We Failed Afghanistan, Not the Other Way Around

n MSNBC the other night, Rachel Maddow told a story about visiting Afghanistan a decade ago. She described being taken on a tour of a new neighborhood in Kabul of “narco-palaces,” what she called, “big garish, gigantic, rococo, strange-looking places” that hadn’t existed before the Americans arrived. This was said to be symbolic of the “fantastically corrupt elites” among the Afghan political class who put themselves into position to siphon off big chunks of the “billions of dollars per month” we sent into the country.

Noting that, “the U.S. effort and expenditure in that country did build some stuff, roads and waterways and schools,” Maddow decried the fact that “so much of what we put in by the boatload was shoveled off by a fantastically corrupt elite.” She showed video of Taliban conquerors lounging around in the tackily furnished homes of former Afghan officials in Kabul, pointing out that, “dictator chic is the same the world over.” In a not-so-subtle dig at Donald Trump, she added, “And they really like gold fixtures.”

From Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan, the pattern of American officials showering questionable political allies abroad with armfuls of cash is a long-established practice. However, the idea that this is the reason the “missions” fail in such places is just a continuation of the original propaganda lines that get us into these messes. It’s a way of saying the subject populations are to blame for undermining our noble efforts, when the missions themselves are often preposterous and, moreover, the lion’s share of the looting is usually done by our own marauding contracting community.

It’s bad enough that Maddow/MSNBC played a big part in delaying the withdrawal last year with hype of the bogus Bountygate story, which gave one last (false) dying breath to the war rationale. This latest criticism of theirs ignores the massive amounts of corruption that were endemic to the American side of the mission. Contractors made fortunes monstrously overcharging the taxpayer for everything from private security, to dysfunctional or unnecessary construction projects, to social programs that either had no chance for success, or for which metrics for measuring success didn’t exist.End of an Era? Afghanistan Is Now Graveyard of Contractors, Too.

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) some years ago identified “$15.5 billion of waste, fraud, and abuse… in our published reports and closed investigations between SIGAR’s inception in 2008 and December 31, 2017,” and added an additional $3.4 billion in a subsequent review. All told, “SIGAR reviewed approximately $63 billion and concluded that a total of approximately $19 billion or 30 percent of the amount reviewed was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Thirty percent! If the overall cost of the war was, as reported, $2 trillion (about $300 million per day for 20 years), a crude back of the envelope calculation for the amount lost to fraud during the entire period might be $600 billion, an awesome sum. It could even be worse than that. SIGAR for instance also looked at a $7.8 billion sum spent on buildings and vehicles from 2008 on, and reported that of that, only $343.2 million worth “were maintained in good condition.” They added that just $1.2 billion of the original expenditure was used as intended. By that metric, the majority of the monies spent in Afghanistan might simply have gone up in smoke in bogus or ineffectual contracting schemes.

Worse, many enormous expenses that wouldn’t have been described by inspectors as outright fraud or waste were dubious anyway. As detailed earlier in this space in an interview with former Captain Adrian Bonenberger, the military spent an astonishing $50 billion just on one failed program, the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle, or MRAP. They spent nearly a million dollars per vehicle and scrapped 2,000 of them just six years after introducing them into the field in Afghanistan. How many stories like this were there?

In Afghanistan, SIGAR found problem after problem:

  • $70 million in proceeds lost to a scheme in which a former translator worked with Special Forces members to embezzle and divert funds from a trucking company;
  • $6 million lost when “a contractor defrauded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on a food services contract utilized specifically by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) entities and personnel in Afghanistan”;
  • The US Agency for International Development spent $800,000 to collect data about its Promote program, designed to support the involvement of women in governance, but the survey designed didn’t collect the requisite data;
  • “$1.6 million worth of equipment spent for a water-filtration system at the Afghan National Army’s Camp Commando facility… failed after only two months.”

A major delusion of American war efforts anywhere in the world is that the missions are undertaken for the reasons given: to hold the line against communism, to build democracy and arrest poverty in places like Iraq or Afghanistan, or eliminate security havens for antagonists like al-Qaeda. Our presence may begin under the auspices of such excuses, but what happens almost every time is that the missions assume bureaucratic lives of their own, and contracting becomes an end in itself. This was a major revelation of The Afghanistan Papers expose in the Washington Post, which contained the following passage:

One unidentified contractor told government interviewers he was expected to dole out $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a U.S. county. He once asked a visiting congressman whether the lawmaker could responsibly spend that kind of money back home: “He said hell no. ‘Well, sir, that’s what you just obligated us to spend and I’m doing it for communities that live in mud huts with no windows.’ ”

All of the locales for our foreign adventures become boondoggles in large part because they’re so many levels removed from anything like oversight. The entire Pentagon is not audited, and could not pass an audit if there were ever to be one, which means the $700 billion military budget is already an unguarded trough for contractors like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. Overseas theaters are simply more inaccessible plunder zones within that already impenetrable black box of over-spending, for missions whose justifications are often so inscrutable that the public has a hard time immediately converting knowledge about waste or fraud into outrage.

How would the public have looked at practices like bringing billions of dollars in cash on pallets to pay bribes, or multi-million-dollar construction projects to nowhere, or millions spent on hired guns for phantom deliveries or security exercises, during the Battle of the Bulge? Much differently than it did for the endless war in Afghanistan, which on some level every American understood was a massive welfare program for contractors.

That’s corruption on a level so deep that we can’t even speak of it ruining the chances for a successful mission, since spending was the mission, and we succeeded at it on a grand scale. Given that reality, pointing the finger anywhere but at ourselves for failure in a place like Afghanistan is absurd, and just continues the practice of lying to ourselves about the motives underlying our military misadventures, which keep ending the same way, and not by accident.

Army Colonel In Leaked Afghanistan Texts: ‘We Are Fucking Abandoning American Citizens’

Encrypted text messages between an Army colonel and a former Special Forces soldier working on a private effort to extricate stranded Americans from Afghanistan reveal that the US evacuation was anything but the ‘extraordinary success’ President Biden declared on Tuesday.

“We are f#cking abandoning American citizens,” said an Army colonel assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in an encrypted Sunday text message to Michael Yon, who revealed the message to Just the News.army colonel in leaked afghanistan texts 'we are f**king abandoning american citizens'

Yon told Just the News that a group of Americans were abandoned at the Kabul airport, pleading for help as military officials told them they were finished with evacuations.

We had them out there waving their passport screaming, ‘I’m American,’” Yon said Tuesday while appearing on the John Solomon Reports podcast. – Just The News

“People were turned away from the gate by our own Army,” said Yon, the former Special Forces soldier and war correspondent.

army colonel afghanistan leaked texts abandoning american citizens

Yon’s account, which he shared with JTN’s John Solomon, is backed by three dozen text and email exchanges with frontline Army officials in Afghanistan.

The stranded Americans eventually scattered to safe houses to avoid capture by the Taliban, after which Yon wrote a ‘stinging email’ to an Army major whose team abandoned the rescue effort.

“You guys left American citizens at the gate of the Kabul airport,” wrote Yon on Tuesday. “Three empty jets paid for by volunteers were waiting for them. You and I talked on the phone. I told you where they were. Gave you their passport images. And my email and phone number. And you left them behind.”

“Great job saving yourselves. Probably get a lot of medals,” he added.

While the helper group worked frantically to get the Americans through the gate, members texted one another to say they had seen National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on CNN saying that neither he nor U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie were told that Americans were abandoned.

“Hey did they end up just taking off?” one correspondent texted the helper group. “Because the National Security Advisor just told Tapper that neither he nor McKenzie had heard anything about Americans being left at the gates.” 

The correspondent noted that the private group heard differently from a lieutenant colonel (O-5): “Given we had comms with an O-5 on the ground, that means CENTCOM C3 is s–t, or someone is lying.”

According to the private rescue effort, the US Army was told by the State Department not to rescue the Americans.

“We get them to the gate, and the U.S. Army completely fails this saying, ‘Oh, we can’t do it, because the Department of the State tells us we can’t do it,” Yon told Just the News.

Read the rest of the report here.

Reference: ZeroHedge.com

6 Questions We NEED To Ask About Afghanistan

Afghanistan has “fallen”, that’s the line. The Taliban forces have taken the opportunity of US/NATO withdrawal and swept across the entire country, taking every major city within a week and with barely a shot fired.

6 questions we need to ask about afghanistan

Joe Biden is being blamed for his “lack of plan”, even as Democrats try and shift the blame to Trump who first decided to pull the US out of Afghanistan over 18 months ago.

Meanwhile, the press are reporting dozens of stories about the humanitarian crises, refugees fleeing the new regime, the fate of women under the Taliban, and “shocking videos” of desperate people.

That’s the official story. But what’s really going on?

1. Did The Taliban Really Just Win?

Firstly, let’s be clear, the US has not “pulled out” of Afghanistan, not in the true sense of the phrase. They still reserve the right to bomb the place. There are still private contractors in the country. And the Pentagon are already booking their return tickets.

Secondly, the Taliban didn’t “win”, they were unopposed. More than unopposed, they were directly aided. When the US abandoned Bagram airbase they left hundreds of armored vehicles, weapons and over 5000 alleged Taliban prisoners…all of which “accidentally” fell into the hands of the advancing Taliban forces.

The Afghan army, under command of US puppet President Ashraf Ghani, essentially folded without a shot being fired. Tens of thousands of US-trained and armed troops did nothing to stop the advance of the enemy.

There are a LOT articles in the MSM endeavouring to explain this. The Guardian. And The TelegraphThe Financial Times. And the non-financial Times. They all give it a go.

The Washington Post’s Max Boot, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations, ties himself in mental knots trying to explain how the Afghan army, with superior numbers AND firepower, “collapsed under pressure”.

The Independent reports that the billions the Pentagon spent on training Afghan security forces has “accidentally” benefited the Taliban, who have now seized vehicles, missiles and aircraft.

The press clearly sees it for what it is – a hole in their story they really need to plug.

All things being equal, the simplest explanation is often the most likely. And the simplest explanation here is that the Afghan security forces were ordered to stand down as part of a deal with the Taliban. There are reports and rumours on social media of deals being done:

And, of course, the exact terms of the peace agreement, signed by Trump and Taliban last year, are not known. But it’s interesting to note that this agreement actually called for a handover of exactly 5000 Taliban prisoners. The same number “accidentally” left unguarded at Bagram Airbase.

One interpretation is that the withdrawal has gone exactly as planned in the deal signed by Trump. And that the melodrama and “chaos” of the pull-out was either a part of the deal, or a later addition to either cause a distraction or save some face.

2. Is The Chaos Real?

The media have been generating memes to sell the “chaos” of the Taliban’s advance. The go-to comparison has been the fall of Saigon, because the (completely unintentional) “near-identical images” (completely unintentionally) “went viral”.

We’re treated to a lot of viral video footage. Ranging from the questionable:

To the outright bizarre:

All of this serves a purpose, aside from the distraction of emotive metaphors and lurid headlines. It all aids in the construction of a narrative.

In this case, the ideas of US “mistakes” and “incompetence” and “wishful thinking” are discussed at length, without ever touching on the true mendacity at the heart of the Afghan invasion.

The “end” of the Afghan war is being used to re-brand its beginnings. The Taliban are propped up as villains, again, and associated with Al Qaeda, as if they were ever anything but a Western tool in the first place.

People are talking about “spreading democracy” and “counter-terrorism” as if they were the real aims of the war, instead of long-discredited lies.

Marketing Afghanistan as a “defeat” for the US camouflages the truth of it – the war was a VERY profitable business venture.

And, of course, it all serves to reinforce the frail official story of 9/11, a vital keystone in the construction of our geo-political “reality”.

3. What About The Heroin?

The press has a long history of, not just lying about Afghan heroin, but totally inverting the truth. In 2019 for example, during the farcical “leak” of the Afghanistan Papers, the press lamented the US’ “failure to curb” the opium trade.

Afghanistan currently produces around 90% of global heroinWhen the US invaded in 2001, that number was much closer to zero. The Taliban outlawed the growing of opium poppies in early 2001, and by the end of the year the business was almost extinct.

The US invaded in November 2001, and opium production has increased almost every year since then. We don’t need to go into the CIA’s links to the drug trade here, or how much money people have made from this heroin production. That’s not relevant, what we need to ask is, what now?

Will the newly-reinstated Taliban put an end to this trade again? Or will production continue?

According the press, the heroin will continue to flow. In fact the Taliban will increase production because the “illegal drug trade helps fuel” them.

Reuters reports that the US plan to halt heroin production “failed”, and that the opoium trade is a “boon” for the Taliban.

The Telegraph headlines that “Taliban mulls flooding the West with heroin to shore up Afghan economy”. So we should be prepared for the illegal heroin trade to increase now the US has “withdrawn” from Afghanistan.

But the idea that heroin benefits the Taliban, and the US wants to put an end to it is a myth. Afghan heroin is, and always has been, a US/Deep State/corporate enterprise to the bone.

And, If the Taliban do allow the US to continue to use their land to mass-produce heroin, that is yet another piece of evidence supporting a deal between the Taliban and the West.

4. Will There Be Any Political Fallout?

So what are the next steps? Where is this going?

Well, in the US, President Joe Biden is experiencing some pretty heavy FLAK. Even his usually-stalwart supporters at CNN ran the headline “Joe Biden is facing a crisis of competence”. Which could mean they’re in the early stages of prepping us for President Kamala Harris.

Geo-politically, the talk is of Russia and China – the only two counties to officially recognise the Taliban government – “stepping into the void”. This is being played as a victory for America’s enemies (and another stick with which to beat Biden), but does that really mean anything?

The Covid “pandemic” has been an eye-opener in terms of conflict between nations. They’ve shown us that, when they really need to, they work together to the same end.

They tell the same lies, sell the same stories, and want the same thing. The wall at the back of the theatre has been revealed, in that regard.

The truth is, no matter which nations notionally hold sway in Afghanistan, the profits from the war, the lithium and the heroin will all end up going to the same few pockets.

Corporations rule, not countries. Nation-states are no longer the players of the Great Game, they are the pieces. Toys for corporate megaliths. Their owners can make them fight each other, or bump them together and make kissy noises. Each is equally meaningless.

5. Is There Another “Refugee Crisis” On The Way?

The Afghanistan narrative will fuel other big narratives going forward.

Firstly, there is the coming “refugee crisis”.

The “worst since world war II”, according to Tobias Elwood MP (who can always be relied upon to promote Deep State talking points), which is weird because I’m sure that’s what they said about the refugee crisis in 2016, too. Oh, and in 2019.

The UK’s Defence Secretary has already announced plans to allow Afghan asylum seekers into Britain without passports. Merkel is advocating for similar steps in Germany, and the US press is also on board.

Will these refugees be forced to stay in “quarantine hotels” at their own expense? Have they all been “double jabbed”? We don’t know. Nobody’s thinking about that, that’s from the other narrative. We’re talking about refugees today, Covid can wait.

Anybody opposing asylum seekers entering the country because of Covid will be branded a racist, and medical professionals will claim that “racism is a public health issue more dangerous than covid”, just like they did when the Covid narrative collided with the Black Lives Matter narrative last summer.

That importing asylum seekers, undocumented, from a near-failed state could be suggested at all during an allegedly “deadly pandemic” is a sign of just how contrived both narratives are.

It’s not said much – but corporations love refugees. Just like illegal immigrants, undocumented refugees can be used as cheap labour, with none of the legal protections of full citizens.

They can then be blamed for deteriorating living standards, unemployment and wage stagnation. They act as a heat-sink for public anger.

Further, “refugees” with no passports are a great way to get your trained mercenaries, agitators, saboteurs, and/or special forces across national borders without leaving a trail.

The resulting army of undocumented men of fighting age can then serve as a pool of potential “terrorists” who can be “radicalised” at a moments notice and deployed to spread panic at home or abroad.

Which leads us neatly onto…

6. Will We See A Major Terrorist Attack?

It’s only been a few days since the “fall” of Kabul, but already the “renewed terrorism threat” is making waves in the press.

The Sun, in its usual understated style, headlines:

“RED ALERT Britain faces ‘direct threat of terrorism’ from Taliban’s Afghan takeover in new wave of terror against West.”

A rather more sedate report in from AP says“Concerns over US terror threats rising as Taliban hold grows.”

The New York Times goes almost fully schizophrenic, reporting “A decade ago, a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq opened the door for the Islamic State. Will the withdrawal from Afghanistan do the same for the Taliban? and warning of other terror attacks in the future…

…without ever acknowledging that the US never “withdrew” from Iraq at all. Or that they armed, and trained, ISIS.

Bloomberg warns that “The Taliban are already inspiring terror beyond Afghanistan”. The Times is worried about the “terrorist elite” the Taliban freed from Bagram prison.

Project Syndicate reports that “The world should not ignore the risk that Afghanistan under the Taliban could become a breeding ground for international terrorism.

Politicians from France, the US and UK been eager to talk it up, too:

The former head of NATO has said the West needs to “bolster its terror defences”, whilst the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has said “terror groups will re-constitute in Afghanistan faster than expected” and the UN is calling for “unity against the global terrorist threat”.

There’s a common theme to some of these dire warnings, too. Tobias Elwood MP (him again), told the Independent:

“I would not be surprised if we see another attack on the scale of 9/11, almost to bookend what happened 20 years ago.”

Whilst Ivor Roberts, another senior Tory, used the exact same phrase in the Metro, as does this article in The Sun.

All of that in just the last two days.

Does this mean we will see a major terrorist attack?

Maybe, maybe not. We are past due for one, certainly. Major international terrorism, much like the flu, took some time off during the “pandemic.” But, in many ways, the threat is just as effective as the attack itself.

The Covid fear fog is thinning, people are starting to wake up a little, and the people running things need everyone to be afraid.

Conclusion

To sum up the official narrative on US withdrawal from Afghanistan in bullet points:

  • Trump signed a deal with the Taliban, over a year ago, to withdraw from the country and hand over 5000 prisoners.
  • Despite having over a year to plan, the US “withdrawal” was chaotic and messy.
  • The US accidentally left behind weapons, helicopters, ammunition and armoured vehicles, which the Taliban took.
  • The US accidentally left behind 5000 prisoners, whom the Taliban freed.
  • Without US support, the Afghan army, which outnumbers and outguns the Taliban, folded without firing a shot and the Taliban took control of the entire country in less than week.
  • Despite shutting down the heroin trade prior to the US invasion, the Taliban now intend to keep it going, and even increase production.

Do you believe this story? Is it at all believable?

Ignore the sound and fury from the media. The press are like a street magician, if you want to understand what they’re up to you have to look past the hand he’s waving in your face, and look at the one behind his back.

It seems fairly obvious, to me anyway, that US gave weapons and vehicles to the Taliban in exchange for a promise to keep the heroin production going (and maybe access to mineral mines, no word on that yet).

Meanwhile, the “fall out” of the totally manufactured “chaos” is being used to fan the flames of fear-porn. Promoting division over asylum seekers and spreading panic about terrorism.

In short, the Afghanistan story, as related by the mainstream press, is a twisted illogical ball of confusion, intended to provide fuel for future narratives of control.

…which is pretty much true of everything in the news, these days.

Source: Off-Guardian.org