Synopsis of Afghan War and Consequences

The Big Picture

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.


Costs of the Afghanistan war, in lives and dollars
https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-business-afghanistan-43d8f53b35e80ec18c130cd683e1a38f

Note: Over 30,177 U.S. service members and veterans of the post-9/11 wars have died by suicide.
https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/military/killed

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

What do Indians think of the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan? Pakistani responses are one thing but what are the Indian “camps”?

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.

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You can see the original post at  https://these-long-wars.blogspot.com/2021/08/general-bajwa-please-retire.html, also, If you like my work, please support it at https://www.patreon.com/TheseLongWars

30 days? That’s an excuse to run consulate shredders — Kabul’s government won’t last the week

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.

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.

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.

How soon will the end happen? The fall of Kabul, the closing of the Taliban’s jaws on what is left of Afghanistan’s government, that is now in the Taliban’s hands.

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You can see the original post at https://these-long-wars.blogspot.com/2021/08/30-days-thats-excuse-to-run-consulate.html

You can support my Patreon at patreon.com/theselongwars

I will be posting more regularly now.

What Happened to the Afghan Army?

From Major Amin. As time goes on, we will no doubt see more information about how the USA “lost Afghanistan”. At the level of American PR/media the blame will mostly fall on Pakistan for now, since there is a lot of truth in it and it gets the clowns who run the state dept and the pentagon off the hook (or so they think) but in time the details about how the US mismanaged its project will also become prominent.. this is one of them. (To some extent it is a structural issue.. Americans live so far above/away from Afghan (or even Pakistani) reality.. well intentioned ones have no framework that remotely resembles situation on the ground, ill intentioned ones only want to make money or have fun killing gooks)

WHAT HAPPENED TO  AFGHAN NATIONAL ARMY 

Major A.H Amin (Retired) 

what happened to afghan national army 

  • August 2021 
  • DOI: 
  • 10.13140/RG.2.2.14621.44004
  • Project: 
  • Military History
  • Agha H Amin

Arm chair strategists are taking  great delight in criticizing Afghan  Army for collapsing in face of so  called Taliban onslaught. 

“A little knowledge of philosophy ,  inclineth man towards atheism” as  the adage goes but , “depth in  philosophy bringeth back man to  God !” This is how I will describe  these novices and critics ! 

The first point to be noted is that  armies are not created by US firms  like Military Professional Human  Resources International in a decade but a long process  spanning centuries. 

The real Afghan Army with  traditions dating back to 1719 or  1747 was destroyed by joint US  Pakistan design about 1978-1992 when a proxy war was financed in  Afghanistan. 

Characters like Peter Tomsen went out of their way to destroy  the real Afghan Army between  1989 and 1992 , just because it  was viewed as Pro Soviet or Pro  Russian entity.

Afghanistan had no army between  1992 and 2001. 

In 2001 the USA initiated efforts to  create a new army but this  exercise had ulterior motives. First  the exercise was awarded to contractors which was the first  blunder. 

US myopia and petty mindset  was such that USSR trained pilots ,  available in thousands were not  reemployed as they were regarded as  Russian proxies !

While the USSR trained many  thousand Afghans in USSR and  Warsaw Pact states, US petty  parsimony and narrowmindedness  was such that hardly any Afghan  was taken to the USA for courses

Instead characters who no one  would employ in USA , and had no  options were in Afghanistan  training the Afghan Army. 

To give an example , the main  project supervisor of Schools and  Clinics program in Louis Burger  was a male nurse ! To entrust billion dollar construction projects  to a male nurse was ludicrous. 

My driver and many taxi drivers I  met were outstanding war pilots  trained for 5 years in USSR and  with combat flying experience  between 3000 hours to 15,000  hours ! 

Tanks were regarded as future  threat and armour was hardly  created or organised. 

The list is endless but will never be  investigated like Louis Burgers billion dollar failure published by  Washington Post as a “BUILDING  PLAN FULL OF CRACKS” , LATE  2005 ! 

The simple issue was security ! US  trainers were simply SCARED that  they would get shot in the back !  

SO THERE WAS HARDLY ANY  TRAINING !!! 

I saw some of these contractors in  Kabul when I was living about 110  metres from gate of Kabul  Compound or camp Eggers ! 

These characters were here to do  hole punching and make some  bucks and not to create an army. So the real spirit was missing . 

The USA preferred so called ex  Mujahids which was a bad idea

The best Afghan officers like Ulumi  etc were never taken in the loop  as they were considered pro  Russian. 

Many old Afghan Army officers  joined but these were sabotaged by the Mujahid Mafia who were a  collection of USA, Pakistan or so  many other state proxies who had  destroyed their own country  between 1978 and 1992 ! 

The unkindest cut was delivered  by this character Ashraf Ghani  who between 2014 and 2019  summarily removed 90 % of pre  1992 Afghan Army officers , thus  totally destroying the Afghan  Army !

The incompetent US staff in Kabul  did not oppose this most IDIOTIC  and FOOLISH step ! 

Or perhaps it was US design that  Afghan Army should collapse  quickly so that the Taliban are  back in power and then they can  be sorted out properly ! 

The collapse of Afghan Army has  to be seen in the context of the  fact that FIRST the USA and its  proxy states DESTROYED the REAL  AFGHAN ARMY in 1978-92 ! Then  the RECONSTRUCTION of AFGHAN ARMY by the USA was a SHALLOW  EXERCISE , MARRED by MASSIVE  CORRUPTION and a BAD TEAM . Lastly no army can be created in  20 years . FINALLY Ashraf Ghanis  Removal of the REAL AFGHAN  ARMY OFFICERS BETWEEN 2014  AND 2019 WAS THE DEATH  SENTENCE OF AFGHAN ARMY !

Audio of the same points:

The Economic History of the American Empire

 

Every time I used to play a strategy video game, my mind was firstly on money. Creating an income stream as well as buildings and units to magnify that income stream was the primary priority of my gameplay. Only then could I exercise my will and wrath on the codes of computer programming that were my enemies. I think recent history has shown us this is a powerful stratagem, especially on this side of the Atlantic.

As colony became country, America would dedicate itself to capitalism. In 1790, the US was a paltry nation with a population of 3.9 million spread across a vast and wild land. Only 7 cities had a population of over 5000 while 12 tipped over 2500; the rest found home in the wilderness. The inheritor of the great city of Rome was essentially one huge countryside. Yet by 1885, the US was nearing 60 million people and accounted for the production of 28.9% of global manufactured goods. Fast forward to today, and we have become an economic superpower never before seen. Only recently has the Middle Kingdom of the East challenged the writ of Washington, and it is still some ways away from being able to engage in a full on confrontation.

To understand American might, you must understand American economics. To understand American economics, you must understand American history.

Let’s turn back the pages.

Continue reading The Economic History of the American Empire

Disinformation Feudalism

 

When the halls of power echo your voice, when titans of commerce and capital don your colors, when hallowed institutions bow to your ritual, does that make you a revolutionary? Well it does in today’s America.

It’s all a bit odd. Millions of fire-breathing activists believe they are fighting a once in a millennium battle against the forces of oppression stemming from a white supremacist state, greedy capitalist mega-corporations, and various organizations that toe the aforementioned’s line; yet all of the power centers mentioned agree with the ideology of this “resistance.” So what are they really even resisting? History shows its style when it rhymes and repeats. The poetry of the past is a delight but can be a disaster once it reaches the present. I believe we are seeing many of those themes today. What is happening in the digital realm took place centuries ago in the physical realm. The Dark Ages beckon us in order for us to see the light of the day. Continue reading Disinformation Feudalism

Brown Pundits Podcast with teacher Michelle Kerr

https://brownpundits.libsyn.com/teaching-in-the-time-of-covid-19

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/teaching-in-the-time-of-covid-19/id1439007022?i=1000512866865

https://www.stitcher.com/show/brown-pundits-podcast/episode/teaching-in-the-time-of-covid-19-82364378

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the lives of young children, students, and youth. The disruption of societies and economies caused by the pandemic is aggravating the pre-existing global education crisis and is impacting education in unprecedented ways.

Brown Pundits- Shahada, a UK College Lecturer, discusses COVID-19 with Michelle Kerr, a Maths Teacher from  California. They  compare their experiences, concerns  and impact.

Covid-19 has impacted on Education on so many levels and there are many parallels with society in general:

COVID-19 is having a negative impact on young people’s mental health. We are concerned that, with most young people not currently attending school and many young people not having access to resources and materials with which to learn, there will be a subsequent detrimental effect on both academic attainment and wellbeing. Exams have been cancelled in many states and here in the UK. This is having a negative impact on attendance and motivation.

The COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a long-lasting impact on young people’s mental health and the services that support them, including schools and children’s services. The Government must consider this throughout its emergency response and policies to recover from the crisis. Has COVID-19 highlighted pre-existing decline in mental health?

The impact, particularly on groups who are already disadvantaged, is likely to widen existing inequalities and to contribute to a rise in young people looking for mental health support. Is this a reflection and consequence of inequality in education?

Discussions  touched upon the existence of hierarchy in education and its parallels in greater society? For instance, will deprived students disproportionately be disadvantaged? Ultimately is this a reflection of class privilege?

A controversial point discussed was weather Teachers have a professional responsibility to physically go into the classroom. Both expressed very different perspectives!

Its been argued that Standardised tests are not an accurate representation of a student’s abilities and they lack reliability. We touched upon the controversial issue of removing standardised testing in education. Weather standardised testing should be formally put to an end. Has the removal of standardised testing been accelerated as a consequence of COVID-19?  Will this result in a lowering of standards and skills?  And again which group will be disadvantaged and advantaged?

Time will tell, the true long term impact of COVID-19 on Education…….

Why Hindu-Americans Don’t Stand Up For Hindus

One of my earliest memories of my childhood is watching the Mahābhārat with my dad. After we dropped my mom off for her night shift at the factory, we would return home, and a black rectangle filled with film would catapult me into a confusingly wondrous world. From the magical arrows whizzing through battlefields to the terrifying image of Time, the narrator of the epic, transposed across a cosmic abyss, I was glued to a story I couldn’t truly grasp but loved at the same time. I could barely understand what the characters were saying (I spoke Gujarati at home, not the hyper Sanskritized Hindi in the serial) and was too young to read the English subtitles fast enough. I would constantly interrupt my dad, many times to his annoyance, but he would still lovingly explain these stories that would make an imprint on me for the rest of my life.

 

As my life passed, I would see so many of the stories from the Mahābhārat play out in my life and in the world around me. The blind love of a long-gone Dhritarāshtra came alive with my parents, who showed me love, despite my bad behavior, my failures, and my unending ingratitude, one of my greatest flaws. Their love was uncompromisingly unequivocal, and I was an unworthy Duryodhan. I saw the struggles and rise of “low-born” Karna with my own family, as we grew from a family who couldn’t even afford to spare money to buy a popsicle from the ice cream truck that taunted me every day as it passed by my house to slavishly building a motel business in the middle of nowhere to selling it and owning a nice single-family “American Dream” home with many fewer worries than we grew up with. And perhaps most importantly, I saw the devotion or bhakti of Rādhā through my family’s Hindu faith and regular attendance to our local temple – a tradition that grounded us through tough times and brought a sense of community, fellow “gopis” perhaps to share our lives and love with.

Those evenings watching the words of Vyāsa transform into images will forever be special to me. For those nights would fuel the dreams of my days as I grew up connected to a timeless culture and values. And they would doubly serve me when I learned of the nightmarish state of my fellow Hindu diaspora with regards to their views on Hinduism and Hindus.

In The Battlefield

To find the answer to the titular question, I did a bit of “field reporting” one weekend with my fellow Hindu-American friends starting off with a simple question:

Why do you stand up for Black, Hispanic, and Muslim people for the injustices they face, but not for Hindus?

The most common responses were along the lines of:

    • “What injustices faced by Hindus are you talking about?”
    • “I honestly don’t know what type of issues we face, besides normal ‘brown’ discrimination here.”
    • “I’ve never seen any from the media I consume” A general theme of genuine innocent unawareness was what I saw.

So I prodded further and mentioned the atrocities Hindus face in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even parts of India. Yet Still, the answer was “I literally never heard this before.”

Then came a visible sense of discomfort, and I know why. My question then silently morphed to “Why don’t you stand up for your own people” in their minds. I didn’t need to spell it out, but it turned into those very cutting words – why don’t you stand up for your own…

Bangladeshi Population Statistics – 1971 Contained A Civil War Where The Pakistani Military Is Said To Have Conducted A Genocide Targeting Bangladeshi Hindus

The rapes, the forcible conversions, the killings, the discrimination, the demographic collapse all signaling horrors that didn’t have any similar magnitude of rivals in India. The initial response was denial or wishing away the numbers I gave them: “Oh how do you know all that happened to them?!” “Maybe they converted willingly!”

I mentioned CAA and the refugees begging to return to the land of Dharma. Denial then became equivalating.

“Well, this all probably happens in India too!”

I kept unpacking this. I ask them, “why do you think this way?” Note – I tried to avoid a confrontational tone as much as possible, just neutral questioning so as to not pry open any vitriolic reaction. They talked about their parents’ hysteria over Pakistan, their WhatsApp forward fueled hatred, etc… I tried to explain to them that the equivalence wasn’t there. That the magnitude of what happens to Hindu minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh is much worse presently and historically than what happens to non-Hindu minorities in India.

Pakistani Hindus Begging For Refuge To Immigrate To India.

But they just weren’t having it.

“I don’t believe you. India is just as bad”

Now, India is of course not perfect, now or historically. But it is a work in progress. It is diversity in action in a way very few countries (The United States and Brazil are the only ones that come to mind) can compete with. India is pluralism, both its virtues and flaws.

By this point, we linked up with a few other friends and the conversation dropped. But let’s continue this theme with a few other independent observations and anecdotes.

Misinformation Warfare

Modi equals Trump – this fantastically false idea is an atomic bomb on one’s perception of India. A very simple notion that has a number of externalities. Hindu-Americans are fairly “woke” from my personal experience, and Indian-Americans heavily lean Democrat. Standard diatribes against “45” are common when talking politics with my Hindu-American friends. I don’t really care as I don’t support him, but the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) gets tiring after a while.

Policy-wise (you know, the actual actionable impact that changes people’s lives and futures), Modi has done more socialism in one term than Bernie Sanders will ever do in his lifetime. The comparison fails at almost every metric:

Right Wing, Left Wing, “nationalism”, “conservative” and other meaningless labels are even more irrelevant when thrown into the ocean of Indian politics. They sink into nothingness. They’re pointless.

But to many Hindu-Americans, “Right-Wing”, “Nationalist”, “conservative” are terms that immediately make them see red, and “RACIST” pops into their mind in big white letters. I don’t care about your 14 syllable ideology. People see things through simple lenses. It doesn’t matter what Modi and Trump actually do to a lot of people; it matters how they are characterized.

Fuck your nuance. Damn it to hell.

Hassan Minhaj told me what I need to know in a 12-minute 37-second segment on a now-canceled Netflix show. I trust the consistently wrong coverage of the New York Times – yes the same one that complained why more Indian people aren’t dying of coronavirus. Additionally, it’s quite clear that “South Asian” organizations in the US have explicitly blacked out mentioning these atrocities as it would hurt their respective lobbies.

With community organizations, media, and celebrities silent – how can Hindu-Americans be aware?

American Dharma

Now let’s talk about religiousness.

Hindu-Americans have some of the highest retention rates of religious identification in the US.

I can’t judge others’ religiosity, but from what I’ve anecdotally seen. Hinduism is many times a more aesthetic/background thing than practice for Hindu-Americans. Sometimes it seems samosa and chicken tikka masala have more weight in their culture than pujas and scripture. Now token ritual involvement happens every time Diwali rolls around, but to me, Hindu-Americans really just aren’t “self-aware.” Funny as Hinduism places so much emphasis on self-discovery and reflection.

Another thing – explicit politics is pretty far removed at American Hindu temples versus other diaspora places of worship. Political rhetoric that’s common at other religious places isn’t a mainstay in mandirs; and honestly, I am glad this is the case. Religion to me is more about immediate community and individual practice rather than political machinations across the Atlantic. I’ve seen firsthand how the ugliness of politics warps American religious communities where identity realpolitik replaces spirituality for many of these “religious adherents.” Where insulting the “Other” is more important than praising the Omniscient.

Ideally, religion would be separate from politics. But we can’t deny a battlefield once we’re on it. Hopefully, temples stay out of the fray of such rhetoric, but Hindu-Americans outside of it strengthen.

So in conclusion, the answer to the question:

1. Genuine unawareness of Hindu injustices driven by media, community, and political organizational blackout. 2. Right-wing and left-wing notions don’t translate well across Indian and American politics. Many Hindu-Americans see red once “right-wing” is mentioned. 3. Religion and politics don’t mix at Hindu temples unlike other religions.

The Craven

 

Now while we’ve answered our query, I want to add an addendum to a vile specimen I’ve seen recently amongst the diaspora. Aping their equally contemptible cousins back in the subcontinent, this emergence of Indian-Americans who speak in the poisonous tongues of India’s elites is now slowly seeping into mainstream American culture.

They seek to transplant American history and dynamics onto India just as blindly as India’s elites have over the decades. Equating Hinduism itself to white supremacy and fascism and defining it solely by casteism are standard affairs for this type. They have no ingenuity in their discourse. The blueprint of their commentary is amateur oppression Olympics. Their foundations are self-loathing. Their walls are an echo-chamber blocked off by the soulless skyscrapers of coastal elites on one side and the great blue filter of social media on the other. Their roofs are paid for by verbal prostitution. Their material is so common, yet they have a profound disdain for commoners. They are copy + paste. Many are essentially white progressives with a sprinkling of turmeric and cumin for empty color and scant flavor.

They are from South Asia, not the Indian Subcontinent. Their culture can be summed up into samosas, chicken tikka masala, a few “South Asian” outfits, and henna. Depth is an allergy to them so their roots are forever undiscovered but much-maligned. They will go out of their way to pin every misfortune and misery inflicted upon other minorities as purely due to economics or European imperialism, but will not hesitate to blame the downfalls of India solely on Hinduism and its indigenous culture. On the off chance that they navigate blame to the British, they will remain mum on the equally or even worse atrocities of the Mughals and their hate-filled predecessors. Their silence screams at the scars and ruins of their ancestors’ temples, all to preserve this mythic “solidarity” amongst fellow “South Asians.”

As they watch their fellow Indian-Americans break all barriers, their reflex is dismissal. When our minority becomes model, they relentlessly attack their own people instead of appreciating and applauding. Excuses for success rather than attributing it to hustle and immigrant sweat. They write paragraphs lamenting how every Indian-American has come to America with a silicon laced gold brick in their mouths, a silver stethoscope around their necks, or a platinum high caste thread over their shoulder. They wash away the struggles of immigrants with haughty commentary and exhibit a saffron-tinged white guilt. They seek to be the oppressed lamenting at the impending “fascism” that is perpetually 1 Republican representative away from arriving and simultaneously the oppressor as they claim Hinduism itself is oppression. They cloak their jibes in a mythic and undefined “Brahminism” where they attribute normal Hindu practices like vegetarianism, innocent rituals, and practices performed by all castes and communities as part of a grand conspiracy of “Brahminical supremacy;” the irony being that many of these commentators are Brahmins or high caste themselves! Due to their skin color and last name, they believe they are the chosen voice for over a billion other Indians and millennia-old civilization.

Essentially, they care about what India looks like, not what it is. They seek approval at any cost. But either way and in the end, why should they expose their necks in courage when they can swallow their pride, forever remaining craven?

Reposted from The Emissary. Follow me on Twitter!

Rise of the millennial grifter: Book Review

“A good story is a problem. It makes your mind shut down, and you ignore everything else”.

ATF agent in Manhunt: Deadly Games 

I have recently been reading ‘Billion Dollar Loser’ by Reeves Wiedem, about WeWork and its founder Adam Neumann. It reminded me of an NYT article from Amanda Hess last year titled “Fyre Festival, Theranos and our never-ending ‘scam season'” about the rise of grifting among Millenials. She pointed to Billy McFarland (Fyre Festival), Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos), and Anna Delvey (SoHo grifter) as examples of American Millenials who have become infamous in the last few years for overselling bad products/personalities and underperforming or outright lying people out of enormous amounts of money. Jia Tolentino wrote in 2018 that “At some point between the Great Recession, which began in 2008, and the terrible election of 2016, scamming seems to have become the dominant logic of American life.” She further expounded on this phenomenon as “Grifter season comes irregularly, but it often comes in America, which is built around mythologies of profit and reinvention and spectacular ascent. The shady, audacious figures at its center exist on a spectrum, from folk hero to disgrace. The season begins when the public catches on to a series of scammers of a particularly appealing sort—the kind who provoke both Schadenfreude and admiration.”

Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork, is another addition to this list. Some on Twitter would argue that Elon Musk, and to a certain extent, Travis Kalanick, should be mentioned in the same breath as these grifters, but he is not a millennial and at least has something to show for all the hype. There are many similarities among this lot, including the worship of Steve Jobs (Neumann in passing, Holmes to the extreme), megalomania (Neumann telling a rabbi, “I am WeWork”), abusive behavior with employees (Neumann hired people for office jobs and forced them to do hard labor, Holmes was frequently threatening, McFarland did not pay local workers in Exuma), no or little experience in the industries they wanted to disrupt (Neumann had been a landlord for one floor of a building before starting WeWork, Holmes came with a background in chemical engineering undergrad training which she never finished, McFarland had never organized a musical festival before), middle class upbringing (Neumann’s parents were doctors, Holmes’s worked in the government, McFarland’s were real estate developers), using family and friends for early funding (Neumann through his wife Rebekah Paltrow and the connections he made at the Kabbalah center, Holmes through her family friends such as Tim Draper and Victor Palmieri), nepotism (Neumann employed his wife, sister and brother in law, Holmes installed her brother and his fraternity brothers at Theranos), and lots of charisma. There was even overlap between Neumann and Billy McFarland. McFarland had started his first company out of a WeWork office.

There were a lot of dissimilarities too. Neumann fudged numbers, but Holmes outright lied to people about her technology and what it could achieve, possibly harming cancer patients. Neumann had a major benefactor, Masayoshi Son, who invested billions in WeWork, an opportunity that Holmes did not get but more on Holmes later.

Neumann wanted to disrupt an industry that he did not understand well and which may or may not need to be “disrupted.” WeWork was a lousy landlord that provided small spaces for high prices with the promise of ‘community building’ in the form of common areas, beer on tap, and fancy coffee. Neumann tried to frame it as a tech company even though there was little to no technology involved in this operation. He wanted to ride the wave of success that tech companies were on. Unfortunately for him, he believed in his own bullshit. At its height, WeWork was opening up a new co-working location every day. By the summer of 2019, WeWork had 528 in 29 countries. The company had raised $12.8 billion but was losing $219,000 an hour.

The person who I find the most similar to Adam Neumann is, ironically, Donald Trump. They share many traits such as megalomania, exploiting their employees, hypocrisy (implementing vegetarianism at WeWork while having Lamb dinners), nepotism, fondness for opulence (Private jets, fancy cars), self-dealing (Neumann buying buildings and renting them to WeWork), showmanship, wanting absolute power, and expanding their brand outside their areas of expertise. The final days of Neumann at WeWork are reminiscent of the final days of the Trump presidency: everyone around Neumann knew that the jig was up, but they were too afraid to say anything. There is still litigation going on about his exit.

The tale of WeWork’s rise and fall is also the story of how venture capitalists (V.C.s) have taken over the startup world. In a NewYorker story titled “How Venture Capitalists are deforming capitalism“, Charles Duhigg wrote that ‘Whereas venture capitalists like Tom Perkins once prided themselves on installing good governance and closely monitoring companies, V.C.s today are more likely to encourage entrepreneurs’ undisciplined eccentricities.’ He writes at length about what happened at WeWork once the leash was off:

“WeWork had a number of internal problems that should have concerned Dunlevie and the other board members. In the spring of 2018, the board learned that a senior vice-president had prepared a lawsuit accusing a colleague of giving her a date-rape drug. She also alleged that executives often referred to female co-workers with such epithets as ‘bitch,’ ‘slut,’ and ‘whore.’ (The senior vice-president received a settlement, and the suit was not filed; Dunlevie told me that he has no recollection of the complaint.) There were reports, too, of top executives using cocaine at events, dating subordinates, and sending texts like ‘I think I should sleep with a WeWork employee.’ Some board members knew that Neumann used drugs, that he had once punched his personal trainer during a workout session in his office, and that a raucous party in Neumann’s office had ended with a glass wall shattered by a tequila bottle.

The board had also allowed Neumann, a passionate surfer, to take thirteen million dollars in WeWork funds and invest them in a company that made artificial-wave pools, even though surfing had nothing to do with WeWork’s business. Neumann spent millions more to finance an idea from Laird Hamilton, a professional surfer, to manufacture ‘performance mushrooms.’ The board knew that WeWork had spent sixty million dollars on a corporate jet, which Neumann and his family took to various surf spots. It had stood by as WeWork’s name was changed to the We Company; not long afterward, the company paid Neumann $5.9 million in stock because he had trademarked the word ‘We.’ (The payment was later returned.)”

For decades, venture capitalists have succeeded in defining themselves as judicious meritocrats who direct money to those who will use it best. But examples like WeWork make it harder to believe that V.C.s help balance greedy impulses with enlightened innovation. Rather, V.C.s seem to embody the cynical shape of modern capitalism, which too often rewards crafty middlemen and bombastic charlatans rather than hardworking employees and creative businesspeople.

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“I tend to be wary of charismatic people. My father always reminded me that Ted Bundy was also very charismatic”. A former WeWork employee on the podcast WeCrushed.

 

There is an alphabet soup of regulators and regulations that governs laboratory medicine in the United States, including but not limited to FDA, CMS, CAP, AABB, Joint Commission, CLIA, and so on. Devices in a laboratory are regulated by the FDA. Any new device that one brings on or any new testing methodology that one wants to start requires permission from the FDA. Recently, many labs have applied for or received emergency use authorizations (EUA) from the FDA for their lab-developed tests (LDTs). Getting a full authorization for an LDT is a painstaking and tedious process involving loads of paperwork, which hindered the early rollout of COVID testing in the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for regulating lab personnel and effective running of testing. They have approved some organizations such as The Joint Commission (TJC), CAP, or AABB to do inspections on their behalf. A lab director (M.D. or Ph.D.) has to get licensed to work as the lab director, and the buck stops with them. College of American Pathologists (CAP) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. that inspects and provides guidelines to pathology labs. CAP is mentioned in the book ‘Bad blood’ by John Carreyrou inaccurately as the “medical association representing laboratory scientists”. CAP is an association of board-certified pathologists who are distinct from medical lab scientists (MLS).

Theranos considered itself above all these regulations. They constantly lied and manipulated data to satisfy the minimum requirements for getting their lab registered. They showed a running loop of pre-recorded videos to Novartis that showed blood flowing their cartridge and getting tests done for their Theranos 1.0 machine, in order to sell their product. Holmes was not trained in pathology, not even biology. She came with an unfinished bachelors degree in chemical engineering. Holmes’s mind veered from idea to idea until something stuck. She started Theranos initially to develop a wrist-worn device that analyzed a person’s blood, then switched to using small amounts of blood for lab testing and wanted to deploy it to help cancer patients, then to use the same technology to detect swine flu, to use the same technology to assist the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to have her machines in Safeway and Walgreens.

Holmes was a control freak. She would ask anyone visiting the Theranos offices to sign an NDA first, this included all employees as well. She would pit one team of engineers against another for similar tasks. She appointed people to keep an eye on when employees came to work and left. In a tactic also used by WeWork, Holmes would order dinner frequently that arrived at eight o clock at night, ensuring that employees stayed late. Anyone who dared dissent was purged from the company without explanation. There was a lot of staff turnover at Theranos during its existence. There was a lot of hype created by Elizabeth, using her idea as revolutionary and selling it to gain reputation and money while actually delivering nothing. Along the way, she fooled V.Cs, CEOs of Pfizer/Safeway/Walgreens, General Mattis, Herny Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, Larry Ellison, and David Boies.

These two stories illustrate two ambitious millennials who wanted to change the world, fooled enough people, spent billions of dollars to achieve their dreams but ended up as cautionary tales. As old Abe Lincoln would say, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”.Good riddance Elizabeth Holmes and Adam Neumann.

Books and podcasts that I accessed while reading this piece, 1) Billion dollar loser by Reeves Wiedeman 2) Bad Blood by John Carreyrou 3) WeCrashed podcast 4) The Drop Out, podcast.

An article comparing WeWork and Theranos that complements this piece is from Bussiness Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/with-wework-theranos-line-between-charm-and-fraud-doesnt-exist-2019-9

P.S I think Adam Driver should play Adam Neumann in the movie version of WeWork. Both of them have a military background, are very tall, and of course, charismatic.

Browncast – Saagar Enjeti: An Indian-American Right Populist

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify,  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!

You can also support the podcast as a patron. The primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else. This website isn’t about shaking the cup, but I have noticed that the number of patrons plateaued a long time ago.

This episode features Mukunda and Akshar talking to Saagar Enjeti, co-host of Rising on The Hill and host of The Realignment Podcast. We talk about Saagar’s come up and his political journey as we delve into the US election results, right populism, and an Indian-American’s place in all this.