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The U.S. defeat in Afghanistan is worse than the Soviet failure...how has this happened?

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The U.S. defeat in Afghanistan is worse than the Soviet failure...how has this happened?
By Paul Robinson


August 13, 2021- As the last men of the dwindling American garrison in Afghanistan pack their bags, there is an echo of the Soviet Union's own withdrawal from the country, more than 30 years ago. But, in truth, Washington's defeat is far greater.

In December 1979, Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan to support the unpopular government of the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). They soon found themselves bogged down in a bloody war against the mujahideen guerillas.

Nine years later, the Soviets decided that there had been enough bloodshed and, in May 1988, they began their exit. The final contingent of Soviet troops drove back across the bridge to the USSR in February the following year.

Twelve years later, US troops arrived to fight the Taliban. Soldiers of other NATO states then followed. Together, they stayed even longer than the Soviets, but are now on the way out. US President Joe Biden has promised that American soldiers
American soldiers will leave Afghanistan by the end of August.

As the US completes its retreat from its longest war, its enemy is on the march. In the past week, the Taliban have captured 12 of Afghanistan’s 34 provincial capitals, including the second and third largest cities in the country, Kandahar and Herat, both of which fell on Thursday.

The pace of the Taliban advance has been remarkable. In some places, government forces simply ran away without a fight. The governor of Ghazni province was said to have surrendered his city in exchange for free passage out of the area. US-trained government troops have fled or deserted en masse and, in some cases, gone over to the Taliban. It’s fair to say that it’s been a rout, and the Americans haven’t even fully left yet. The government may be able to hold onto the country’s capital Kabul, but even that is no longer certain.

In short, the 20 years of America’s and NATO’s war in Afghanistan has ended in ignominious failure – total and absolute. So, of course, did the Soviets’ war, but not quite so abruptly.

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After the last Soviet troops crossed over the Friendship Bridge linking Afghanistan and Soviet Uzbekistan, the mujahideen launched a major offensive, confident that they would be able to defeat the government forces in short order. Their offensive collapsed completely. The Afghan army stood its ground and not a single major population center fell into the hands of their opponents. It was not until two years later, when the post-Soviet Russian government of Boris Yeltsin cut off funding to the Afghans that the PDPA regime finally fell.

The contrast with what has happened this past week could not be clearer. Even after the Soviets had left, the troops they had trained and equipped fought hard and successfully. Today, the troops that America and its allies trained and equipped at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars have scattered to the four winds with only the slightest effort at resistance.

But, to be fair, the problem lies not in army exercises or crates of machine guns. The current batch of Afghans have had plenty of both. They outnumber the Taliban and are better supplied. The problem is one of morale: simply put, not many of them are willing to die for their government.

The PDPA had a well-deserved reputation for corruption, incompetence, factional in-fighting, and dogmatic, counterproductive policies that alienated the Afghan people, such as its Marxist assaults on religion and private enterprise. Meanwhile, the PDPA’s opponents, the mujahideen, the Taliban’s precursor, enjoyed substantial support from the United States, including signing for the delivery of sophisticated Stinger missiles.

The fact that the Soviet-backed government put up a better fight than its contemporary counterpart can, therefore, only have one explanation: Afghans respect their current rulers even less than they respected the socialist PDPA. And that is really saying something.

All of which begs the questions of why America and NATO spent so long supporting the regime in Kabul, and why the latter got to be so disliked.

The answer to the first question is largely one of prestige. Having installed the current government, Western states felt that their reputation was tied to its survival and thus refused to abandon it even when it became clear that it wasn’t worth supporting.

The answer to the second question is that the awfulness of the current government owes a lot to the policies pursued by Western states.

After Najibullah was overthrown in 1992, Afghanistan suffered a vicious civil war in which drug-running warlords competed for power and inflicted all sorts of atrocities on the Afghan people. When the Taliban came along offering fierce but incorruptible justice, many Afghans breathed a sigh of relief and gave them their support.

Canadian general Rick Hiller famously said that the Taliban were “detestable murderers and scumbags.” What he failed to note was that the Taliban’s enemies were, on occasion, even worse. When America and its allies moved into Afghanistan, these enemies returned to their homes, this time with the backing of Western powers, and resumed their criminal ways. Unsurprisingly, the locals weren’t too impressed.

Beyond that, Western powers flooded the country with money. Pour cash into an impoverished country without adequate controls, and the consequence will be mass corruption. So it was in Afghanistan.

Not only did this delegitimize the government, but much of the aid flowed down into the hands of the Taliban. As John Sopko, the US official responsible for auditing American expenditures in Afghanistan, put it, “the end of the US supply chain in Afghanistan is the Taliban.” If you want to know who armed and paid for the Taliban, the answer is that America did.

The Soviets believed ideology and manpower would turn the tide of the war. The West imagined that it could win in Afghanistan by pouring in money and resources. But, as Napoleon noted, “the moral is to the physical as three to one.” Events this week in Afghanistan prove the point.

Paul Robinson, a professor at the University of Ottawa.


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US Collective Suicide

The return of the Taliban to power will be one more signpost of the end of the American empire — and nobody will be held accountable.

By Chris Hedges




August 12, 2021- "Scheerpost," -- The debacle in Afghanistan, which will unravel into chaos with lightning speed over the next few weeks and ensure the return of the Taliban to power, is one more signpost of the end of the American empire.

The two decades of combat, the one trillion dollars spent, the 100,000 troops deployed to subdue Afghanistan, the high-tech gadgets, artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare, Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs and the Global Hawk drones with high-resolution cameras, Special Operations Command composed of elite rangers, SEALs and air commandos, black sites, torture, electronic surveillance, satellites, attack aircraft, mercenary armies, infusions of millions of dollars to buy off and bribe the local elites and train an Afghan army of 350,000 that has never exhibited the will to fight, failed to defeat a guerrilla army of 60,000 that funded itself through opium production and extortion in one of the poorest countries on earth.

Like any empire in terminal decay, no one will be held accountable for the debacle or for the other debacles in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or anywhere else. Not the generals. Not the politicians. Not the CIA and intelligence agencies. Not the diplomats. Not the obsequious courtiers in the press who serve as cheerleaders for war. Not the compliant academics and area specialists. Not the defense industry. Empires at the end are collective suicide machines.

The military becomes in late empire unmanageable, unaccountable, and endlessly self-perpetuating, no matter how many fiascos, blunders and defeats it visits upon the carcass of the nation, or how much money it plunders, impoverishing the citizenry and leaving governing institutions and the physical infrastructure decayed.

The human tragedy — at least 801,000 people have been killed by direct war violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan and 37 million have been displaced in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria according to The Watson Institute at Brown University — is reduced to a neglected footnote.

‘The Enemy Within’

Nearly all the roughly 70 empires during the last 4,000 years, including the Greek, Roman, Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, imperial German, imperial Japanese, British, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Soviet empires, collapsed in the same orgy of military folly. The Roman Republic, at its height, only lasted two centuries. The U.S. empire is set to disintegrate in roughly the same time. This is why, at the start of World War I in Germany, Karl Liebknecht called the German military, which imprisoned and later assassinated him, “the enemy from within.”

Mark Twain, who was a fierce opponent of the efforts to plant the seeds of empire in Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, wrote an imagined history of America in the 20thcentury where its “lust for conquest” had destroyed “the Great Republic…[because] trampling upon the helpless abroad had taught her, by a natural process, to endure with apathy the like at home; multitudes who had applauded the crushing of other people’s liberties, lived to suffer for their mistake.”

Twain knew that foreign occupations, designed to enrich the ruling elites, use occupied populations as laboratory rats to perfect techniques of control that soon migrate back to the homeland. It was the brutal colonial policing practices in the Philippines, which included a vast spy network along with routine beatings, torture and executions, which became the model for centralized domestic policing and intelligence gathering in the United States. Israeli’s arms, surveillance and drone industries test their products on the Palestinians.

It is one of the dark ironies that it was the American empire, led by Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, which spawned the mess in Afghanistan. Brzezinski oversaw a multibillion-dollar CIA covert operation to arm, train and equip the Taliban to fight the Soviets. This clandestine effort sidelined the secular, democratic opposition and assured the ascendancy of the Taliban in Afghanistan, along with the spread of its radical Islam into Soviet Central Asia, once Soviet forces withdrew.

The American empire would, years later, find itself desperately trying to destroy its own creation. In April 2017, in a classic example of this kind of absurd blowback, the United States dropped the “mother of all bombs” — the most powerful conventional bomb in the American arsenal — on an Islamic State cave complex in Afghanistan that the CIA had invested millions in building and fortifying.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were not an existential threat to the United States. They were not politically significant. They did not disrupt the balance of global power. They were not an act of war. They were acts of nihilistic terror.

The only way to fight terrorists is to isolate them within their own societies. I was in the Middle East for The New York Times after the attacks. Most of the Muslim world was appalled and revolted at the crimes against humanity that had been carried out in the name of Islam. If the U.S. had the courage to be vulnerable, to grasp that this was an intelligence war, not a conventional war, it would be far safer and secure today. These wars in the shadows, as the Israelis illustrated when they tracked down the assassins of their athletes in the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, take months, even years of work.

Greatest US Strategic Blunder

But the attacks gave the ruling elites, lusting for control of the Middle East, especially Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks, the excuse to carry out the greatest strategic blunder in American history — the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The architects of the war, including then Sen. Joe Biden, knew little about the countries being invaded, did not grasp the limits of industrial and technocratic war or the inevitable blowback that would see the United States reviled throughout the Muslim world. They believed they could implant client regimes by force throughout the region, use the oil revenues in Iraq, since the war in Afghanistan would be over in a matter of weeks, to cover the cost of reconstruction and magically restore American global hegemony. It did the opposite.

Invading Iraq and Afghanistan, dropping iron fragmentation bombs on villages and towns, kidnapping, torturing and imprisoning tens of thousands of people, using drones to sow terror from the skies, resurrected the discredited radical jihadists and was a potent recruiting tool in the fight against U.S. and NATO forces. The U.S. was the best thing that ever happened to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

There was little objection within the power structures to these invasions. The congressional vote was 518-to-one in favor of empowering President George W. Bush to launch a war, Rep. Barbara Lee being the lone dissenter. Those of us who spoke out against the idiocy of the looming bloodlust were slandered, denied media platforms, and cast into the wilderness, where most of us remain.

Those who sold us the war kept their megaphones, a reward for their service to empire and the military-industrial complex. It did not matter how cynical or foolish they were.

Historians call the self-defeating military adventurism of late empires “micro-militarism.” During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) the Athenians invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers and triggering revolts throughout the empire. Britain attacked Egypt in 1956 in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal and was humiliated when it had to withdraw its forces, bolstering the status of Arab nationalists such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” the historian Alfred McCoy writes “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.” “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

The death blow to the American empire will, as McCoy writes, be the loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. This loss will plunge the United States into a crippling, and prolonged depression. It will force a massive contraction of the global military footprint.

The ugly, squalid face of empire, with the loss of the dollar as the reserve currency, will become familiar at home. The bleak economic landscape, with its decay and hopelessness, will accelerate an array of violent and self-destructive pathologies including mass shootings, hate crimes, opioid and heroin overdoses, morbid obesity, suicides, gambling and alcoholism.

The state will increasingly dispense with the fiction of the rule of law to rely exclusively on militarized police, essentially internal armies of occupation, and the prisons and jails, which already hold 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although the United States represents less than 5 percent of global population.

Our demise will probably come more swiftly than we imagine. When revenues shrink or collapse, McCoy points out, empires become “brittle.” An economy heavily dependent on massive government subsidies to produce primarily weapons and munitions, as well as fund military adventurism, will go into a tailspin with a heavily depreciated dollar, falling to perhaps a third of its former value. Prices will dramatically rise because of the steep increase in the cost of imports. Wages in real terms will decline.

The devaluation of Treasury bonds will make paying for our massive deficits onerous, perhaps impossible. The unemployment level will climb to depression era levels. Social assistance programs, because of a contracting budget, will be sharply curtailed or eliminated. This dystopian world will fuel the rage and hyper nationalism that put Donald Trump in the White House. It will spawn an authoritarian state to keep order and, I expect, a Christianized fascism.

The tools of control on the outer reaches of empire, already part of our existence, will become ubiquitous. The wholesale surveillance, the abolition of basic civil liberties, militarized police authorized to use indiscriminate lethal force, the use of drones and satellites to keep us monitored and fearful, along with the censorship of the press and social media, familiar to Iraqis or Afghans, will define America. The U.S. is not the first empire to suffer this fate. It is a familiar ending.

Imperialism and militarism are poisons that eradicate the separation of powers, designed to prevent tyranny, and extinguish democracy. If those who orchestrated these crimes are not held accountable, and this means organizing sustained mass resistance, people will pay the price, and may pay it soon, for their hubris and greed.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show “On Contact.”
 
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FuturePAF

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The Russians must be over joyous. What a payback. Putin is an incredible chess player of politics. The way Putin has humiliated the US is indescribable.
The Russians, The Chinese, The Iranians, etc. their strategic rear areas don’t have to get as much attention.
 

aziqbal

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Reason is simple

US trained the ANA in fighting only

not in recon, intelligence gathering, eavesdropping, logistics and air power

they were only trained in infantry thats it

infantry alone is not enough to stop the Taliban

which is why ANA lost so fast

ANA was never a full army to defend a nation it was only a smart part of the jigsaw
 

Taimoor Khan

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People will realise that as it happened to USSR after their defeat in Afghanistan, American defeat in Afghanistan will be catalyst towards unravelling of American empire.

All wars, all conflicts, are win and lost in minds , before the first bullet is fired in anger. When you lost your aura of invincibility, you become vulnerable. America is heading towards that same direction. Glad likes of Bush, Dick Cheney, heads of CIA, and recently expired Rumsfeld saw this unraveling of their empire which was build on sheer arrogance.
 

Hakikat ve Hikmet

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The folks who defeated the USSR to make the USA the sole super power are the same ones who planted the seed of her decline by making the Muslims as enemies…..
 

khansaheeb

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Reason is simple

US trained the ANA in fighting only

not in recon, intelligence gathering, eavesdropping, logistics and air power

they were only trained in infantry thats it

infantry alone is not enough to stop the Taliban

which is why ANA lost so fast

ANA was never a full army to defend a nation it was only a smart part of the jigsaw
Fact of the matter is the ANA soldiers joined the army for employment and not to fight.
 

ARMalik

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The Russians must be over joyous. What a payback. Putin is an incredible chess player of politics. The way Putin has humiliated the US is indescribable.
You are giving too much credit to Russians. There is ONLY one player in A-Stan to make this happen. Yes Russia, Iran, China, etc were onboard because they HAD NO OTHER CHOICE.
 

Indos

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USA has got the objective by destroying AQ and also later killed Osama bin Laden. Actually Taliban doesnt have anything to do with 9/11 as it was done by AQ where the organization is now just too weak to make any terrorist action like they used to do.

If there is no 9/11, USA will not attack and invade Afghanistan and let Taliban rules Afghanistan peacefully. The reason they want to destroy Taliban is just the revenge due to Taliban let Osama and AQ live in Afghanistan.

USA understand since the end of WW2 that it is not easy to occupy any nation, the one that they lost is actually Vietnam as it was a battle of ideology. The situation maybe similar like Indonesia to let go East Timor after around 25 years holding the country. As we all know Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. It is better to leave East Timor so that money can be better invested in other region that is peaceful and stable so economy can strive.
 
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dbc

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USA has got the objective by destroying AQ and also later killed Osama bin Laden. Actually Taliban doesnt have anything to do with 9/11 as it was done by AQ where the organization is now just too weak to make any terrorist action like they used to do.

If there is no 9/11, USA will not attack and invade Afghanistan and let Taliban rules Afghanistan peacefully. The reason they want to destroy Taliban is just the revenge due to Taliban let Osama and AQ live in Afghanistan.

USA understand since the end of WW2 that it is not easy to occupy any nation, the one that they lost is actually Vietnam as it was a battle of ideology. The situation maybe similar like Indonesia to let go East Timor after around 25 years holding the country. As we all know Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. It is better to leave East Timor so that money can be better invested in other region that is peaceful and stable so economy can strive.
The US lost in Vietnam because the US military was shackled by restrictions imposed by politicians in Washington and idiotic Washington notions such as graduated escalation

One outcome of the graduated escalation doctrine was that US fighters were not permitted hot pursuit of North Vietnamese fighters fleeing into neighboring Cambodia or China.
Also, Vietnam ports, bridges and links to Cambodia and China were off limits to the US air strikes until very late in the war. North Vietnam was able to bring in much needed supplies and replace equipment lost in battle through unrestricted land and sea routes which were off limits to US forces.

There is an interesting story of a two USAF pilots under Lt. Gen. William W. Momyer defying orders and attacking a Soviet ship in frustration killing Soviet Navy sailors. At the time of the attack the ship was offloading war supplies in Haiphong Harbor in what was later described as the Turkestan incident. The CO Jacksel Markham "Jack" Broughton and his pilots were court-martialed for their troubles.

The story is not very different in Afghanistan and the 2011 Salala attack was the expression of the same frustration as the Vietnamese Turkestan incident in which many Pakistani soldiers were killed by USAF. In my mind the Salala incident = Turkestan incident.

You can call it hubris or ignorance or apathy but the people that call the shots in Washington are often more worried about their political careers then they are about letting the military do the job it was sent to do. So now here we are, we demolished the Taliban twenty years ago, most retreated into Pakistan and were reduced to IED's or suicide attacks - when they massed and faced NATO forces they died. They waited and waited for the US to realize Kabul was never going to be able to hold Afghanistan together no matter how much money Washington threw at the problem.

The US lost in Vietnam and now we lost in Afghanistan.
 

K_Bin_W

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Reason is simple

US trained the ANA in fighting only

not in recon, intelligence gathering, eavesdropping, logistics and air power

they were only trained in infantry thats it

infantry alone is not enough to stop the Taliban

which is why ANA lost so fast

ANA was never a full army to defend a nation it was only a smart part of the jigsaw
Success has many fathers failure is an orphan
 

Clutch

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USA has got the objective by destroying AQ and also later killed Osama bin Laden. Actually Taliban doesnt have anything to do with 9/11 as it was done by AQ where the organization is now just too weak to make any terrorist action like they used to do.

If there is no 9/11, USA will not attack and invade Afghanistan and let Taliban rules Afghanistan peacefully. The reason they want to destroy Taliban is just the revenge due to Taliban let Osama and AQ live in Afghanistan.

USA understand since the end of WW2 that it is not easy to occupy any nation, the one that they lost is actually Vietnam as it was a battle of ideology. The situation maybe similar like Indonesia to let go East Timor after around 25 years holding the country. As we all know Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975. It is better to leave East Timor so that money can be better invested in other region that is peaceful and stable so economy can strive.

You are only trying to put lipstick on a pig.
 

Khanate

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Chris Hedges is always pronouncing the death of US empire. Fact is it has only expanded.

The failure? There isn't one.

US bought into a fable: War on Terrorism which was War on Islam & Muslims

That fable is not important any longer because there is a new fable: War on China
 

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