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Afghanistan falls
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16594
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 11:51 am    Post subject: Afghanistan falls Reply with quote

Rather than clutter up threads about coronavirus, or the crazy opinions of ophthalmologists that know almost nothing about epidemiology, maybe we can use a little discipline and opine about Afghanistan here.

There is no doubt that the Taliban sheltered Al Queda and Bin Laden, and a case can be made for a military response to 9/11 that targeted Al Queda. Whether we should have gone beyond that, and what was possible to actually achieve with a primarily military approach are two fair questions. All of the Presidents involved will be second guessed, that's part of their job, and I think we can find fault with all of them.

There is also no doubt that the Taliban was very bad news for women and human rights during their first tenure, and there is little evidence to support the idea of a better outcome now. So another fair question is, how is the Taliban able to secure power in a country where we have invested so much in infrastructure, education, and at least some efforts at reform.

Two of our local windsurfing communities are Afghani ex-pats, one a doctor. Early in the Afghan adventure I asked her her opinion about the new government that the US had stood up to replace the Taliban. her response was unequivocal--she described Karzai as a corrupt puppet. A similar view is held by Sarah Chayes, who served in Afghanistan for 10 years and is author of the seminal book "Thieves of State." She argued, using Afghanistan as a platform, that the fundamental corruption of those in power undermined their legitimacy.

This account adds to the narrative.

Quote:
Afghan security forces parade on a base in Kabul in April 2021. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post)
By
Susannah George
Yesterday at 7:05 p.m. EDT



2.9k
KABUL — The spectacular collapse of Afghanistan’s military that allowed Taliban fighters to walk into the Afghan capital Sunday despite 20 years of training and billions of dollars in American aid began with a series of deals brokered in rural villages between the militant group and some of the Afghan government’s lowest-ranking officials.

The deals, initially offered early last year, were often described by Afghan officials as cease-fires, but Taliban leaders were in fact offering money in exchange for government forces to hand over their weapons, according to an Afghan officer and a U.S. official.

Over the next year and a half, the meetings advanced to the district level and then rapidly on to provincial capitals, culminating in a breathtaking series of negotiated surrenders by government forces, according to interviews with more than a dozen Afghan officers, police, special operations troops and other soldiers.

Within a little more than a week, Taliban fighters overran more than a dozen provincial capitals and entered Kabul with no resistance, triggering the departure of Afghanistan’s president and the collapse of his government. Afghan security forces in the districts ringing Kabul and in the city itself simply melted away. By nightfall, police checkpoints were left abandoned and the militants roamed the streets freely.

Fast-moving Taliban fighters take Kabul, trigger Afghan government collapse
The Taliban entered Kabul on Aug. 15. The Pentagon said up to 6,000 U.S. troops will deploy to the airport to evacuate U.S. personnel. (Sarah Parnass, Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)
The pace of the military collapse has stunned many American officials and other foreign observers, forcing the U.S. government to dramatically accelerate efforts to remove personnel from its embassy in Kabul.

The Taliban capitalized on the uncertainty caused by the February 2020 agreement reached in Doha, Qatar, between the militant group and the United States calling for a full American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Some Afghan forces realized they would soon no longer be able to count on American air power and other crucial battlefield support and grew receptive to the Taliban’s approaches.

“Some just wanted the money,” an Afghan special forces officer said of those who first agreed to meet with the Taliban. But others saw the U.S. commitment to a full withdrawal as an “assurance” that the militants would return to power in Afghanistan and wanted to secure their place on the winning side, he said. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity because he, like others in this report, was not authorized to disclose information to the press.

The Doha agreement, designed to bring an end to the war in Afghanistan, instead left many Afghan forces demoralized, bringing into stark relief the corrupt impulses of many Afghan officials and their tenuous loyalty to the country’s central government. Some police officers complained that they had not been paid in six months or more.

“They saw that document as the end,” the officer said, referring to the majority of Afghans aligned with the government. “The day the deal was signed we saw the change. Everyone was just looking out for himself. It was like [the United States] left us to fail.”

The negotiated surrenders to the Taliban slowly gained pace in the months following the Doha deal, according to a U.S. official and an Afghan officer. Then, after President Biden announced in April that U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan this summer without conditions, the capitulations began to snowball.


I was persuaded by "Thieves of State", and with the precipitous fall of the government in a matter of months after Trump and Biden said we were leaving, I think it is clear that only a much longer occupation would have prevented the fall. And all occupations generate resentment that undermines their legitimacy.

It will be a tragedy for both women and modernity.


Last edited by mac on Tue Aug 17, 2021 3:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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boggsman1



Joined: 24 Jun 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A big question is how did a 700,000 person army that the U.S. sunk $88B into, get overrun by a 30,000 person force? Lots of questions...
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J64TWB



Joined: 24 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No will to fight. For whatever reason- no will to fight. Probably out of fear. After 20 years of training and support would another 10 years of training and support induce a will to fight? I doubt it. What a mess.
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
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Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obama certainly doesn't get a pass on this, nor does the military culture. I worked for decades with the Army Corps of Engineers, where commanders spend only two years on an assignment before rotating to another assignment and progressing up the hierarchy. They don't want insoluble problems to rear their heads during their 2 years, so there is a deep culture of "happy talk."

The Post has been publishing a series of deeply analytical pieces for the last two months. This is the latest.

Quote:
(John Moore/Getty Images)
By
Craig Whitlock
Today at 7:00 a.m. EDT

In the summer of 2011, Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV made a round of public appearances to boast that he had finally solved a problem that had kept U.S. troops bogged down in Afghanistan for a decade. Under his watch, he asserted, U.S. military advisers and trainers had transformed the ragtag Afghan army and police into a professional fighting force that could defend the country and keep the Taliban at bay.

“We’ve made tremendous strides, incredible progress,” Caldwell, the head of the U.S. and NATO’s training command in Afghanistan, told the Council on Foreign Relations in June 2011. “They’re probably the best trained, the best equipped and the best led of any forces we’ve developed yet inside of Afghanistan. They only continue to get better with time.”

Three months later, in a news briefing at the Pentagon, Caldwell said the Afghan soldiers and police previously had been in terrible shape: poorly led, uninspired and more than 90 percent of them illiterate. But he said the Obama administration’s decision to spend $6 billion a year to train and equip the Afghan security forces had produced a remarkable turnaround. He predicted that the Taliban-led insurgency would subside and that the Afghans would take over responsibility for securing their country by the end of 2014, enabling U.S. combat troops to leave.

“It really does give you a lot of hope for the future of what this country may have ahead of itself,” he said.


In fact, according to documents obtained for the forthcoming Washington Post book “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War,” U.S. military officials privately harbored fundamental doubts for the duration of the war that the Afghan security forces could ever become competent or shed their dependency on U.S. money and firepower. “Thinking we could build the military that fast and that well was insane,” an unnamed former U.S. official told government interviewers in 2016.

Those fears, rarely expressed in public, were ultimately borne out by the sudden collapse this month of the Afghan security forces, whose wholesale and unconditional surrender to the Taliban will go down as perhaps the worst debacle in the history of proxy warfare.

How U.S. leaders deliberately misled the public about America’s longest war
"The Afghanistan Papers" author Craig Whitlock explains how presidents misled the public about the war in Afghanistan for nearly two decades. (Joy Yi/The Washington Post)
The capitulation was sped up by a series of secret deals that the Taliban brokered with many Afghan government officials. In recent days and weeks, Taliban leaders used a combination of cash, threats and promises of leniency to persuade government forces to lay down their arms.

Although U.S. intelligence officials had recently forecast the possible demise of the Afghan government over the next three to six months, the Biden administration was caught unprepared by the velocity of the Taliban takeover. Afghan forces “proved incapable of defending the country. And that did happen more rapidly than we anticipated,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday on the ABC News program “This Week.”

Over two decades, the U.S. government invested more than $85 billion to train and equip the Afghans and pay their salaries. Today, all that is left are arsenals of weapons, ammunition and supplies that have fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Senior U.S. officials said the Pentagon fell victim to the conceit that it could build from scratch an enormous Afghan army and police force with 350,000 personnel that was modeled on the centralized command structures and complex bureaucracy of the Defense Department. Though it was obvious from the beginning that the Afghans were struggling to make the U.S.-designed system work, the Pentagon kept throwing money at the problem and assigning new generals to find a solution.

“We kept changing guys who were in charge of training the Afghan forces, and every time a new guy came in, he changed the way that they were being trained,” Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary during the Bush and Obama administrations, said in an oral-history interview with scholars at the University of Virginia. “The one thing they all had in common was they were all trying to train a Western army instead of figuring out the strengths of the Afghans as a fighting people and then building on that.”

Part 1 of The Afghanistan Papers: U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan

In the interviews, U.S. military trainers who worked directly with recruits said the Afghans suffered from other irreconcilable problems, including a lack of motivation and a corrupt chain of command that preyed upon its own soldiers and police.

Maj. Greg Escobar, a U.S. Army infantry officer, spent 2011 trying to straighten out a dysfunctional Afghan army unit in Paktika province near the border with Pakistan. The first Afghan battalion commander whom Escobar mentored lost his job after he was charged with raping one of his male soldiers. The commander’s replacement, in turn, was killed by his own men.

Escobar said he came to realize that the whole exercise was futile because the U.S. military was pushing too fast and the Afghans were not responding to what was, in the end, a foreign experiment. “Nothing we do is going to help,” he recalled in an Army oral-history interview. “Until the Afghan government can positively affect the people there, we’re wasting our time.”

Other Army officers who trained the Afghans recounted scenes of mayhem that bode poorly for how they would perform on the battlefield. Maj. Mark Glaspell, an Army engineer with the 101st Airborne Division who served as a mentor to Afghan forces from 2010 to 2011, said even simple exercises went haywire.

Glaspell recalled trying to teach an Afghan platoon in the eastern city of Gardez how to exit a CH-47 Chinook, a heavy-lift helicopter used to transport troops and supplies. They lacked an actual Chinook to practice on, so he lined up rows of folding chairs instead and instructed the Afghans how to safely disembark.

“We were working on that and it was going pretty good and all of a sudden this Afghan soldier walks up and he and one of the guys in the class started to get into an argument,” Glaspell said in an Army oral-history interview. A third Afghan soldier then picked up a folding chair and pounded the first guy over the head, he said.

“Well, then it was a brawl; it was on,” Glaspell added. He let the Afghans duke it out until they got tired. “My interpreter actually looked at me, shook his head and said, ‘This is why we’ll never be successful,’ and he walked away.”

Jack Kem, a retired Army officer who served as Gen. Caldwell’s deputy from 2009 to 2011, said the training command struggled to overcome a host of challenges. Recruiting was hard enough, but was compounded by startling rates of desertion and attrition. And trying to maintain an ethnic balance in the force among Afghanistan’s fractious tribes was another “enormous problem,” he said.

But perhaps the biggest hardship was having to teach virtually every recruit how to read. Kem estimated that only 2 to 5 percent of Afghan recruits could read at a third-grade level despite efforts by the United States to enroll millions of Afghan children in school over the previous decade.

“The literacy was just insurmountable,” he said in an Army oral-history interview. Some Afghans also had to learn their colors, or had to be taught how to count. “I mean, you’d ask an Afghan soldier how many brothers and sisters they had and they couldn’t tell you it was four. They could tell you their names, but they couldn’t go ‘one, two, three, four.’ ”


Making everything harder was the Obama administration’s decision to rapidly expand the size of the Afghan security forces from 200,000 soldiers and police to 350,000. With recruits at a premium, Afghans were rushed through boot camp, even if they couldn’t shoot or perform other basic tasks.

In Washington, some skeptics warned Obama administration officials that they were sacrificing quality for quantity. But leaders at the Pentagon dismissed the concerns and insisted they could have both.

“There was a big debate that said, ‘Either you can have a small Afghan army and police that is trained to a high quality or you can have a lot of them but they won’t meet the quality standards. They’ll just be poorly equipped and poorly trained,’ ” Brig. Gen. John Ferrari, who also served under Caldwell at the training command, said in an Army oral-history interview.


Caldwell, who retired from the Army in 2013, did not respond to a request to comment for this story.

As the years passed, it became apparent that the strategy was failing. Yet U.S. military commanders kept insisting in public that everything was going according to plan.

In November 2012, Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. told lawmakers that he had grown “optimistic” about the war because the Afghan army and police had improved so much. “When I look at the Afghan national security forces and where they were in 2008, when I first observed them, and where they are today in 2012, it’s a dramatic improvement.”

In September 2013, Mark A. Milley, then an Army lieutenant general and deputy commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, gave reporters another upbeat assessment. “I am much more optimistic about the outcome here, as long as the Afghan security forces continue to do what they’ve been doing,” he said.

“If they continue to do that next year and the year after and so on, then I think things will turn out okay in Afghanistan,” he added. Today, Milley is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and serves as the chief military adviser to President Biden.

The book, “The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War,” by Craig Whitlock is available here. The book is based on interviews with more than 1,000 people who played direct roles in the war as well as thousands of pages of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Whitlock will discuss the book during a Washington Post Live event on Aug. 31.
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MalibuGuru



Joined: 11 Nov 1993
Posts: 8812

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's all have a toast to the hundreds of thousands of Afghan women who will endure nonstop rape and humiliation under the Taliban.
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J64TWB



Joined: 24 Dec 2013
Posts: 1595

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let’s have a toast to inviting the Taliban to Camp David. 20 years of wasted lives and money and then, invite a terrorist organization to a summit at Camp David. Not the Afghan government, a terrorist organization to Camp David! Way to think that one through Bard.
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MalibuGuru



Joined: 11 Nov 1993
Posts: 8812

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

J64TWB wrote:
Let’s have a toast to inviting the Taliban to Camp David. 20 years of wasted lives and money and then, invite a terrorist organization to a summit at Camp David. Not the Afghan government, a terrorist organization to Camp David! Way to think that one through Bard.


That was then, this is now genius

https://youtu.be/zCBNwGHPZ2M
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16594
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MalibuGuru wrote:
Let's all have a toast to the hundreds of thousands of Afghan women who will endure nonstop rape and humiliation under the Taliban.


Get a grip asshole, or disappear again. You spent 4 years cheering for Trump because he would get us out of wars.

About his criminal source:

Quote:
September 23, 2014
Dinesh D’Souza Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to Five Years of Probation for Campaign Finance Fraud
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that DINESH D’SOUZA was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to five years of probation, with eight months during the first year to be served in a community confinement center, after having pled guilty to violating the federal campaign election law by making illegal contributions to a United States Senate campaign in the names of others. D’SOUZA was sentenced today before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.


Fraud is good, eh?


Last edited by mac on Tue Aug 17, 2021 3:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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wsurfer



Joined: 17 Aug 2000
Posts: 1402

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MalibuGuru wrote:
J64TWB wrote:
Let’s have a toast to inviting the Taliban to Camp David. 20 years of wasted lives and money and then, invite a terrorist organization to a summit at Camp David. Not the Afghan government, a terrorist organization to Camp David! Way to think that one through Bard.


That was then, this is now genius

https://youtu.be/zCBNwGHPZ2M


As usual more useless bullshite from Malibu Barbi!

Not from Malibu, not a guru, maybe a Barbie Laughing Laughing Laughing
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 16594
Location: Berkeley, California

PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2021 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From one of my very smart friends.

I’m not saying he’s right, I’m saying we should think about the lessons, not make gang signs.


Quote:
Fundamentalism is winning in Florida, Texas and more obviously in Afghanistan. Today, fundamentalism generates solidarity through distrust, disinformation and angry resentment. The Taliban had a clear strategy ready when America tired of 20 years of carnage. They recruited and made deals with the warloads, gangsters and drug cartels to move fast and break things like techies do in Silicon Valley.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, when asked about “significant deterioration” in Kabul, replied “I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday.” Well, it happened over the weekend. After Biden’s speech this afternoon, Blinken should be fired. Heads will actually roll in Afghanistan where we have always underestimated the Taliban.

So, how can Biden and his new best and brightest be outsmarted by the Taliban? We’ve heard that history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes. I went to my library for the answer because today’s NY Times was too scary to read. Gen. Petraeus’s Counterinsurgency Field Manual was strategically correct: the Taliban were true believers and had lots of safe havens—so they won. However, he was tactically wrong. Twenty-year-old working-class American soldiers can’t win Afghan hearts or minds. Moreover, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap’s People’s War People’s Army, which mapped out his techniques for effective insurgency operations, could have been the Taliban’s playbook. (The CIA thought it was so important they published it after we abandoned Saigon)
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