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The Forgotten War: 12 Years in Afghanistan Down the Memory Hole

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Ann Jones, who has reported from Afghanistan since 2002, is the author of Kabul in Winter (Metropolitan 2006) and War Is Not Over When It’s Over (Metropolitan 2010), among other books. She wraps up a trilogy on war with publication next month of a Dispatch Books project in cooperation with Haymarket Books: They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — the Untold Story, which Andrew Bacevich has already described this way: “Read this unsparing, scathingly direct, and gut-wrenching account — the war Washington doesn’t want you to see. Then see if you still believe that Americans ‘support the troops.’”

Cross-posted from Tom Dispatch.

Will the U.S. still be meddling in Afghanistan 30 years from now?  If history is any guide, the answer is yes.  And if history is any guide, three decades from now most Americans will have only the haziest idea why.

Since the 1950s, the U.S. has been trying to mold that remote land to its own desires, first through an aid “war” in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union; then, starting as the 1970s ended, an increasingly bitter and brutally hot proxy war with the Soviets meant to pay them back for supporting America’s enemies during the war in Vietnam.  One bad war leads to another.

From then until the early 1990s, Washington put weapons in the hands of Islamic fundamentalist extremists of all sorts — thought to be natural, devoutly religious allies in the war against “godless communism” — gloated over the Red Army’s defeat and the surprising implosion of the Soviet empire, and then experienced its own catastrophic blowback from Afghanistan on September 11, 2001.  After 50 years of scheming behind the scenes, the U.S. put boots on the ground in 2001 and now, 12 years later, is still fighting there — against some Afghans on behalf of other Afghans while training Afghan troops to take over and fight their countrymen, and others, on their own.

Through it all, the U.S. has always claimed to have the best interests of Afghans at heart — waving at various opportune moments the bright flags of modernization, democracy, education, or the rights of women. Yet today, how many Afghans would choose to roll back the clock to 1950, before the Americans ever dropped in?  After 12 years of direct combat, after 35 years of arming and funding one faction or another, after 60 years of trying to remake Afghanistan to serve American aims, what has it all meant?  If we ever knew, we’ve forgotten. Weary of official reports of progress, Americans tuned out long ago.

Back in 1991, as Steve Coll reports in Ghost Wars, an unnamed CIA agent mentioned the war in Afghanistan to President George H.W. Bush.  Not long before, he had okayed the shipment of Iraqi weaponry captured in the first Gulf War — worth $30 million — to multiple factions of Islamist extremists then battling each other and probably using those secondhand Iraqi arms to destroy Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.  Still, Bush seemed puzzled by the CIA man’s question about the war.  He reportedly asked, “Is that thing still going on?”

Such forgetfulness about wars has, it seems, become an all-American skill.  Certainly, the country has had little trouble forgetting the war in Iraq, and why should Afghanistan be any different?  Sure, the exit from that country is going to take more time and effort. No seacoast, no ships, bad roads, high tolls, IEDs.  Trucking stuff out is problematic; flying it out, wildly expensive, especially since a lot of the things are really, really big. Take MRAPs, for example — that’s Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles — 11,000 of them, weighing 14 tons or more apiece. For that workhorse transport plane, the C-17, a full load of MRAPs numbers only four.

The equipment inventory keeps changing, but estimates run to 100,000 shipping containers and about 50,000 vehicles to be removed by the end of 2014, adding up to more than $36 billion worth of equipment now classified as “retrograde.”  The estimated shipping bill has quickly risen to $6 billion, and like the overall cost of the war, it is sure to keep rising. 

Seven billion dollars worth of equipment — about 20% of what the U.S. sent in to that distant land — is simply being torn up, chopped down, split, shredded, stomped, and, when possible, sold off for scrap at pennies a pound.  Toughest to break up are the weighty MRAPs.  Introduced in 2007 at a cost of $1 million apiece to counteract deadly roadside bombs, they were later discovered to be no better at protecting American soldiers than the cheaper vehicles they replaced.  Of the 11,000 shipped to Afghanistan, 2,000 are on the chopping block, leaving a mere 9,000 to be flown to Kuwait, four at a time, and shipped home or “repositioned” elsewhere to await some future enemy. 

The military is not exaggerating when it calls this colossal destruction of surplus equipment historic.  A disposal effort on this scale is unprecedented in the annals of the Pentagon. The centerpiece of this demolition derby may be the brand-new, 64,000-square-foot, $34-million, state-of-the art command center completed in Helmand Province just as most U.S. troops left, and now likely to be demolished.  Or the new $45 million facility in Kandahar built as a repair center for armored vehicles, now used for their demolition, and probably destined to follow them. Taxpayers may one day want to ask some questions about such profligate and historic waste, but it’s sure to keep arms manufacturers happy, resupplying the military until we can get ourselves into another full-scale war.

So this exit is a really big job, and that’s without even mentioning the paperwork.  All those exit plans, all the documents to be filed with the Afghan government for permission to export our own equipment, all the fines assessed for missing customs forms (already running to $70 million), all the export fees to be paid, and the bribes to be offered, and the protection money to be slipped to the Taliban so our enemies won’t shoot at the stuff being trucked out.  All that takes time.

But when it comes right down to it, the United States has a surefire way of ending a war, no matter when it actually ends (or doesn’t).  When we say it’s over, it’s over. 

Enduring Operation Enduring Freedom

As it happens, things probably won’t be quite so decisively “over” for everybody. Look at Iraq, for example.  The last American troops drove out of Iraq in December 2011, leaving behind a staff of at least 16,000, including 5,000 private security contractors, assigned to the vast $750 million fortress of a U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.  That war has now been over for almost two years, the embassy staff is being trimmed, and yet, the drumbeat of news about car bombs, suicide bombers, and the latest rounds of sectarian cleansing has not slackened. Nearly 6,000 Iraqis have been killed so far this year, 1,000 in July alone, making it the deadliest month in Iraq since 2008.  Even Iraqis who lived through the war in their own homes are now fleeing, like millions of Iraqis before them — many the victims of sectarian cleansing practiced during the American-led “surge” of 2007 and now polished to a fine art.  From the foreign diplomatic corps in Baghdad come informal messages that include the words “worse than ever.”

In Afghanistan, too, as the end of a longer war supposedly draws near, the rate at which civilians are being killed has actually picked up, and the numbers of women and children among the civilian dead have risen dramatically.  This week, as the Nation magazine devotes a special issue to a comprehensive study of the civilian death toll in Afghanistan — the painstaking work of Bob Dreyfuss and Nick Turse — the pace of civilian death seems only to be gaining momentum as if in some morbid race to the finish.

Like Iraqis, Afghans, too, are in flight — fearing the unknown end game to come.  The number of Afghans filing applications for asylum in other countries, rising sharply since 2010, reached 30,000 in 2012. Undocumented thousands flee the country illegally in all sorts of dangerous ways.  Their desperate journeys by land and sea spark controversy in countries they’re aiming for.  It was Afghan boat people who roused the anti-immigrant rhetoric of candidates in the recent Australian elections, revealing a dark side of the national character even as Afghans and others drowned off their shores.  War reverberates, even where you least expect it.

Afghans who remain at home are on edge.  Their immediate focus: the presidential election scheduled for April 5, 2014.  It’s already common knowledge that the number of existing voter cards far exceeds the number of eligible voters, and millions more are being issued to new registrants, making it likely that this presidential contest will be as fraudulent as the last, in 2009, when voter cards were sold by the handful. 

With President Hamid Karzai constitutionally barred from a third term, the presidential race is either wide open, or — as many believe — already a done deal. In August, Afghan news services reported that Karzai had chaired a meeting with a few of the country’s most powerful warlords to call for the candidacy of Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf, intimidator of women in parliament, longtime pal of Osama bin Laden, mentor of al-Qaeda’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, likely collaborator in the assassination two days before 9/11 of the Taliban’s greatest opponent, Ahmad Shah Massoud — in short the quintessential untouchable jihadi

There’s an irony so ludicrous as to be terrible in the thought that while the U.S. supposedly fought this interminable war to insure that al-Qaeda would never again find a haven in Afghanistan, the country’s next president could be the very guy who invited bin Laden to Afghanistan in the first place and became his partner in building al-Qaeda training camps.

Even Karzai, who likes to poke his finger in American eyes, quickly backed away from that insult.  Within hours of the news reports, he announced that he would remain “neutral.”  Americans scarcely seemed to notice, but Afghans noted what Karzai had done in the first place. Now, as Sayyaf and other potential candidates do backroom deals, jockeying for position, Afghans wait anxiously to learn which ones will actually register to run before the October 6th deadline.

The names bandied about are those of the usual suspects: familiar militia commanders from times past, former jihadis, and political hacks. At this writing, a coalition of some of the most powerful are said to be aligning behind former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, who came in second to Karzai’s overstuffed ballot boxes in 2009 and declined to take part in a runoff likely to be just as fixed by fraud. One Afghan politico, surveying a recent gathering of likely candidates, expressed to the Washington Post an opinion widely held by Afghans: “These are the people who destroyed our country.  They should all be thrown down a well.”  Beleaguered Afghans have lived through all of this with all of them before.  Sometimes it ends in a crooked election.  Sometimes in a coup.  Once in recent memory, in a civil war that could go into reruns.

Meanwhile, Karzai has also been tampering with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), a government body headed by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Sima Samar, and the most respected public body in the country precisely because it has maintained its independence from government politics. In December 2011, Karzai blocked the AIHRC’s nonpartisan work by allowing the terms of three of its most effective members to expire. Another respected member had been killed earlier in 2011, together with her husband and four children, by a Taliban suicide-bomber reportedly aiming for officials of Xe (formerly Blackwater, now Academi) in a Kabul supermarket. The members Karzai cut loose included Ahmad Nader Nadery, an assiduous researcher of war crimes, largely responsible for a “Mapping Project,” never officially released, that reportedly names prominent warlords and members of Karzai’s government.

After stalling for 18 months, last July Karzai stacked the AIHRC staff with five political cronies unqualified in human rights.  They include an Army general, a member of an Islamist fundamentalist political party, and a mullah who served in the Taliban government, spent three years in the U.S. military prison at Bagram (without being charged), considers Shariah law the best source of human rights legislation, and opposes laws currently on the books that aim to protect women from violence.

In September Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, made a rare personal visit to Kabul to urge Karzai to reconsider his appointments before the AIHRC lost its international “A” rating and donor nations were forced to rethink their aid to a repressive government.  She left with no assurances, repeating her concern that “improvement in human rights” had not merely “peaked” in Afghanistan, but was “in reality waning.”

Down and Out in Afghanistan 

Now that the end of the international occupation approaches, the story of its success is undergoing a peculiar revision. The stunning advances Washington claimed in Afghanistan seem somehow much smaller and so much less impressive.  Education, health care, and human rights, just like the fabled MRAP, have not lived up to their publicity. 

For example, Western leaders have taken particular pride in supposed advances in Afghan education since the defeat of the Taliban in 2001, in schools built and students enrolled by the millions. (The U.S. Agency for International Development alone spent $934 million on Afghan education in the last 12 years.)  But UNICEF reports that almost half the “schools” supposedly built or opened have no actual buildings, and in those that do, students double up on seats and share antiquated texts. Teachers are scarce and fewer than a quarter of those now teaching are considered “qualified,” even by Afghanistan’s minimal standards.  Impressive school enrollment figures determine how much money a school gets from the government, but don’t reveal the much smaller numbers of enrollees who actually attend. No more than 10% of students, mostly boys, finish high school. In 2012, according to UNICEF, only half of school-age children went to school at all.

Advances in Afghan health care have been another source of Western donors’ pride. But dramatic claims that 85% of Afghans now have access to basic health care turn out to mean only that something called a “health care facility” exists in 85% of Afghan districts, many of which are enormous.  Tens of thousands of Afghans now have “access” to health care facilities only because they fled their war-torn provinces for refugee camps on the fringes of major cities. The country’s high rates of maternal and infant mortality have slightly improved but remain among the worst in the world. You have to wonder if Washington couldn’t have turned all that MRAP money to better purpose.

As for the advancement of the human rights of women, much ballyhooed by American politicians and others, a report filed by the independent Afghan Rights Monitor in December 2012 tells a more accurate tale.  It describes merely 10 of the many women assassinated in recent years because of their “work and ideals”: “women’s development activists, a doctor, two journalists, a provincial lawmaker, a teacher, and a police officer.”  

Assassinated only two weeks ago was a courageous veteran police lieutenant named Nigara, who once stopped a suicide bomber by grabbing him in a bear hug.  Men on a motorcycle shot her in the neck from behind as she stood waiting for a government bus to take her to work.  She was the senior policewoman in Helmand Province, having taken over the duties of her predecessor Islam Bibi, assassinated only three months earlier in the same popular drive-by style.

No Afghan has ever been brought to trial for any of these assassinations, nor does President Karzai ever speak out against them. The government keeps no record of its women employees slain in the course of duty. 

Good neighbor Pakistan chose this moment to release from detention at an “undisclosed location” Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, longtime pal of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and formerly his second-in-command.  Karzai campaigned for his release to facilitate the Afghan “peace process,” but now that Baradar is free, his whereabouts are officially unknown.  How do you suppose women in Afghanistan, or girls in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, receive that news?

So that’s the way the war is ending — in waste, destruction, anxiety, conspiracy, and the evaporation of illusory achievements. A thousand diminutions mark the waning of Afghanistan, punctuated by the sudden violent death of women.

But even when the war “ends” and Americans have forgotten it altogether, it won’t be over in Afghanistan. Obama and Karzai continue negotiations toward a bilateral security agreement to allow the U.S. to keep at least 9 of the biggest bases it built and several thousand “trainers” (and undoubtedly special operations forces) in Afghanistan seemingly forever.

It won’t be over in the U.S. either. For American soldiers who took part in it and returned with catastrophic physical and mental injuries, and for their families, the battles are just beginning. 

For American taxpayers, the war will continue at least until midcentury. Think of all the families of the dead soldiers to be compensated for their loss, all the wounded with their health care bills, all the brain damaged veterans at the VA.  Think of the ongoing cost of their drugs and prosthetics and benefits. Medical and disability costs alone are projected to reach $754 billion. Not to mention the hefty retirement pay of all those generals who issued all those reports of progress as they so ambitiously fought more than one war leading nowhere.

Then there’s the urgent need to replace all that retrograde equipment, so efficiently trashed, and recruit a whole new army, so that any month now we can start the next war.  Let’s not forget about that.

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24 comments

  1. gepay

    truly disgusting. Obama upped the number of soldiers in Afghanistan. Vietnam Iraq Afghanistan only the bigger and overt war ravished countries the US has trashed in the last 50 years. What to do? What to do? The official lies. Yet liberals believe the official stories about such things as 911 and believe we still live in a republic.

    1. Banger

      They don’t want to believe anything disturbing. One the main feature or our age is that, for good and bad, traditional notions of virtue and morality have been disintegrating. To believe that our country has been taken over by oligarchs by hook or by crook and the U.S. is no longer functioning as a Constitutional democracy (which I believe) is just too difficult to live with. Since the virtues are no longer considered valid the default morality, hedonism, comes into play. Americans today on both the left and right tend to do what is convenient, comfortable and advantageous rather than what is moral and right because morality has no philosophical basis we all accept. I’m speaking generally here–there are many people of all classes and sub-cultures who believe in strong codes of conduct but even most of them cannot fully accept something as disturbing as thinking your entire country is ruled by a regime that is illegitimate because it would require such a person to “do” something. Better to just live in a world of fantasies the controlled mainstream media lays on us.

  2. middle seaman

    We got used to define our national security in wide circle encompassing the whole world. Then we believe that we are the only ones who can run a country well.

    Vietnam and Iraq were wars of choice with scant justification. Afghanistan started from 9/11 and went after Al Qaida. Al Qaida disappeared rather fast and we stayed to run the country. We still are there and Obama even added 30,000 soldiers to a failing war.

    Why we think we know better is a mystery. We run our own country quite badly.

    Can we stop seeing the whole world as ours? Can we admit that every country should run itself? So far the answers are no and no.

    1. Banger

      Really, it’s not a mystery of why “we” think we can do it better. The overall ideology of nearly all Americans is American Exceptionalism. We lack coherency in this culture and coherency of some kind real or imagined is a requirement to maintain any culture. This ideology is, quite simply, wrong and a convenient fantasy and this fantasy has been responsible for the ability of cynical oligarchs to earn riches and control the country domestically.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        This is an excellent observation. Though I fled the country after Bush was re-appointed in 2004, I returned recently. Whenever I travel I like to ask myself what the narrative “story” is of a country I visit. The narrative myth of America, of course, was previously very easy to apprehend. Freedom, representative democracy, and of course the American Dream. As each of those has disappeared, on my last visit I noticed a distinct lack of a binding myth. In LA I thought it might be tattooed Mexican grandmothers; in SF it seemed to be snarky and smug tech/foodie culture; in NYC it was the ever-present “New York Exceptionalism” (New York is the best city in the world blah blah blah). So there is no single replacement myth or unifying set of values, which may explain why the place seemed adrift in a fog of consumerism, I-got-mine-ism, bigotry, apathy, and escapism.
        Not sure you can sustain a country on all that.

      2. Crazy Horse

        And to think that some people question American Exceptionalism!

        What other country could invent a military industrial state that could absorb as much of the nations wealth as the entire rest of the world combined? And become the world’s primary supplier of weapons of mass murder, with an 85% market share?

        And what other people would continue to unconditionally support such a vast extraction of wealth from their pocketbooks with rarely a murmur while their infrastructure, health care, and educational systems deteriorate toward third world standards?

        And what other military system could continue to command such treasure while failing to deliver a real victory in the five decades since WWII?

        Sorry, I forgot successful invasion of Granada and the victory over 40 or so Cuban construction workers and medical school teachers. And we did successfully invade Panama and oust Noriega for the crime of demanding too high a percentage of the drug laundering fees that rightly belonged to the CIA. Hardly counterbalances the ignominy of being chased out of Vietnam with our tail between our legs, or the failure to achieve a military triumph in Iraq or Afghanistan after decades of involvement and trillions of dollars expended.

        Of course companies like Halliburton and Blackwater did reap economic victory from our endless wars—-.

  3. JL Furtif

    What is missing from this story is the stunning fact that during all this time Afghanistan has become or remained the world N°1 heroine producer and exporter.
    One is tempted to ask where the all money went.

    1. monday1929

      Laundering the drug money is all that kept Citigroup in business, and still does. It is critical to the survival of all the Money Center banks.

  4. Rising Star

    See, that’s why Karzai makes the big bucks. He watches and he learns. He saw what the US government did to Human Rights Watch, stuffing it full of USAF baby blasters and CIA agents and siccing it on the US government’s enemies, and he used that as a template Afghanistan’s fake NGO.

    1. James Levy

      When no irrefutable fact can go unchallenged by lies and reason is considered old, slow, and not compelling, the only thing that matters is controlling the narrative. In American life that’s all it’s about–controlling the narrative. Banger is right about the lack of a moral center in all this (C. Wright Mills called it “the higher immorality 57 years ago).

      When you have a national ideology of total individual autonomy any system of thought (reason, morality, science, rule of law) that compels the individual to accept an imperative to believe or act will eventually come under attack and be trashed. The statement “you are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts” flies in the face of what millions of Americans believe, that no one has any right to tell them what to believe, even if what they believe is nonsense (dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark comes to mind). They consider it the grossest form of elitism and impertinence to tell them that what they maintain is not true. Given that pervasive sentiment, we are royally screwed.

  5. human

    “…catastrophic blowback from Afghanistan on September 11, 2001.”

    Seems to me that Tom has answered his own question…contradictorily and without any citation or evidence.

  6. TC

    “There’s an irony so ludicrous as to be terrible in the thought that while the U.S. supposedly fought this interminable war to insure that al-Qaeda would never again find a haven in Afghanistan, the country’s next president could be the very guy who invited bin Laden to Afghanistan in the first place and became his partner in building al-Qaeda training camps.”

    And there is your first clue to who were the real authors of 9/11. It’s no irony at all that, the CIA’s Arab Legion (a.k.a. “al-Qaeda”) is rising in Afghanistan and is receiving extensive support from NATO in Syria, as well (this particularly via state intelligence services). Once a useful dupe, always a useful dupe. Yet both directors and duped alike are but mere tools of today’s supra-national imperialism (this of the Venetian variety run out of London) out to destroy the system of sovereign nation states: a project whose ceaseless promotion and successful perpetuation in the post-Bretton Woods “globalization” era cannot help but make obvious even to the dullest coward this evil intention underlying today’s reality, one whose final objective is destruction of the United States itself.

    The so-called “blowback” theory of 9/11 is but disinformation meant to dupe a credulous audience. The “catastrophic” effect on steel-structure buildings caused by mere kerosene (albeit the “special” kind that burns for weeks!) provides most graphic proof 9/11 was a classic false-flag deception whose execution could not have been possible were there not treasonous actors in both the public and private sectors whose rooting out and prosecution demands exceptionalism in bravery lending substance to the final verse of the United States’ National Anthem.

    Unless we squeeze the lemons that are the official accounts of the JFK assassination, 9/11, the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Washington Navy Yard massacre, there is little possibility of meaningful change in the course of affairs today deepening the devastation in Afghanistan, and raising its promise some near tomorrow in America.

    1. Banger

      I agree with you about 9/11 and the assassinations of the sixties the evidence for malfeasance and cover-ups is overwhelming. Any reasonable person when confronting the mass of evidence has to come to the conclusion that the events did not transpire the way the gov’ts and official media say. The problem is that the mass of American intellectuals refuse to look at the evidence for a variety of complex reasons.

      As for Sandy Hook and Boston, I haven’t looked into those events closely but if there is good material out there I will check it out. I wouldn’t put those event anywhere in the same categories as the other events because, as i said the evidence against the official narrative is overwhelming.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Nothing ironic about al-Qaeda’s ressurection. In this new Orwellian world odor, they are a useful enemy-ally in perpetual war. They’ve morphed from freedom fighter to terrorist and back again as amoral MIC needs evolve.

  7. Yancey Ward

    Probably the prime example of Obama’s gutlessness- the pursuit of the idiotic Afghanistan War. Even though I greatly opposed Bush’s idea for the Afghanistan invasion and nation-building, I at least understood that history wasn’t going to put a barrier in front of it after 9/11-simply, you could have had Bernie Sanders as President with a Congress 100% Democrats from Massachusetts, and the war in Afghanistan would have happened just like it did in 2001. However, by 2008, it was clear that both Afghanistan and Iraq were ill begotten pursuits and Obama could have ended both, and it would have been the reflection of his inner core beliefs to boot, but he had to run for president on pursuing the “good” war in Afghanistan rather than actually doing the right thing- and worse, he didn’t even have to do that to get elected. Stupid and gutless.

  8. Banger

    The pattern of USG military occupations is always the same at least starting with Vietnam. Install corrupt and criminal elements into power and enable crony contractors to enrich themselves–and as icing on the cake provide a place where officers can get promoted and retire at a very generous pension as Colonels in their mid-forties. Extra added bonus is the chance to kill massive amounts of people, mainly civilians, who are designated as enemy combatants because they happen to live in a section of the country that may not like the corrupt government imposed own them–this also has the virtue of keeping military cultures sufficiently brutal and cruel just in case there was a real military need, that is, to suppress domestic revolts and/or train future police officers in the right approach to handle subject populations within the USA.

  9. fresno dan

    “There’s an irony so ludicrous…”
    let me fix that for ya:

    “There’s an irony so PREDICTABLE as to be terrible in the…”

    And incredibly, with all the examples abounding, this country was seriously putting forth the proposition that we should stick our nose in Syria…
    because we did so well in Iraq and Afghanistan???

  10. aljamo

    What creeps me out is on televised sporting events the crowds revel in the playing of the national anthem that glorifies war. Being a Vietnam vet, upon induction I told them I did not believe in killing. I still served there and remain opposed to the warmongers who control this nation. As others noted, these criminals who wage war are completely responsible for the events of 9-11. The majority know it, the rest do not want to know it.

  11. allcoppedout

    Afghanistan was actually modernising in the 1920s. We failed to support that at let Islamic-tribal counter-revolution back. Iran and Iraq were modernising after WW2. McJihad seems to be how “we” divide and rule. By now you’d think we would all be speaking via the Internet to individuals all over and explaining we are not their enemy and working out some collective action.

  12. Glen

    Even when I put on my rose colored American exceptionalism glasses, Iraq and Afghanistan are the worst foreign policy disasters in American history. To think that these actions made America more safe is a folly.

    And when I take the rose colored glasses off, the death, torture, suffering, destruction, and loss are monstrous. I am at a loss trying to figure out how best “to make this right”.

    The American public would be best served by a Congress that has to declare war every time American troops are deployed for combat, and a mandatory draft every time war is declared. Lacking that, war, in America, will remain a racket, conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.

  13. Roland

    The war cost less than one platinum coin? No problem!

    These sorts of expenditures are examples of what sort of malvestment can be sustained by a defective debt-finance regime.

    Mullah Baradar did not get “released,” since he was never really “captured” in the first place. He went to Pakistan to negotiate, and the “capture” story was a cover for all parties in the negotiation–it gave everyone plausible deniability if the negotiations failed.

    I’m glad to hear he made some progress, since he was always one of the most capable and imaginative of the Taliban guerrilla commanders. He was the mastermind of the Sarpoza prison break which took place right under the nose of some 7000 NATO personnel in Kandahar. Afghanistan needs people like Baradar.

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