Links 8/16/2021

Marine bacteria in Canadian Arctic capable of biodegrading diesel and oil Science Daily

Tree by Tree, Scientists Try to Resurrect a Fire-Scarred Forest Scientific American

Actually, it doesn’t matter who runs the Fed FT

Wonking Out: Who Knew Used Cars and Shipping Containers Would Matter So Much Paul Krugman, NYT (Re Silc). Paul. Um, NC readers?

Bye-Bye, Miners! How Ethereum’s Big Change Will Work Bloomberg

Acres of Money Laundering: Why U.S. Real Estate is a Kleptocrat’s Dream Global Financial Integrity (Re Silc).


Don’t Panic, But Breakthrough Cases May Be a Bigger Problem Than You’ve Been Told Current public-health messaging may understate the scale and risk. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine (dk).

* * *

Florida Board of Education Approves School Vouchers in Districts Requiring Masks MSN (MV).

Illinois launches online COVID vaccination portal ‘Vax Verify’ WGN9. “[T]he state is using the credit reporting company Experian for identity verification.” Oh.

Mandatory Covid vaccines for troops are coming. What happens if they refuse? Politico

* * *

Protective heterologous T cell immunity in COVID-19 induced by the trivalent Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Tetanus-Diptheria-Pertussis vaccine antigens (abstract only) Cell (nvl). From the Highlights: “T cell responses to SARS-CoV-2, MMR [Measles-Mumps-Rubella] and Tdap [Tetanus-Diptheria-Pertussis] vaccine proteins are highly correlated…. Prior MMR or Tdap vaccination correlates with reduced COVID-19 disease severity.”

Protection against SARS-CoV-2 Beta Variant in mRNA-1273 Boosted Nonhuman Primates (preprint) bioRxiv. Summary: “mRNA-1273 boosted nonhuman primates have increased immune responses and are protected against SARS-CoV-2 beta [B.1.351] infection.”

Estimating infectiousness throughout SARS-CoV-2 infection course Science. Paper discussed on This Week in Virology podcast, contrasted to CDC paper on P-Town.


China’s Key Activity Data Misses Across The Board Heisenberg Report

Why US-China trade talks are failing to take off despite pressure from American business South China Morning Post

Gamers in China respond to curbs Taipei Times


Five police officers shot dead in attack on Yangon train Myanmar Now

The battle for Myanmar’s seat in the UN General Assembly The Interpreter


Betting on nuclear: Poland’s plan to kick its coal habit FT

Berlin’s referendum and the housing costs fury FT. Commentary:

Who Really Benefits from the Creation of a Land Market in Ukraine? Oakland Institute


In Kabul:

Afghanistan: Taliban greeted by huge crowd of locals on the outskirts of capital city Kabul Sky News (Re Silc). With sweets and flowers?

Kabul the day after the Taliban takeover (photo essay) Al Jazeera

U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan Posts Online Job Listing While It’s in the Process of Being Evacuated Gizmodo

Albania ready to accept Afghan refugees, says PM Rama Deutsche

* * *

In the Beltway, The Blob oozes onto its fainting couch:

Blobbo di tutti blobbi:

Biden’s Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy George Packer, The Atlantic (Re Silc). In case you were worried about Blob-adjacent pundits having cash-flow problems, they’re doing fine.

Biden Could Have Stopped the Taliban. He Chose Not To. Fred Kagan, NYT. Holy moley, I thought Fred Kagan was dead, along with Kissinger. Oh, wait…

Performativity from the usual suspects:

* * *

Post-Great Game analysis:

The Pentagon mistakes behind the rout of the Afghan Army Agence France Presse. Who on earth let Biden say all this:

Deceptions and lies: What really happened in Afghanistan WaPo. From “The Afrghanistan Papers.” To put it mildly:

What starts in Afghanistan does not stay in Afghanistan: China, India, and Iran grapple with the fallout The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

A Required Course For Americans: Strategic Failure 101 The American Conservative

Afghanistan Shenanigans Caitlin Johnstone

Musical interlude:

Quite the guitar soloist.

The U.S. Should Not Ignore the Plight of Nigeria’s Christians National Review. New opportunities for another Afghanistan abound.

Our Famously Free Press

Bankruptcy for OAN? Dominion Libel Suit Imperils San Diego Cable Outlet Times of San Diego. Gawker II: The Sequel?



Groves of Academe

‘Be Paranoid’: Professors Who Teach About Race Approach the Fall With Anxiety Chronicle of Higher Education

Imperial Collapse Watch

At the brink of a new world system: imperialism, race and caste Monthly Review

The strange summer land rush in Peoria’s dying south end WaPo

Class Warfare

The Rich World’s Super-Spreader Shame Project Syndicate

Politics Without Guarantees The Point. On Stuart Hall.

Philosophers of Capitalism: How Hume Civilized Money Counterpunch (nvl).

Customers slammed for leaving one-star Tripadvisor review pretending to be their dog after restaurant denied pet his own table Wales Online

On chaos, drunks and a Solution to the Chaotic Three-Body Problem – the research of Yonadav Barry Ginat and Hagai Perets Physics Department, Technion University. Israel.

How Jazz Was Declared Dead—Then Came Roaring Back to Life The Honest Broker

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. zagonostra


    There is something about the Afghan people that is mesmerizing. As I was clicking through, BBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, Guardian, I came across the image in the link below from RT. It reminded me of that National Geographic iconic photo of an Afghan girl with burning eyes with that intense stare that cut to the marrow.

    The young man holding the rifle has that same intense stare as he looks at the camera. He is in the center of the photo framed by incongruous billboards. He is wearing traditional clothes and wears a hat your not likely to see on the streets of any U.S. city. His flowing black hair and modest beard evoke images of the early Christians and the apostles.

    I woke today and wonder at what the hell this country has been doing for the past 20 years.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The movie “War Machine” (2017) explains a good deal. It’s just a rotating job for the top brass who will go onto to sit on corporate boards. In the last scene, Clooney, playing a general, shows up to replace the disgraced Brad Pitt and repeats Pitt’s lines from the beginning of the movie. Then there are government contracts.

      The other side is this was the kind of outcome by 2005 give or take a year. The puppet government would fall. Well, maybe 2010. There may have been enough room back then for people to come to an agreement. American politicians just didn’t want to be associated with photos of the invincible US military, not being invincible. It’s like the story about Dempsey telling Kerry that Syria could hit our ships and bases. Killing Assad but losing a bunch of sailors and a ship would undermine the sense of American impunity in elite circles. Obama delayed the big one. Probably dumping it on Hillary in his mind. Trump may have just learned where Afghanistan was and thought that was crazy.

      1. fresno dan

        August 16, 2021 at 9:43 am
        Don’t know how I missed War Machine but I have certainly added it to my queue.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s okay, very uneven. Probably trying to do too much and be too many things. It probably needed a person with more comedic background to direct. Someone like Barry Levinson or Ivan Reitman.

      2. Mikel

        NTG, I was thinking about War Machine too.
        Especially that scene where Pitt is trying to explain to some Afghan villagers/troops about the “jobs programs” they could have with a type of corporoate management rallying speech and the blank stares he gets.

        This one could be like a “Network”…a movie intended as satire that actually becomes better read as a documentary over time.

    2. artemis

      That intriguing stare from the girl on the National Geographic cover turns out to have been anger and shame at being photographed without her face covering. The “look” in this photo might be a reaction to the photographer.

      1. Adam Eran

        In related news from David Graeber’s Debt: the first 5,000 years: In early Mesopotamian civilizations, there were “temple prostitutes”…required to take on all comers. Family men wanted their daughters and wives not to be mistaken for such, and the custom of wearing a veil evolved to show clearly they were not temple prostitutes. The prostitutes were forbidden, on pain of death, to wear such veils. Then along comes Mohammed, and says all women should wear veils.

        So…is that a sign of Islam disrespecting women? Maybe not.

    3. Louis Fyne

      PTSD from a life of seeing suffering and tough manual labor.

      the lower classes from the Victorian era and Civil War soldiers had the same stare

      1. GF

        I think those early photo stares were the result of long exposures and having to keep perfectly still for minutes at a time – including no blinking.

    4. R

      That famous image of the girl with blue eyes has a coda which may be interesting to NC.

      I was scouting potential spin-out companies from a UK university and learned that, shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan, presumably in search of a good news story, the computer scientist (US expatriate in the UK) who invented and owned the key patents on iris recognition had been contacted by a TLA to verify from high res photographs which of various crones was the real girl from all those years before. When the looks have gone, the gaze remains.

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert, especially for the links to housing in Berlin and land in Ukraine.

    The two are linked.

    In the past dozen years, there has been a concerted effort by the City and property funds operated by the British aristocracy (eg the heir to Viscount Astor and his half sister Sam Cameron and her cousin Kirsty Allsop, the tv property porn merchant) to open and exploit the German market. They are particularly active against rent controls. As there are / were restrictions on foreign ownership, German firms set up funds for foreign investors to use as proxy.

    The FT’s weekend property and gardening edition regularly features farm land in eastern and central Europe for sale and, explicitly, exploitation of subsidies.

    1. paul

      I wasn’t aware of the mustachioed property plumper’s connection to real money.

      She has obviously earned her corn by posing as a VOP on demand, telling us to knit food at home if we are hungry.

      Allsopp was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Paul.

        The Astor family own much of the land between Oxford, Newbury and Reading and the island of Jura. They have diversified into property elsewhere and brought in friends and family from their class. You can understand why, last year, Allsopp said, “If Stanley won’t return to the office, Stanislas will be happy to do Stanley’s job from an office in Poland.” Her pocket was talking.

        Another cousin to Sam Cam and Allsopp is designer Cath Kidston.

        1. paul

          I’m always amazed how these extended families find something unnecessarily fabulous to do.

          Dcameron and greenswill comes to mind.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Paul.

            It will be interesting to see what scrapes “oik” Osborne gets into at his new gig, Robey Warshaw, especially as he has a new, younger and ambitious wife, formerly his, ahem, adviser, to keep in style.

            1. paul

              With tax dodgers alliance j isby heroically deciding to suck on the public teat, I’m getting RSI due to my eyeballs rolling

    2. The Rev Kev

      Thank you Colonel. After reading that article about the Ukraine, I suspect that this will be used as a backdoor method for corporations and private equity firms to get hold of the Ukraine’s black earth which is valuable in its own right. This black earth – chornozem – is so valuable that it was sold by the truck load illegally. During the 2014 putsch, this was one of the things mentioned by western corporations at the time as something that they wanted out of fire-sale Ukraine-

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Rev.

        It’s also why these western interests want Ukraine further integrated with the EU. The farms can be consolidated into larger units and traded.

        And what’s not to like as Ukraine depopulates and exports cheap labour west, including the largest contingent of escorts in the UK, France and the gulf.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Thank you, Colonel. Funny you should mention cheap labour from the Ukraine. A few months before the 2014 putsch they were interviewing people on what they thought about the brewing troubles. One “city type” they talked to on the streets of the City of London said that he was looking forward to a wave of cheap workers as that country was integrated into the EU.

      2. Alex

        Russia has had a somewhat similar experience. The land was fully privatised around 2001 (many liberals praised Putin a lot for that!) but there is a restriction on selling agricultural land to foreigners. I couldn’t find easily accessible info on the ownership concentration, one Forbes article says that top 20 landowners account for 8 mln ha out of more than 200 mln, so less than 5%. The article about Ukraine says that top 5 own about 5% so it seems that it’s more concentrated in Ukraine.

        The people who I know personally work for a company that is more or less a merger of several Soviet kolkhozes.

        What is undeniable is that the Russian agricultural exports grew a lot since early 2000s which may or may not be related to the privatisation. The growth of course was from a very low base, given the effect of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The overall production reached the level of 1990 only recently.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Alex.

            Russian farming is doing well since sanctions were imposed.

            I have heard that dairy products are good and wine is getting there.

            1. Alex

              The growth has continued under sanctions and counter-sanctions, that’s true. The quality of dairy products is uneven, there were a lot of jokes about “cheese-like products” made with palm oil and what not. But in general the choice of local products is greater and some of them are good.

              The local wines are now taken more seriously, most of the good restaurants would have a few Crimean and Kuban wines on the menu, which was rare 10-15 years ago.

    3. Adam Eran

      Recommended reading: Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd and Laurie Macfarlane

      It takes a heterodox economics look at land. Classical economics said land, capitol and labor were all necessary inputs for a productive economy. The neoclassicals folded land into capitol. Few, if any, mention energy (Steve Keen, Herman Daly).

      The amount of ignorance about the covert subsidies for property appreciation beggars description. Ryan-Collins et. al. note that 80% of price appreciation in property can be attributed to land inflation.

  3. .Tom

    Bye-Bye, Miners! How Ethereum’s Big Change Will Work Bloomberg

    > The system also sets a floor of value on the coins — no one would invest the electricity, computer hardware and other expenses of mining unless coins are worth at least that amount.

    I think that’s back to front. Rugged cost of mining doesn’t prevent the collapse of the price of BC. But the price of BC can be so low that mining isn’t cost effective.

    1. ripple

      Tom, the whole point of the article is that with these changes, Etherium now works in a completely different way. It is erroneous to equate all coins to Bitcoin. Will Etherium work better in terms of energy use and price discovery now? Time will tell.

      1. urdsama

        Considering all of this “currency” is a dead end and serves no useful purpose; I’m not sure how wasting less energy can be a benefit.

        I feel like people are not paying attention to what is going on in the world.

    2. philnc

      Abby Martin of the Empire Files from April, still relevant (and now a bit prophetic):
      “US Retreats from Afghanistan: The Truth Behind the Empire’s Defeat”. The Empire Files, 19 April 2021,

      The people who practically invented popular insurgency in the 18th century shocked by yet another defeat at the hands of a popular insurgency (the lesser of two evils doesn’t have drones to massacre wedding parties or the ability to carpet bomb settlements).

  4. Sawdust

    I don’t buy Johnstone’s theory that the Taliban is now secretly a U.S. puppet. More likely, they’ve thought things through and decided that the best way to keep their victory is a basic willingness to do business. Magnanimity in victory and all that.

    1. Jackiebass63

      Probably they looked at Vietnam and saw what happened after the US departed. The whole thing is about wealth creation for a few.

    2. Redlife2017

      I agree with your take. The Taliban recently visited with the Chinese government and seemingly made some agreements with them (as in, don’t let the East Turkestan terrorists hang out in your country, thank you). I take all the meetings with various governments / promises and the not wanting to cause problems internationally as a sign that they want to take and retain power over Afghanistan.

      Also, the line that they are US puppets doesn’t take into consideration that the Taliban seem rather capable of acting like a government that has national interests. After all, if you are in the centre of Asia, shouldn’t you try and play all the great powers off each other? That would include playing footsie with US as well as China. If they aren’t dumb they’ll get stuff from everyone trying to curry favour…

      1. Cocomaan

        The Taliban are a Pashtun nationalist movement at their core, and made up of several tribal confederations, like the Ghilzai, who have traditionally been a sort of rural shit-stirring force in the hinterland. Been this way for thousands of years, IIRC.

        The durrani confederation, from which Karzai hailed, are ancient enemies of the Ghilzai. The United States picked sides in a tribal war. Dumb. Dumb as hell.

        That’s only part of the issue, though. Afghanistan’s primary ethnic group is Pashtun (with all the aforementioned caveats of tribe) but there’s sizable minority groups all over the country that make governance incredibly hard. The US also aligned itself with some of these ethnic minorities. I remember reading how many Afghan military units tended to be from the minority groups. Explains why they cut and ran when the Pashtun came to town.

        As far as religion goes, the Taliban follow the Deobandi and Wahabbi Islamic interpretation. The Saudis have a lot of alignment through familial ties to this strain and their influence is definitely in the mix.

        Our mission there was doomed from the start, whatever the hell that mission was.

        If you want to know more there’s a good book called Ethnicity, Politics and the state in Afghanistan, it’s great

        1. Keith

          You cant talk about the Pashtuns without bringing in the Pakistanis. A big threat to their territorial integrity is a pan-Pashtun movement. Interesting thing was the Taliban conquored the so-called ethnic minority areas first.

          1. cocomaan

            Definitely agree. There’s no Afghan government that doesn’t get Pakistan’s blessing, more or less.

        2. Temporarily Sane

          Afghanistan is a fascinating place. Thanks for the book suggestion, I will check it out.

          One of the best, and most readable, books on Afghanistan’s history that I’ve read is Tamim Ansary’s Games Without Rules.

          Ansary is perhaps a bit too lenient on the post-9/11 occupation but his account of Afghanistan’s history and the long-running, and ongoing, power struggle between Kabul’s urban class and the tribal and religious sensibilities of the country’s ‘village republics’ makes for very compulsive reading.

          1. InquiringMind

            A less-scholarly work, but also interesting as a fish-out-of-water European POV is Rory Stewart’s travelogue: The Places In Between (

            I found it approachable and enlightening for its basic observations of the people, while taking any larger conclusions from Stewart with a grain of salt as one-man’s view. (I actually think that Stewart would assent to that take-away himself).

            1. mary jensen

              “The Tragedy of Afghanistan: The Social, Cultural and Political Impact of the Soviet Invasion” edited by Bo Huldt and Erland Jansson. Croom Helm Ltd. 1988

      2. John

        You should play them off against one another on a continuous and continuing basis and cooperation with any. one or ones of them does not imply subservience or puppet-hood. Afghanistan has every real estate person’s dream. Location, location, location. For India maybe an ally or a neutral to Pakistan’s north. For China: a pathway to the sea and security for the New Silk road. For Russia and the ‘stans at least a degree of stability to the south and possibilities.

        Thus a new and ever larger Great Game.

    3. Louis Fyne

      Yes, surprise, like all good survivors the Taliban have evolved.

      And the Taliban of 2021 are (ironically?) more ethnically diverse/politically diverse and politically savvy than the Taliban of 1999.

      Will they be Islamist conservative? Of course. But are they willing to make some hard-liners hold their tongues to avoid being an international pariah state, absolutely.

      The US doing business for 100 years with oh-so progressive Saudi Arabia is the model that the Taliban probably are aiming for. (with or without US involvement)

      1. Cocomaan

        And the Taliban of 2021 are (ironically?) more ethnically diverse/politically diverse and politically savvy than the Taliban of 1999.

        Agreed. You even saw some Taliban groups signing on to cease fire agreements with the government. People like Hikmetyar may be kingmakers.

      2. lordkoos

        Now that the Taliban are back in power, I wonder if they will reinstate the opium ban? Somehow I doubt it.

    4. Keith

      Considering how the US left and the comolete collapse of the Afgan govt, perhapsnthenUS was hoping for an implosion and some good ols chaos to cause problems for their neighnors, i.e. create headaches for Russia and China while also destablizing their near abroads.

      Seems too be backfiring, though, as China has reached out to the Taliban and got dibs on the mining projects there.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Most Embassies are being evacuated but the Embassies for Russia and China are staying put with Taliban guarantees. And both Embassies are in discussions with the Taliban themselves as they are now the government of Afghanistan and they will probably soon recognize them.

        Meanwhile the UK’s Boris is saying that the Taliban should not be internationally recognized and is trying to get other countries to do the same. Probably they will then try to issue the Taliban a list of demands that they will have to fulfill before they will be recognized. The Taliban must be experiencing sleepless night worrying about this-

      2. Temporarily Sane

        The way Biden and Blinken were left with eggs on their faces after denying that Kabul will fall like Saigon makes me think that the withdrawal chaos unfolding there at the moment and the collapse of Ghani’s colonial administration wasn’t planned.

        Furthermore, the chaos at Kabul airport with desperate people clinging to US military planes and falling to their deaths are bad PR for a country that ostensibly is all about “humanitarian intervention.”

        The reason things are unfolding as they are is the incompetence of the people running things. They blissfully live in a bubble that confirms their self-serving biases and props up a world view that is incompatible with actual reality.

    5. vlade

      Johnstone is caught in her own bubble.

      IMO, Taliban now wants to emulate Iran/Saudi rather then what it used to be in 1990s. As a commenter above wrote, Taliban is now the same label, different content.

      1. David

        I agree. As often, Johnstone has no idea what she is talking about.
        As a number of us predicted, the war ended, as such wars tend to do, through negotiation rather than outright conflict. That’s why it all ended very quickly. And as others have pointed out, the Taliban today is not the same organisation it was 25 years ago: it is more of a patchwork of groups, and in turn has made alliances with a number of other groups to enable it to take power. Such alliances seldom last long, and it’s quite likely that there will be conflict among them in the fairly near future.
        The Taliban are not the Islamic State, and they have no interest in expanding beyond Afghanistan. They want to be accepted and recognised internationally, and will make such compromises as are necessary to enable that to happen.
        A word on Embassies: the position is simple enough: if you don’t recognise a state or a regime you don’t have an Embassy there, by definition. Western powers that underwrote the previous government can hardly recognise the new one overnight, thus they withdraw their Embassies.

        1. K.k

          “The Taliban are not the Islamic State, and they have no interest in expanding beyond Afghanistan.”

          This is an important point too many people do not understand when labelling them as wahabbi types. They were never interested in any pan national islamist movements. Yes the leadership initially came out of the mujahadin, which was a comprised of many Islamists from around the world to fight the Soviets. To the taliban their local tribal codes are very important. And these tribal codes predate Islam itself. For example , women can not inherit property, whereas under Islamic law women are entitled to an inheritance.

          The other thing i think worth mentioning is when they allowed groups like al qaeda to operate on their territory in those old days, the taliban government was under sanctions and strapped for cash and was willing to essentially rent out real estate to Islamist jihadi groups.

          I remember watching that clip of Bidens last month and rolling my eyes. I figured the puppet regime would have at best couple months after complete us pullout before being overthrown. Well, hardly took two weeks! Its hard for me to believe this is an intelligence failure. Half the country is still going hungry and those 300,000 troops were lucky if they got two meals a day. The Chinese and the Russians saw this coming a mile away and had been quietly in talks with the taliban. The speed with which things have transpired may have surprised many but the idea that was presented to the public that the afghan gov would be able to fight for atleast a year or two was clearly complete nonsense. Leonard cohen and His song Everybody Knows been playing in my head lately.

    6. Jessica

      In fairness to Johnstone, she is not saying that the Taliban definitely have made some kind of deal with big money, just that some of their moves may be pointing in that direction.

  5. Amfortas the hippie

    adjacent to the (very interesting) Monthly Review Thing:
    from 1998:
    “That is where a massive contradiction becomes clearly visible. For whereas capital in its productive articulation—in our own times primarily through the agency of giant national-transnational corporations—tends toward a global integration (and in that sense truly and substantively toward globalization), the vital configuration of “total social capital” or “global capital” is to the present day totally devoid of its proper state formation. This is what sharply contradicts the intrinsic determination of the system itself as inexorably global and unrestrainable. Thus the missing “state of the capital system” as such demonstrates capital’s inability to carry the objective logic of the system’s unrestrainability to its ultimate conclusion. It is this circumstance that must put the sanguine expectations of “globalization” under the shadow of grievous failure, without removing, however, the problem itself—namely the necessity of a truly global integration of humanity’s reproductive interchanges—to which only a socialist solution can be envisaged. For without a socialist solution the necessarily growing deadly antagonism and hegemonic confrontations of the principal competing powers for the required outlets—as indeed, to take only one example, within two or three decades the economy of China (even at its present rate of development) is bound to far outweigh the economic force of the United States, with a military potential to match it—can only result in a catastrophic threat to the survival of humankind.

    The structural crisis of capital is the sobering manifestation of the system’s encounter with its own intrinsic limits. The adaptability of this mode of social metabolic control could go as far as the “extraneous help” compatible with its systematic determinations allowing it to do so. The very fact that the need for such “extraneous help” surfaced—and despite all mythology to the contrary continued to grow throughout the twentieth century—was always an indication that something rather different from the normality of capital’s economic extraction and appropriation of surplus-labor had to be introduced in order to counter the severe “dysfunctions” of the system. Yet, for the greater part of our century capital could digest the administered doses of remedy, and in the few “advanced capitalist countries”—but only there—it could even celebrate its most obviously successful expansionary phase of development under the postwar decades of Keynesian state interventionism.”

    one place where my right-leaning neighbors get lost and befuddled(then angry and hostile) in all this, is the idea that both the USSR and China are really forms of capitalism.
    the latter idea was even the subject of a special edition of the Economist several years ago…but when(if) we reach this point in the discourse(rare), this proves to be a bridge too far.
    similarly, in both these articles, the problem of “thinking outside the capitlist mindbox”…our general inability to do so…
    i run into this even way down at my level of bosshood(i irregularly pay young people to work on the farm)….ie: i’m regarded as the best boss ever….i provide lunch, while the time clock is still running, no less…more often than not even breakfast(since these are generally poor kids, otherwise they wouldn’t be here)…and generally work along side them, as i’m able…
    i take this opportunity to corrupt the youth, as it were…”asking questions, each to each…”…socratic dialog…about power relations and social formulations and various poli-econ 101 fundamentals like a rudimentary introduction to class, labor,surplus value etc.
    the concept….the very idea behind…say…unions, is utterly foreign.
    same with the rights of the worker, fair pay, fair treatment, and on and on.
    they can conceive of no other way of being in the world.
    (hopefully, i’ve managed to plant a few seeds)

    more pointedly, from the perspective of both these art.s, the idea of limits to growth are understood by my limited sample of rural poor kids…but without any connection to their own consumption habits and preferences….beer, gadgets, gas, etc.
    the problem is simply too large…they can’t see it from where they are.

    1. John

      In imperial Russia, the USSR, and Russia today government and the economy have been “partners” in that in each iteration there has been a large dose of government direction or control. The basic form of government has not changed nor have strategic goals, primarily the need to secure the invasion route on the North European Plain and the open flank on the Black sea. I see not real contradiction in governing and economic relations between imperial China and today’s China. Strategically China’s north and south (Tibet) are secure. Not so central Asia hence actions in Xinjiang and efforts to secure the seaward flank, which was never a problem until the 19th century. In each case the melody underlying the variations is consistent. Muttering “Communist” or “Socialist” are seeing dark visions while “Capitalist” conjures blue skies, soaring music, and a Disney-esque future. (Well, maybe not that smarmy.)

      My father hired the local young and he was a good boss though I am certain he did not provide the kind of education you slip in. But even if you only reach one.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and that ‘really existing’ “capitalism” is merely another form of Imperialism…but that’s the Deep Teaching(see: Philip K Dick).
        Humans have had the same essential macro-problem since the dawn of big towns…the greedy few.
        these guys do, however, readily understand the concept of Hydraulic Despotism…especially with a sort of theater we had,when we were running waterlines across the road, involving king amfortas turning a valve and shutting off water to their ‘towns”(faucets.)
        i’m hoping to learn later that they’ve bubbled away quietly on this, and come back to me with real world examples.

    2. Joe Renter

      You do good work Amfortas. Maybe you could give them the link to DSA? I just joined (should have done that a long time ago).

  6. Jackiebass63

    Our government never seems to learn from history. We probably should have never got involved in Afghanistan. I believe is was called the grave yard of empires. We apparently wasted 20 years, people’s lives, and huge sums of money. The collapse happened quickly. Probably because our military failed to adequately train Afghanistan to survive on their own. This resulted in very little resistance to the invaders. To stay there would only delay the inevitable. The sad part is the innocent people that will suffer as a result of our failure. People need to remember Trump set the stage and bears some responsibility for the present situation. That said, Biden could have delayed to properly prepare for our departure.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Biden did delay. The US was supposed to pull out in May but he delayed and said that he would pull out in September instead. Partly the reason that the Afghan military collapsed was that the US stuffed up their training, equipment & doctrine but an article in Links called “The Pentagon mistakes behind the rout of the Afghan Army” states that the Afghan units had not been paid in months and units ‘were no longer receiving food or supplies — not even ammunition.’ I would guess that the money for all those was sitting in Dubai or maybe the Cayman islands in a bank account to a former Afghan government minister.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Russian diplomats in Kabul claim that former president Ghani drove to the airport with four cars stuffed with cash, and what they could not fit in the plane they just left on the tarmac. So some of that money was still at hand in Kabul.

        On the other hand, you’d think that in 20 years an army should be able to build it’s own logistics tail. In theory, the Soviets did build a working system for the ANA in the 80’s that actually worked (until Yeltsin cut the supplies off). ISAF replaced that with US type of system based almost completely on (US) contractors and it has never worked.

        During the years I’ve seen several articles about the fact that ANA would have preferred Russian weapons which they knew how to keep working but apparently there was no grift in it, so they were not allowed to.

        1. The Rev Kev

          That last bit about Russian equipment. That was certainly true of helicopters. The Afghans used Russian helicopters that they had worked on for decades and they had the expertise of decades how to keep them flying. But Congress got upset that they were using Russian gear when they could be buying good, American Blackhawks – along with the lucrative contracts to service them. It did not matter that the Blackhawks could not go so high into the mountains, carried less men and equipment and were so finicky in maintenance that they had to use American contractors to keep them flying. Of course when those contractors were pulled out for their safety, those choppers were soon dead on the ground.

            1. The Rev Kev

              And now it is the Taliban Air Force. Think that the US will want to buy those Blackhawks back before they get sold to the Russians or the Chinese?

        2. Keith

          If those involved wanted a national govt. Many involved were a hodgepodge that included various warlords. Seding authority and more importantly, military ability to ancentral govt to a central govt only weakens them.

          Further, Afganistan was never able to pull off a real election. The fued between Ghani and Abdullah nearly resulted jn a civil war was avoided only by jnvalidating the election and allowing the two into a power sharing agreement.

      2. Louis Fyne

        by using “delay” the media is being generous. To be blunt, Biden broke the 2020 Doha agreement.

        Biden breaking the agreement, IMO, was the proximate trigger for the latest offensive. The Taliban reasonably said something along the lines of, “these arrogant Americans are never good for their word, F them, let’s take the lot.”

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        And the Pentagon, the alphabet agencies, and everyone who said mercenaries would do anything other than run or switch sides at the first sign of trouble. Maybe Biden thought everyone could hold off, but the real story is half the population was under 18 in 2002 (a condition shared by a certain country in 1776, it’s why they never ran out of men). Everything else is angels dancing on the heads of pins arguments. If it wasn’t the Taliban, it would be the Judean People’s Front unless we actually brought roads, sanitation…I’m sure everyone knows the scene.

        Too many resources were directed towards Iraq, and outside of occasionally handing out cash and an army training model that made no sense, there was no chance this didn’t happen.

    2. AE90

      >The military failed to adequately train Afghanistan to survive on their own.

      This seems to me to be a peculiarity of managers–they fear that capable people can throw them out, too. Drumlin Woodchuckles left a link in yesterday’s comments:
      This owner’s take is a deceptive fiction, IMO. In all the jobs, white and blue collar, that I have had, with few exceptions, the owner or manager has been frightened of truly capable people. What this owner is saying is the less self-esteem a worker has, the more he will pay them, because anyone who likes themselves at all who will “work like the owner” will not stay long, they will open their own business or demand more pay soon enough. I may be wrong.

      1. Louis Fyne

        The resume of ex-president Ghani of Afghanistan: university president, Minister of Finance. This is the resume of a technocrat of a comfortable developed country.

        That is not a resume of a classical nation-builder. Particularly a leader who can inspire their citizens to fight/die for the concept of a nation-state in a region of the world where identity is more aligned with your tribe.

        And then add all the corruption from the top down. And of course things were doomed to fail

        1. AE90

          Was Ghani just willingly bribed by the U.S. to be ineffectual in the way you describe? Part of the program?

          1. Louis Fyne

            Ghani was a literal banker! Talk about an (unsurprising) irony for the post-9/11 era and the literal financialization of the entire world.

            Ghani was the classic imperial stooge as Ghani had the right resume, acted like “one of us,” (eg, Clinton, Kerry, etc.), and political followers fall in line to support him (but only because they smelled the stench of American aid cash on Ghani’s suits)

            1. AE90

              The U.S. position that they were training the Afghans to take care of themselves was clearly a lie, then.

              1. farragut

                With respect to US’ foreign policy, I submit it’s more accurate to write:
                The U.S. position [insert topic] was clearly a lie, then.

                1. AE90

                  Hah. I guess we could also paraphrase Ronnie’s “nine most terrifying words” into “I’m from the Pentagon, and I’m here to help.”

            2. fresno dan

              Louis Fyne
              August 16, 2021 at 9:12 am
              Ghani was a literal banker! Talk about an (unsurprising) irony for the post-9/11 era and the literal financialization of the entire world.

              Uh, why do I get the sinking feeling that the Afghani’s (Taliban) know how to regulate a banking system* better than we do???

              * of course, surburban home loans, credit cards, and such is not what I’m talking about – that is not nor will be Afghanistan any time soon. But the way WE wanted Afghanistan to be, and the way Afghani’s wanted Afghanistan to be, are two different ways…

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                In 2009, Ghani used James Carville as a campaign advisor. It’s all about TV appearances.

      2. Ralph Reed

        Speaking of training Afghans, one warm spring morning in 1986 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha I was enjoying a cigarette outside class in the hallway when a dozen intense anxious men filed around me up the stairs just beyond. I put out my cigarette and followed them but they had disappeared so I knocked on the door of the Dean of History to ask who they might be. Upon being informed they were some of about thirty mujahadeen brought to the the college by the CIA and State Department for six week of “Civics” instruction he shared my consternation that this situation wasn’t terribly conducive to such purposes given that they seemed incredibly uncomfortable and outnumbered by people in halter-tops and shorts.

        In retrospect photos of those guys surrounded by scantily clad women probably could have been a tool for control. I can’t imagine that many of them felt very honored by the cross cultural enrichment.

    3. QuarterBack

      A few things…

      Interesting to argue both, that the US never should never have gotten involved in the fist place, and that the decision to exit “bears some responsibility” for this human disaster.

      If there was any “adequate training” failures, the bulk of the shortfall was in the training of the US to understand the people and history of Afghanistan and the region. The rapid disintegration of the Afghan Army was not failure of weapons and combat training, it was because, at the end of the day, the Afghans’s were ‘just not that into us.” Speaking of history lessons, from the Afghan point of view, the Taliban were not the “invaders”, we were.

      Finally, the current administration has been in office since January, and it could not be more clear that the planning of the evacuation was abysmal, cavalier, and without contingency for failure. The officially released photo of the tired President “handling” the crisis on video conference across an empty conference table speaks volumes.

      1. fresno dan

        August 16, 2021 at 9:08 am
        A few things…The rapid disintegration of the Afghan Army was not failure of weapons and combat training, it was because, at the end of the day, the Afghans’s were ‘just not that into us.
        Just read this now – I said the same later in the thread, but you said it first. Credit where credit is due

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        I detest uncle joe biden with every fiber of my being, but I have to give him credit for finally ending this monumental, deadly charade. I’m glad he’s taking the heat for this debacle since he’s facilitated it, in various political capacities, for 20 years, and he richly deserves to eat a max ration of shit for it.

        But ultimate responsibility for what’s happening now rests squarely with the military “leadership,” which has lied about the “Afghan National Army,” among other things Afghanistan, for 20 years.

        The position of “supreme” american military potentate was always occupied by some high level general or other and turned over once every, what, 1 or 2 years. Each one came in telling the same “turning the corner” story, which each and every one knew was a colossal lie. They took their medals, promotions and public accolades. They wrote their books. They took their cushy retirements, pensions and ready and waiting post-“service” lobbying gigs and board seats at the defense contractors, or as paid msm policy “analysts,” commentators, and personalities.

        What needs to be done now, but I know biden will NOT do, is clean out the viper’s nest that is the top military brass (like the particularly spineless and odious “general” milley) and publicly shame and vilify those who’ve already “separated” and cashed in like maddog mattis, stanley mccrystal, and the uber-slimy david petraeus.

        A month here or there, a better “plan”–just meant to distract from the fact that what’s happening now was always going to happen, since the whole thing has been a con and a sham from the git go. A craven, sorry, exploitative, deadly, expensive sham.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The usual suspects are outraged and not simply calling Biden a socialist, so he must be doing something correct. Leading #never Trump types are outraged. Bill Kristol is ticked, and if you have lost Bill Kristol, you must be doing something right.

          There is an immediate humanitarian crisis, but no one was sounding the alarm pretending mercenaries and bombing runs would solve the problem.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Most certainly. Even in recent days, there were the countless stories of mercenaries with work still to do. I was less coy in another comment.

              If this catches on, watch out for NoVa home valued

              1. Amfortas the hippie

                northern virginia home values,lol.
                ‘…the horror…”

                how much of the financial pain will be lack of heroin?
                maybe we’ll pivot to south america and coke will be a thing again.
                can’t really see khat and palm wine outdoing either of those as a herd management agent, nor a cash cow for backshish(sp-2) and cayman mason jar storage…so maybe Africa is safe, for now.

                and i’ll add…while i expected a ‘declare victory and get the hell outta dodge”…i didn’t really expect this level of stupidity…and i’ve only surfed along the top of it, so far.
                i was the only one in this whole county who would say from early 2002 that this was a stupid war(if the goal…getting OBL…hadn’t been done by then, and a quagmire loomed, etc)…and i paid for it…”traitor”…the whole bit.
                now, they respect me for all that, at least….but they won’t remember that that damned hippy was right.

        2. QuarterBack

          Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd Austin had previously served a the Commanding General of U.S Forces in Iraq, giving him proven experience of saying ‘I am so happy to report on the awesome job we are doing!” to the President, Congress, and whoever would listen.

          Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley has a resume that includes this career advancing gem (from Wikipedia)

          Iraq War study
          In 2018, Milley was involved in deciding whether the Army would publish a controversial study on the 2003-2006 Iraq War. Milley reportedly decided he wanted to read the two-volume, 1,300-page, 500,000-word document before making a decision. Milley also directed that an external panel of scholars review the work. After the panel returned glowing reviews on the study, including one that described it as “the gold standard in official history”, Milley continued to delay publication so he could review it further.[26] In September 2018, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper and other Army officials decided to distance themselves from the study by casting it “as an independent” work of the authors, instead of being described as a project by the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group. When confronted by a journalist from The Wall Street Journal in October 2018, Milley reversed these decisions, ordering the study published officially and with a foreword from himself. He said the team who wrote the study “did a damn good job”, the study itself was “a solid work”, and that he aimed to publish the study by the holidays (2018).[26]

          Within days of this revelation, two members of Congress who sit on the House Armed Services Committee (Reps. Jackie Speier, D-California, and Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona) sent a letter to Army leaders expressing their anger over the delay. In a press release accompanying the letter to Milley and Esper, Speier said, “This is simply the Army being unwilling to publicly air its mistakes. Our military, Congress, and the American people deserve nothing less than total transparency on the lessons the Army has identified so that we may use those lessons to avoid costly, and too often deadly, mistakes of the past.”[27] The two-volume study was published January 17, 2019.[28][29][30]

          1. John

            Remember that clip from Animal House? The brothers borrowed Flounder’s car and of course they messed it up. Their response to his consternation: “You ‘family blogged’ up. You trusted us.’

            Bill Kristol, assorted Kagans, anyone from one-star up in all services, the pundits, at least the ones in favor have gotten nothing right in 60 years. Visions of imperium dance in their heads, but the idea that it might be necessary to know anything about the targets of their ambitions … stuff and nonsense, we know what’s best. As Karl Rove said in 2013(?), “we’re and empire now. We can do what we want.” How is that working out guys?

            And another thing. If the NC commentariat and countless others have seen the folly of the last 20 or 30 years, why is it impossible for our peerless leaders to see it?

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              why is it impossible for our peerless leaders to see it?

              Besides the grift, look at Biden’s treatment in the MSM over the last few days. Not to excuse anyone, but the Taliban was going to wind up at the centerpiece of a new government or in control of most of Afghanistan post 2005. Don’t underestimate how aligned with the Bush family MSM types really are.

        3. Ian Perkins

          I’m not sure the US military had much to do with US backing for the Mujahaddin, which led to what’s happening now.

          1. John

            State Department(?), CIA, Brzezinski, and Charlie Wilson: They whipped up a simple meal and forgot, or never knew, that geopolitics is a complex stew with many subtle ingredients.

        4. JTMcPhee

          Probably quite premature to declare that Biden is ending the monumental, deadly, profitable charade. There’s an opium crop in the fields, the CIA has once before prided itself on setting up the displacement of the Taliban, and Raytheon investors are unhappy that the company stock has taken a tumble in the last few days.

          In the Great Game, it’s a rare instance that any of the contested areas get taken off the board… and think of the girls and women! And the NGOs that are just aching to get in there with humanitarian R2P interventions! And the billions or trillions in extractable minerals just waiting to power our future!

          It ain’t over ‘til it’s over! “It’s just a flesh wound!” “I didn’t lose, I merely failed to win!”

          And no consequences for the failures and dead bodies of all the humans sucked into this idiocy. Which any halfway honest and sane person could see coming a mile off.

          I read that the Soviet general who presided over the departure of Soviet troops from Notagainistan in 1989 was the last soldier across the bridge, saying “There are none of us left behind.” Good fuPPing luck that any of the Imperial generals who have play-acted their way through this horror on their way to board seats at Raytheon and LockheedMartin would have any such individual personal honor.

          As a Vietnam vet I’m having some problems with this repeat of that other collapse… Maybe the next time B’rer Rabbit decides to punch the Tar Baby, someone will remind him of what happened in Notagainistan…

          1. Michaelmas

            There’s an opium crop in the fields, the CIA has once before prided itself on setting up the displacement of the Taliban

            Yes. My assumption has been that, forex, the token prosecution of the elite Sacklers, and the settlement with and removal of Purdue etc. from the opioid market, happened because the TPTB — CIA, cartels, banks laundering drug money — want their old heroin market back.



            1. Ian Perkins

              The heroin market isn’t what it used to be now that fentanyl is so widespread. I think I read the farm price of opium has dropped considerably of late.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            The extractible minerals will power China’s future. No one else’s. Least of all America’s.

        5. doug

          Biden delayed the end as negotiated by Trump. Why give him credit?
          Maybe I am wrong but that is my understanding.

      3. Basil Pesto

        Speaking of history lessons, from the Afghan point of view, the Taliban were not the “invaders”

        Speaking of the people and history of Afghanistan, what are your sources for this claim? Are you Afghani? (Is anyone in the comments, for that matter? I would sincerely very much like to know what you think!) I don’t doubt that you do have sources for such a claim, but I’d like to know what they are. I know relatively little about Afghanistan and I’m not sure why I should take everyone’s opinion on it (and make no mistake, everyone has a hot take on Afghanistan today – on twitter, it almost seems as if it’s a matter of keeping up with the Joneses) at face value.

        I don’t mean to have a go at you specifically, but I tend to tune out of comments pow-wows on days like today because, with a few exceptions, it always seems like there’s a lot of dilettantish analysis often reinforced by political priors. I’m a bit wary of yanks and poms purporting to speak on behalf of the Afghan people (in a similar fashion to my wariness of those who purport to speak on behalf of ‘the black community’ in the US).

        1. QuarterBack

          There are myriad of sources on the history Taliban, but here is a reference from Wikipedia.

          From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban held power over roughly three-quarters of Afghanistan, and enforced a strict interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law.[61] The Taliban emerged in 1994 as one of the prominent factions in the Afghan Civil War[62] and largely consisted of students (talib) from the Pashtun areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan who had been educated in traditional Islamic schools, and fought during the Soviet–Afghan War

          Whether the Taliban are good guys or bad guys is another debate, but they were comprised of Afghan citizens unlike the occupying armies that left their weapons and bases behind.

          1. Basil Pesto

            Those sources don’t really speak to the Afghan point of view. That would require primary sources (not as easy to come by, I know).

        2. Temporarily Sane

          Well, the fact that nobody would fight against the Taliban on behalf of Ghani’s colonial administration, er, the “national government” does seem to suggest that even those who don’t like the Taliban much aren’t too enamored with foreign invaders.

          Even more relevant is that “strong central government” and “Afghanistan” go together about as well as oil and water. Loyalty to clan, tribe and village is far stronger than loyalty to whichever regime is set up in Kabul at the moment. Decentralization is baked into Afghanistan’s national fabric.

    4. griffen

      Scanning the TV updates after 9am, there were many running Afghans trying to hop onto a large US military plane leaving Kabul. I assume it was a cargo or C 130 but can’t say for certain.

      Some 20 years of lies and the remaining citizens in Kabul, and elsewhere, will just remember being abandoned by a freedom exporting empire. I doubt they’ll care much about which US political party to blame. Maybe I’m wrong.

      1. Acacia

        The videos on social media from the airport in Kabul are pretty crazy. Lots of very desperate people, jamming runways and trying to grab onto airplanes. Evidently, they don’t place much stock in the Taliban’s promise of amnesty.

    5. The S

      When you say the war was a waste, it’s important to clarify for whom, and when you say innocent people will suffer, it’s important to note innocent people have been suffering and dying from this war for the past 20 years. If the US cared about lives it wouldn’t have invaded in the first place.

      The Afghanistan War was a HUGE success and accomplished many goals: weapons and oil were sold by the billions, billions of dollars of opium got grown and trafficked (like during the Vietnam War), private mercenaries were trained and hardened, counterinsurgency techniques were invented and refined, spies and saboteurs were deployed to neighboring nations, Bagram replaced Guantanamo Bay as the major US blacksite for torture and rendition after Gitmo became politically inconvenient, and pipeline projects that undermine US energy supremacy were delayed for decades.

      War is a racket, and historically the US military has only ever acted as hired killers for US business. Thinking in any other terms only leads to wrong conclusions.

        1. Andrew Watts

          It depends on why you think the US invaded Afghanistan in the first place. It’s unfortunate that so many leftists are incapable of seeing the Great Game play out before their eyes. The looting of the national treasury is only a side hustle for the main show. Instead they’d rather fabricate stories about how the Taliban is secretly working for the West.

          I think that the US was surrounding China and Russia with military bases after 9/11 to dominate Eurasia. In which case they had an epic fail and took home a series of Ls. The West’s attempt to expand NATO eastward failed in Georgia and Ukraine. The Russians began to recover from the post-Soviet experience while the US was bogged down in Iraq/Afghanistan. While China undertook the modernization of it’s military and quietly expanded it’s influence in the meantime.

          This isn’t winning the game of world domination.

          1. ChrisRUEcon

            “This isn’t winning the game of world domination.”

            Well … it depends on what one believes world domination is … ;-)

            Per the thread’s originator, the US Military Industrial Complex has won the only domination it and the pluto-klepto-crats who empower it really care about. The have a ready pipeline of war-profiteering that they can easily spin up/down in a sufficient number of “hot sites” in Africa, the Middle-East and Eurasia. The US military budget now consumes what – approaching 60% of spending? While everything else largely rots under the façade of “freedom and capitalism are great”, you’ve correctly pointed out that it is China’s economy and influence that are rising. And yes, many in the purported US “left” are merely “imperialists who want free healthcare” – quick to assert that Venezuela and North Korea are “authoritarian regimes” as they say nothing about KSA, the great frenemy – unless, of course, bone-saws and dead journalists are involved. There will be an awakening at some point, though … one way or another. The pandemic is serving as a wake up call. My hope is that enough people hear, and respond to the alarm.

              1. John

                “While the US has pursued global expansion, China has prioritized its own stability and development.” This quote was the sub head of a story in the Global Times. What Venezuela and North Korea have done, their great sin, is to reject US direction, refuse to fall in line. Call it global expansion or find some other word for it, we have not been tending to our best interests her at home. Of course the best interests of the great mass of the people, what used to be called the common good, is looked upon by the greed-ocrats as unwarranted takings. Why aren’t we “little people” looking after ourselves, tugging on those boot straps. After all, the kleptocracy does it all on their own within only a little assist from free money from the Fed and tax laws, seldom enforces, that give them every advantage. What do they do with those advantages? Play computer games with money and produce nothing of value.

        2. Randy G

          caucus99percenter —

          Interesting article by Hamid Dabashi that is well worth reading, but he vastly overrates U.S. military benefits from the war. The ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ was, in fact, a dark cloud hanging over DC and the Pentagon — and the ‘Afghanistan Syndrome’ will be similar — which is why there is currently so much finger-pointing and hysteria among U.S. “elites”.

          It is true that U.S. military strategists don’t give a damn about the Afghani people. However, Dabashi argues:

          “Twenty years after the events of 9/11 and the US invasion of Afghanistan, the US is in a much stronger military position globally than it has ever been. That this military power lacks moral authority is entirely irrelevant; it is mirrored by Israel’s land theft in Palestine, the Saudi-Emirati invasion of Yemen, the Turkish military incursions into Syria, and Russia’s ever-bolder presence in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Arab world.”

          This makes little sense as he presents it as if the Russian expansion of power is a boon to U.S. imperial power. Is he Rip Van Winkle and slept through the lunatic obsession with Russia in both the U.S. and Europe?

          Syria would have been turned into Libya except for Russian intervention. The war in Yemen has been a horrific humanitarian catastrophe, but accomplished what for Saudi Arabia? Erdogan’s Turkey is an extremely unreliable partner for the U.S. Empire as he has own Ottoman delusions to exercise (or exorcise).

          Although the usual suspects have benefited financially from the wars in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, the U.S. planner’s colonial projects — “The War on Terror” nonsense — have spurred the Russians and Chinese to make incredible military improvements that make them essentially peer powers to the U.S. in their regions.

          In fact, the Russians, building on Soviet successes, have innovated passed the U.S. military in a number of missile, electronic warfare, and anti-missile technologies — while the U.S. has been “honing” its counterinsurgency strategies in the Middle East and Africa.

          Bloated with funding, the MIC is producing expensive technological boondoggles such as the F-35 ‘money eater’. And the Pentagon is devising the brilliant counterinsurgency strategies that seem not to have worked out so well in Afghanistan against 60,000 villagers brandishing AK-47s.

          To the horror of American and European elites, the Russian military has come back from the dead, while the U.S. has been squandering resources, prestige, and credibility in the Middle East and Afghanistan by destroying countries.

          Of course, the U.S. Empire is not going to collapse — in fact it is probably more dangerous than ever — precisely because it is in deep decline. ‘The fish rots first at the head’.

          Most serious analysis shows that Russia would easily win a conventional war with the U.S. and NATO near its border with Ukraine and the Black Sea.

          And every ‘war game’ shows the Chinese military winning a conventional war near Taiwan or on its frontier against the U.S. and its allies. Of course, either war would probably quickly go thermonuclear, and we would all be dead. Or as Khrushchev sagely put it, “The living will envy the dead.”

          For the Pentagon and DC, these challenges just mean they need more cash to pump up the imperium. Rethinking the Empire is not on the menu.

          Current U.S. imperial strategy is pushing Russia and China into a marriage of convenience — not a lot of deep thinking there.

          Although Dabashi makes a number of accurate points, he also appears to be somewhat lost and dazed in his own academic bubble at Columbia.

    6. Temporarily Sane

      Our government never seems to learn from history

      It’s not only the government, unfortunately. A good portion of the American people is equally ignorant of anything that happened the day before yesterday which is why they are so easily manipulated by the powerful.

      It’s Gore Vidal’s the United States of Amnesia…

    7. lordkoos

      We did the what the colonial era British did — promote an ethnic minority to rule the country, a recipe for resentment and instability.

      Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome = insanity.

    8. Procopius

      It had nothing to do with us failing to “train them to survive on their own.” The army simply was not going to fight for a government that did not pay them or feed them. The country we wanted them to defend was not their country. It was a country we imposed on them with the help of a relatively few greedy and corrupt people who had some influence and power. Now the Afghans are rejecting our country and taking “their” country back. That’s why the army and police worked out peaceful transfers of power in all the provincial capitals and Kabul. The majority of people saw us as colonizers, not friends. Same-same Vietnam.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Betting on nuclear: Poland’s plan to kick its coal habit”

    They sound like they are very ambitious if they want their first one to come online in only a decade’s time. And after that, they want to build another five more nuclear power plants? If I were them and went ahead with this project, I would start with only the first nuclear power plant. That way, if it is a fiasco like I suspect that it will be, they will have only one nuclear headache to deal with – not six. Thing is, what are they going to do with all that nuclear waste? Where will they bury it? In one of those coal mines? Is the geology stable? If they dumped it too close to a border, I am sure that the neighbouring country may have some vocal thoughts on the subject. But with that nuclear waste dump, I wonder which Polish town will get the honour of hosting this site.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Gee. A nuclear reactor….in Poland. The jokes write themselves. Paris can be the city of lights. Warsaw will just glow.

    2. The Historian

      A couple of things to remember:
      You can buy a complete nuclear plant these days. Once they get the correct approvals – and cash- a company like Rosatom, GE, Areva, etc. can build one for you.

      Poland most likely won’t be producing its own nuclear fuel. They will most likely buy it from someone like Westinghouse.

      There is very little nuclear waste from buying a turnkey power plant and readymade nuclear fuel. And they will store the spent fuel just as our power plants are storing their spent fuel – first in pools and then in concrete structures. It won’t be much of a problem until about 20 years into the future – then it will be a problem. But who thinks that far ahead these days?

      Remember, that most of the nuclear waste that exists now is from military research and applications, not from power plants. That being said, the world now has enough nuclear plants that dealing with spent fuel is a serious problem that we do not have an adequate solution for.

  8. LawnDart

    RE: “Don’t Panic…”

    Reading the comments in the Intelligencer from a detached perspective, I noted a lot of angry and upset people looking for some sense of certainty and a semblance of validation for their wishful thinking– in this I really don’t see any difference between “left” or “right,” just discordant bleating of would-be authoritarian followers not pleased with the shadow-play on the cave walls: perhaps Covid will be the sunshine the helps to disinfect our body politic of the devastation wrought by the cult of corporate capitalism and all of its corruption and rot.

    But I doubt it.

    One of the wings of our “democracy” will likely spawn a charlatan with the charisma of Obama, the folksiness of Bush, and the reactionary appeal of Trump; a person who has the ability to catch the eyeballs of a significant portion of the populace (who may be for or opposed to said person) and convince them to act within the lines drawn by the uniparty, or duopoly, and vote as though as their lives depended on it, as though it would actually change things.

    F the blue and red: my flag is black. However, in the interest of greater harmony, I might be convinced to support a true socialist come 2024.

    1. Basil Pesto

      The interview is better than the pre-amble, though I couldn’t read the comments. It’s something of a vindication of NC/IM Doc’s analysis the last couple of months. If the comments are angry, that would also validate IM Doc’s more general observations about good public health practice

      1. LawnDart

        IM Doc would have my support as a socialist party nominee for Surgeon General, whether he would accept it or not. I believe that he has the intelligence and, perhaps most importantly, the personal integrity that this country really needs right now– qualifications that would keep him out of office under our current proto-fascist regime, and possibly lead into a lot of trouble under the next iteration of USA government as it continues further along its right-wing course: to those who live by lies, he’s a dangerous man.

        1. LawnDart

          From the American Conservative article (regarding our failed military leadership, or successful misleadership, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan):

          In his 2012 book, Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes describes the real strategic problem confronting Americans, “When people come to view all formal authority as fraudulent, good governance becomes impossible, and a vicious cycle of official misconduct and low expectations kicks in.” Well, it’s happened…

          Even back in 2012 I would have responded, “No s#!t, Chris,” but it is nice to see this realization gradually spread, kinda like the craft beer industry did here in the 90’s– finally some refinement, some taste, some variety– something other than c&^p beer to enjoy in the USA! And I remember an AB/corporate beer sales rep telling me in ’94, “It’s just a fad, it’ll never catch on.”

          Back in the Fall and early Winter months of ’92-93, you might have found me dulling my anger with a succession of tall Pilsner Urquells in between sorties at the bar in Rhein-Main during the beginning our involvement in Provide Promise, the humanitarian airlift and airdrops into Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was a mission I felt compelled to volunteer for, perhaps to obtain a sense of atonement for my earlier involvement on missions that would have included Panama and the Persian Gulf, which I had at some point decided were total, unnecessary BS.

          The air-land stuff was mostly fine, except for when the Serbs took pot-shots at us, then we’d stand-down for a few days while the diplomats asked them to pretty-please stop shooting at our airplanes (“Oh, sorry about that– some of our soldiers got drunk…”). But the airdrops grew to a whole special level of suck; suck for those of us with a conscience, and super-duper special suck for the intended recipients of our aid.

          Initially, we dropped relief supplies bundled together on pallets, but Serb snipers would sight-in on the pallets in the drop zone that was a safe-distance from habitation. So we then said “f the safe-distance” and dropped directly over the hamlets and villages, at least until the recipients of our largess begged us to stop, begging that came to us quickly: the roofs of their buildings were not designed to withstand a 600-pound or so pallet falling at 30 feet-per-second (bombing them with love? What better way to show you have a crush… oh, nevermind..). Next we dumped the individual aid packets (think MREs) in bins attached to extraction chutes, so that these packets would scatter midair and rain across the drop-zone… creating a lot of risk for little reward for those who were brave enough to spend time in the open collecting these packets, downrange.

          The airdrops continued long after I was dismissed and sent back stateside (pending possible disciplinary action for contradicting the general staff who had been sent to address the plummeting morale issues affecting aircrew on this mission: they had asked for comment during a group meeting and mine wasn’t particularly welcome– let’s just put it that way). Even though the airdrops were ineffective and actually put people in harm’s way (not so much for aircrews (except for the ones shot down and killed– that was kinda harmful (none US that I’m aware)), as we were basically baiting traps which helped the Serb snipers do their thing) the airdrops continued because the airdrops themselves looked good on camera.

          People died because politicians wanted good PR.

          Sound familiar? (Cough-cough)

    2. BeliTsari

      I’d just posted an adventure I’d had, where Intelligencer was posting an article, from the same writer, as Grub Street was disappearing any comments, citing substantive links, later cited, or referenced in the NYMag piece. Others have just experienced the same in a commentariat feeding-frenzy at CommonDreams (where citing, or referencing contradictory evidence would get you banned). Reminiscent of David Brock & Mark Penn’s remarkable Correct The Record & Bezos’ PropR’Not whack-a-mole progrom? Fundamentally, nothing’s changed?

  9. Louis Fyne

    To paraphrase Mao “political rights come from a barrel of a gun”

    Maybe instead of funding post-modern art in Kabul (yes, that was a thing), the US should’ve spent 20 years giving free shooting lessons to women. just saying.

    Disclaimer: not a gun owner, never even held a gun. and the closest I’ve been to a gun was seeing a shooting (with no causalities) in the East Village.

  10. Randy

    Re: gun debate and Afghanistan

    I think bubbas with guns would quickly find the difference between putting down a domestic insurgency that immediately threatens the U.S. elite and a foreign one in a far away land that was an afterthought the second W. Bush declared “mission accomplished” and moved on to his pet project, Iraq. I think the response would be greater than a few thousand troops scattered across a vast area in a few regional capitals / bases and the occasional drone / air strike.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Beg to differ.

      If things ever hit the fan, the US military will fracture along the lines of general society. and the military protecting the Beltway-NYC elites will resemble a highest-bidder mercenary army.

      Afghanistan is a replay of the timeless pattern of what happens when side A hires/outsources their “army” and fights side B who genuinely are willing to fight/die for their side, while agnostic populace C may not like side B, but definitely can’t stand side A.

      Spoiler alert: Side A always loses no matter how much cash is thrown around

    2. Keith

      One thing to remember is thst for its ground troops, the US recruits from the bubba lands. Question would become what has more allegiance, national or familiar?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        One might add regional to the national or familiar choice. If many army people and national guard people come from the gun culture parts of the country, will they really enforce or carry out gun confiscation roundups ordered by supporters of the Liberal Democrat Fascist Pig anti-gun culture and its gun control movement?

    3. Tom Stone

      “Conventional” insurgencies are not possible in the USA, not with Total Information Awareness.
      You can’t organize a group clandestinely that is larger than 3 or 4 people and they are going to have to practice OpSec consistently.
      What we will get is chaos.
      And the response will be more SWAT teams running around in armored vehicles armed with machine guns, grenade launchers and .sniper rifles.
      Which will have to be paid for.
      Luckily this will be easier to do when Asset forfeiture becomes part of a Domestic Terrorism bill.
      Every one knows that you need money to pay for beans and bullets, enabling the government to seize the assets of those the DHS has determined to be potential domestic violent extremists is the logical answer.

      And the focus on GUNZ! or an American Maquis hiding out in the canyons of Malibu is amusing, one competent hacker at an internet cafe can take down the grid or brick all those modern cars that are part of the internet of shit.

    4. cocomaan

      It’s all conjecture. But virtually no military in human history has been able to pacify a native population with any other tool but genocide. The question is whether US military troops would participate in depopulating partisan townships in a civil war, then hand out the spoils to those aligned with them.

      I highly doubt it.

      Terrain in the United States is far too varied, and there’s far too much hinterland to make any kind of occupation an easy deal. In that way, America is quite like Afghanistan.

    5. Fritzi

      Also, bubbas with guns would not Bring much more freedom than the Taliban even if they were to ein.

      Besides, it was only recently pointed out by David and others, that there was never much actual fighting in the first place.

      In Afghanistan, I mean.

      The Taliban withdrew into the mountains from US bombs, the US controlled the cities, the Taliban basically outwaited them.

      The Taliban could never threaten the cities, the US made a show of bombing, Killing mostly civilians, but never did achieve anything much were actually crushing the Taliban was concerned.

      It certainly does not paint a picture of a US Military effective for such a war, far from it.

      But there was nothing demonstrating a movement like the Taliban being effective in actual battle against a modern military either.

      The Taliban certainly did not fight and win any WWII Style battles, and they inflicted comparatively very little actual casualities on US Forces.

      The US Military definitely and deservedly comes out of this looking very bad, but it seems obvious that one should be VERY careful trying to draw conclusions about a hypothetical US civil war from Afghanistan.

  11. The Historian

    I wonder: Is jonstokes really that stupid or does he think we are all really that stupid? Or maybe it is just his American arrogance to think that the Taliban were just irregulars with small arms. He sure does ignore a great deal of what went on in Afghanistan to cherry pick his one little “fact”, doesn’t he?

    1. voteforno6

      I think it’s a good comment, in that it provides insight into how the gun nuts will think about Afghanistan. A lot of them do cosplay as freedom fighters, and seem to think that makes them qualified to be the real thing. Sure, the U.S. military wasn’t able to ultimately beat the Taliban (though I think that’s more of an indictment of military leadership than the capabilities of the military itself), but both they and the Taliban fighters are a lot more trained, a lot more disciplined, and a lot more organized than the 2nd Amendment LARPers that we have in the U.S.

      1. RockHard

        It’s been a 2A talking point for a long time, “we won’t give up our guns, look what happened to Afghanistan/Iraq/Venzuela/name your favorite failed state here”.

        It’s still just as stupid. It takes more than munitions to win a war.

      2. Roland

        It all starts with the fightingness. When civil war begins, almost everyone is just a poseur. Many phonies will get exposed, and many fools will get themselves killed, in myriad foolish and humiliating ways. But as the horrors of the war unfold, there will at length emerge those who find effective ways to wage it, and make the horrors happen the way they want.

        From LARP’er to warrior there winds the road of bitter experience, and the memory-chain of successful murders. Bravado can never sustain, but it can get you involved, and then things go the way they go.

        The skills and organization build through the fight, not beforehand. There is no credentialling agency for the guerrilla. Your science begins with your own first experiment.

        It all must start with the fightingness. You have to really want to kill somebody, and then actually go kill them. It’s simply horrid, and everyone who takes part is to blame. But if you do want to make a war happen, then there’s no question that having good weapons-to-hand helps to make the start much easier.

        Why else do you think that rulers typically crave a monopoly of armed force?

  12. petal

    Just want to thank whoever recommended “The Devil’s Chessboard” about the Dulles Brothers & the CIA. Finally got around to reading it, am over halfway through now. I see so much playing out today, these last few days-nothing really changes. It’s like the same cast of US characters and their trainees that have been screwing things up since the 20s and 30s.

    And The Princess Bride taught kid me all the way back in 1987 “Never get involved in a land war in Asia”. sigh.

    1. Randy G

      Petal — ‘The Devil’s Chessboard’ by David Talbot is a great book. He really shines a light through the propaganda fog shrouding the CIA and U.S. ‘power elites’.

    2. Randy G.

      Petal — By the way, just went to EBay and Amazon to pick up a used copy of ‘The Devil’s Chessboard’ for a friend. They are almost $60 bucks!

      This should not be a rare book.

      Langley buying them up with the ‘black budget’ and burning them?

    3. JohnA

      Agree, that is a very good and interesting book. I can also recommend Diana Johnstone’s book ‘Fools’ Crusade’ about the US/NATO war on Yugoslavia.

    4. Jessica

      I listened to the Audible audiobook of The Devil’s Chessboard. It is very well done. (Yes, Audible does mean Amazon. Sigh)
      I listened to The Devil’s Chessboard interleaved with The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick. Fascinating combination.

  13. Tom Stone

    It’s nice to see the DHS being proactive in seeking out potential Domestic Violent Extremists using cutting edge AI!
    They have published a list of the criteria they are using to determine who is potentially dangerous and who must be monitored and restrained.
    # 1 on the list is criticism of the Governments handling of the Covid 19 pandemic.
    A fine way to guarantee large budget increases for DHS.

    These are the kind of people who wear sunglasses when they poop to avoid being blinded by the reflected light when they drop trou.

  14. Mikerw0

    Oh the handwringing and pearl clutching. After being bombarded all weekend with nonstop news coverage of Afghanistan I couldn’t find a single family member or friend who to be honest cared. Nor could I. Do I feel for the women, children and others associated with the US during our presence — yes. But, no one I know can write the bumper sticker as to why we were there and why we have a presence in dozens of other countries.

    This outcome was likely inevitable. I don’t buy the “… for a low cost we were getting…” what exactly(?). We propped ups totally corrupt government that never gained the support of the population that folded like the paper tiger it always was. Who expected anything different? And, the fact that it happened quickly (as non-linear systems tend to) means nothing.

    I do want to know why we spend so much on intelligence agencies who seem to get few things correct. What about the stuff that really matters? I guess they just need more money.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Bush family will be outraged, and customers for heroin. But I suspect the electeds who are outraged are going to see a different reaction.

      1. ambrit

        Re. heroin; will the CCP allow the Golden Triangle to ramp up production of opium again to take up the slack after the Taliban re-outlaw opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan?
        This is another ‘side’ of the perrennial ‘Great Game.’ I’m told that the Chinese in particular plan for ‘the long run.’ This would also assume that they have long memories, such as still wanting revenge against the West for the humiliations and disruptions of the original “Opium Wars.”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The long game nonsense is just a stereotype. More recent events such as our efforts to disrupt the Silk Road are on Chinese minds. I figure 20 years is usually a safe bet for when stuff stops mattering or when a generation in an elite institution is about to die/retire without accomplishing the ambitions of youth.

  15. fresno dan

    I have to say I find it astounding when I hear all the excuses for Afghanistan falling, EXCEPT that the Afghani’s just weren’t interested in America (or FREEDOM!!!). Sure, a few at the top making money thought it was a nice grift, but the vast majority just had no interest.
    I know when I joined the militiary it was just for a paycheck, and I suspect the same of the average Afghani recruit…
    And it is amazing to me the 180 turn in the MSM viewpoint between the fall of Saigon and the fall of Kabul. It is if 1970 was a different world…

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Post-Great Game analysis”

    The thing about the fall of Kabul is not so much that it fell but how people in the west have been reacting to it. You have some people insisting that we have to go back into Afghanistan for the sake of the women. And yet these same people are never worried about the cause of women in places like Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. Strange that.

    But what really gets me is the stupidity. So you had Tom Cotton say that “At a minimum, President Biden must unleash American air power to destroy every Taliban fighter in the vicinity of Kabul until we can save our fellow Americans” while Mike Pompeo was also saying “They should go crush the Taliban who are surrounding Kabul, we can do it with American airpower. We should put pressure on them, we should inflict cost and pain on them.”

    The stupidity – it burns. The airport at Kabul is only staying open at the Taliban’s sufferance. It would take only a few manpads or artillery or any other number of weapons to shut that place down. So if the US took Cotton or Pompeo’s advice, that is exactly what would happen. So how come a jaggoff commenter can work this out but these two politicians cannot. Are they thinking with their wrong heads or something?

    1. vlade

      Indeed. The “fall of X” is a dumb metaphor. Saigon fell after a battle. Berlin fell after a battle.. etc. etc.

      Taliban basically took over w/o much fighting. Reasons are diverse, but if the US wants to make it much, much worse, bombing is a good start.

      If Biden is able to resist these dumb calls, he’ll get at least a bit of my respect (and I believe more Americans will start believing he really wants to end the foreever wars).

    2. Tom Stone

      Rev, here in the US there are no negative consequences for the rich and powerful when they fuck up.
      Lying under oath to Congress ( Clapper) or lying to Federal Judge in order to obtain a warrant allowing you to spy on an opponents campaign (Clinesmith) might see you sentenced to a few hundred hours of community service if you are low enough on the totem pole to be punished at all.
      The system is broken and it has been for some time, what we are experiencing now is the collapse of American Society under entirely predictable stresses.
      It won’t be linear collapse, “Slowly (Up to now) and then all at once”
      The “All at once” has begun, adding a few million Homeless ( A third or more of them with guns) is going to make for a real lively Fall and Winter.

      If you want to survive go local and build community.

    3. Jomo

      Rev Kev is right. It doesn’t get much easier than hitting a large plane taking off with a surface to air missile at close range. As for Pompeo, didn’t he negotiate and sign this deal with the Taliban? As for the pundits, what would Trump have done any differently? As for status quo, the Taliban weren’t attacking because they knew we were leaving peacefully. As for air power, haven’t we been bombing these people for decades? What the past few days have shown, and it only took a few days, is how untenable the USA position was.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Biden broke the 2020 Doha agreement with his 9/11 withdrawal date change v. May 1.

        Biden made the US look like liars and the Taliban had little incentive to hold back any punches or keep their commitments

        If Dems want to get wiped out in 2022 and 2024, keep blaming everything on Trump instead of looking in the mirror.

        ps, pompeo is still a donkey

        1. a fax machine

          It’s fine for the Taliban – 9/11 will become their Independence Day. In terms of optics, nothing will ever surmount the (imminent) images of Taliban veterans dancing on America’s Patriot Day. I suspect the mainstream media will get very upset over it, and this will be one of the biggest marks against Biden in ’22 and ’24.

          I also beilive that the legacy media will become irrelevant within that time – which relates to my second point: 9/11 was the apotheosis of the legacy media, it was the most televised event in US history and the most covered. The Fall of Kabul has largely played out on social media, and most of social media is against further US involvement in Afghanistan whereas the legacy media is still decidedly for it. When the media tries grilling Biden about it in ’24 they will fail, and it will symbolize the end of their era for the next generation of media, whatever that is.

          Go back to 1975 when Saigon fell. Home recorded formats were just starting to be available, as was CB radio and home computers. Compare it to when we first got involved in French Indochina in 1952 when most media was still broadcast radio and CBs were still too fragile for most people. We are on the cusp of a similar age, including the part where we had an energy crisis.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Just seeing the names Trump and Pompeo in the same comment makes me wonder if Trump and Pompeo will run together in 2024.


    4. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      August 16, 2021 at 9:41 am
      There is absolutely no penalty for making wildly implausible or even impossilbe statements – indeed, it is rewarded. Other than totally delusional partisans, to whom it ONLY matters that you are saying the opposite of your opponent (good faith and realistic are irrelevant) and the miniscule slice of political junkies (contemplates oneself ironically) who follows US governmental actions, no one with things to do is paying any attention to Afghanistan. No one cares what we do…
      Cotton may as well say we could win if we only re-instituted calvary with real horses, bugels, sabers, and breech loading canons…and I mean that literally – horse mounted patrols.

    5. Andrew Watts

      The willingness to do violence is a poor substitute for intelligence in the imperial game of world domination. Oops, I mean global competition between major powers.

    6. a fax machine

      Because “air power always wins” is so ingrained into American military doctrine it is assumed it can never go wrong. If America were to start bombing the Taliban now, by the time reinforcements arrive to the airport everyone in the airport will have been slaughtered. The true nature of the Taliban as a domestic, roots-based movement is the legitimate (if detestable) government of Afghanistan is now revealed. People who have built their careers on denying this fact are having the fabric of their reality collapse under them.

      Even Biden can see this. Most Team Aqua politicians can. Without getting into partisan politics, the war-going strain of Team Mauve cannot handle it when their efforts to destroy things they don’t like don’t work. Which is why they have to make increasingly bigger demands to keep their reality afloat: first it was just limited airstrikes in 2019, then limited special forces in 2020, then aerial campaigns in 2021, now they demand Kabul be destroyed so it can be saved. Nevermind the fact that the rest of Afghanistan hates us even more, and Kabul’s destruction would be a red flag against any future cooperation with Americans ever again.

      This is the end of American warmongering, for now. It will take at least 5 years for the political half of this to heal and for voters to forget. If they do – know that the refugees accepted today will birth new Americans of tomorrow. Our next Ted Cruz is being flown in now.

  17. Deuce Traveler

    Rev Kev,

    The other day you also correctly brought up logistical concerns. If we were smart, we would have kept stockpiles of basic food stuffs at that location, but nothing is encouraging me to think that those in charge actually thought such things out. Tom Cotton’s idea would not only lead to a shooting battle around the airport, but also internal fighting over dwindling food and water.

  18. Michael Ismoe

    Well, say what you want about Afghanistan, but I’m pretty sure that if Biden keeps doing things that piss off the Blob then that 25th Amendment looks more and more likely.

    “President Harris” would’ve stayed,

  19. fresno dan

    A Required Course For Americans: Strategic Failure 101 The American Conservative
    Today, Americans are watching as another army created, equipped, and trained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan is melting away under assault by jihadist Islamist groups that fight not for religion or ideology, but against the American and allied military presence—what the Taliban view as foreign occupation or oppression.
    Meanwhile, the return on America’s colossal investment of blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan can be calculated. It’s zero. Iraq is effectively a satellite state of greater Iran. Afghanistan may well be the world’s largest narco-state since it is responsible for about 90 percent of global heroin production. Why did these things happen?
    At least one explanation is the exclusive control of the Defense and State Departments since 2001 by civilian appointees who psychologically embraced America’s “unipolar moment,” when the American rules-based, liberal international order became truly ascendant.
    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Remember those premature infants in Kuwaiti incubators? Sorry if I no longer believe the Taliban is Ghengis Khan
    Actually, I ordered a book debunking the Ghengis Khan narrative – funny, is it a story, a history, or a narrative??? I like narrative now a days cause it emphasizes that the facts reported are person contingent (and sometimes made up) and are not as important as ignoring other persons presenting other facts, and pounding OVER and OVER the preferred facts…
    Truth – the first casuality of a 20 year occupation…

  20. The Rev Kev

    “The strange summer land rush in Peoria’s dying south end”

    Buying houses off the internet sight unseen for good money? I suppose that that is one way to make a start on the property ladder. Will it take off? Dare I say it? Will it play in Peoria?

  21. urblintz

    Jazz has always been far more expansive than any definition can contain. It’s certainly a “style” which can be adapted to and transform most music. The Swingle Singers added high hat percussion and a “cool” vocal vibe and turned Bach’s Fugue in G Minor into a jazz classic without changing a note of Bach’s music, so much so that many casual listeners might not have even known it was Bach:

    The harmonies and rhythm’s we associate with jazz have existed for centuries in both classical and popular music, music that would never be assigned to the “jazz” category and rightfully so, but there it is.

    Jazz is a feeling, a vibe and can be adapted to most anything. Are the songs that make up the “American Song book” jazz songs or pop songs sung in a jazz style? Does it matter? Ellington and Strayhorn wrote pure jazz songs that fit neatly into the “pop” category. Listen to the chromatic melodic line of Gershwin’s “It aint necessarily so” – it’s Jewish chant. The sprawling, magnificent sonic trainwrecks in Mingus’ orchestral compositions, Miles’ singular style and contriibution/influence to everything that came after, are as challenging to the ear as anything penned by Schoenberg or Berg. And so, the arguments as to what jazz is can be quite divisive. Whatever it is, I hope Gioia is right that it’s coming back in terms of an audience because it never really left the stage. Jazz is and will always be everywhere in music.

    Early in my career I had to choose between classical and jazz/pop/broadway. I chose classical. But in recital, where I had my most success, I was lucky to be able to program across all genre’s. I think I’m the first classical singer to have performed Randy Newman – “God’s Song” – on Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series, in a group featuring a Negro spiritual and a contemporary “classical” song by the great John Musto. The music flowed seemlessly from one piece to the other, no problem, and the audience loved it. I sang “Riff” (When you’re a jet”) “Ice” (“Boy, boy, crazy boy, stay cool boy”) and Officer Krupke with the Israel Philharmonic. Indeed, there’s no better example of jazz as crossover bridge than Bernstein. And I only focus, here, on vocal jazz because that’s my forte.

    As my classical career crept along – it’s a very competitive business with thousands of really fine singers graduating from top conservatories every year – I turned more and more away from it and started singing all the great popular rep that had always been closest to my heart. In 2006 I concertized in Paris and, after, recorded 3 tracks with a fine trio (Tex Arnold, piano/Jon Burr, bass/Eddie Caccavale, drums). It was pure joy and as much as I’d never give up the Winterreise’s and Figaro’s that came before, I think I could have been satisfied doing nothing else:

      1. urblintz

        that’s a great story and I only knew the cliff notes version. Gershwin and Grofé… thanks for that link!

    1. RMO

      urblintz: If the neoclassic drive of the 80s couldn’t kill jazz – and it didn’t, though not for lack of trying – nothing will.

    2. marku52

      That was a great band! That Jobim tune really doesn’t want to stay in one key does it?

      Fun stuff!

      1. urblintz

        no, it doesn’t and I am not entirely pleased with my intonation.. the melody always goes somewhere subtly unexpected… but that’s jobim… and yes, Tex, John and Eddie are the pros here… I was lucky to go along for the ride!

  22. Mikel

    “The U.S. Should Not Ignore the Plight of Nigeria’s Christians” National Review.

    “Last December, the U.S. State Department designated Nigeria a “country of particular concern,” or one of the world’s most egregious violators of religious freedom, under the International Religious Freedom Act…’

    And Nigeria is a huge oil and gas producer. Not mentioned anywhere in the article and no surprise.
    Same crap as always.

    1. John

      I believe the Nigerian Christians deemed under threat are in the north of the country which is strongly Muslim. The oil and gas are in the south, the Niger delta, far removed from the region where there is religious conflict. Indeed: Same crap as always.

      1. RMO

        The U.S. has been pretty good at ignoring Christians in what is left of Palestine, Egypt, Syria etc. etc.(not to mention millions of other people of all religions and ethnicity round the world) so the pearl clutching, Helen Lovejoy-itis is more than a little eye-roll inducing.

        The U.S. is closely allied with Saudi Arabia where there is no religious freedom whatsoever but the State Department decides Nigeria is “of particular concern”?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Isn’t the State Department still a stronghold of Liberal Interventionist Wilson nostalgiasts? Didn’t the neocons mainly infiltrate areas of Executive Branch government other than the State Department?

          If we really want to put a stop to constant eruptions of justification for intervention like ” Nigeria is of special concern over Christians in HausaLand”, we may have to trash and burn and destroy the reputation of the Great Shining Historical President who first sanctified Liberal Interventionism. And that would be Woodrow Wilson himself.

          If we could get at least 200 million Americans to believe in their hearts that Woodrow Wilson was America’s most evil President of the Twentieth Century, the proud Jim Crow Racist who brought official segregation to the Federal Workforce, the inventor of Wartime Government Information Operations against the citizenry, the President who conspired with Great Britain to trick and deceive the US into entering World War One on the wrong side, the inventor of the Federal Reserve, the persecutor and destroyer of a plausible Left, etc. etc. etc., then those 200 million Americans might respond to “State Department views Nigeria with concern” as more metastatic cancer eruptions of the original Wilsonoma still infecting the American body politic, and still in need of the proper political chemotherapy to exterminate all metastatic Wilsonoma cells from every last corner of Government, Culture, Academe, etc.

          Perhaps take the Presidential Portrait of Wilson which exists in the White House or the National Gallery or somewhere and paint devil horns on it and the circle-slash symbol over its face and hang it upside down in a prominent locality.

  23. a fax machine

    Afghanistan: as of now, apparently the Taliban have taken half of Kabul’s airport. They’ve taken the civilian side and all fuel/water supplies, and have corralled all the refugees into the military side where evacuations are ongoing without obstruction. Afghans trying to flee on foot (re: without a military or diplomatic car escort) are apparently being shot on sight.

    The next steps are clear: the US Ambassador will leave on the last plane, Biden will make the announcement that US operations in Afghanistan have ceased, and the Taliban will move in and slaughter anyone who remains. It’s gonna get gnarly.

    One wonders if Biden has the guts to fly all of them out – I’m not a fan of mass migration, but this seems like an instance where it would be justified considering how these people helped us until now. One also wonders how Americans will react when these people become homeless once dropped off outside airbases in Killeen and Fairfield (Ft. Hood and Travis respectively, I use the cities’ names because that’s the refugees lives now). I wonder if they’ll be dropping them off at Moffett too.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      Give it 10 years, and we might see this in New York and/or DC. Escape from a “Big City” coming to theaters near you!!!

      Destination: New Zealand!!!

  24. Swamp Yankee

    Glad to see Peter Linebaugh included here on NC, with his essay on Hume. Was lucky enough to have him come speak and talk with me and my fellow grad students in our Early America seminar back in the 2000s. He is a worthy successor to his mentor and idol, the great English Marxist E.P. Thompson.

    Linebaugh, along with Australian historian Marcus Rediker, provide a wonderful account of the revolutionary “red Atlantic” in their book _The Many Headed Hydra_, particularly looking at the radicalism of common mariners and sailors.

    A great scholar and mind.

  25. Wukchumni

    In retrospect, we should have never opted for the unlimited mileage gig on our rental Karzai…

  26. Wukchumni

    U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan Posts Online Job Listing While It’s in the Process of Being Evacuated Gizmodo
    ‘We urgently require bus drivers familiar with routes to Kabul airport & willing to put in long hours for a short duration. No experience needed, nor any chance of you getting on an outbound plane leaving dodge city.

    Benefits begin after 90 days on the job, ‘retirement plan’ included.’

    1. Glen

      It should be for helicopter pilots. They have always flowen helis from the embassy to the airport. It’s six miles of road, and it has never been safe enough to drive

    2. Maritimer

      Now Hiring:
      Soon-to-open exclusive ***** restaurant located in the Financial District of NYC is hiring skilled Afghani Chefs, Sommeliers, Maitre d’s and others with experience in the luxury restaurant industry. Restaurant will be specializing in organic Afghani delicacies.

      Opportunities for possible expansion, to London, Paris, Zurich, and the other usual money-laundering destinations.

    3. a fax machine

      for what it’s worth, you can tell exactly when embassy operations ceased: the NOAA’s Air Quality Index probe for the embassy went offline sometime around 7pm sunday local time.

  27. Randy G

    I have a lot of friends in the DLI (Defense Language Institute) in Monterey so will be interesting to find out what will happen to the Pashto language program. Expand it or will a lot of Afghanis be forced to start picking lettuce in Salinas? Expand Urdu? Contract Dari? What will the great strategists of the Empire decree next?

    For some idiotic reason they eviscerated the Turkish language program just a few years ago, despite its importance in Central Asia, Azerbaijan, etc — not to mention Turkey. So several Turkish friends lost their jobs. (Some people have tenure, some are hired as contractors.)

    And I know several of the Russian teachers who were cashiered after the Pentagon and State Department declared the Russians dead and buried. After all, the only difference between Russia and Latvia is one of them has some extra real estate on their hands. Then about 6-years ago, the DLI started hysterically begging the Russian teachers to come back! Urgent! Please! The Empire needs you!

    When the DLI pushes a new language program, such as Hungarian, there is one technical support guy (who is a Navajo!), who always asks if that’s where the U.S. is planning its next invasion. According to a couple of his colleagues, this is now a running joke on his team… although he only gets smiles, never an answer.

  28. Wukchumni

    Wonking Out: Who Knew Used Cars and Shipping Containers Would Matter So Much Paul Krugman, NYT (Re Silc). Paul. Um, NC readers?

    You know how it goes with legacy economists, still using last century’s info in their assertions, only he left out the big gains in real estate as well, used cars & homes conveniently being the most expensive items most of us will ever acquire.

    1. ChrisRUEcon

      Kruggie’s got to wrap it up in a smoke screen of “Plato’s cave and shadow interpretation” … #EyeRoll

      For a dude who ostensibly won the *cough* Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for a paper on trade, he sure seems to be hmm-ing and haww-ing. Does he not understand the supply chain? Has he not been following supply chain effects due to COVID? Is he that surprised about containers? Perhaps he should read NC more. There was an article posted about being able to rent a whole container vessel for about the same price as a high end Ferrari, such was the glut few years ago. Maybe he needs a model with 14 variables to be able to really explain it to us. So much of this common sense, but as I commented on another thread, mainstream Econ prefers to obfuscate instead of explain. At least he leaves us with a happy ending:

      “The Fed was able to keep its cool through several spikes in inflation driven mainly by oil prices, most recently in 2011, because its focus on the core told it that these were transitory shocks, that underlying inflation remained low — and the Fed was right.”

      Yeah, bro … wouldn’t want to pull a Volcker in the middle of a freakin’ pandemic.

      1. Wukchumni

        Paul has an 18k Krugmanrand for his efforts, and a good thing as i’m imagining most of his assets are in the usual fiat fare.

  29. chuck roast

    Lotsa’ gabbing on the Afghan bug-out. I would argue that the US wasn’t in it to nation build, to liberate women, to spread democracy, to defeat terrorism or to (insert your considered reason here). 9/11 And its subsequent militarist fallout presented a once-in-a-lifetime market opportunity for the multitude of parasites, scammers and grifters prepared (and even unprepared) to exploit it. Paranoia on an unprecedented scale, an apparently necessary military response required, a central bank ready and willing to print the cash and a political class totally focused on revenge.

    Winning would be nice…but really…Bin Laden disappeared immediately and the Taliban along with them. This was way too quick, tidy and worst of all…cheap. There are number of ways to explain the Iraq invasion. My take is that we had a military to use, egos to inflate, status to be gained, scores to settle and way, way lots of cash to to be made. Pallet loads of hundred dollar bills anyone? That’s more like it! There is resistance you say? Well let’s just pour more cash in. Some knucklehead PFC from Peoria got his a$$ shot off? Well, there is a price to pay…it’s not my kid, and he didn’t get drafted, so it’s all on him. We’ll do a flyover momento mori during the halftime of the Cowboys game and everybody can chant USA…USA!

    Afghanistan and Iraq? A total economic determinist twofer! Twenty years of cash flow. Who could have guessed it? What an incredible bonanza! Demand is never satisfied. And best of all, the conditions continue to exist for brand new and more lucrative off-shore adventures. What a country!

  30. Gulag

    Although Branko Milanovic stated above:

    “…U.S. intelligence was so wrong regarding the staying power of the current Afghan government.”

    It should be kept in mind, as Glen Greenwald has pointed out in his recent essay “The U.S. Government lied for Two Decades About Afghanistan,” that “…the NSA had developed (over the past decade) the capacity, under the codenamed SOMALGET, that empowered them to be secretly, intercepting, recording and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation in at least five counties…” one of which was Afghanistan.

    With such a surveillance capacity in Afghanistan there appears little chance that the NSA did not know exactly what the staying power of the current Afghan government was if they took the time to analyze such cell phone data.

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