Biden, with most every lede being
      Biden does/Biden says/Biden thinks..).

      ahem / sure, sure: "he" doesn't do any of those things.
      So just how deep does the mindf•ck we're living in/under go?
      Pretty deep, I think.

  3. asx says:

    Selective use of intelligence + Potemkin rentier army + Two timing ally = Saigon 2.0

    We will need to explore new ways of avoiding such fiascos. The mandate of the Federal Reserve as it stands now is to maintain price stability and ensure maximal employment. In service of this mandate, the Fed frequently acts as a lender of last resort to bail out financial institutions deemed too big to fail. A third item can be added to the mandate which allows for direct transfer of freshly printed electronic money to all constituents of the MIC deemed too big to starve, like an UBI(Universal Basic Income).

  4. Tidewater says:

    There is a curious coincidence that yesterday, August 15, was the anniversary of the death of General Hamid Gul, a notorious former head of the ISI, who was one of a series of ultraconservative Pakistani army intelligence officers who fought a series of proxy wars over four decades, or (as I see it) one proxy war, different campaigns, designed to establish and then, after 9/11, reestablish the strategic position of Pakistan in Afghanistan. The ISI invented the Taliban in about 1988 in the office of ‘Colonel Imam’ at Quetta. (One source about this fascinating story of deception is Peter Tomsen’s ‘ The Wars of Afghanistan’.) Yesterday was also Independence day in Pakistan. What a gift the ISI and the army have given their nation! This is a great victory for Pakistan. India is out. Pakistan is back. It is amazing!

    • Fasteddiez says:

      Not really, President Khan is worried about a new Pashtunistan, which would incorporate the northern part of Pakistan. Khan is a Pashtun, by the way.

  5. Teddy says:

    Fox is reporting the Usurper Biden ordered another 1000 Paratroopers to Kabul

  6. Teddy says:

    More info:

    #Afghanistan From DoD briefing: Kabul airport situation fluid + dynamic, US troops working to re-establish security, no flights in or flights out until secure Context: No additional military support can get in + evacuations on hold. Also confirmed limited security breaches from…

    the civilian (southern side) of airfield, also working to clear large crowds civilian side + 2 separate incidents armed individuals engaged with US forces who responded to “hostile threat” not known if 2 dead are afghan civilians or affiliated w/AQ, ISIS or other group
    @CBSNews

  7. walrus says:

    Has Russia finally won “The Great Game”? It would seem so.

    The vehicle for victory is the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Iran is apparently about to join as a full member and it would seem that if the SCO successfully reaches out to the Taliban then SCO, aided by OBOR, represents a new contiguous trade and security block covering the whole of Eurasia.

    ……….and we have driven the partners together through our meddling.

    • Barbara Ann says:

      Iran being cleared by the SCO for full membership, regardless of how the nuclear talks proceed, is a bigger deal than Afghanistan. Ziocon heads must be exploding.

  8. robt willmann says:

    According to the Al Jazeera news network–

    “2 hours ago (17:12 GMT)
    Kabul airport remains tense as darkness falls: Correspondent Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Kabul, said the Taliban has set up a cordon to stop people getting into the terminal of Kabul airport and have been firing warning shots to keep people away from the area.

    ” ‘It just gives you an idea of the real tense situation – the US military on one side, the heavily armed Taliban on the other, and between them this hugely volatile crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, of increasingly desperate passengers,’ he said.

    “He said people were still milling around on the runway as darkness fell, with US military helicopters hovering just a few metres above the ground to manage the crowds”.

    And–

    “10 mins ago (19:15 GMT)
    US focused on securing Kabul airport
    The United States will focus on securing the Kabul airport and additional US forces will flow into the airport on Monday and Tuesday, US Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer has said.

    “The US has temporarily halted all evacuation flights from Kabul to clear people who had converged on the airfield, a US defense official told Reuters news agency, but did not say how long the pause would last.

    “The defense official said the US aims to get tens of thousands of at-risk Afghans who worked for the US government out of Afghanistan and was looking at temporarily housing them at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin and Fort Bliss in Texas”.

    Also, Turkey and the Kabul airport–

    “2 mins ago (19:23 GMT)
    Turkey drops Kabul airport plans but will assist if Taliban ask: Sources
    Turkey has dropped plans to take control of the Kabul airport after NATO’s withdrawal but is ready to provide technical and security support if the Taliban request it, two Turkish security sources have said.

    “In light of the ‘total chaos’ at the airport ‘the process of Turkish soldiers taking up control… has automatically been dropped,’ one of the sources said.

    ” ‘However, in the event the Taliban asks for technical support, Turkey can provide security and technical support at the airport,’ said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

    http://www.aljazeera.com

    So, now the plan is to take “at-risk” Afghans and “temporarily” house them at Fort Bliss in Texas and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Fort Bliss is outside of El Paso, Texas and covers an area of about 1,700 square miles.

  9. Degringolade says:

    Smartass quote for the day from some smartass on the internet

    “Chinese netizens joked that the power transition in Afghanistan is even more smooth than presidential transition in the US.”

  10. akaPatience says:

    Jack Keane on FOX basically saying we should’ve planned to stay in Afghanistan — after all we still have troops in Europe!!!

  11. Fred says:

    Joe Biden, the democrats, and the neocons: “Harmless as an enemy, and treacherous as a friend.” to quote Bernard Lewis.
    So how many of the Afghan army were Pashtuns who simply joined their tribal breathren? How many returned to their other tribal homelands to live another day?

  12. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: “A key part of Brzezinski’s strategy was the buildup of jihadi groups using the Saudis to train them and opium trafficking to help finance them. This operation gave birth to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and fostered the growth of jihadi terrorism throughout Southwest Asia. There’s much more to the story but others with a history of involvement of such matters will know it in ways that I cannot.”

    Willy B,
    Thanks! Unfortunately the collapse of Brzezinski’s policies has been causing the slaughter of many innocents. I hope one day the whole story of how people w/ multiple axes to grind hijacked US foreign policy can be made public. It will be interesting reading.
    IMO Brzezinski’s policies cannot be ascribed to his being Polish alone. He had interesting ties and alliances (https://forward.com/opinion/373704/why-zbigniew-brzezinski-choked-up-in-israel/ ). The policy of using islamists to weaken/coerce nation states was not limited to Southwest Asia, but was/is operative in MENA as well ( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/zbig-brzezinski-israels-a_b_25821 ).
    We will see what happens next in Lebanon. If past performance is any guide, the resolution will involve significant human misery but will not fit the ziocon game plan.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  13. Stefan says:

    Afghan police surrendered to the Taliban, who would offer them $150 after their government did not pay them for six months
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/15/afghanistan-military-collapse-taliban/
    An oversimplified calculation: 300k police/military force x $150 = $45 mln per month was needed to keep locals at least a bit loyal. Not much,IMO

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