Michael Hudson: Biden Forfeits His Afghan Victory by Defending His Deep State Advisors

Yves here. The media frenzy over the US exit from Afghanistan is finally shifting from loss of empire hand-wringing (when for anyone paying attention, the decision to leave was a price discovery event, the US had effectively lost some time back and we had been throwing money and lives into a rat hole) to stupefaction and horror that the departure is so shambolic. And there’s a lot of Biden-blaming. Some college tuitions must have gone down the drain.

Michael Hudson weighs in and adds an important piece to the equation, in a update-for-NC version of his post (it launched on his site yesterday). Just released Soviet-era information shows the USSR feared that the more intelligent U.S. option would be to have offered economic aid (and no doubt some de facto bribes as part of the mix), which the USSR could not implement on our scale.

And Hudson stresses that heads at the intel state should have rolled over this level of fiasco (the “experts” wildly misjudging how quickly the Taliban would take ground). Biden instead tried blaming most Afghanis for (gasp!) regarding the Americans as occupiers and wanting us gone.

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is “and forgive them their debts”: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year

President Biden put a popular flag-waving wrapping for at America’s forced withdrawal from Afghanistan in his 4 PM speech on Monday. It was as if all this was following Biden’s own intentions, not a demonstration of the totally incompetent assurances by the CIA and State Department as recently as last Friday that the Taliban was over a month away from being able to enter Kabul.

Instead of saying that the massive public support for the Taliban replacing the United States showed the incompetent hubris of U.S. intelligence agencies – which itself would have justified Biden’s agreement to complete the withdrawal with all haste – he doubled down on his defense of the Deep State and its mythology.

The effect was to show how drastic his own misconceptions are, and how he will continue to defend neocon adventurism. What seemed for an hour or so as a public relations recovery is turning into a denouement of how U.S. fantasy is still trying to threaten Asia and the Near East.

By throwing all his weight behind the propaganda that has guided U.S. policy since George W. Bush decided to invade after 9/11, Biden blew his greatest chance to burst the myths that led to his own bad decisions to trust U.S. military and state officials (and their campaign contributors).

His first pretense was that we invaded Afghanistan to retaliate against “its” attack on America on 9/11. This is the founding lie of U.S. presence in the Near East. Afghanistan did not attack us. Saudi Arabia did.

Biden tried to confuse the issue by saying that “we” went into Afghanistan to deal with (assassinate) Osama Bin Laden – and after this “victory,” we then then decided to stay on and “build democracy,” a euphemism for creating a U.S. client state. (Any such state is called a “democracy,” which means simply pro-American in today’s diplomatic vocabulary.)

Hardly anyone asks how the U.S. ever got in. Jimmy Carter was suckered by the Polish Russia-hater Brzezinski and created Al Qaeda to act as America’s foreign legion, subsequently expanded to include ISIS and other terrorist armies against countries where U.S. diplomacy seeks regime change. Carter’s alternative to Soviet Communism was Wahabi fanaticism, solidifying America’s alliance with Saudi Arabia. Carter memorably said that at least these Muslims believed in God, just like Christians. But the Wahabi fundamentalism army was sponsored by Saudi Arabia, which paid for arming Al Qaeda to fight against Sunni Moslems and, early on, the Russian-backed Afghan government.

What is so typical of America’s aggressive Cold War mindset is that it could have much more easily (and at much lower cost) won Afghanistan by honey, by having so much more to offer economically than did Russia. Documents released from Soviet archives show that:

None of the Soviet documents list terrorists going into the USSR as a concern in 1979. The Soviet worry was the incompetence and worse of their Afghan Communist clients, the declining Soviet influence (much less control) in the country, and the possibility of Afghanistan going over to the Americans.

Soviet Politburo documents that first became available in the 1990s show the real Soviet fear was that the head of the Afghan Communist regime, Hafizullah Amin, was about to go over to the Americans. (Egyptian president Anwar Sadat famously flipped in 1972, ejected thousands of Soviet advisers, and became the second largest recipient, after Israel, of U.S. foreign aid.)[1]

This policy predates President Carter, of course. It was endemic in America’s Cold War force-oriented strategy since the 1950s. Over 60 years ago, for instance, I sat in on a meeting with Fidel Castro’s representatives trying to get support from the Democratic Party and Kennedy for their overthrow of the Batista regime. Imagining that it was the Republicans and the Dulles brothers that were the hardliners, they expected that the incoming Democratic Party diplomacy would find their self-interest in giving economic support to help Cuba’s economy recover from the corrupt dictatorship. My father warned them that the Democrats would be just as force-oriented.

On my visits to Cuba, it was obvious that the population and even many government officials would have welcomed a deal whereby the loosened their Castroite economic policy in exchange for U.S. aid. The United States has never tried to use this tactic in the Caribbean or Latin America, any more than it has done in Afghanistan. That is the neocon mentality: “Do it by force, don’t give any other country a choice.”

A “market-based” tradeoff of aid for economic policy acquiescence is not U.S. policy. Offering a carrot still leaves the choice to America’s designated adversary. The only way to make sure that a country will obey is to confront it with brute force. That is the mentality behind U.S. support for Maidan and the neo-Nazi Bandaristas opposing Russia instead of simply trying to help reform Ukraine.

And so it has gone in Afghanistan. After Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama funded Al Qaeda (largely with the gold looted from destroying Libya) to fight for U.S. geopolitical aims and oil in Iraq and Syria. The Taliban for its part fought against Al Quaeda. The real U.S. fear therefore is not that they may back America’s Wahabi foreign legion, but that they will make a deal with Russia, China and Syria to serve as a trade link from Iran westward.

Biden’s second myth was to blame the victim by claiming that the Afghan army would not fight for “their country,” despite his assurances by the proxies whom the U.S. installed that they would use U.S. money to build the economy. He also said that the army did not fight, which became obvious over the weekend.

The police force also did not fight. Nobody fought the Taliban to “defend their country,” because the U.S. occupation regime was not “their country.” Again and again, Biden repeated that the United States could not save a country that would not “defend itself.” But the “itself” was the corrupt regime that was simply pocketing U.S. “aid” money.

The situation was much like what was expressed in the old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto finding themselves surrounded by Indians. “What are we going to do, Tonto,” asked the Lone Ranger.

“What do you mean, ‘We,’ white man?” Tonto replied.

That was the reply of the Afghan army to U.S. demands that they fight for the corrupt occupation force that they had installed. Their aim is to survive in a new country, while in Doha the Taliban leadership negotiates with China, Russia and even the United States to achieve a modus vivendi.

So all that Biden’s message meant to most Americans was that we would not waste any more lives and money fighting wars for an ungrateful population that wanted the U.S. to do all the fighting for it.

President Biden could have come out and washed away the blame by saying: “Just before the weekend, I was told by my army generals and national security advisors that it would take months for the Taliban to conquer Afghanistan, and certainly to take control of Kabul, which supposedly would be a bloody fight.” He could have announced that he is removing the incompetent leadership engrained for many years, and creating a more reality-based group.

But of course, he could not do that, because the group is the unreality-based neocon Deep State. He was not about to explain how “It’s obvious that I and Congress have been misinformed, and that the intelligence agencies had no clue about the country that they were reporting on for the last two decades.”

He could have acknowledged that the Afghans welcomed the Taliban into Kabul without a fight. The army stood aside, and the police stood aside. There seemed to be a party celebrating the American withdrawal. Restaurants and markets were open, and Kabul seemed to be enjoying normal life – except for the turmoil at the airport.

Suppose that Biden had said the following: “Given this acquiescence in support for the Taliban, I was obviously correct in withdrawing the American occupation forces. Contrary to what Congress and the Executive Branch was told, there was no support by the Afghans for the Americans. I now realize that to the Afghan population, the government officials that America installed simply took the money we gave them and put it into their own bank accounts instead of paying the army, police and other parts of civic society.”

Instead, President Biden spoke about having made four trips to Afghanistan and how much he knew and trusted the proxies that U.S. agencies had installed. That made him seem gullible. Even Donald Trump said publicly that he didn’t trust the briefings that he was given, and wanted to spend money at home, into the hands of his own campaign contributors instead of abroad.

Biden could have picked up on this point by saying, “At least there’s a silver lining: We won’t be spending any more than the $3 trillion that we’ve already sunk over there. We can now afford to use the money to build up domestic U.S. infrastructure instead.”

But instead President Biden doubled down on what his neocon advisors had told him, and what they were repeating on the TV news channels all day: The Afghan army had refused to fight “for their country,” meaning the U.S.-supported occupation force, as if this was really Afghan self-government.

The media are showing pictures of the Afghan palace and one of the warlord’s office. I did a double-take, because the plush, wretched-excess furnishings looked just like Obama’s $12 million McMansion furnishings in Martha’s Vineyard.

Obama officials are being trotted out by the news spinners. On MSNBC, John Brennan warned Andrea Mitchell at noon that the Taliban might now back Al Qaeda in new destabilization and even use Afghanistan to mount new attacks on the United States. The message was almost word for word what Americans were told in 1964: “If we don’t fight the Vietcong in their country, we’ll have to fight them over here.” As if any country has an armed force large enough to conquer any industrial nation in today’s world.

The whole cast of America’s “humanitarian bombing” squad was there, including its harridan arm, the Democratic Party’s front organizations created to co-opt feminists to urging that Afghanistan be bombed until it treats women better. One can only imagine how the image of Samantha Power, Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton, Susan and Condoleezza Rice, not to mention Indira Gandhi and Golda Maier, will make the Taliban want to create its own generation of ambitious educated women like these.

President Biden might have protected himself from Republican criticism by reminding his TV audience that Donald Trump had urged withdrawal from Afghanistan already last spring –and now, in retrospect, that the Deep State was wrong to advise against this but that Donald was right. That is what his order for withdrawal was acknowledging, after all. This might have detoothed at least some Trumpian criticism.

Instead, Mr. Brennan and the generals trotted in front of the TV cameras criticized Biden for not prolonging the occupation until the fall, when cold weather would deter the Taliban from fighting. Brennan stated on Andrea Mitchell’s newscast that Biden should have taken a ploy out of his “The Art of Breaking the Deal” by breaking the former president’s promise to withdraw last spring.

Delay, delay, delay. That is always the stance of grabitizers refusing to see the resistance building up, hoping to take what they can get for as long as they can – with the “they” being the military-industrial complex, the suppliers of mercenary forces and other recipients of the money that Mr. Biden curiously says that we spent “in Afghanistan.”

The reality is that not much of this $3 trillion actually was spent there. It was spent on Raytheon, Boeing and other military hardware suppliers, on the mercenary forces, and placed in the accounts of the Afghan proxies for the U.S. maneuvering to use Afghanistan to destabilize Central Asia on Russia’s southern flank and western China.

It looks like most of the world will quickly recognize the Afghan government, leaving the U.S., Israel, Britain, India and perhaps Samoa isolated as a recalcitrant block living like the post-World War I royal families still clinging to their titles of dukes, princes and other vestiges of a world that had passed.

Biden’s political mistake was to blame the victim and depict the Taliban victory as a defeat of a cowardly army not willing to fight for its paymasters. He seems to imagine that the army actually had been paid, provided with food, clothing and weapons in recent months simply because U.S. officials gave their local proconsuls and supporters cash for this purpose.

I understand that there is no real accounting of just what the $3 billion U.S. cost was actually spent on, who got it the shrink-wrapped bundles of hundred-dollar bills passed down through America’s occupation bureaucracy. (I bet the serial numbers were not recorded. Imagine if that were done and the U.S. could announce these C-notes demonetized!)

The reality is that not much of the notorious $3 trillion actually was spent in Afghanistan. It was spent on Raytheon, Boeing and other military hardware suppliers, on the mercenary forces, and placed in the accounts of the Afghan proxies for the U.S. maneuvering to use Afghanistan to destabilize Central Asia on Russia’s southern flank and western China.

The U.S. is now (20 years after the time it should have begun) trying to formulate a Plan B. Its strategists probably hope to achieve in Afghanistan what occurred after the Americans left Saigon: An economic free-for-all that U.S. companies can co-opt by offering business opportunities.

On the other hand, there are reports that Afghanistan may sue the United States for reparations for the illegal occupation and destruction still going on as the country is being bombed in Biden’s flurry of B-52 anger. Such a claim, of course, would open the floodgates for similar suits by Iraq and Syria – and the Hague in Holland has shown itself to be a NATO kangaroo court. But I would expect Afghanistan’s new friends in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to back such a suit in a new international court, if only to block any hopes by U.S. companies of achieving by financial leverage what the State Department, CIA and Pentagon could not achieve militarily.

In any case, Biden’s parting shot of nasty bombing of Taliban centers can only convince the new leadership to solidify its negotiations with its nearest regional neighbors with their promise to help save Afghanistan from any American, British or NATO attempt to try and come back in and “restore democracy.” The world has seen enough of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s “rules based order” and President Biden’s pretended history on whose mythology U.S. policy will continue to be based.


[1]National Security Archive, January 29, 2019. Declassified Documents Show Moscow’s Fear of an Afghan Flip, https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/afghanistan-russia-programs/2019-01-29/soviet-invasion-afghanistan-1979-not-trumps-terrorists-nor-zbigs-warm-water-ports,  Johnson’s Russia List, August 17, 2021, #14.

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  1. voteforno6

    The dust hasn’t settled yet – I think there’s more of this to play out. We’ll see. As for Biden, I’m willing to cut him some slack on this. He did, after all, follow through on the pull-out. That’s the most important thing, and that in itself has exposed the elites for their incompetence. It may be that he understands perfectly well who’s to blame for this mess – these are a lot of the same people he butted heads with during the Obama surge, but for political reasons he doesn’t feel that he can come clean. He’s been in national politics for decades now, so he may very well have a good sense of just how much truth the American people are able to handle right now. Maybe he does believe these myths. There’s a saying that in Washington, too often the right thing gets done for the wrong reasons. That may be the case here. If so, we may just have to settle for the victory at hand.

      1. Glossolalia

        You pullout with the army you have, not the army you want. I wish Rummy had been alive to see his dream die.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          DID YOU READ THE POST? It appears not. Reading the post in full is a requirement of being allowed to comment.

          Hudson very clearly stated that the botched pullout was an intel failure, not a military failure in the normal sense. The military was told it would take a month for the Taliban to reach Kabul. They thought they had all the time in the world to get personnel and maybe some materiel out.

          Had we understood the Taliban would advance so quickly, we could have moved people out earlier and faster. We had big planes in Afghanistan. Why for starters weren’t we running shuttles of them daily or even multiple times a day for the last month to get our civilians stooges into Qatar? I was gobsmacked when the US told them to fly out commercial with what, a few day’s notice?

          1. CG

            Are we totally sure about this being only an intelligence failure? Personally, I’m in the camp that wonders whether or not the way the withdrawal has been carried out might be an attempt by the national security apparatus to make such a mess of things as to try and compel Biden to reverse course.

            As a start, why was Bagram evacuated and why was it evacuated the way it was? After all, apparently when staff work was done war gaming out an evacuation of Kabul in the past (specifically 2009), the conclusion was that it would be preferable to evacuate out of Bagram vs. Kabul due to a better ability to maintain control over Bagram and the situation there vs. at Kabul International (https://mobile.twitter.com/cdrsalamander/status/1426552784090959872, the author of that tweet is also published at the US Naval Institute, so not just a random bozo with a Twitter account). In other words, the situation we have been seeing play out at Kabul International for the past few days was fully predicted over a decade ago. And yet we are acting as if we had been caught completely flat footed.

            And yet, we of course simply abandoned Bagram weeks ago, leaving in the dead of night with out informing the Afghan forces who were supposed to take over the base for several hours of our departure. So when they did arrive, they found the place having been picked over by looters for several hours and that they, a force of 3000, now had 5000 prisoners in their custody.

            Additionally, the national security apparatus is now slamming Biden full bore on the idea of this bein an intelligence failure. You now have anonymous officials claiming in the press that the vaunted experts did in fact predict that Afghani forces weren’t terribly capable, and that the political appointees on the NSC were ignoring and downplaying said reports (https://twitter.com/AndrewFeinberg/status/1427998270153019398). Which to me, being naturally cynical on such matters, raises the question of whether or not Biden was being kept on the same page by the Deep State. Or, whether or not the plan was, again, to make such an obvious mess of the withdrawal that Biden could be corralled into backtracking on plans for a pull out.

            Finally, there is precedent, both recent and more distant, to support such speculation. Back when Trump decided to, ultimately less than half heartedly, pull American forces out of Syria in the face of a Turkinsh incursion into Northern Syria, our Kurdish proxies were caught off guard, which generated several news cycles making hay out of Trump abandoning the Kurds and how this was yet another reason why the Orange Man was bad. And yet by all accounts, the blame ultimately should have been laid at the feet of American diplomatic and military personnel, who despite fully knowing that Trump wanted the US to disengage from Syria promised Kurdish forces that the US would not in fact withdraw and urged them to not take measures, such as negotiating with Assad, that would be not merely appropriate but necessary in such a scenario (https://www.thedefensepost.com/2019/10/22/us-official-meeting-ilham-ahmed-assad-russa/).

            In the more the distant past, there is also the example of our first Catholic President. Famously, JFK approved the Bay of Pigs after having been given an excessively rosy projection about the likelihood of the invasions success. As it turned out, Kennedy had been provided with overly optimistic assessments about the viability of the invasion as officials such as Allen Dulles operated under the assumption that once the operation had begun, Kennedy would have no choice but to allow for whatever support was deemed necessary to be provided. This of course was proven false when Kennedy refused to authorize additional air strikes after the beginning of the invasion that those in charge of it believed to be essential for it’s success.

            This is as much as anything else my musings on this topic from the past couple days, but I do think there is a very strong case that what we have seen play out in Afghanistan is not simply a failure of intelligence. At the very least, there are I think substantial questions that do need to be answered about the events of the past couple days on the US side. However we’ll see if they get answered in the near future, since I’m going to take a guess that the Congressional investigations that are being called for now are more likely to be along the lines of the investigation into Benghazi vs. any kind of Church Committee.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              The alternative to it being an intelligence failure is that someone set out to create this world class cock up. One thing our military is very good at is logistics, so we ought to have been able to organize an at least an adequate pull out if we had defined who and what we wanted/needed to extract as of when.

              By contrast, a deliberate failure/sabotage would take vastly more people to keep their plan secret than a mere arrogant underestimation of the depth of Taliban support among the population. In fact, that sort of ongoing mis-estimate is likely a part of, if not the foundation of, our persisting in this failure.

              I don’t see Bay of Pigs being germane. That was long ago, and it was an elective raid, and not an action in an occupied area. And I really do not get the Catholic jibe. The Irish have become a very effective mafia in government, as my contacts in not very Irish California attest.

              Much more analogous are our not at all foreseeing the sudden collapse of the USSR, despite the USSR being (with China) our top target for intelligence scrutiny, and our officialdom supposedly sincerely believing we’d be greeted with roses when we invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam.

              1. Unpopular

                I’m sorry to disagree… but:

                Douglas London, the CIA’s former counter-terrorism chief for south and south-west Asia claims the CIA foresaw this.

                President Biden may have preferred to listen to what General Mark Milley told him. (Confirmation bias). The problem is that Mark Milley couldn’t tell Biden that his military had wasted trillions of dollars on a substandard ANA for obvious reasons.

                None of this is new. Assange mentioned it. So did this VICE piece.

                In other words, if the military’s incentives have not been aligned with success on the field for two decades, no conspiracy is required for this massive cock-up. Only CYA.

      2. voteforno6

        Sure. It could’ve been a lot worse, though. There was a lot less bloodshed than there could’ve been. I don’t think withdrawals are the most orderly of processes to begin with. It seemed that both the U.S. and the Taliban mostly held to their agreement, which is a good thing. The big mistake that Biden probably made (and this is pure speculation on my part) was not pressing the matter to DoD and the State Department in the months leading up to this. He’s never struck me as a details-oriented kind of person, so that wouldn’t be surprising if it was the case. They were left to their own devices, and they may very well have sandbagged him on this. If that’s the case, heads should roll. They probably should, anyway, but we’ll see.

      3. Mikel

        The people that don’t want to leave are making sure it’s chaotic because they are still firmly planted in other countries. So they can say, “see, this is what happens when we don’t get our way!”

        All of this concern for Afghani lives was in short supply over the last 20 years of occupation.

      4. Glen

        What you saw was the complete collapse of a totally corrupt government. Corrupt to the core. So corrupt that to most of the people in Afghanistan, the Taliban is better. There was no real fighting, the ANA pretty much just put down their arms and walked home.

        The lesson learned here – is this what happens when the Fed says “no mas” and stops supporting Wall St with endless money printing, a complete and total collapse of a completely corrupt institution? And leads to the follow up question – in America, who is the Taliban?

        1. Felix_47

          I spent two years there deployed on and off over the 20 years. Your point is right on. The Afghan leaders were just doing what our politicians do…..perhaps a little exaggerated but the same basic notion. I mean Joe biden and his family have amassed millions on a goverment salary over the last 50 years……or the Clintons, or the Obamas. The Afghan leadership understood that serving in government means serving yourself first. Is that not how our government is working now? And I found the Taliban, overall, to be pretty credible and to generally stick to their word. We could trust them to do what they said they would do. The fact not a single American has been attacked in the last 20 months or so speaks to that. The US needs to learn that if we do not have campaign finance reform we will end up like AFG sooner or later.

          1. Procopius

            The point that the Taliban have stuck to their word has been visible through the lines for years if you were paying attention, which our media made pretty hard to do. On the other hand it’s been noted since I was a child that politicians promises in America are never sincere and almost always broken. I think this is actually important. Joe Biden still owes me $600.

    1. tegnost

      Wagging the dog. If you think biden is acting unilaterally I have bridge for sale, and I include the whole “biden vs the blob” thing. It’s just more empty narrative.

    2. ian

      I’m not willing to cut him any slack at all. There is following through on a decision, then there is _how_ you follow through on the decision. I can’t see that any effort at all was made to plan for the withdrawal and then execute the plan. I found the whole thing deeply embarrassing.

      So much for Biden’s vaunted ‘foreign policy expertise’.

  2. zagonostra

    I’d be interested in knowing what Mr. Hudson thinks about the Fed’s freezing the Afghan government reserves held in US bank accounts, and blocking the Taliban from accessing billions of dollars held in US institution.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      During World War I, we not only did the same to Germany but after WWI we also seized the assets of German citizens in US banks and brokerage firms.

      1. Michael Hudson

        But we were at war with Germany at the time. We’re not supposed to be at war with Afghanistan. We just don’t like them — just as we told England to seize Venezuela’s gold holdings. America is saying, “As long as you use dollars and we are able to use the IMF as an arm of NATO, we can recognize and appoint any official government we want.”
        The effect obviously will accelerate dedollarization, as I wrote last month in a Valdai Club report for the Russians. The effect will be to end the dollar’s free ride for its financing its New Cold War spending.
        This gives new meaning to Blinkin’s “Rule of Law” promoted by the US.

        1. ChrisRUEcon

          America is saying, “As long as you use dollars and we are able to use the IMF as an arm of NATO, we can recognize and appoint any official government we want.”

          Yes! Yes! Yes!

          I called this out yesterday in my comments on Corbishley’s article (The US Is Losing Power and Influence Even In Its Own Back Yard):

          ” … international money, and the way it currently works is the most crucial piece to upending US hegemony IMO. Venezuela still does not have control of its USD foreign reserves, which the US gave that fetid puppet Guaido control over.”

          I went on to suggest that China should be working on a non-US-aligned solution to this: common-currency; yuan as intermediary. America’s odious war-mongering, regime-change capitalists can be de-clawed by a new international-modern-money movement.

          You hit so many nails on their heads, Professor Hudson! Loved this call out:
          “Carter’s alternative to Soviet Communism was Wahabi fanaticism, solidifying America’s alliance with Saudi Arabia.”

          Those with short memories are picking up their jaws off the floor about Afghanistan, while the mouths of those who have been paying attention are intact. Saudi Arabia helps export conflict for the US by proxy. From 2016: Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government (via NYT). The horrible swirling vortex of unending war, made possible by the frenemy responsible for 9/11.

          Thanks again for this article.

        2. Procopius

          Wait, what…? “We’re not supposed to be at war with Afghanistan.” I remember there was a Supreme Court decision during the Excellent Vietnam Adventure, that basically said we’re at war whether Congress declared one or not. I probably should do some digging and recall the details better. And “we” certainly are still “at war” with the Taliban, and the fact that we no longer have troops in Afghanistan is as irrelevant as the fact that the NVA never beat us on the battlefield.

    2. zagonostra

      >Analysis: Afghan central bank’s $10 billion stash mostly out of Taliban’s reach – AP


      -U.S. official: assets in U.S. not available to Taliban
      -Central bank assets include $1.3 bln gold reserves in New York
      -Foreign currency cash kept in branches, presidential palace
      -UNESCO: Vaults also home to 2,000-year-old Bactrian Treasure
      -U.S. lawmakers urge block on Afghanistan’s new IMF reserves


  3. doug

    The knives are already out. The Blob is saying they told him this would happen: From the NYT:

    Classified reports from U.S. spy agencies over the summer warned with increasing pessimism that the Afghan military would collapse rapidly and the Taliban would take over, according to current and former U.S. government officials.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      We’ll probably never know but I suspect there really were some people, and perhaps a lot of them, in the various IC agencies who did see this coming. But they were down in the engine room, not on the bridge. Some years back Col. Pat Lang recalled on his blog the occasion, early in the Bush 43 regime, of his interview for a senior position on the DoD planning staff. The interviewer was the newly appointed head of the agency, the hard-core neocon Dougie Feith. Lang said that as soon as he said he was fluent in Arabic Feith declared the interview over and dismissed him. I suspect it’s likely the neocon koolade drinkers Biden appointed to top positions throughout the “defense” and foreign policy establishments similarly make it known to their underlings what they do and do not want to see. Thus the reports from the engine rooms didn’t make it very far up the food chain because their bosses knew they were not what the rest of the gang wanted to hear. Group think in spades. But they’re convenient to remember now when scapegoats are in fashion.
      Lang was head of the Middle East-South Asia desk of the DIA for seven years straddling the Bush 41 and Clinton administrations. Prior to that he’d been an attaché in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as well as heavily involved in the USA’s surreptitious support of Saddam Hussein et al in the Iran-Iraq war. He published a memoir last year entitled Tattoo which is definitely worth the time to read.

  4. Cocomaan

    Good post by Dr Hudson.

    The intel community sits in dark offices spinning yarns. It’s like hobos around the barrel fire spreading rumors, except these intel folks are paid ludicrous amounts of money for their Tom Clancy fiction.

    Even Donald Trump said publicly that he didn’t trust the briefings that he was given, and wanted to spend money at home, into the hands of his own campaign contributors instead of abroad.

    I remember the howling when Trump supposedly wasn’t reading morning intel briefings. What’s hilarious is we now have further confirmation that these briefings are worth their weight in toilet paper, which was a real commodity a year ago. I’d take the toilet paper.

  5. sinbad66

    And another reason they wanted to stay: it is estimated that Afghanistan sits on top of billions (maybe even trillions) of dollars worth of precious and rare earth elements. They wanted a chance to exploit this, but now the Chinese will have a crack at it….

    1. The Historian

      I’m not sure Afghanistan’s mineral wealth had anything to do with this. Certainly the MIC was making more money for themselves keeping the war going than they would have running mining operations.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Well if you consider heroin a mineral… The CIA was doing quite well with that Afghan cash crop that the Taliban had pretty much completely eradicated at the turn of the century.

        1. Ian Perkins

          I don’t think Afghanistan produced much heroin, if any, prior to the invasion. Domestic processing of opium into heroin has perhaps been the most significant economic development since. The Taliban are now saying opium production will cease, which will have a huge effect on the economy at every level.

    2. Basil Pesto

      PlutoniumKun has made the point elsewhere that the Chinese have already has a crack at the mineral resources in Afghanistan with US approval, and that the economic case for their extraction isn’t there.

  6. David

    Ok, fair enough, but a few things to be remembered.
    All of the assessments about how long it would take the Taliban to capture Kabul were based on the assumption that the ANA would put up at least some resistance. It’s a sizeable city and the Taliban have little experience of urban combat. The estimates were reasonable given the question that was evidently posed. If the question had been “will the ANA actually fight?” the response would no doubt have been much more nuanced. Clearly, as Clausewitz pointed out, it takes two sides to make a war. If the defenders don’t resist, then there will be no fighting. The real error was in supposing the Taliban had a military strategy, when in fact they had a political one. Once deals were cut with commanders and warlords, there was no point in the ANA fighting – not least because their President had just run away.
    I doubt whether there is “massive public support” for the Taliban , certainly judging from the news today. To the extent that they are providing security they seem to be tolerated by the population, but we’ll have to see how that develops over the next few days.
    It’s not true that “Saudi Arabia” attacked the US in 2001: if you know anything about Saudi politics, you know that it all comes down to personalities and allegiances, and that there is very little central control of anything. There were Wahabists in the system who were too powerful to control, and that was pretty much it.

    Just a word on the Russian dimension. I’m not sure what the author’s sources are, but the definitive book is by Roderick Braithwaite, who was UK Ambassador in Moscow at the time, and had access to all the original documents in the 1990s. He makes it clear that the Politburo hesitated a great deal before the invasion: they were mainly worried about the chaos and conflict within the Afghan Communist party, and the possibility that this would spread to the southern republics of the USSR. As he notes, the actual US influence on the course of the war, directly and through proxies, was very limited, and has been massively exaggerated since. The “Arabs” organised by Bin Laden were a very small part of the mujahideen, and their links with the US were a great deal less direct than some in the media would have you believe.

    1. Michael Hudson

      Yes, much of that is in the article that I footnoted.
      In fact, as Yves points out, that is my whole point: that the United States had a good hand to play, but missed its chance by simply wanting to bomb as a means of control.
      As for Saudi Arabia, its royal family was indeed sponsoring Wahabism. There was of course decentralization of decision making, but it jihadism was and is inherently Saudi.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        We can’t rule out that there might have been another country that discovered the plot and decided that, instead of telling us, it would be in their interests for it to succeed. Ciu bono and all that.

    2. redleg

      I think you unintentionally made a point- the US studies Clausewitz and can’t believe they lost without a fight, while the Afghanis study Sun Tzu and won without fighting.

  7. The Historian

    Good points about our ‘intelligence services’. So now that the Afghan money pit is drying up, who’s going to be next? I’m betting our ‘intelligence services’ already have some poor country in mind. Maybe somewhere in Latin America again? Those countries always seem to be a stand-by when needed.

    1. Sawdust

      NC commentariat should start a pool on which country’s next. Latin America is tempting, but there’s a chance the Blob is smart enough to expect and avoid worsening the refugee crisis. My money’s on SE Asia, mainly to give China a headache. We can’t do Vietnam again for a while but Myanmar’s already a quagmire; why not hop right in? Cambodia and Laos are small and poor so they’re practically asking for it!

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Haiti under the guise of a humanitarian intervention. It’s possible we might advertise more of the special forces war in Africa, but most countries don’t have TV ready villains, can fight back, or would require a major build up that we avoided in 2003 with Iraq because of prepositioning in the 90’s.

        I guess cleaning up Libya. The US doesn’t do messy or hard out of the gate. Myanmar is a country of near 60 million people with jungles and mountains. It’s not the 25 million open deserts and plains of Iraq. The low hanging fruit was pulled years ago, and the attack on Libya opened plenty of eyes about the US.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Yemen, also under the guise of a humanitarian intervention. As a bonus it also has islamists, socialists and pro-Iranian elements to confuse the public, and a lot of the logistics and intelligence assets are already in place for escalation.

          1. Ian Perkins

            Denmark, for its brazen refusal to return Greenland and its rare earths to their rightful owners.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The more I think about it the more I see the wailing and gnashing of teeth is there isn’t an option for contractor grift on this scale that can be put into action. They are desperate for us to go back. But as dumb as it was, these people thought mercenaries could prop up a mobster.

        1. Paradan

          Pay the mercs and contractors to build stuff here at home. Who cares if it’s corrupt, at least we’ll have material things to show for it.

      3. Eclair

        Or, if we want an easy afternoon outing, invade and occupy Haiti. Heard a woman, expert on the island nations, talk about deep-sea mining for ‘rare’ minerals (a Watson Institute podcast?) She fears for those island nations, since their nautical borders (the territorial water space a nation can claim) can extend for up to 200 miles. Islands, of course, have an outsized ratio of border to interior space, and are often economically distressed, so are ripe for corporate plundering. Need those minerals so we can have new smart phones!

      4. tegnost

        My guess is there’s economic war in the cards as this the game they know.
        Restrict heroin, for example, from Afghanistan, move mexico up the list of major suppliers,
        well now we have to “do something” and of course it all happened under that commie AMLO so better get rid of him. YMMV, but this usually the game in latin america. Fast and furious.

        1. Alex Cox

          Thank you for mentioning the drugs. Perhaps the massive increases in Afghan opium (and now heroin) production over the last 20 years were not unconnected to NATO guarding the crops.

          1. rob

            I agree
            the west coming to get the opium flowing again, was the story 20 years ago.
            Mike ruppert ,had a book about 9/11 called “crossing the rubicon”.
            he discussed how the taliban had virtually ended the opium production in the late 90’s… and how the world drug trade considered that a “problem”. and this was from the money side…
            a @2000 estimate by the world bank had estimated that the annual cash infusion to the world banking system by the drug cartels around the world, was @ 600 Billion dollars per year. This was the cash being laundered, and this was a needed infusion of cash for the world banking system.
            and even though afghanistan is just a small piece of the pie… the history of gov’ts using major drug networks for “off the books ” funding was widespread since the days of vietnam, and halliburton,Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR),brown bros,, and the us military.
            or the days of iran contra and olie north using the funds of hundreds of tons of cocaine being brought into the us by the military and others , like at mena arkansas, when clinton was gov….,while other hands of the machine were pushing mandatory minimums… . so when the cia, was bringing in the coke for the bloods and the crips and fueling the crack epidemic, the other hand was ensuring the prison industrial complex a pie of said pie…

            since the days since the british ,east india company wanted to monopolize the opium trade, and used the ensuing wars between britian, and then france to get trade benefits… or the families like jardine-matheson, or in the US, the russel family…. way before the sacklers were drug pushers…. drugs are products.and that means money…
            so the last twenty years nato was in control of the area, poppies were in fashion again…. no coincidence there.

      5. Susan the other

        I think we should start a “What If?” game. What if 9/11 was sponsored/paid for by us? What if our economy was facing implosion in 2001? What if the pending implosion was because we were such a hyper military economy we could not survive without one last Big Expedition? What if we needed 20 years? (of Military MMT) And why did that expedition just happen to be to the Middle East? Did we trust anyone over there with control over our oil supply? (No) Why not? What was the pending global situation; what was the predictable future? Had we already heard about the BRI; the New Silk Road? Was our banking industry running on less than fumes? What if Western finance was just so much cotton candy as Das said? Was the entire Western financial blob ready to fold? Were the natives restless? I mean, what if we needed to traffic in opium and arms just to stay afloat? What if we really had no “economy” at all? Really, I guess my question is, What if our intelligence services were all just fiction writers all along?

        1. rob

          I think that would be a good idea.
          It has been said, that all the economies of the world are really shaped by wars. and the spoils, which is who gets the resources, who is in the captain seat when treaties are signed… whose money is good.
          all that happens between wars is just the spill over, between.

          and on top of that, the sociopaths in control ,probably aren’t looking at things like what do we need to live… no the crisis to them, would be like ; why can’t we live like god’s forever…. I want my property to extend to further than my eyes can see… a totally artificial mindset, gotten from winning in a rigged game too long.
          It has also been said
          “the good economy” of the nineties was BECAUSE the west was divvying up the spoils from the liquidation of “the other superpower”…. and that was fading… the tech bubble burst…
          It’s like when the trust fund baby is told their finances won’t sustain their lifestyle indefinitely, and they are advised to “get a job”….. oh the horror…

  8. saywhat?

    If only the US had an economic system worth exporting …

    And the US can’t plead ignorance since the Old Testament, which many in the US still claim to at least respect, spells it out clearly enough.

    So the US is being rebuked by Communists (China) and now Muslims and that’s a disgrace.

  9. Geo

    “Because of heavy reliance on a complex ecosystem of defense contractors, Washington banditry, and aid contractors, between 80 and 90 percent of outlays actually returned to the U.S. economy.”

    “The US has spent $2.26 trillion in Afghanistan, the Costs of War Project at Brown University calculates. The second biggest line item – $530bn – is the estimated interest payments on the money the US government borrowed to fund the war.”

    Julian Assange speaking in 2011: “The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war”

    1. saywhat?

      The second biggest line item – $530bn – is the estimated interest payments on the money the US government borrowed to fund the war.” Geo

      Since the debt of a monetary sovereign like the US is inherent risk-free, positive* interest and yields on it constitutes welfare proportional to account balance.

      I think Alexander Hamilton understood this ?

      *actually, non-negative, given overhead costs.

  10. Tom Pfotzer

    Here’s an economic development slant on what might be next in Afghanistan. I suggest you get a map of Afghanistan up on your screen as you follow along.

    Afghanistan has a chance to build an economy based on major-value-add to intn’l economy. Value-add is based on transport-routes and minerals, mainly copper in the short run.

    Afghanistan has: major copper resources. High-grade ore, lots of it, located a bit south of Kabul. Other mineral resources have been identified, but the copper mine is the big one at the moment. China has a contract to develop the mine. It’s ready to go operational.

    China has rail-lines in place to within 400 miles of Kabul. There are several roads between China’s rail-head at Kashgar and Kabul. Looks like the easiest route is north into Takjikistan and then east to Kashgar.

    China has already proposed a north-south rail route linking Kabul to China.

    From Wikipedia, (search rail transport afghanistan), we see:

    “In September 2010, China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) signed an agreement[53] with the Afghan Minister of Mines to investigate construction of a north-south railway across Afghanistan, running from Mazar-i-Sharif to Kabul and then to the eastern border town of Torkham. MCC was recently awarded a copper mining concession at Mes Aynak which would be linked to this railway. MCC is constructing a 921 km long 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) gauge railway line that will link Kabul with Uzbekistan in the north and Pakistan in the east.[54]”

    There is a rail line under construction linking Iran and Afghanistan. It terminates in Rohzanak, Afghanistan, which is about 400 miles west of Kabul. Search: “Iran Afghanistan railroad”

    There is an existing roadway linking Rohzanak and Kabul. Best-grade route is already selected and parallel truck transport is in place to assist railway construction.

    Afghanistan looks like it’s the easiest rail link route between western China and Iran. Fewest really nasty mountain ranges to cross. Railroads hate steep grades; must tunnel. Tunnels and ravine-crossing bridges are really expensive.

    The world will electrify a great deal in the decades to come. Motors, transmission lines, building wiring plant all uses copper. If you want to industrialize, you need copper. China needs a boat-load of copper.

    Belt and Road Initiative. Search for a map, see that there’s an existing west-China to Iran link, but it goes well north of Afghanistan, and crosses a few other national borders. Is a more southerly route worth having (easier grades, fewer borders to cross, etc.)?


    From China’s perspective:

    If you were going to execute a project to connect your industrial-export machine to central asia and north africa and you needed a stable source of copper as well, which route would you take?

    How would you conduct the political integration work necessary to insure the stability of the turf your line crosses and your source of copper?

    What carrot would you offer to the participants?

    What standards of performance (behavior) would you require, and test for, from those participants?

    Looking at it from Afghanistan’s perspective:

    What deal would you have to offer China and Iran in order for them to invest as necessary for you to get a stable government stood up so it could actually perform re: stds of performance set out above?

    If you were wondering what those seven year’s worth of “background conversations” were between Afghanistan and China (and others, of course), I think we’ve set out a good bit of that discussion agenda right here.

    Now that’s the mechanical, econ devel view, and it’s pretty straight-forward. Then there’s the old bugaboos of keeping a bunch of tribes on-track, and defending from the inevitable external-interference game (sabotage and divide-and-conquer, principally). That’s the politics.

    Politics, because it involves people, is way harder than infrastructure devel.

    Finally, I’d expect some construction to start almost immediately. Needs to be visible, have cash flow, and involve lots of manual labor. Roadway and railroad construction is a good candidate, and so is trucking. Got a lot of new trucks available, right? Just need some mods to make them freight trucks, not weapons trucks. China has plenty of trucks. Also need a lot of motor fuel. Who would like to provide motor fuel? Where’s the closest refinery and what’s the transit route?

  11. Matthew G. Saroff

    Biden was there for the “surge” in 2009, and understood that any effort for a phased withdrawal.

    As I tweeted: (and got lots of likes)

    The US military has been openly insubordinate about leaving Afghanistan, because it allows senior officers to get their combat ticket punched, and because contractors, who hire the those senior officers after they retire, made so much money there.

    The 20 year long “Forever War” is an exercise in rank corruption.

  12. Otis B Driftwood

    Achieving political objectives using economic might rather than brute force is exactly what China is doing. Is it any wonder the days of US empire are numbered?

    The MIC is a cancer on our society. We either recognize that and start aggressive treatment or we die.

    1. Tom Pfotzer

      I completely agree. It’s time to try something completely new, like being helpful, and doing it quietly and respectfully. China _seems_ to be better at this than we are.

      On the subject of how women are treated in Afghanistan:

      a. Is it likely they’re going to respond to commandments from way afar, saying “you must treat your women as we tell you”? Did that strategy work so far?

      Well, it has to be said that “it’s worked some”, because the Taliban have paid lip-service to that idea in their rest-of-world communications. They seem to think it’s worthwhile to at least mouth the words.

      If women’s rights truly is our core goal w/r/t Afghanistan, why don’t we try something like this:

      a. Fund a women-only factory in Afghanistan. A factory that makes shoes, or clothing, or food. Something women (in that society) are already capable of doing, and that raw materials are available locally as supply inputs

      b. Offer a $5000 per year stipend, payable in local currency or trade goods (not U.S. dollars) per employee, per year. What would that cost, .vs. the $2T we just blew on 20 years of failed policy?

      c. Add new product lines once all the problems with a) and b) are sorted out

      d. Send them some Rosie the Riveter T-shirts, and tell them the story of Rosie, and why she was so important to us when we needed all-hands-on-deck-right-now.

      What impact did Rosie the Riveter have on American culture?

      Does Afghanistan need all hands on deck?

  13. The Rev Kev

    Re the part about Cuba. I was reading recently that US intelligence assessments at the time thought after the Cuban revolution that they might be able to work with Castro. This was before he had been pushed towards the Russians remember. The assessments seem to indicate that he might have been a revolutionary but may not have been a true communist. But then he seized the land for redistribution and after he did that, as far as the US was concerned he had to be stopped – or even destroyed. Not only would United Fruit have been gunning for him (I believe even Eisenhower owned United Fruit stock) but the corrupt class of land owners that had fled to America would have been screaming about this. Even the mafia would have been outraged as losing all their assets there. So at that point, he became an enemy of America and here we are sixty years later. Normalization of relations with Cuba can only be done with either Cuba returning that seized land & assets or compensating richly those people & corporations instead.

    I am given to think that the fall of Afghanistan was an actual shock to the Washington establishment. You could see that Blinken seemed to be stunned at it. And this idea of blaming the leadership for fleeing and the people for not fighting was repeated by NATO Secretary Stoltenberg who looked furious. But there was a warning if you looked for it. A year or two ago there was a truce arranged between the Taliban and the Afghan Army and I think that it was for a religious holiday. There soon arose videos of Taliban and Afghan soldiers mixing together in friendship. It was like back in WW1 in 1914 when British and German troops played soccer together on Christmas day. So that right there was an indication how it could quickly go between the two sides.

    But as an illustration of how the intelligence establishment may have been caught flat-footed, I would like to introduce you to Jennifer Cafarella. Who is she when she is at home? Well, ‘she just happens to be a national security fellow at the Institute for Study of War – a major US think tank – as well as a fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), based at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London; and a visiting fellow at the National Security Institute at the George Mason University in Virginia. In other words, one doesn’t get much more emblematic of the transatlantic “national” security establishment, short of being an actual Pentagon employee.’ So she should be an experienced realist, right? So here is how this establishment figure reacted and think how widespread this shock may have been to some of them-


    1. Susan the other

      Interesting. Speaking of flat-footed, last nite on PBS the Prime Minister was getting a surprising amount of flak from just about everyone including the Conservatives. Nobody understood how NATO could have made such a hasty decision, leaving so many Afghans high and dry. And there sat Boris, slumped and frumpy, taking hit after hit. All he could offer was a promise to bring in 5,000 refugees, maybe more, and blablablah. The most interesting, and revealing thing, was the look on his face. He was impatient with the whole charade, the charade that everyone seemed to have swallowed hook, line and sinker. How could “we” have just abandoned our compatriots in Liberty and Freedom for All? Boris endured it without his usual bluster. He looked very tired. But my take-away was that he knew well what was actually going on, what secret terms had been agreed, and what could go forward between unspoken parties like the new Taliban; the UAE, the British, and the US. NATO was surprisingly upset about the whole thing – how can that be? Why doesn’t NATO know what was achieved and why? NATO seems to see it all as a loss as well. To read between the lines it would seem that the “loss” is a loss to the western financial system.

  14. Carolinian

    One can only imagine how the image of Samantha Power, Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton, Susan and Condoleezza Rice, not to mention Indira Gandhi and Golda Maier, will make the Taliban want to create its own generation of ambitious educated women like these.


    Thanks for this expanded version. I have read another article that says the CIA always knew what the score was in Afghanistan–and Iraq as well–but it was the military and the State dept types with their imperial pretensions who were drivers of the endless occupation.

  15. Glossolalia

    I suppose one small consolation is that hopefully a lot of the Blob’s summer holidays were ruined when they had to come back to DC unexpectedly to deal with all this.

  16. FriarTuck

    Michael, a couple of proofreading changes for you:

    The 4th paragraph from the end looks like a duplication of the 8th paragraph from the end, though with a minor change. I’d suggest combining those changes into the 8th paragraph.

    The 5th paragraph from the end has “billion” instead of, what I think should be, “trillion”.

    Thank you for your clear-eyed analysis. I too wish Biden would have taken a stake to neocon ideology by pantsing the multitude of self-declared emperors in the deep state, but unfortunately reality stinks.

  17. Randy G.

    Checked with friends at the DLI (Defense Language Institute) in Monterey to see if there were plans to cancel Pashto language training for the military. To my shock, I was told that Pashto and Dari had already been canceled a couple of years ago!

    Must have been right around the time they canceled most of the Turkish language program, another odd decision considering the importance of Turkish and its related dialects.

    You might think that a country burning trillions to fund their military empire might be more concerned in mastering language and cultural skills to stage-manage the occupations, but you would be mistaken.

    Apparently, enough Afghani translators had mastered English to not be bothered with it any longer. If your plan is to simply bomb and drone villagers haphazardly, who needs language skills.

    I will ask for a list of current programs just to see, as one of their technical support team put it, which countries they plan to invade next.

      1. Acacia

        BTW, I wonder if there’s any news on the updated version. I believe(?) it will include some new text (e.g., a new preface) added that draws on Hudson’s most recent work on China, so I’m quite curious.

  18. George Phillies

    As a modest thought, if Ghani or other corrupt stooges show up in the USA with a pile of stolen cash, the cash should be seized, they should be arrested and tried for stealing American property, and after an adequate prison sentence they should be deported back to Afghanistan.

  19. John Zac

    They looted the Afghan’s, took their gold so I guess now they got to fight or else face hyper inflation. The Americans did leave them guns though so I guess that means listen to the ISI—(india-Pakistan?)

  20. Bart Hansen

    I love it: The harridan arm of the Democratic Party. For me, it was Obama’s Harpies, but I like the word harridan better.

    And what is to become of R2P, which should have stood for Responsibility to Plunder.

  21. Unpopular

    Biden said he’d pull the troops out of Afghanistan. So did Obama. So did Trump, And, IIRC, so did Bush. Each time, the military intelligence complex said it wasn’t the right time, that they were making progress, etc. It seems Biden may have lost trust in them, and simply ordered them out.

    The fact the Afghani troops fell so quickly tells us that either the ANA soldiers were simply collecting a paycheque until the US left, or that the tactics the US taught were not up to the task. Either way, this is something the US military intelligence complex should have known. That they didn’t either shows them to be incompetent, or simply corrupt and riding the $3 trillion gravy train.

    Normally, when an Empire leaves a country on its own schedule, it evacuates its people first. Only then does it evacuate its military. The US did the opposite. Was this incompetence? Or did the military leave early to create a mess that would reflect poorly on the civilian leadership? Can the US still be considered a functional democracy? or is it simply a geontocracy in which plutocrats play turf wars?

    In any case, the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a shameful mess. Rivals such as China are gloating and threatening Taiwan. Allies like the UK and the EU are talking about dumping NATO and creating a multilateral institution that does not depend on the no longer credible “leader of the free world”.

    I think we will come to see this as a turning point in history: the end of the US and perhaps even of the West. I say this with great regret.

    1. Ian Perkins

      Perhaps part of the reason the Afghani troops ‘fell’ so quickly was that many ANA soldiers were not collecting a paycheque.

  22. Sound of the Suburbs

    No one has ever successfully defeated Afghanistan in a war in its home territory.
    The country is so spread out, it’s impossible to control.
    They can just fade into the background, regroup and then start fighting again at any time.
    When the Americans had gone, the Taliban could come out of hiding.

    Former US ambassador, Chas Freeman, gets to the nub of the problem.
    “The US preference for governance by elected and appointed officials, uncontaminated by experience in statecraft and diplomacy, or knowledge of geography, history and foreign affairs”

  23. Sound of the Suburbs

    What are they really after in Afghanistan, Donald?
    Its plentiful mineral resources.
    That was the problem with Trump; he kept giving the game away.

  24. Barry Carr

    Check out the Afghan Papers, a project published by the Washington Post a couple of years ago. The material was obtained (under FOIA). Devastating evidence (from US official sources) of the rottenness of the puppet regime in Kabul. Its a MUST read source

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