Another Browncast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!
Mr. Tilak Devasher, Author, Member, National Security Advisory Board and former Special Secretary, Govt of India joins Maneesh, Somnath and Dr. Ali to talk about his latest book The Pashtuns- A Contested History.
Jimmy Carter the good Christian in 1979 started a policy in Afghanistan that birthed Islamic Extremism and worldwide destabilization that still continues to this day. Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski funded (over a USD billion) and armed mujaheddin (jihadists) who would later become the Taliban. (Operation Cyclone)
Fast forward to 2001, Carter’s chickens hatched into the attacks on the U.S on September 11, 2001. Not much different from the Indian Indira Gandhi trained and funded LTTE attacking the Indian Army and assassinating her son Rajiv Gandhi, the PM of India.
Then the next round started with George Bush bombing Afghanistan, while 9 of the 9/11 suicide terrorist were from Saudi Arabia. That was the war on Terror and axis of Evil, and much like the war on Drugs just keeps giving and giving (more on that later)
Carter’s Afghan war lead to the destruction of that developing nation. Afghan women were launched back into the future of the 13th century, and the war killed over a million Afghan men, women and children. For over forty years Afghanistan has been a humanitarian disaster. Between 562,000 and 2,000,000 civilians were killed and millions of Afghans fled the country as refugees.
If one reads most Western Media, Head Chopper Taliban and other Islamic groups are considered barbaric. Really, so bombs dropped on Wedding groups, women and children and similar is not barbaric. The lucky ones die instantly, some other have hours or days of trauma with half their body parts whereever. The really unlucky ones manage to survive, with mind and body barely functional. US war veterans are begging on the streets are spat on and referred to by “armchair warriors” as “fxxxing losers”. (30,177 U.S. veterans post-9/11 wars have died by suicide).
All these US wars were sold to the US public as the need to promote Democracy, Human Rights, Womens Rights (and in Carters time Capitalism). It was basically a “Look There” to the US public while the MIC (Military Industry Complex a term coined by President Eisenhower) stole trillions. Wall Street made out like bandits too with Obomba and Trump bail outs. The smoke and mirror propaganda is falling apart, in the US and all over the world, courtesy the Covid Pandemic and US defeat by a rag tag, flip flop wearing group.
The Numbers for Afghan War and Comparison with Vietnam
The take home points of comparison of Afghan War with Vietnam
a) Afghan war cost was double that of Vietnam War (in todays dollars).
b) Vietnam war had 20 times US service death, i.e. boots on the ground, indicative of a determination to win.
c) Much less civilian deaths in Afghan War (approx 50 times less). Dropping bombs for sake of expending ammunition.?
Economic Bottom Line: US has 23 Trillion in Debt, thats a 107% Debt/GDP.
The whole reason for US being in Afghanistan was to siphon off US tax payer money. A huge portion of the 2.2 Trillion spent.
Sold to US taxpayer as Nation Building, Womens Rights the works.
Just some 2500+ US combat deaths much much less than in Vietnam (58,000+). Too many deaths and the US public would be against the war.
Like Christianity and Civilize the Savages, Democracy, Human Rights are just smoke and mirrors to loot from the invaded country. However, to loot natural resources takes time and investment, and no guarantees of very profitable returns (exception Libya; instant return, the 140 tonnes of Gold was whisked away).
For the kleptocrat mentality (MIC and Wall Street) the looting of natural resources is too long a time frame. So someone figured out, much easier to steal from US public.
a) Start a war,
b) Fund with debt
c) Skim huge percentage on weapons, development programs.
d) Drop plenty of bombs to justify purchase of more.
d) Make sure casualties are low so public wont be against war.
The Brits were much better at “resource extraction” with their colonialism. Created a brown nose class to keep the natives in check. Built infrastructure, eg railways and “exported” natural resources back to Britain. However, that took a good hundred years.
Wrapping it up
Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. (Orwell 1984)
This has been the biggest wealth transfer from the middle class and blue collar to the 1% and the 10%. What will happen when the tide recedes and those earning less than 60K/year find out they have been lied to, specially the MAGA crowd.
So whats next
a) The prediction of the graveyard of Empires ?
b) What form will it take, eg end of Capitalism.
c) US image as a moral leader and indispensable nation
d) US image as the foremost military power
For those who want to delve into the esoteric, this is movement of Pluto into Capricorn, that last happened around 1776. (eg Turning Point: The United States’ Pluto Return interesting history too, eg repatriation of 400K Mexican Americans around 1933).
Finally: These are not my brilliant insights. Much like Newton said, stand on shoulders of Giants. Just been reading since about 2005, Matt Tabbibi, Matt Stoller. Specially Satyajit Das and Raguram Ranjan who gave me insight into Derivatives.
From the War Nerd
The wonderful thing about this kind of spending, in the deeply corrupt lobbyist world of DC, is that it shunts tax dollars directly to the stockholders, connected military firms like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, et al., legislators, military brass milking the DoD/corporate link, and even lowly CIA contractors like Johnny Spann —without angering a single taxpayer or benefiting them in any way.
And so, rather than upset their fellow shareholders, GWB, then Obama and Trump, just nodded and smiled at the conveyor-belt of $100 bills. The beauty is the corruption in the US system. Book deals, Speaker fees all legal. Just many ways of laundering bribes. https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2021/08/the-war-nerd-was-there-a-plan-in-afghanistan.html
Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road has an extensive section on Afghanistan. The Bamiyan Buddhas reminds us what the texts make clear: up until 900 AD the highlands in an around modern Afghanistan were heavily Buddhist. The Turki Shahi kings of Kabul seem to have patronized Buddhism. In contrast, their successors, the Hindu Shahi kings, seem to have tilted toward what we would call Hinduism.
Because I’m posting a Substack on Afghanistan soon the civilizational and cultural identity of Afghanistan is on my mind. After my reading and reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that the area and the people can be thought of as a crossroads between Persian, Central Asian, and Indian. Central Asia includes both Iranic and later Turkic cultures, while the Persian influence reflects a deeply west Iranic sensibility. Finally, it has hard to deny that India and much of southern and western Afghanistan are deeply connected geographically, biologically, and culturally.
And yet some Indians keep claiming that “actually Afghanistan use to be Hindu…” This is false. At least by any comprehensible definition of “Hindu.” It is true that Afghanistan was once heavily Buddhist, but Buddhism is not Hinduism. It is true that there have long been Indians in Afghanistan, but there have been Indians in Southeast Asia as well. It is true that the Iranian pagans, like the Nuristanis, worshipped gods and practiced traditions that descend from one’s affinal to the Vedic Aryans, but the pre-Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans was not Hinduism as we’d understand it.
To a great extent, this sort of cultural imperialism is harmless and cringe. But it’s a bit on the insensitive side given what’s going on in Afghanistan, where ironically Indian-origin Deobandi Islam is is reigning supreme…
I had posted an earlier blog post with the somewhat tongue in cheek title “America’s brilliant strategy in Afghanistan”. This was basically a note (and an audio version of the same) from Major Amin, arguing that strategically a US exit was a brilliant move as it ensured that this tar baby is now the problem of Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran (and to some extent, India), and not an expensive American headache. The thought is strategically sound (if very cynical and cold blooded), but I have some doubts about whether the US is consciously trying to do this (they may indeed end up doing this, and could even emerge stronger, with their rivals weaker, as a result, but that may not have been the conscious intention). Anyway, here, in no particular order, are my random thoughts on this topic:
There are no grounds for thinking that the same damn people who created the disaster and were wrong about it at every step for 20 years are now suddenly these Machiavellian geniuses who will trap Pakistan and its patron China (not to mention Russia and Iran) in Afghanistan. It is far more likely that the geniuses are still dreaming of “engagement”, only now instead of engaging with Musharraf and the anti-Taliban Afghans, they will engage with General Bajwa and the Taliban. These geniuses will now sell new kool aid about how the new government they have helped to install will ensure security and crackdown on alqaeda and whatever bogeyman the Americans are now supposed to be scared of. And of course, to do this the new “anti-terror allies” will need aid (part of which will be stolen by corrupt Americans at step one, the rest to be stolen locally by these new allies, with a small trickle making it to starving afghans). Meanwhile, these new allies, not new to the game themselves, will make sure a steady supply of “alqaeda number threes” are handed over to be housed in Guantanomo or wherever. They will also make sure there are enough terror incidents and threats to keep the show going forever. We will of course get mucho dinero from the EU as well, since that is the only way refugees can be kept out of fortress Europe (or at least, this is the line that will be sold on TV). Now, this may NOT come to pass fully like this because Western powers are still democracies, there will be debate and the best laid plans of mice and thinktankers may be thwarted by bad publicity and “aid fatigue”, but NOT by their own planning. In short, the US and the West may indeed end up leaving the tar baby to less gentle caretakers, but they will do so unwillingly and in spite of themselves, NOT because this (sensible) plan is what they have opted for now that the first (nonsensical) grand strategic plan has failed and they have well and truly lost the war.
The failure in any case is not a failure of Democrats or Republicans, it is a systemic failure of the entire postmodern Western establishment. And the systemic failure starts from the vast gap that exists between Western civ and the rest of the world. For better AND for worse, the West has moved very far from where most humans were a century ago. Leaving aside all questions of whether this is good, bad or ugly, or whether this is sustainable or not, the fact remains that at this point in time the average ivy league educated “analyst” is bound within so many layers of WEIRD assumptions and habits that he or she (maybe especially she, since she will not have hormonal access to the patriarchal and macho world of men outside the West; though this is by no means a general rule; some Western women can also know men AND women and their quirks very well) has no framework for even beginning to see what is going on. Garbage in, garbage out is always true, but it is also worth remembering that there CAN be a machine that converts good information into garbage. If the software is faulty, then non-garbage going in will also become garbage on the way out. This should not be forgotten.
Some people say that Western corporate capitalism has become so powerful that it has now eaten through whatever older human paradigms were operating (and are still operating at some level) in Western societies. If this is indeed the case then the questions become all about who profits and who loses? but the twist here is that the usual Lefty answers are also mostly propaganda. War is profitable, but so is peace. Peace is actually MORE profitable for more corporations than war is. But if war profits alone were (and are) driving policy choices, then the issue becomes one of how SOME corporations and individuals (who DO profit from war) have managed to capture institutions to such an extent that their profits drove policy to invade Afghanistan? and their profits will determine what comes next? People have strong opinions on this, but I find that most of the opinions turn out to be emotional outbursts or propaganda on close examination. There is almost certainly SOMETHING to this angle of attack, but I still think, not as much as advertised; because I think they make money when they get the chance, but getting the chance was not something they planned in detail.. eg, “corporations” (who would that even be?) did not blow up the towers just so they could go to war. Other human concerns (race, religion, identity, national interest, individual madness, individual desire to do good, plain stupidity, error, chance, etc) are still driving us.
The whole notion of “non-state actors” is a huge red herring. There ARE non-state actors, and states usually defeat them. They are mostly a police issue, not a military issue. A really serious insurgency (Vietcong, Taliban, Kashmir, etc etc) needs overt or covert state support. Conversely, the really cost-effective counter (provided you have the conventional forces to have such an option) is to confront the states supporting them. The notion that the USA is helpless in front of some ragtag gang of Islamist mujahids is just bullshit. At some point, the US could be up against sponsors that the US cannot go to war with (China, Russia) and would then have to settle for other measures, but to fail to get countries such as Afghanistan, Iran or Pakistan to change their behavior (short of being under the a full Chinese or Russian umbrella) is a choice, not a given.
The Taliban are going to rule all of Afghanistan now because the US chose to give them the country (whether as part of some Machiavellian scheme or just because Khalilzad and Trump were idiots), but they will not do so in some mythical “inclusive” or “moderate” fashion. They will not last long if they do anything that stupid, and they are not stupid. Their asabiya comes from Islam and their core supporters are committed to a very jihadist and harsh version of Islam. They can certainly be smart enough to act moderate or to include non-taliban in their govt because of considerations of realpolitik and their fighters have enough discipline and their ISI minders have enough influence that this can be done. But just as the Chinese communists included many non-communists in their national reconciliation councils or whatever, but never lost sight of the need for unity of command and clear authority over all aspects of national life, so will the Taliban. if they dont, they will fall quicker than expected. That said, they will not enjoy a free run. There will be many groups trying to undermine them. There will be criminals There will be smugglers. There will be local warlords. They will have to be harsh, they WILL be harsh, but they still wont enjoy enough tranquility to start giving out mining concessions to Shenyang Mining corporation number five or whatever. The US may eventually get out of the region (with think tankers kicking and screaming about “failure of engagement” all the way) and then will be able to enjoy the show from a safe distance. But with so many intelligence agencies and agents operating at every level, peace is not likely. Neither is it likely that the Taliban regime (even if it stabilizes) will totally eliminate all the various terrorists who are still holed up in Afghanistan. Ideologically, they cannot. Practically they cannot.
There will be massive economic disruption in Afghanistan very very soon. The whole place was running on American taxpayer money (and smaller contributions from the EU and others). Even though the think-tankers will try their level best to keep the manna flowing, it is not likely to reach even a tenth of the levels achieved in the corrupt war years. Neither China nor Russia believe in throwing money into tar pits. So who will pay? The afghan people will pay, by moving abroad (mostly to Pakistan and Iran, luckier ones further West), by living on less, by selling what drugs they can (though most of that profit goes to middlemen and smugglers, not to the growers). Pakistan will pay what it can, which is not a lot. There is no way there can be a sudden turnaround and prosperity and mining contracts raining down on Kabul. None.
But can there be a longer term recovery? Can China do what the USA could not? build a viable Afghan state? I doubt it. I doubt that they will even try. At best, they will give some money to Pakistan to have a go, but it will not be American level cash, it will be strictly “cash on delivery”. Can Pakistan deliver them a functioning Afghanistan? Our entire past record suggests we cannot. For the sake of the Afghan people, I hope I am wrong.
India mostly gets to sit tight and hope that their “balakot deterrence” still holds after Pakistan has so decisively defeated the great Satan. It could. We will see. Mostly, I think India comes out of this relatively OK. Their main issue is whether this will embolden Pakistan to restart the kashmir Jihad. It may. It may not.
Major Amin has also raised another interesting question: this one for Pakistani think tankers who think they have won some grand victory by defeating the USA. His thought is “what if our boys actually succeed”? ie what if the Taliban. actually stabilize their government and become a viable state? The think tankers in Pakistan maybe missing the possibility that these “grains of sand” (the Afghans) could come together to form a solid mass at some point. And at that point, they will start thinking about strategic depth in Pakistan. After all, if Islamic zeal is what gave them victory, then why not export that zeal to Pakistan? and who better to do it than Afghans? I believe the crucial point here is that Pakistanis (especially our Punjabi and Mohajir elites) have this misconception that just because they (through no great gifts of their own) are inheritors of the Sikh conquests and the administrative machinery and mercenary army of the Raj, they are somehow eternally meant to lord it over the Afghans. This is NOT how any Afghan (Leftist, Rightist, whatever) sees themselves. They are down and out right now because the Sikhs drove them out of the trans-Indus districts and the British created a modernish state in the region that is much more sophisticated and capable than the Afghan state (which was not very advanced to begin with, and whatever it was, we managed to utterly destroy in the first CIA Jihad in the 1980s). But this is not some sort of eternal historic truth. A truly stable Afghanistan will want those districts back and will export true Islam to Pakistan as the means with which to get their way. The current arrangement, with Pakistani officers issuing (or at least, trying to issue) orders to Afghans is only because the Taliban lack many things that only a modernish state can supply and we are that supplier. Let them get settled in, and they will start to look East. We cannot afford to let them win in the way Sethi sahib thinks we want (and hope to).
From the last post: Some people have asked if this was not inevitable. I think it was not. I think there was a slim chance in 2002 to make it work. But it involved two very difficult (but doable) things; 1. A more competent American occupation and transition. and 2. Pakistan decisively switching sides and abandoning Jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan (since the one is our justification for the second, both had to go). 1 in retrospect seems near impossible. 2 may have been more doable than 1, So putting the primary blame on Pakistan may be a bit unfair now. (Until a week ago, I might have blamed Pakistan first; though i saw the American effort as hugely corruption ridden and frequently incompetent, even I had not idea HOW incompetent it was. THAT effort was never going to succeed. Though it did not have to end in giving the country to the Taliban. It could still have ended with the US leaving a pro-US govt behind, who would likely have held on to some areas if given some money and support. Anyway, after what we have seen of american incompetence and cynical abandonment of friends, I think 1 (US incompetence and strategic and tactical blindness) is the more important reason this failed. Without Pakistan the Taliban could not have retaken the country. Without US incompetence, neither could have won their respective victories.
Below is an opinionessay in the New York Times by Afghan National Army (ANA) Lieutenant General Sami Sadat. LTG Sami Sadat,only 36, is one of the most loved and respected men in all of Afghanistan. He demonstrated remarkable success as the commander of the 215th Maiwand ANA Corps before being recalled to Kabul. The ANA lost over 70,000 Killed in Action (KIA). Including the MoI (Ministry of Interior) ANP (Afghan National Police), NDS (National Directorate of Security) and Arbekai the total Killed in Action was probably well over 100,000. The exact number is not known since the Afghanistan MoI and MoD (Ministry of Defense) have both classified the numbers since 2010 because they were afraid it would harm morale. In 2020 alone ANDSF KIA was likely over 15,000. I have been told that many of the ghost soldiers in many ANA battalions were actually KIA being kept on the rolls so that their salaries could support their families.
Posting LTG Sami Sadat’s NYT essay for those who can’t read it through the pay wall:
I Commanded Afghan Troops This Year. We Were Betrayed.
Aug. 25, 2021
By Sami Sadat
General Sadat is a commander in the Afghan National Army.
For the past three and a half months, I fought day and night, nonstop, in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province against an escalating and bloody Taliban offensive. Coming under frequent attack, we held the Taliban back and inflicted heavy casualties. Then I was called to Kabul to command Afghanistan’s special forces. But the Taliban already were entering the city; it was too late.
It’s true that the Afghan Army lost its will to fight. But that’s because of the growing sense of abandonment by our American partners and the disrespect and disloyalty reflected in Mr. Biden’s tone and words over the past few months. The Afghan Army is not without blame. It had its problems — cronyism, bureaucracy — but we ultimately stopped fighting because our partners already had.
It pains me to see Mr. Biden and Western officials are blaming the Afghan Army for collapsing without mentioning the underlying reasons that happened. Political divisions in Kabul and Washington strangled the army and limited our ability to do our jobs. Losing combat logistical support that the United States had provided for years crippled us, as did a lack of clear guidance from U.S. and Afghan leadership.
I am a three-star general in the Afghan Army. For 11 months, as commander of 215 Maiwand Corps, I led 15,000 men in combat operations against the Taliban in southwestern Afghanistan. I’ve lost hundreds of officers and soldiers. That’s why, as exhausted and frustrated as I am, I wanted to offer a practical perspective and defend the honor of the Afghan Army. I’m not here to absolve the Afghan Army of mistakes. But the fact is, many of us fought valiantly and honorably, only to be let down by American and Afghan leadership.
The world is surprised, and now even memeing, about the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan. In Pakistan, the outside country most responsible for this (unless you count America and the stupidity of its occupation strategies as the most responsible) there have been broadly three camps on this. The majority feeling was one of awkwardness, trepidation and a calling of the equivalent of councils of war. In the Army Chief’s staff rooms, in the Prime Minister’s and Chief Ministers and political party heads’ secretariats and across media stations in Pakistan, the national security and Afghanistan experts were on display and they were giving their council to their respective audiences on what was happening with the fall of Kabul and what it meant.
A smaller minority was one that was sometimes part of this but also openly condemning the takeover of the Taliban. Honourable mention should go to the Women’s Democratic Front for openly condemning the takeover of Afghanistan and various branches of Pakistan’s new-on-the-scene Aurat March (Women’s March) parroted their view. Frankly, I am very happy for the Aurat Marchers to get an explicit foreign policy – that would be cool. The PPP, as far as I can tell did not explicitly condemn the Taliban takeover in Kabul and as far as I know, no Pashtun nationalist formation did either, although if the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement did, I am waiting for their views.
Lastly, I have to mention the Taliban supporters. From heads of religious groups, to Taliban and ’80’s Afghan Mujahideen fanboys in the Pakistani media, this was, I feel, an even smaller group, restricted by age, that was openly hailing the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. It really was/is a sight to behold to see men in the media, of or beyond retirement age, hailing the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban – a sick joke. My guess is younger fans of the Taliban were either intelligently hiding, or more likely taking part in either jihadi ops or doing propaganda or harassment for the Taliban. So the pro-Taliban crowd inside Pakistan might be quieter than its portrayed – a bit like Italy after it switched ides in WWII to join the Allies against Germany.
But that’s Pakistan. What about India? This is one time BP commenters are welcome. Sound off and tell us what the Indians thought about the Taliban, what were the camps inside the country and how large they are.
Postcript — The Pakistan government and establishment’s view:
The official Pakistan government view, of the foreign ministry, the part allegedly controlled by Imran Khan says that they will not stick their neck out as an individual country and will only recognise Taliban control of Afghanistan if a group of countries, likely Russia, China and Iran, all simultaneously recognise the Taliban’s control of Kabul. I used the word alleged, because the foreign ministry takes its marching orders from the Pakistan Army’s General Hear Quarters, Imran Khan is fine with that, and so the foreign ministry’s views are the Army and establishment’s views.
Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above.
In this episode Amey, myself and Karol Karpinski (Karol is a self-described financial plumber at the World Bank, with experience in Afghanistan and other “gap” countries) talk about Afghanistan and the American pullout. Check it out, leave comments. We hope to talk again soon on this topic and focus on aspects we left out.
If you want to just hear my summary of what happened in Afghanistan, it starts at the 7 minute mark. I think i talked too much, and should have asked Karol more questions, but that will have to be the next podcast 🙂
I started yesterday with a news article about how US intelligence said that the Taliban could take Kabul in 90 days. After the previous week had been filled with over half a dozen Afghan provincial capitals falling, it became clear that the Taliban were deploying all their strength across the country to capture as much territory and control as they could before US forces pulled out before the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
While the news of those northern cities falling had been bad, and it was felt that the Taliban were likely trying to prevent a replay of the 1990’s Afghan civil war when the north fought them for five years, 12th August got progressively grim. It started to seem that the Taliban were not just going to put a knife to the Afghan government’s throat (and northern escape routes) by taking Tajik and Uzbek cities, but rather box Kabul in. This became clear when not just small towns but larger Afghan cities were put on the chopping block by the Taliban’s offensive. There is a wave of anti-Shia mobilisation across the region and I suspect that it also might have something to do with the expanded, multi-ethnic Taliban mobilisation in the north of Afghanistan. As these provinces border the ex-Soviet Central Asian states, and ISIS school-shooter sectarianism has had salience in many places where Muslims were previously considered un-radicalised or nominally secular, I suspect Taliban lines might not be a bad place for Central Asian, Afghan or even Pakistani potential ISIS recruits to flee.
As news of more fighting came in, the reports of Herat and Kandahar in the north-west and south of the country respectively, being surrounded and attacked threw whatever strategic calculus the great powers thought they had in Afghanistan, into the bin.
The updates from panicked civilians about the Taliban attacks killed whatever illusions about America having a semi-peaceful withdrawal from Afghanistan, or Pakistan smoothly sliding a re-furbished Taliban into power in Kabul, might have been harboured by the countries that have sponsored destructive wars in that nation since the eighties. The distressed calls, postings, video reports of Afghan citizens, especially educated women trapped in these cities, came flooding out. No one was crying but everyone was deadly serious.
Simultaneously, clips of refugees flooding out of captured cities, camps of the displaced going up in Kabul and where the government stood were broadcast. Among the wretched sights was the Afghan military vehicles zooming out of cities and from among people they were supposed to defend were broadcast as afternoon turned to evening, and then night fell.
The west, south and north of Afghanistan are out of that government’s hand. Kabul is boxed in. If you look at the map above, it’s sitting in the open jaws of Taliban controlled territory.
The BBC generally has the best maps, and frankly the best and most accurate, un-sentimental coverage on the rout in Afghanistan of the Kabul government. Hey, I guess after four disastrous wars into a country, they end up knowing their stuff. The second best coverage is by Al Jazeera, which also sobered up once it stopped sourcing its maps from neo-conservative American outfits, and ditched a sort of mawkish patronising tone for the Afghans.
As for America’s intelligence reports, which we started Thursday with – they have achieved the typical notoriety of stupidity that American intelligence reports are known for. By nightfall, the American bureaucrats had, in typical CYA fashion, re-assessed their estimate down to 30 days. That feels optimistic.
Yup. The business groups have already started removing equipment and personnel.
As reports come in of Afghan business interests trying to wrap up and send their equipment, personnel and capital out of the country, and the various state and private banks withdrawing funds to forward abroad, it becomes clear that the Kabul government, especially the career of one President Ashraf Ghani, is very over. At least at the prospect of anything beyond 2021.
30 days. According to a close friend with extensive links in Afghan govt. Apparently they are all set.
What happens to the rest of the Kabul government is anyone’s guess. I don’t know if the Taliban have much to worry about “holding” their territory if part of their offensive was contacting Afghan defence forces commanders and asking them to stop fighting/withdraw or switch sides. A government counter-offensive seems highly unlikely, especially with the hollow, broken Afghan Army that has been described by Major Amin. If the Taliban went in for the kill against the government, then they would win and also be saddled with a lot of prisoners, many extremely high value ones as well as seas of refugees and an isolated country. I suspect they might be willing to live with that. You can visit the link below to see Pashtana Durrani describe the consequences of the Taliban taking over her city.
“This means losing your houses, your dreams, your goals, your ambition… everything.”
Pashtana Durrani, executive director of an NGO for girls' education speaks to @krishgm from Kandahar in Afghanistan, a city under siege by the Taliban. pic.twitter.com/j6qUPzDkP3