Honestly, who really gives a damn about Afghanistan?


Simple Anarchist
... so, "Honestly, who really gives a damn about Afghanistan?".

Maybe we should.

We meaning the nations that were involved in that idiotic war, and certainly those who blew the endgame. Again.

Facing Economic Collapse, Afghanistan Is Gripped by Starvation

An estimated 22.8 million people — more than half the country’s population — are expected to face potentially life-threatening food insecurity this winter. Many are already on the brink of catastrophe.

Source: NYT. Read on.

If that doesn't tick any boxes, some simple humanitarian help would come in handy, but please without having to fear the diplomatic wrath of the USA.


Steam Flyer

Super Anarchist
Eastern NC
The problem is how to get aid to the people who need it, without handing it over to the new warlords. The Taliban is perfectly happy to let Afghans starve if it means keeping their power.

Radio news program last week interviewed a bunch of people including the current director of a big medical charity organization in Kabul, a couple of Taliban "spokesmen," and a few people who were working in Afghanistan up until the US pullout this summer.

The Taliban blamed foreign governments, of course. The medical director said that he wanted access to Afghanistani funds that foreign gov'ts had frozen so that he could keep his hospitals (from the description, they're pretty rudimentary) open and also distribute food, which they are already doing to a small extent. The aid workers who were not currently in Afghanistan said that was probably the best solution but would also be likely to lead to the Taliban shutting it down so they could get control of the food.

During the Russian years, there were winters wherein the majority of Afghan children died. It seems likely that's about to happen again.



Pertinacious Tom

Importunate Member
Punta Gorda FL
A Big, Dumb Machine

It is common to chalk up America's failures in Afghanistan to incompetence, ignorance, or stupidity. Yet The Afghanistan Papers, by The Washington Post's Craig Whitlock, shows an American government that, although it had no idea what it was doing when it came to building a democracy in Afghanistan, did an excellent job manipulating the public, avoiding any consequences for its failures, and protecting its bureaucratic and financial interests. The problem was a broken system, not a generalized incompetence.


Ultimate responsibility must start on top. No matter what he told himself, President George W. Bush acted as a man who simply didn't much care what happened to Afghanistan beyond how it influenced his political fortunes. One of Rumsfeld's memos notes that in October 2002, Bush was asked whether he'd like to meet with Gen. Dan McNeil. The president asked who that was, and Rumsfeld answered that he was the man leading the war in Afghanistan. Bush responded that he didn't need to see him. The president was presumably preoccupied with the Iraq war he would launch five months later. (That is, he was preoccupied with selling the war. He didn't really think much about what the U.S. would be doing in that country either.)

The bureaucracy beneath the president comes across as a big dumb machine that was unclear about what it ultimately wanted, and whose different limbs sometimes worked at cross purposes. Many parts of that machine were extremely aware of how hopeless the mission was. As Gen. McNeil said, "There was no campaign plan. It just wasn't there." The British general who headed NATO forces in the country from 2006 to 2007 similarly remarked that "there was no coherent long-term strategy." American military personnel would be sent to Afghanistan on more than one occasion over the two decades of conflict and, in Whitlock's words, "the war made less sense each time they went back."

To fight the Taliban, the U.S. empowered brutal warlords, who would often rape and terrorize the local populations. One of the most prominent of these, Abdul Rashid Dostum, was such a destructive force that one American diplomat offered to make him the executive producer of a movie just to get him out of the country. At the same time, the CIA was paying him $70,000 a month. Whitlock's account includes an endless number of similar stories, in which one part of the American government was doing things that completely negated the actions of others. Anand Gopal's No Good Men Among the Living documented this on the ground, showing how the same individual might be an ally to the CIA and an enemy to the military, and how ultimately this hurt the Afghan people more than anyone else.


Each part of the American war machine had its own mission, and was going to do what it did regardless of the facts on the ground. The DEA wanted to destroy opium, the human rights bureaucracy pushed women's rights, and the military wanted to keep the war going. Nobody was there to force these disparate parts to work towards a common goal in a way that made sense. Theoretically, the president should have done so, but the American system clearly rewards political competence more than it does the ability to build stable democracies on the other side of the world. Often extremely self-aware, American officials were not as stupid or incompetent as they were self-interested cogs in a system filled with misaligned incentives.

While this system has an almost unlimited capacity to excuse egregious corruption and incompetence, it comes down hard when its own interests are threatened. In May 2009, Gen. David McKiernan was fired as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, a historically rare event for a leadership class that almost never faces real accountability. McKiernan's misstep was being too honest with the media—he had told them the war was stalemated. He was replaced by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who could be relied upon to issue optimistic predictions. The violence in Afghanistan got worse, and McChrystal is now a well-regarded author and corporate consultant.

The transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump shows how flexible the Pentagon could be to keep the war going. When working for the former law professor, the generals used more rhetoric about human rights and became experts at manipulating statistics to show how they supposedly were making people's lives better. Under Trump, they realized that they could maintain his support for the war by talking of victory and killing bad guys. In both cases, the generals successfully resisted a president who was skeptical about their mission. The military seemed relatively indifferent to whether it was spending its time building girls' schools or undertaking a more expansive bombing campaign, as long as it could keep the war going. Joe Biden watched the generals box in Obama, and he came into the White House determined not to be similarly manipulated.

I don't think the "machine" headline fits all that well.

Actual broken machines don't conceal their failures so well.



Super Anarchist
Kent Island!
to be fair they are just the latest in a long list .
It is a very human failing, the big jobs and money program needs to keep running, so you tell the bosses what they want to hear.

Same reason Chernobyl blew up, all kinds of safety studies and exercises the bosses back in Moscow wanted done were done "successfully", if by that you mean they got written up as working well instead of someone actually doing them. Eventually reality catches up.

I got the impression from some Vietnam era memoirs the troops eventually figured out they weren't there to win and weren't there to lose, they were there to just keep it going and going and ....................


Fat Point Jack

Super Anarchist
Today is the 42nd anniversary of President Carter's announcement that our Olympic Team would not go to Moscow to protest Russia's Afghanistan invasion.

I sure would like to see the TV coverage of Russia's pull out.