The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    A Shameful Flight Last US Days in Kabul

    A frenzied U.S. flight from Kabul as chaos descends.   link

    "A frenzied evacuation of U.S. diplomats and civilians kicked into high gear, while Afghans made a mad dash to the banks, their homes and the airport. Crowds of people ran down the streets as the sound of gunfire echoed in downtown Kabul.

    Helicopter after helicopter — including massive Chinooks with their twin engines, and speedy Black Hawks that had been the workhorse of the grinding war — touched down and then took off loaded with passengers. Some dispensed flares overhead, a new addition to Kabul’s skyline.

    Those being evacuated included a core group of American diplomats who had planned to remain at the embassy in Kabul ....

    20 years, thousands of casualties, and tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, and the American leadership, from Biden on down, did not know, prepare for or recognize what was at the core of Afghanistan, disunity, submission to power, greed, corruption and disloyalty.

    Oh and, you don't have to be a four star General to know you evacuate the eligible 'civs', civilians, US, Afghans who worked for Americans, their families, and others BEFORE you evacuate the US combat troops. It's like the Titanic, women and children go first, not the 'captain and crew'.

    Biden did that in reverse.  Our combat troops now have had to be returned to Kabul to try and secure Kabul while desparate people eligible for refugee status, or with foreign passports, try to flee the country. There are roughly twice as many US troops there now (5000 or so) then were in Afghanistan before he started the withdrawal (2500).

    Perhaps we should have formed an army and an entire government of women. Women seem to have the most to lose with a return of the Taliban, their future would be their cause. Women have been proven to be effective on the most deadly battlefields in history, although ....  Afghanistan?  Unlikely, against cultural 'norms' would only heighten violence, enrage the Taliban and increase their numbers. 

    Yet, could Afghan women be as ineffective, corrupt and untrustworthy as Afghan men, (who are not Taliban Jihadis)?

    The title of this blog, "A Shameful Flight" is taken from a book on the disastrous British exit from India by Wolpert.

    Helicopters labored all morning evacuating US staff rom the Kabul embassy.


    The Taliban is already establishing security control on the streets of Kabul. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan has fled the country, Kabul didn't last 90 days or even 90 hours. Likely for the best it is so far ending without a bloodbath, although that may be yet to come.

    At 6:30 p.m. local time, the Taliban issued a statement that their forces were moving into police districts in order to maintain security in areas that had been abandoned by the government security forces. Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, posted the statement on his Twitter feed.

    “The Islamic Emirates ordered its forces to enter the areas of Kabul city from which the enemy has left because there is risk of theft and robbery,”

    Clinton did overflights 8 years. No big helicopter-of-rood-of-embassy photo-ops. Just ppl bitching cuz he cruise missiles Sudan. (Did they/didn't they harbor ObL? Medicine factory? Oh well. Try your luck w the Israelis)

    We could of course send last minute Easter eggs to all the city halls to remind them who controls the air.

    Oh, i guess we did that

    Despite the drawdown of offensive operations on the ground, the number of U.S. bombs dropped on the country has increased significantly. As the Taliban continued to retake ground and amid the emergence of ISIS in some corners of the country, the U.S. dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2018 than ever before. According to U.S. Central Command data, American warplanes dropped more than 7,300 munitions on Afghanistan last year, compared to 4,361 in 2017 and just 947 in 2015. - Forbes

    And there I was expecting the cost of our presence had gone down so the outcomes were worth it.
    But $52 billion a year is pretty hefty.

    Hold your horses, it may be turning out to be one of those Yogi Berra things where it's not over till it's over?


    ^ I think you are right to stress this, I think it makes a big difference in feeling cowed and unable to do anything about your situation vs. the confidence that maybe you can manipulate or fight a bully. (And yes, of course, is also true it is folly sometimes to think that way especially when dealing with real brutal people.) But I think we are seeing it already. It's not that they have turned into democracy r us western enlightenment thinkers with equality for women, it's just that the moronic level of Islamism of Mullah Omar is no longer possible. The entire populace is no longer at the level of 7-yr.old madrassah student and shepherd born in a tent. I.E., tho minor in the scheme of things, I doubt there will be a ban again on kite flying. So many more can read the Koran now and know that's not in there!

    I hadn't considered the full implications of that, but yes, we kept the door open for 20 years - a lot of ideas flowed in via the internet et al, especially in the cities that can't just be wiped away, removed from all those heads. Interesting to consider level of computer use, medical/health technology... They have vaccines now, not just God. They may choose their own system, but at least theyve been shown pieces of another, can now mix and match. The prehistoric cave is no longer sealed


    another interesting factoid:

    and look, something I just ran across googling for his portrait; there he is meeting with the Chinese foreign minister, only a couple weeks ago;

    Chinese officials and Taliban meet in Tianjin as US exits Afghanistan

    By Eric Cheung and Ben Westcott, CNN Updated 7:03 AM ET, Thu July 29, 2021

    Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose for a photo during their meeting in Tianjin, China, on Wednesday, July 28.



    And here's a shot of Mullah Baradar with Pompeo:

    Joint State/Pentagon update on Afghanistan: “... Tomorrow & over the coming days, we will be transferring out of the country thousands of American citizens who have been resident in Afghanistan, as well as locally employed staff of the U.S. mission in Kabul and their families

    — Laura Rozen (@lrozen) August 16, 2021

    “& other particularly vulnerable Afghan nationals. And we will accelerate the evacuation of thousands of Afghans eligible for U.S. Special Immigrant Visas, nearly 2,000 of whom have already arrived in the US over the past 2 weeks.

    — Laura Rozen (@lrozen) August 16, 2021

    “For all categories, Afghans who have cleared security screening will continue to be transferred directly to the United States. And we will find additional locations for those yet to be screened.”

    — Laura Rozen (@lrozen) August 16, 2021

    Laura retweeted this boots-on-the-ground reporter a short while ago:

    Good morning, Kabul. Last night the Taliban entered the city. Streets of downtown are calm, not too busy, but reports of crowds and chaos outside the airport.

    — Matthieu Aikins (@mattaikins) August 16, 2021

    and this thread before that:

    Jacqui Heinrich thread continued; note Biden has set an Aug. 31 deadline:

    Biden should turn this over to someone who has a grasp of the situation. SOS Blinkly is not that guy likely not Kirby either.

    "The situation in Afghanistan may lead to DoS [Department of State] allowing Afghan SIV applicants to be moved to temporary housing locations while still being vetted for parolee status,” the document reads."

    This is sounding like the WW2 Dept State red tape and visa bs for Jews attempting escape from Vichy France.

    Afghanistan has 40 million people. How many are you going to resettle? BTW, if there's one way to guarantee a Republican majority in 2022, this is it. See Europe, Syrian refugees, Brexit, Marine Le Pen, Viktor Orbán, etc.

    The US has only brought out just 1200 civilians of 20-80,000,( includes families) who were considered eligible?  And now we hold only the airport. For how long?

    SOS Blinky is another 'not grounded in street reality' Harvard product like CDC director 'no masks needed anymore' Walensky. 

    80k should be easy

    They are clinging to aircraft wheels as the planes take off.

    Does Blinky think the 82nd Airborne can help them fill out visa forms? Just food and sanitation for the crowds at the airport will be a herculean task.

    US is evacuating people thousands of miles to Qatar, Germany is flying them just over the northern bortder, to neighboring Uzbekistan. Blinky couldn't think up or apparently swing that deal.

    The German military on Monday began an operation to evacuate remaining German citizens from Afghanistan alongside what could be thousands of Afghan staff, activists and lawyers and their family members.

    Two military planes are being dispatched to Kabul to make airlifts to Tashkent, the capital of neighboring Uzbekistan, the Defense Ministry said. Evacuees will then be picked up by civilian aircraft.........

    As many as 10,000 people could be evacuated....

    also Rep. Swawell tweets offer of extra help:

    Cost benefits analysis, 4k troops - was it worth it to hang on at that level? Could we have done it at 650?

    John Bolton Mike Pompeo STFU award

    all may not be what it seems, including the halt at the airport:

    My hatred for the Taliban has no equal going back to way before 9/11, but I must admit wondering if Uighurs, Ethiopians, Haitians, Burmese, Syrians, Central America's Northern Triangle etc. must wonder why they are chopped liver

    A reminder that we just sent a lot of migrant families far away from the southern border

    Biden is correct to mention that Congress has to shit or get off the pot on which refugees we will help and which we won't and HOW.

    We and NATO did give 20 years of blood and treasure to trying to help Afghanistan because they were seen as a danger to world stability. At the same time it didn't make a lot of sense because support for the Taliban was mainly coming from Pakistan all along and we were playing footsie with that reality.

    Yes extraction was mishandled but whose fault is that in the end but the former adminstration that made a deal to free thousands of Taliban being held as criminals in Pakistan? The end game was written then with that, we would either be giving American lives to help fight those freed extremists forever or leave it up to Afghanis to fight them or let them take over. The forces we trained and equipped chose the latter.

    Graveyard of empires. Most recently Soviet Union gave up their project there and their people were angry about the blood and treasure lost there and soon after that, they fell! This type of thing is not "war", it is nation building and that cannot be done by military force, just like culture wars cannot be won by force.

    Agree with your points, except Biden 'waiting on Congress on who we will help and how...' .

    He should have acted and got a helluva lot more out much earlier, Congress is not going to send them back.

    Biden was over confident to the extreme. Some in DOD must have had serious doubts on the Afghan will to fight, and expressed them.  You at least prepare for the unexpected.  Get the combat troops out as a last step, not a first step before the refugee SIV's.

    Maybe Biden has bigger fish to fry, and babysitting former presidents' wars wasn't on his high priority to-do list.

    “I’ve been asking the administration for a refugee evacuation plan for months,” said Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts and a former captain in the Marine Corps. “I was very explicit: ‘We need a plan. We need someone in charge.’ Honestly, we still haven’t really seen the plan.”

    “They had weeks of opportunity. They had an amazing coalition of liberal and conservative lawmakers who were willing to support the administration in this effort,” Mr. Moulton, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, 


    I blame Blinken,  refugees and SIVs are Department of State responsibility. The guy comes across as a inane blowhard ('we have an ongoing massive effort...')

    Didn't Trump gut State? What's left? Not to excuse Blinken, but i i

    The Taliban also have "one of the best equipped fighting forces in the world" since the Afghan Army handed over all their billions in US weapons, vehicles, communication systems over intact.

    Trump got US troops out of Syria with a whole lot of anger aimed at him, but not with shame or humiliation. Biden became Obama's vice president with a premise that Iraq had been the wrong target and Afghanistan was a higher priority that the Bush administration neglected. This vindicates the Bush administration, at least in this one regard, as they kept a much smaller imprint in Afghanistan, with perhaps some awareness that it usually does not end well when empires get stuck there.

    There is a recall coming up here in California and one of the last big mentions of Biden was his endorsement of Gavin Newsom. Andrew Cuomo recently resigned. Party politics breeds guilt by association, so this could have electoral impact.

    The left blamed civilian casualties in Syria on the US, whether plated chemical bombs or Hillary arming rebels.The Taibbis and Greenwalds sheltered Russia and Trump, so even a painstaking arduous year-long anti-ISIS mission got a ore-empted ending when Trump let ISIS escape and pulled out troops. *Very* little anger against Trump - lots of leftist "end of endless wars" cant. We're lucky ISIS hasn't resumed AFAIK.

    Obama's team killed Osama - there hasn't been a useful target in Afghanistan since.

    re: Obama's team killed Osama - there hasn't been a useful target in Afghanistan since.

    A reminder that was NOT a target in Afghanistan, either; it was Abbottabad, Pakistan

    Bin Laden was killed within the fortified complex of buildings that were probably built for him,[268] and had reportedly been his home for at least five years.[269][270] The compound was located less than a mile from Pakistan Military Academy and less than 100 kilometers' drive from Pakistan's capital.[248][271] 

     In his lifelong egotistical pursuit of jihad against "the west" Osama Bin Laden actually used a variety of unstable possibly sympathethic locales; Afghanistan under the Taliban were simply temporary friendlies after Sudan didn't work out.'

    And sympathizers with Bin Laden/Zawahri Al Qaeda theory still operate on his principle, they are simply opportunists of unstable areas with some Islamist sympathies; i.e Boko Haram now...

    Al Qaeda actually has always differed quite a bit theoretically from the Taliban. Originally, what happened was that Mullah Omar was an uneducated ass who simply welcomed Osama's money.

    that said, a reminder that the instability of Mullah Omar's Afghanistan is actually an enemy of All Things Woke, including things like freedom of gender roles and restitution or protection of past cultures--hey kiddies how would you like it if the western colonialists just blew up that ancient Buddha carved into a mountain?

    The Taliban are beating women in the streets who are trying to get to the airport. One claiming she had French asylum was photographed unconscious on the pavement and her male escort bludgeoned by armed Taliban.

    Women in outlying districts apparently have slim chances to get out of the country.

    RE: was photographed unconscious on the pavement and her male escort bludgeoned by armed Taliban.

    Just a reminder for perspective, similar shit is happening in our own big cities, often every day. but we're supposed to be in support of letting them back out on the streets to be monitored by "social workers", not just not U.S. military forces, but no police.

    BTW lefties were all screaming about this photo of supposed American military brutality until the situation was clarified.

    This AFP photo from Kabul Airport is being circulated on social media but without context:

    Context: Those US soldiers are trying to protect those women and families in the background from unruly single Afghan men at the airport. #Afghanistan

    — FJ (@Natsecjeff) August 16, 2021

    Don't bother telling me it's not the same thing, it is, there's "Taliban" everywhere, especially if you are a woman

    I didn't have any sympathy for the thousands of Taliban that were being imprisoned in Pakistan before Trump made a deal to have them released, why should I feel differently about Americans with similar proclivities?

    You either believe policing of bad guys helps or you don't and believe in "social work" and their racial resentment about history or some such. Well, Taliban and their friends got super resentment about history, going back to like the Caliphate of Cordoba around the year 1,000...they want it back, still fighting still angry...


    The people you have shown sympathy for here is pretty short, particularly compared to the list of those you have shown apathy or contempt.

    Fantastic post and I like the homage to the British exit from India. Mark Meckler writes that this could be "the worst foreign policy debacle of the last 100 years."

    I agree that Biden should leave this to someone else who knows the region better, like maybe Vladimir Putin.

    I took a look at Mark Mecklers last 8 or so opinion pieces, he appears to be an amateur hour hysterical blowhard. 

    the Tories:

    FWIW - Rep. Omar retweeted that "Progressive Caucus Urges U.S. Diplomacy with Taliban"

    "War and conflict never produce peace and stability," said @IlhanMN. "Violence and militarism, even when cloaked in the language of humanitarianism, are fundamentally at odds with human flourishing and opportunity."

    — Common Dreams (@commondreams) August 18, 2021

    edit to add: alternately, AOC chose to retweet this by Bernie:

    Pentagon fluffing own dick?

    (get David Petraeua on a talk show - wanna hear about them training programs again)

    And presumably like Nate Silver, the CIA gave bracketed Bayesian probabilities of possible outcomes and likelihoods, rather than the traditional top executive single outcome with % approach. This helps to appreciate the multiple choices available, and that it's not all written in stone, whether the rosy projection or the ugly one. But if you look for the pony anyway, you might just get the pile of shit.

    How to Lose a War 101?

    You avoid chaos by putting the people, US civs and SIV visa holders, out of the country (best) or in areas secured by US combat troops at airports they control. Get 'em out .... BEFORE YOU EMPTY THE F'ing PLACE OF US TROOPS and Air support. You can always send 'em back if it all works out later.

    You do not depend on chickenshit foreigners to defend your people from hostiles, that is war zone evac. 101.

    The last ones out must be the best combat group you got.

    Biden is lucky the Taliban hasn't taken 1000 US hostages. Yet.

    "....the idea that somehow, there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens,” Mr. Biden said. “I don’t know how that happened.”   Series of U.S. Actions Left Afghan Allies Frantic, Stranded and Eager to Get Out.  NYT

    Josh Marshall: some more facts might be good ~

    NYTimes confirms Al Jazeera reporting of Taliban crackdown on protests in Jalalabad:

    The Taliban faced off against protestors in the northeastern city of Jalalabad. Taliban soldiers fired shots into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.

    By Marc Santora, Jim Huylebroek and Carlotta Gall

    • Aug. 18, 2021

    Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

    The Taliban faced the first street protests on Wednesday against their takeover of Afghanistan, with demonstrations in at least two cities, even as they moved to form a new government.

    A public display of dissent in the northeastern city of Jalalabad was met by force. Taliban soldiers fired into the crowd and beat protesters and journalists.

    The Taliban had taken control of the city, a commercial hub east of Kabul near the main border crossing with Pakistan, four days earlier without much of a fight after a deal was negotiated with local leaders. This week, the Taliban have been out in large numbers, patrolling the city in pickup trucks seized from the now defunct police force.

    Despite the risks, hundreds of protesters marched through the main shopping street, whistling, shouting and bearing large flags of the Afghan Republic. Taliban fighters fired in the air to break up the crowd, but the protesters did not disperse, video aired by local news media outlets showed.

    When that failed, the fighters resorted to violence. At least two people were killed and a dozen injured, according to Al Jazeera.

    For the new Taliban government, the jarring images of violence at the protest — as well as images of chaos and people being beaten while trying to approach Kabul’s airport in an attempt to flee the country — have undermined their efforts to present themselves as responsible stewards of the government.

    In Khost, in the southeastern part of the country, there were also demonstrations, with dramatic photos and video showing hundreds of people taking to the streets. [....]

    Biden, and the IMF plan? Freeze assets, stop transfers....


    A Mental Health corps loaded into a troop transport this morning. Should be deployed by tomorrow, bad behavior contained by Saturday.

    Well, after all, isn't nation-building social work of the highest order? Hearts and minds, hearts and minds!

    Huts and mines, thawts and repairs.

    Here's one Vietnam vet's opinion, and he's the kind that rarely shares any opinion, just mostly tweets well-selected news:

    I went to Viet Nam. I didn't want to go back. I was glad when Viet Nam was over. I'm sorry many were hurt and killed when we left but ending that war saved countless lives.

    I feel exactly the same way about Afghanistan.

    — Heal the Planet (@fwtoney) August 19, 2021

    oh and right after posting that here what do I see when I go back there but a reminder of those with a less balanced reaction to service in combat zones:

    and here's a reply to "Heal" sharing his opinion:

    Full transcript of ABC News' George Stephanopoulos' interview with President Joe Biden

    Stephanopoulos spoke to Biden in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

    By ABC News August 19, 2021, 7:33 AM

     Biden, July 8, "It's highly unlikely the Taliban would take over."  and "There's going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the—of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable,"

    Biden, transcript, August 19 - "the idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens. I don't know how that happened."

    Did he lie in July?

    Alternate July 8 -  "Folks, there is no way we can withdraw without chaos ensuing almost immediately. We know Ghani has bags of cash and an aircraft ready to exit the country. It will be wild!"

    Just discovered RFERL's journo covering Afghanistan. Should be more trustworthy than most?

    Just retweeted this vid:

    and this interview with ABC Australia:

    and it was A 17-year-old Afghan soccer player died falling from a U.S. evacuation plane @

    [....] On Monday, a crowd of Afghans surged onto the tarmac of the international airport in the frantic scramble to escape a country newly overrun by the Taliban. In a scene that shocked the world, and in just one wrenching moment encapsulated the chaos of America’s exit from Afghanistan, some of them chased aircraft carrying Americans and tried to climb onto their sides, wings and wheels.

    The young soccer player was among them, the federation said.

    “Anwari was one of hundreds of young people who wanted to leave the country and, in an incident, fell off an American military plane and died,” the group said in a statement on Facebook.

    The sports community of Afghanistan was in grief, the statement said. It wished Zaki a place in heaven and offered a prayer that God grant his family, friends and teammates peace and patience as they mourn [....]


    Realpolitik: US holding direct and daily talks with Taliban in effort to ease Biden's Afghanistan crisis

    By Natasha BertrandZachary Cohen and Kylie Atwood, @, Updated 9:34 PM ET, Thu August 19, 2021

    Surprise surprise NOT; at least not to me. It is the way he would try to ameliorate damage from mistakes. To think that things can change by continuing to beat one's head against a wall in a indentical maner is silly, but to think situations are 100% hopeless and cannot be improved is both ultra conservative and nihilist.

    Every negotiator thinks they can finagle something, negotiation is not a zero sum game.

    It's SOS Blinken not coordinating with the front line US troops, another Harvard product as is "throw away your masks" CDC Director Walensky.   NYT:

    "....Representative Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey, said even Afghans who had been vetted and told to come to the airport were unable to get past U.S. troops at the airport’s gate. He called it “inexcusable” that the State Department and Pentagon were not coordinating better to ensure “that whoever the U.S. government invites will be recognized and allowed in by people at the gates who know what they’re doing.”  .....

    Elite French, British forces rescue citizens and endangered visa holders by crossing Taliban lines in Kabul.

    French, British yes, Biden's Army  - no

    Reports imply Biden is afraid of 'politcal optics' and Republican scare mongering related to saving vulnerable dual citizens and refugees.

    ....European forces crossed Taliban lines and entered the city to rescue civilians. Access to the airport has been heavily restricted by Taliban fighters who have beaten people trying to flee the country.


    Earlier this week, an elite team of French police officers entered the capital’s Green Zone, where French nationals and vulnerable Afghans were sheltering on the grounds of the country’s embassy. They transported the people to Kabul airport for evacuation, the police confirmed.

    There have also been reports of British paratroopers leaving the airport....

    the above is in Q & A format

    Oh really? I wonder if there is any carrot or stick behind this threat?


    Meanwhile there is this story of a terrorist hit against Chinese working in Gwadar, Balochistan being covered in SE Asia media with conflicting reports:

    there's tons of propaganda on it from individuals on Twitter as well; always something terror-related going on in Pakistan, but one cannot ever be sure of the truth of the situation

    Petraus feels like such an idiot. He can talk and say nothing for hours.But of course takes no responsibility. "Why won't we stay-ay-ay just a little bit longer". And a bit of surge - huts and mines - we step back as they step up... always a simple answer, never a real strategy or acknowledgment of where it will fail on the ground.

    Ran across this India vox populi to throw into this mix-caveat:have no idea of the political agenda of this station in particular

    oh I think this is not just about Singapore and Vietnam:

    The Pakistani military/police state needs a place where the young Saudi funded madrassa Sunnis can play Jihad - Afghanistan. 

    There, fanatical Pakistani Mullahs who would otherwise threaten control of Pakistan, or God forbid, the hypocritical oil rich head choppers of Saudi Arabia, can live their medieval fantasies of fundamentalist Islam and unrestrained power.

    It's NIMBYism, Jihad there, not here.

    Laura Rozen thread retweeted by Marcy Wheeler; starts here:

    New from me: Afghanistan crisis also reveals broken US confirmation process.

    — Laura Rozen (@lrozen) August 19, 2021


    Doesn't absolve Biden admin. of poor planning, but this thread by Pence Nati. Sec. aide Olivia Troye is of great interest on topic about how Stephen Miller worked actively against against any refugees coming from Afghanistan or Iraq should troop withdrawal actually happen, and how the system to do so was degraded:

    Yes, always ask how much Trump tore apart the basic functioning of government those 4 years.

    Yes so you, as President, ditch the Trump schedule, delay the pull-out, another year or two, after 20 is no big deal.

    What you don't do imagine fantasies of huzzahs that you ended the war by 9/11/2021. Belittling publically the chance of utter chaos and desperation that could become unleashed ....... in your first year as president.  Before your major legislation has even become law.

    And then deny your administration blew it, and blame others.  Lie about the fact that Afghans did not 'fight for their country'. They suffered more casualties every year than the US did in total for 20 years. Afghan leadership was corrupt, duplicitous and not trustworthy, and you trusted them to hold things together and protect your people.

    I don't know this @TaylorIndiana guy from Adam and don't vouch at all for his analysis YET at the same time HE SURE IS FINDING SOME INTERESTING TWEETS TO RETWEET:

    It sure does seem like the scene at the Kabul airport does not reflect everything going on in Afghanistan, that the airport and refugee story is a narrative that the American/western media is selling because, well: it sells, lookit us for one example clicking on it.

    And there definitely are other "narratives" going on that the west is ignoring, whether real or spin or both, for the umpteenth time.

    Also just throwing this out there: after years decades of following news and analysis about Afghanistan/Pakistan, this is the overall reality I think too many ignore: there are basically two culturally-separate Afghanistan's: the south which is Pashtun and basically one and the same with the Pashtun areas of Pakistan, and the two Pashtun areas were irrationally split between two nations by the "Great Game". And then there is the north of Afghanistan which is lots of other tribes many of which do not make a natural fit with ultra-conservative Sunni Islam but do not have a nation-state shared ethos either, hence they end up with a lot of competing anti-Taliban "war lords"...

    I also notice that not all women are laying down and dying without assurance of U.S. daddy continuing in the area nor looking to leave

    “I am raising the voice of a million women,”

    Crystal Bayat was one of seven women at a protest she helped organize on Independence Day in #Afghanistan. Days after the #Taliban took over, raising the Afghan flag became an act of resistance.

    — Fazila Baloch (@IFazilaBaloch) August 21, 2021

      there are basically two culturally-separate Afghanistan's:  In this piece Nancy Lindisfarne and Jonathan Neale demonstrate that there is a lot more nuanced information and understanding necessary to describe the cultural, situational, and experiential differences created by the history of the Afghanistani people. This is a fairly long article yet far too short to be comprehensive and like any analysis of a complicated story and suggestions about how the story might play out, it is almost certainly not 100% correct.     

     This article explains these points. Because this a short piece, we assert more than we prove. But we have written a great deal about gender, politics and war in Afghanistan since we did fieldwork there as anthropologists almost fifty years ago. We give links to much of this work at the end of this article, so you can explore our arguments in more detail.[1]

    I threw a bit of salt while reading it but I think it was worth the time for anyone trying to gain a better understanding than clickbate headlines, politically motivated rants, and inane tweets, or even the occasionally useful tweet length rant, can provide. 




    Is this map shown for the purpose of making a point about the entry I linked to? If so, I do not see what that point is. 

      there are basically two culturally-separate Afghanistan's: 

    Seems there's Pashtunistan, Baluchistan, Persian areas, and the Turkic (Kazakh/Tajik/Uzbek mix) northern territories - 4 Afghanistan's.

    Plus there's only 1 city with >1 million, but a number of cities >100k, but still a pretty huge urban/rural divide.

    I think I accidently confused you with my mistake in not properly identifying the first sentence of my comment as a claim that AA had made just above which you took to be my opening statement. A strong and very important point of the article I was recomending was that there are even a great deal more divides than you mention. 

     Edit to add: It is a very good article. You really should read it.

    I did read it, but like most of your posts suffers from a simplified "all war is bad" tack that leaves any understanding behind.
    As a good counter-example I ran across this review of a book about the Pech Valley, that serves to clarify some of your link's issues

    1) First, the Taliban have defeated the United States.
    Er, I'm not even sure what that means - that over 20 years we'd infiltrate Afghan society & be more welcome, especially with 2 countervailing strategies - counter-terrorism & counter-insurgency (the former pissing people off with civilian casualties, the latter impossible because the "insurgents" were still the local population & not necessarily even Taliban - mixed with resources sapped by the Iraq War, a steady rotation of soldiers continuously tossing away local situational knowledge, an inability to effectively speak with the locals, and whatever corruption. So you might say total capitulation was never possible, and the US defeated itself by having contrarian, unreachable goals. But we did keep Al Qaeda from launching attacks on New York via Afghan soil. Which I guess wan't much going to happen again anyway.

    2) Second, the Taliban have won because they have more popular support.
    Again doubtful - the Taliban knows how to bribe people and retaliate, and conduct various kinds of local politics as needed - but the US forces never got past being foreign temporary forces - it's like summer romance in the Ozarks - you'll be gone in September and we'll still be here.

    3) Third, this is not because most Afghans love the Taliban. It is because the American occupation has been unbearably cruel and corrupt.
    Of course any American presence in any foreign land will be "unbearaly cruel and corrupt" - that's the US-hating cant that we're always dealing with here. Another side can kill 100 or 1000, and as long as the US kills 5 it's not even "both sides do it" - it's the evil empire strikes again. There will be no condemnation of the Taliban - they can kill as many as they want, because it's their country (ignoring the others who share that territory) and by natural law they can do anything and it's pristine.

    4) Fourth, the War on Terror has also been politically defeated in the United States. The majority of Americans are now in favor of withdrawal from Afghanistan and against any more foreign wars.
    Sure, Jan - just like Republicans want to balance the budget - until they don't. If there's another 9/11, 85-90% will quickly be in favor of kicking whoever's ass - and sadly whoever's in charge will be given the green light to fly in and screw it up, just so long as we're doing something/anything to act immediately responsive. But yeah, after 1 1/2 years of pandemic, and no strategic interest in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden dead for 10 years, there's no hunt in that dog - ffs, we've let Russia infiltrate our own government in DC - why would we be worried about Afghanistan as a jumping off spot for Soviet/Russian aventurism? We also defeated ISIS (more real coalitions please) - who were much more threatening to US allies, strategic oil reserves & other identifiable worries - why would we continue panicking over the supposed Pashtun threat. Pakistan can't even take on India, and Iran's friendly enough with Afghanistan - so why bother any of this?

    5) Fifth, this is a turning point in world history. The greatest military power in the world has been defeated by the people of a small, desperately poor country. This will weaken the power of the American empire all over the world.
    Here we get to dumbfuck reasoning - losing or withdrawing from an irrelevant target will permanently maim us forever everywhere. Uh, well, no - we still have a ton of money and the best weapons in the world and a bunch of trained soldiers - and if the media would ever quit sucking the military's dick every time it says it's invincible or has some impossible scenario worked out or pulls a stupid fucking David Petraeus in front of the camera to spout vacuous bullshit and play military superstar, they might be required to actually do what most Project Managers do, which is identify a workable path to completion given specific resources and certain timelines, and not just "a miracle will appear" or some stupid "winning hearts and minds" mushmeal. [Ask a frat boy if he thinks he can go over to a sorority house and simply "win hearts and minds", vs. having a real approach to getting a date or getting laid - a mean, this is so transparently ridiculous - nobody fucking likes a strange invader - Ben Franklin said 'guests like fish smell after 3 days" and he meant physically as well as metaphorically.]

    6) Sixth, the rhetoric of saving Afghan women has been widely used to justify the occupation, and many feminists in Afghanistan have chosen the side of the occupation. The result is a tragedy for feminism.
    OMG, Republican women vote the same way as their husbands most of the time - who'd believe it? Are women just defined by woke vaginas and western shopping techniques, or are they half the societies they live in? "Tragedy for feminism"? Literacy is up to about 50% - presumably many women. 13 million are on the internet, meaning many girls/women can study online with Zoom and communicate with others, bypassing many physical restrictions the society has traditionally had. No, they're not organizing LGBTQ meetups or having hen night drinkathons in the local pub with fast hookups in the loo. It's still a different society.
    And we were always going to leave - you can criticize Biden for acquiescing to Trump's schedule, but when would be a better time, aside from planning helping locals leave (which most western countries don't really want) how was it going to be much smoother, and what is this victory for the US or for feminism in practical terms, vs. more lefty unicorn kumbaya madness? I've been hoping Iran would draw closer to the EU for 15-20 years, which is a lot more imaginable than Afghanistan welcoming the Kardashians as their new national inspiration, but even that one's been way to far from the needed magic.

    one of your best. obviously on topics you've been thinking decades on but is also more clarity than your usual. thank you for spending time on it . yes

    I left out population growth - population has doubled to 40 million since we invaded, but fertility has dropped from 7.5(?) to 4.0 - still too high, but presumably will still keep dropping, meaning Afghanistan won't be among the deadenders in the 2nd half of the century. It's still a hugely rural country, but some progress in urbanization - still only 26% - which improves standard of living with work than contains actual profit margins, is more resource-efficient for roads, energy, education, healthcare....

    This map makes me wonder how Ghandi felt about "Pashtunistan". As he was beyond a strong believer in a "one state solution", that Hindu and Muslim could very much make up one nation state under one creed and the (horrific) partition into Pakistan for Muslims and India for Hindus broke his heart.

    But Pashtun culture, as posts by "Jolly Roger" have emphasized here, is so ancient and unchanging, at the same time it is one that welcomes visitors, it stays the same...and it goes beyond "Muslim".. I wonder whether even Ghandi thought they fit or needed their own country...

    My original point in raising this point here was actually related to something more specific, though. Abdullah is seen as mixed ethnicity but also Tajik. Besides being highly educated in western globalism, as his  wikipedia entry stresses, Karzai is also the leader of the Popalzai Durrani tribe of Kandahar ( ethnic Pashtun of the Popalzai tribe.) They are not fleeing, they still have hope that Afghanistan can become a modern nation state. They "get" the corruption, get how it works, have worked it themselves, according to many. They "get" the Pashtun and the Taliban. Failed so far, still not giving up, think there is potential. Hyping it, no doubt. In common and of note: hate duplicitious Pakistani government...

    Who are we to say compared to them?

    So remember as well that Gandhi is part mythical character, that there was an Indian National Congress before him, that it wasn't just some fasting that brought independence, etc. As i was reminded by a friend whose (great?)grandfather with 100 or so men confronted the British the day after a slaughter - basically "can you do this 2 days in a row?" (no, they couldn't, but took some balls). And the impression i have is the network they used for resistance was not so far off the Afghani or black Southern Baptist - quasi-religious, mostly organizational.

    Found retweeted by international reporter Melissa Chan without comment. I find it a reminder that military does try to toot its own horn about how it should be used but when we are in the mood to dis their usefulness, we don't pay attention:

    and that in turn reminded me that we all love to bash them until their exact skills are needed in a catastrophe.And I've yet to see a leftie bash someone like Lt. Gen. Russell Honore even though he can be very dictatorial about certain things...

    Interesting comment about Biden plans, found retweeted by Yglesias:

    btw, Yglesis has tweeted several other interesting articles (which don't always agree with the above...)

    32m cellphones in Afghanistan - Taliban and most others using "YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp" with full marketing prowess. What does that mean for the Medieval junta in 2021? Imagine how many phone videos would leak if they try to be full pre-9/11 era awful? Frankly, I expect the abuses to be less than more than 1 million Uyghurs locked up by the Chinese & used for penal work making goods for export. But our outrage tends to be fickle - hard to tell what'll make us angry enough to give a shit.

    our outrage tends to be fickle -

    Yes, I am starting to see how this is the major downfall of relying so heavily on capitalist media, gets worse all the time as agenda pushers learn more about manipulating emotions using it (including the famous example of Russian trolls but they are by far not the only problem.) Was always a problem (.e., the silent majority didn't turn on Vietnam until Walter Cronkite did) but with social media the effects are growing exponentially all the time.

    No attention span left! Everyone getting ADD. Feed this beast...

    Yes the opposite can be state propaganda. At the same time imagine winning something like WWII without some propaganda-like focus, with celebs selling war bonds etc. This is exactly the problem fighting Covid, we needed world war focus and we aren't getting it, instead there's major stoking of alternative narratives of all kinds, and they are mostly all emotional...

    Such a case in point: nobody cared about Afghanistan news for like a fucking decade including me...get one emotion-filled narrative and we are all on it

    I am reminded of Thoreau's famous complaints about 19th-century type journalism selling emotional sensationalism

    [...] “Let us settle ourselves,” he wrote in “Walden,” “and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe…till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality…”

    Still, Thoreau had a deeper concern, also timely. He worried that journalists and their readers, despite the facts at their disposal, were missing the truth. Instead of capturing and conveying deeper principles, they were reporting mundane details and happenings.

    “If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident,” he wrote, “or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter – we never need read of another. One is enough.” [....]

    P.S. Thoreau's complaints are why I am very much into the long-term collection of separate news items on one topic into long individual threads over time. Of course, there is a downside to that too in that it can be manipulated to build and create narratives by avoiding contrarian factuals...

    10,000 deaths a day from Covid - Indonesia averaging 1300-1400 a day now - but suddenly we'll take time off to worry the Taliban will be mean to women? A Saudi prince kidnapped his grown daughter off an escape boat in the Indian Ocean. Afghan villages have largely been running the same way as always I presume - it's just in the few cities we managed to control that life changed quite a bit. But we're we worried about the villages? Are we concerned about how they live in western Pakistani villages as well, which i assume to be remarkably similar these last decades?

    Here's non-profit news report from the airport, BBC one hour ago post

    Afghanistan: The BBC's Lyse Doucet reports from Kabul airport

    MY TAKEAWAY POINT: ORDERLY LINES HAVE APPEARED within a short time span! Yes, there was chaos and violence a couple days ago BUT GUESS WHAT, civilization has once again managed to win out! BUT that does not "sell" clicks. Where's the outrage?

    FUTHERMORE guess who was on board with a civilized approach to the exodus. I saw this yesterday but hesitated to post it because we hadn't gotten to the point of accepting this shocking nuance and didn't want people accusing me of being a Talib cheerleader -

    Taliban impose some order around Kabul airport - witnesses

    — Reuters (@Reuters) August 22, 2021

    Turns out on their second time around, Taliban leaders got a clue that looking like they are for civilization might help them out some, you know, gaining some international supporters, not totally becoming like North Korea might work better than what they did last time? Yes, they might still be nasty behind the scenes to like modern women and gays, but they might not be planning to advertise that? (And sure, they will have uneducated troglodyte members who won't "get" the new program of fooling most of the people all of the time, just like the GOP has Majorie Taylor Greene)

    And here is, surprise, surprise, here's Clarissa Ward, now out of Afghanistan and now admitting that amidst the chaos of the intial airport scene, which she helped report and sensationalize, she also saw signs of order, and human caring:

    I witnessed several moments like this at Kabul airport. A female soldier carrying a weeping Afghan toddler. A Marine supporting an elderly man as he struggled to walk. Servicemen rushing a dehydrated newborn to get medical attention. So many working so hard.

    — Clarissa Ward (@clarissaward) August 21, 2021

    She just forgot to mention that before she got out for some reason....

    Lefty Jeet Heer praises an Yglesias thread on topic:

    Pretty much 100% of Afghanis now have electricity, which is amazing, vs 20% a few decades ago.Except when the Taliban gets pissed and starts knocking out infrastructure. Which is all pretty easy to attack since much of it's stretched across the countryside. So sure, renege on those promises, those withdrawal treaties - what could go wrong?

    from on site correspondent for PBS News Hour, New Yorker, and a journalism professor:

    and two interesting replies to her tweets

    Media's Al Qaeda panic gotcha

    (no, Al Qaeda is not a big threat today like in 2001, and trying to make Biden look out of touch is just the douchebaggery the media excels in)

    France made the same decision as Biden in May and began evacuation of employees then and also got a lot of grief about being defeatist for it. I include the translation after the original:

    One can go in all kinds of directions about preparedness with that!



    now this doesn't sound good! "unknown attackers"? what agenda would German forces command have to tweet something like this if not true? it's definitely a developing

    Deadly firefight erupts at Kabul airport as evacuation chaos continues into second week

    by Natasha Turak @, 35 mins. ago

    A firefight broke out in the chaos at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport early Monday morning as foreign forces continued to assist with evacuations and thousands of Afghans attempted to escape the country taken over by the Taliban a week ago.

    One Afghan security personnel was killed and three others wounded when the firefight erupted between Afghan security forces and unknown attackers, the official account of the German Joint Forces Operations Command said in a tweet Monday.

    The German military also said that American and German forces were involved in the progression of the fighting, but that all of the German forces on the ground were unharmed [....]

    So 1 guy with an automatic - 1 killed, 3 wounded - sounds like a quiet night in Chicago.
    I'm sure people are going to highlight every altercation over there, ignoring say the 4000 dying a day just in India 2 months ago, or the pathetic conditions many live in in other Asian and African countries.

    believe it or not, the U.S. House is not debating about Biden's handling of Afghanistan or how it has hurt the U.S. reputation or not BUT trying to make $3.5 Trillion worth of social spending sausage, way bigger than anything in the history of the country by any measure. I've found it's always a helpful perspective refresher to check up what Congress is up to. If they are not taking advantage of flogging something that the media and/or social media is flogging, they don't consider it the big reputation changing deal that it's being made out to be. If it was, if they thought it had wings with voters, rather than just a minority of cognescenti or foreign policy fans, they'd be flogging it, they'd make time for it.

    After the blasts, eyes are turning toward an Islamic State affiliate that had U.S. officials worried.

    @ Live, Aug. 26

    The United States has been battling the Taliban and their militant partners in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, for 20 years.

    But the biggest immediate threat to both the Americans and the Taliban as the United States escalates its evacuation at the Kabul airport before an Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline is a common rival that is lesser known: Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, the terrorist group’s affiliate in Afghanistan.

    On Thursday, after blasts tore through the crowds outside the airport in Kabul, many wondered if ISIS-K was behind them.

    The immediate answer: It’s too soon to know with any certainty.

    But officials say one thing appears clear: For all the years of bloodshed the Taliban caused in Afghanistan, they were not responsible for this new attack.

    The Taliban, officials said, want to maintain an orderly evacuation at the airport, at least until the end of the month. Thursday’s explosions signaled that Afghanistan’s new leaders might not be up to the task.

    Some officials also believe ISIS is the most likely culprit because of warnings over the past week that the group might try to set off a bomb near the airport.

    These warnings, coupled with new demands by the Taliban for the United States to leave by Aug. 31, probably influenced President Biden’s decision on Tuesday to stick to that deadline. “Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians,” Mr. Biden said.

    Created six years ago by disaffected Pakistani Taliban, ISIS-K has carried out dozens of attacks in Afghanistan this year.

    The threats lay bare a complicated dynamic between the Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Haqqani network, and their bitter rival, ISIS-K, in what analysts say portends a bloody struggle involving thousands of foreign fighters on both sides.

    A United Nations report in June concluded that 8,000 to 10,000 fighters from Central Asia, the North Caucasus region of Russia, Pakistan and the Xinjiang region in western China have poured into Afghanistan in recent months. Most are associated with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the report said, but others are allied with ISIS-K.

    “Afghanistan has now become the Las Vegas of the terrorists, of the radicals and of the extremists,” said Ali Mohammad Ali, a former Afghan security official. “People all over the world, radicals and extremists, are chanting, celebrating the Taliban victory. This is paving the way for other extremists to come to Afghanistan.”

    Adam Nossiter and Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.

    — Eric Schmitt

    also noted from later entry "Explosions strike Kabul airport, killing dozens, including U.S. Marines."

    The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, condemned the attack, and said that at least 13 civilians had been killed and 60 wounded.

    I have now retweeted dozens of my old tweets on ISKP vs Taliban rivalry and the wars they have fought in multiple provinces of Afghanistan. A lot of data for media to go through so they can come up with better analysis than the "Taliban are ISKP's allies" BS. See my timeline.

    — FJ (@Natsecjeff) August 27, 2021

    "Nat. Sec. Jeff" found only because retweeted by Rukmini Callimachi @rcallimachi who I follow. She self-describes as New York Times correspondent, covering education.@NBC analyst. Previously, 7 years covering ISIS & al-Qaeda, 7 years in Africa. Ex-AP bureau chief. Ex-refugee.

    Now the airport suicide bombings.

    There is nothing Biden can do at this point to turn around or end this fiasco.

    The horror stories from Afghanistan are not ending anytime soon, could go on for years. In that respect the war will never be over in many people's lifetimes.

    Biden picked people like SOS Blinken who shared his pipe dream that he had all the time in the world to handle evacuations.

    The only person who got out in time was President Ghani, the guy who apparently convinced Biden to use Americans as ‘hostages’ to create confidence and prop him up long enough for him to arrange his own exit.

    I believe a more savvy intellect would have told Ghani, "I am not going to use US citizens lives and safety to increase confidence in your governent, that is your job."

    Ghani requested Biden to do this, and Biden apparently agreed. NYT 2 days ago:

    Even before Mr. Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops, his administration rejected frantic calls from lawmakers and activists to evacuate Afghans, who now find themselves in jeopardy.

    Then this summer, Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, implored Mr. Biden to hold off on evacuations until U.S. forces were gone for good, fearing that the image would undermine confidence in his government.

    Analysis piece by Jane Perlez @, Aug. 26, 1:08 pm- Pakistan "wins". But what?

    The Real Winner of the Afghan War? It’s Not Who You Think.

    Pakistan, nominally a U.S. partner in the war, was the Afghan Taliban’s main patron, and sees the Taliban’s victory as its own. But now what does it do with its prize?

    John Bolton had a better point to make on Pakistan's dual nature last week in the WaPo. He said the Taliban victory in Afghanistan may lead to more of a Talibani-ization of Pakistan .... leading to 'loose nukes' from Pakistan getting under the control of international terrorists.

    Emily Littela?!

    Right now Biden is still taking questions from the press after addressing the nation live on TV

    "Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts."

    a. Joe Biden, 2021

    b. George W. Bush, 2001

    c. Donald Trump, 2017

    d. Barack Obama, 2011

    e. a, b

    f. all of the above

    answer, link

    You forget Ronnie before them in 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, which I bring up in my comment below.

    One could also do Bill Clinton and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing.(which actually does have some relation to the people attacking now) And then there's the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Tanzia and Kenya, the bombing attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. (That's without going into attacks on our soil of civilian spots like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing)

    Heck, you could probably go back to some of T.R.'S  foreign policy adventures....though one risks the owner of the website disagreeing about what he did to "American reputation", and as far as revenge and retaliation...

    President Biden pledged to hunt down those responsible and said the evacuation of U.S. citizens would continue.

    Worst Fear for President Who Hoped to End Grim Calls to Military Families The president spoke out after the attack that killed scores at the Kabul airport, among them 13 U.S. service members. He vowed to continue the evacuation of Americans.

    President Biden said he had asked his commanders to find ways to target ISIS-K, which claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    @ Live



    Read a transcript of President Biden’s remarks.

    That so many Marines tragically died reminded me of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing which was a greater attack on nation-building forces by a huge multitude. Which also involved suicide bombing!

    So I refreshed my memory by reading the Wikipedia entry which recounted what Saint Ronnie did about it. First he said he would maintain a military presence and not cow to terrorists, but that quickly changed when he cowed instead to public opinion: On February 7, 1984, President Reagan ordered the Marines to begin withdrawing from Lebanon largely because of waning congressional support for the mission after the attacks on the barracks.[96][97][98][99][100][101] 

    This clarified something for me: Americans don't like "peacekeeping" or "nation building" if it doesn't include lots and lots of gratitude! Hence there is a lot of sympathy for those who did show gratitude by working for the Americans, but not much else

    This from the wikipedia entry was interesting:

    Eventually, it became evident that the U.S. would launch no serious and immediate retaliatory attack for the Beirut Marine barracks bombing beyond naval barrages and air strikes used to interdict continuous harassing fire from Druze and Syrian missile and artillery sites.[88] A true retaliatory strike failed to materialize because there was a rift in White House counsel (largely between George P. Shultz of the Department of State and Weinberger of the Department of Defense) and because the extant evidence pointing at Iranian involvement was circumstantial at that time: the Islamic Jihad, which took credit for the attack, was a front for Hezbollah which was acting as a proxy for Iran; thus, affording Iran plausible deniability.[6] Secretary of State Shultz was an advocate for retaliation, but Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was against retaliation. Secretary of Defense Weinberger, in a September 2001 Frontline interview, reaffirmed that rift in White House counsel when he claimed that the U.S. still lacks "'actual knowledge of who did the bombing' of the Marine barracks."[80]

    (edit to add missing negative for clarity) 

    Its hours away from the deadline now. Following are some things that occur to me while watching the news about Afghanistan and reading it online: 

    The Taliban cannot necessarily protect the airport and guarantee safe passage in and out. There are other forces at play and it's a dirty war. They do themselves have the power to shut down the airport any time they choose. 

    The U.S. may somewhat dodge a tricky situation if they are ordered to quit flying in and out of Kabul on the deadline. They would be still, of course, in a very sticky situation and will be lucky if only subjected to more embarrassment but are able to dodge more tradgedy. 

    Given what we have seen of the early flights before the thousands of additional soldiers arrived and got control of the crowds, can anyone imagine climbing aboard a plane to be the last flight out with no one controling the mob scene. 

    It is very possible that a last contingent of American soldiers guarding the last flight out might be forced to give themselves over to Taliban control so to be provided safe passage out of the country.   With all the bargaining power they would have the Taliban would surely want some carrots. 




    Taliban may have told the CIA guy who went there to meet with them, we want the $4 billion the US has in our accounts, and recognition in x months or we may decide to 'disappear' some stranded US passport holders ... quietly keep them hostage, and later put them on trial if you don't comply.

    Agreed, they could do that. I am hoping for better but I think Afganistan's miseries will go on for quite a while. For a small percentage of the expense we have been running up counter-productively we could actually provide the Afghanistan peole with humanitarian aid. Expect sanctions.

    Presumably humanitarian aid was part of the mix - for example
    Vaclav Smil likes infant mortality as best measure for quality of life:

    A link to this study might be helpful if it is to be meaningful. The information as shown does not make sense to me. There must be overlap amomg the three groupings of mortality figures. How can the total child mortality of 11 per thousand live births be much smaller than either of the sub-groups of the infant mortality or the under-5 mortality? 

    Infant + child = under 5 (roughly)

    Yglesias REALLY is beating a very loud drum anti-corporate-media, pro-Biden, pro-withdrawal. Rare for him to exhibit this level of outrage, and it is partly about complicit media


    He's right way more often than he is wrong.

    Trump made the plan to end the war. No argument the war must end, it's how it ended.

    Biden appointed Blinken at State to handle the civ withdrawal and exit visas. Both Biden and Blinken, B &B, were hallucinating Ghani would make a heroic last stand and his corrupt administration would muster resistance.

    The tip off,  I will repeat, was Ghani asking Biden to not order the exit of Americans earlier this year as their exit would 'undermine' confidence in him.  Apparently B & B were too impulsive and enamored of their perspicacity to realize what Ghani was afraid of, collapse of his failed corrupt leadership.  American civilian 'hostages' would show that Biden, anyway,  had great confidence in Ghani's leadership. Biden brought on calamity when State failed to get Americans out fast and early.

    This is true of every Afghan leader since 2001. But there's a parallel issue of the rush for the gates - there's simply never a good time for an exit - simply "how shitty and painful will this be"? And do you pull the tooth slow or quick? Will a slow drawdown produce a flood earlier than planned, including terrorist militias, and how will that look, and whow will we react?

    The ability to create chaos in Afghanistan is endless. Despite all the navel gazing and backseat driving, this is probably as good as it gets. I'm reminded of a bomb scare on a bridge in Iraq where 200 people died -trampled, lept to death, etc. 1 incident. 1 day. Didn't even make main news reports that day. We forget how shitty war and foreign occupations can be. Even after a year of the painstaking coalition against ISIS, and how Trump pulled the plug on that so they all disappeared into the desert. Anyway, we bought the Afghanis 20 years of modernization - even though it will be mixed with traditional ways and local customs. Hopefully it will be a positive impact going forward. But next time someone says we should do something about the Rohingya and Uzghurs, it's a reminder of "just what exactly?" I also had a friend who was working in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan 21 years ago, a million+ refugees sitting there for years. But we're going to run Afghanistan through the prism of a couple weeks evacuation from an airport.

    True, yet you don't voluntarily evacuate your combat and air assets and equipment, and eviscerate contractor support for the Afghan army before getting your civilian people out. It directly leads to what we now see, a fiasco, one among many, but a last minute rush/chaos, in large part avoidable.

    found Lawrence O'Donnell promoting this view, too, by recommending Eric Levitz's New York Magazine article:

    Does beg the question: who is "the media" if an anchor of an MSNBC show reommends an article accusing it?

    The supposedly  "really needs to be read" article from 2 days ago, by Glenn Greenwald wannabe, Eric Levitz, (who hides his biography) opens with the not so prescient:

    "America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has yet to cost our nation a single casualty. "

    Having read Levitz, nothing he writes has any connection to reality.  Which would lead me to surmise, nothing Lawrence O'Donnell says is worth anyone's time either.

    I suppose a repeat of the 1842 British presence in Kabul making a run for the border with every man, woman, child slaughtered but 1 would be a more appropriate tactic to show that Biden did everything he could to stay in to the last minute.

    When it comes down to it, the Taliban won the hearts and minds of their people more than we and our Afghan allies did. They are now the legitimate government of Afghanistan, however much that pains us. Considering the 15,000 a year casualty rate in recent times, the few deaths in the evacuation period are rather remarkable. With the Taliban using social media, it is possible they have learned something in 20 years and are not the irretrievable Huns they were 20 years ago - inch'Allah 

    But yes, this advocacy opinion writing posed as factual reporting is ever more jarring, a worthwhile subtext to the piece. If someone wants to make the point that the Taliban is completely incorrigible (this in comparison to some less than exemplary citizens in the Hindu Kush region), perhaps they should actually document what the horrors of Taliban-led society in 2021 are (*besides* the wearing of head covering for women). Because a caretaker government should have been there until it was safe to leave (as one obvious measure), and in this case the condition seems relatively met.- even negotiating with the incoming regime for a less chaotic exit, not quite offered in Saigon or by ISIS. I haven't seen documented atrocities in the scale of abuses to Rohingya populations, millions of incarcerated Uyghurs, or the legendary Congolese rape gangs in a war that killed 5 million just 20 years ago. So some rational modern balanced perspective on how things are actually going would be appreciated.

    Observing our Petri dish would be better if we didn't keep sticking our thumbs in it to draw conclusions. Some more primitive societies might just indeed be more comfortable being primitive societies, even if there's some Brownian Motion or other movement of progressive thought within the culture.
    I guess bringing the cannibals to Jesus is a noble sentiment in some way, but some peoples are not quite ripe for democracy or market economies or whatever it is this should all evolve into. Odd that we barely gave a shit about the 5 year war around 2000 in the Congo that killed 5 million, except to wail about the horrific rape gangs much more than the actual horrendous deathtoll (not to diminish the horror of rape - often followed by murder - gangs. But still, Congo is comfortably back to primitive and we don't waste trillions or send troops or bombers to try to speed their evolutionary shift. Nor in Mali where they occasionally kidnap unwise or unfortunate tourists, and then there's Brunei where they have a quasi-enlightened Muslim dictator who either treats the people well or poorly - nobody's reported on Brunei in 100 years, at least not in any journal read in the West, so it remains a peaceful if somewhat fantastical land far off on the horizon. Papua New Guinea has largely stopped serving people au gratin or tartar so we don't much care about their progress or lack thereof, only that we hope the nearby Aussies are paying attention if anything untoward comes up. Or not. Lots of jungle cover, so what they do is between them and whatever Gods they have. Not on our to-do list (yet?). Chechnya on the other hand was too close to home (NY/LA/DC/sometimes London media centers presumably - not sure any other measures of importance), so our response was palatable if just a bit feeble & ineffectual. Worth noting all the attention on the "horrors" in Donbas, with perhaps a few hundred dead during the Russian-backed uprising, whereas the living conditions are still likely better than a number of Trump's "shithole countries" - not to mention 4000 daily deaths in India back in June & 1300 daily deaths in Indonesia this month. Einstein's Special Relativity Theory at work. And with corruption ripe in Africa and elsewhere, that greasing-the-palms that largely drives Afghanistan's inner workings is nowhere near unique - worth commenting, I suppose, yet we seem less interested in this basic "not quite free hand of the market" behind so much of the world's economies than we do that the women are required (by Islam, by the men, no thought/allowance that some is self-choice, despite the history of nunneries) head/face coverings. Presumably Brunei is too humid for the face bit and Saudi has too much oil or they'd all have our fervent attention to come in and do something. Meanwhile, ugly capitalism has revolutionized the world the last 50 years much more than any revolutionary doctrine - as long as the borders (Soviet? Chinese? Central American? SE Asian?) came down long enough to allow. Yes, Churchill was slightly off - capitalism (with a bit of socialism) is the wost possible system except for all the others. Even democracy not quite needed in all cases (it doesn't seem to be helping Britain right now). Ugly & warts and crude behavior and certainly the need to be contained in a myriad of ways - "free markets" must be maintained and groomed, not just run wild - but there's more hope in the urge of Afghanis to make money than in them seeking out ennobled behavior. Selfish motivations in the long run work best, though in the long run we're all dead as well, so where is that parallax? Even global warming wants to know, now that we got rid of our previous overpopulation demise. Or will we shift to pandemic after pandemic as our new catastrophe scenario, sinking planes & boats being so 70s?
    Liberalism’s graveyard | Sumantra Maitra | The Critic Magazine

    geez, heart rending photo, looks so young and probably joined up as a navy medic to see the world

    U.S. airstrike targets Islamic State in Afghanistan in retaliation for deadly Kabul airport attack

    A.P. via CNBC, FRI, 9:49 PM  EDT, UPDATED 2 HOURS Ago


    • U.S. Central Command said the U.S. conducted a drone strike against an Islamic State member in Nangahar believed to be involved in planning attacks against the U.S. in Kabul.
    • The strike killed one individual, and spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban said they knew of no civilian casualties.

    The United States military struck back at the Islamic State on Saturday, bombing an IS member in Afghanistan less than 48 hours after a devastating suicide bombing claimed by the group killed as many as 169 Afghans and 13 American service members at the Kabul airport.U.S. Central Command said the U.S. conducted a drone strike against an Islamic State member in Nangahar believed to be involved in planning attacks against the U.S. in Kabul. The strike killed one individual, and spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban said they knew of no civilian casualties.

    “U.S. military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation today against an ISIS-K planner. The unmanned airstrike occurred in the Nangahar Province of Afghanistan. Initial indications are that we killed the target. We know of no civilian casualties,” Urban said in his statement.

    Biden authorized the drone strike and it was ordered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to provide details not yet publicly announced.

    It wasn’t clear if that individual was involved specifically in the Thursday suicide blast outside the gates of the Kabul airport, where crowds of Afghans were desperately trying to get in as part of the ongoing evacuation from the country after the Taliban’s rapid takeover.

    Two U.S. defense officials familiar with the strike told NBC News that the target of the drone strike was riding in a vehicle with an associate at the time of the strike, and that they were driving in an isolated area. The officials told NBC News the strike was carried out by an MQ-9 Reaper drone and munitions that were selected for precision and in order to minimize any civilian casualties.

    The airstrike fulfilled a vow President Joe Biden made to the nation Thursday when he said the perpetrators of the attack would not be able to hide. “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” he said. Pentagon leaders told reporters Friday that they were prepared for whatever retaliatory action the president ordered.

    “We have options there right now,” said Maj. Gen. Hank Taylor of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff [....]

    Biden's full statement:



    The Taliban "confirmation" is interesting especially in the light of the fact that many are claiming there were a lot of civilian "collateral" deaths, including 6 kids according to this claimant:

    9 civilians from one family were also killed in this strike against ISIS, a man who lost his brother told CNN. 6 were kids, 10 years old or younger.

    — Alexander Marquardt (@MarquardtA) August 29, 2021


    Human Rights Watch's June 2020 report on life under Taliban rule in Aghanistan in Taliban-held districts:

    [....] This report is based on a total of 138 interviews, including 120 in-person interviews with Taliban officials, commanders, and fighters, who in their own words talk about their policies and their reasons for imposing restrictions on communities under their control. Others interviewed included teachers, doctors, elders, students, and other local residents in Helmand, Kunduz, and Wardak provinces—three of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces in the north, south and center of the country—between January 2019 and April 2020.

    The report focuses on the everyday experiences of people living in Taliban-held districts and the impact Taliban policies have had on their rights and freedoms, including education; information and media; and movement. It looks at local people’s efforts to bring complaints against Taliban officials and fighters. Since US-Taliban negotiations began in early 2019, women’s rights activists and other Afghans in government-held areas have raised concerns about Taliban restrictions in their areas of control and the effect a settlement with the Taliban would have on these rights. We also document abuses by Taliban courts and prisons, including prolonged arbitrary detention and summary punishments, including executions. We do not document here the Taliban’s many and widespread violations of the methods and means of warfare, including deliberate attacks on civilians, which we investigated in the 2018 Human Rights Watch report, No Safe Place: Insurgent Attacks on Civilians in Afghanistan, and which continue to cause civilian harm [....]

    Mitt agrees with NCD:

    Would America be in a much better place if Romney had won in 2012? Likely. As honest, sane and competent a conservative as still exists. What did Obama actually  do his second term except get stiffed by McConnell, and tee up a run by Trump?

    Although if Romney won, also in 2016, we might be stuck with that weasel Paul Ryan as president now.

    Biden abandons "America's infidel wolves" in buses outside Kabul airport after their names and phone numbers were provided to the Taliban.  link

    "When the Taliban took over Kabul on Aug. 15, one of the first sites the group captured was the sprawling, modern American University campus. Men in traditional Afghan outfits and swinging AK-47 rifles raised the flag of the Taliban and brought down the university flag, according to student and social media photos.

    The Taliban posted a picture of themselves on social media standing at the entrance of a university building with an ominous message, saying they were where America trained infidel “wolves” to corrupt the minds of Muslims. ....

    Hundreds of students and alumni of American University of Afghanistan gathered at a safe house on Sunday and boarded buses in .... a final attempt at evacuation on U.S. military flights ...... after seven hours of waiting for clearance to enter the airport gates ..... the group met a dead end: Evacuations were permanently called off. ....  a list of names and passport information of hundreds of students and alumni was shared with the Taliban guarding the airport checkpoints  "

    PP posted this disagreement on the university story on another thread under other items:

    Kessler is a veteran at WaPo and now Editor/chief writer of Washington Post's Fact Checker

    I have not followed up any further, just pointing it out.

    Anyone upper level people involved with this Afghan collapse/exit fiasco will deny any errors or responsibility, followed by claims they did a fantastic job. We'll have to see what happens, hopefully the students will get out, if they have no future in Afghanistan.

    The Biden administration wiping out 10 innocents, and seven kids, with the excuse they 'took out' an 'ISIS car bomb' fortified that dismal view for me.

    Biden 'politically needed' to strike ISIS-k, so the DOD obliged with this FUBAR drone hit.

    AA has seen my comments on this.  The enclosed by housing small, contained parking lot 'kill zone'   -- in scene photos in the NYT, WaPo and elsewhere we see the 2 burnt out cars (both belonged to the family) .... also ........ intact ground level structure doors, undisturbed 2nd floor patio above the 'bomb zone' with untouched flimsy overhead shade, masonry house  - no damage, no crater, also no one in the home injured.

    This is not the scene of a car bomb detonation. Drones use kinetic weapons that limit the killing/damage to the selected target only, that is what the pictures show.

    Adding this from a news link, for future reference.  NYT, 8/30/2021

    Biden's exit fiasco topped off by the Pentagon lying about hit by a US drone strike they claimed was on a ISIS-k suicide bomber. The hit was at the home of a man who had just dropped off collegues from Nutrition and Education International, a California based charity. Strike killed 10, including the man and 6 children.

    Pentagon in self praise mode over the incident:  "No military on the face of the earth works harder to avoid civilian casualties than the United States military."

    see also:

    As he pulled into the narrow street where he lived with his three brothers and their families, many of their children, seeing his white Toyota Corolla, rushed out to greet him, family members said. Some clambered onto the car in the street, one jumped in while others gathered in the narrow courtyard of the compound as he pulled in.

    It was then, friends and family say, that the vehicle was hit with a missile which they believe was fired by an American drone, .......The family’s SUV, parked next to the Corolla in the tight confines of the courtyard, was set on fire, while smoke filled the house.....Among the victims was her cousin and fiancé, Ahmad Naser, 30, a former army officer and contractor with the U.S. military who had come from Herat, in western Afghanistan, in hopes of being evacuated from Kabul.....

    Also note: If either car had a ISIS bomb in it the house and walls of the parking area would have been blown to bits.  Photo's at the scene do not show that. Even the rickety 2nd floor patio roof wasn't damaged, see below.

    There would also be a deep crater. There was none. There was no car bomb, just the drone missile that did the killing.

    US intercepts rockets targeting Kabul airport as key diplomats fly out

    Islamic State claims responsibility for attacks in final hours of western evacuation of Afghanistan

    By Jon Henley & Agencies @ The,  30 Aug 2021 16.05 BST

    US anti-missile defences have intercepted as many as five rockets targeting Kabul airport as key American diplomats flew out of the Aghan capital in the final hours of the western evacuation under the threat of further Islamic State attacks.

    Officials told Reuters that core US diplomats had on Monday joined the 122,000 foreign nationals and Afghans to be evacuated since mid-August, although it was not clear whether the acting ambassador, Ross Wilson, was among them.

    The last few hundred US troops are due to pull out of the country by Joe Biden’s Tuesday deadline [...]

    No casualties were reported from the rockets fired on Monday morning. IS, which opposes both the west and the hardline Islamist Taliban movement that swept back to power in Afghanistan a fortnight ago, claimed responsibility.

    The White House confirmed a rocket attack on the airport but said airlift operations were “uninterrupted”. Biden had “reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritise doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground”, a White House statement said.

    Afghan media said Monday’s attack had been launched from the back of a vehicle which was subsequently hit by a US drone strike, with several rockets striking different parts of the Afghan capital. Those targeting the airport were intercepted by its missile defence system.

    The latest attacks followed a deadly IS suicide bombing on Thursday that killed more than 140 Afghans waiting in desperation outside the crowded airport gates in hopes of boarding a flight out of Kabul, as well as 13 US soldiers.


    Washington has warned of more attacks within the next 24 to 36 hours and carried out two airstrikes against IS targets, including one on Sunday which it said thwarted an attempted suicide bombing by blowing up a car packed with explosives [....]

    continues incl. with Brit & French info. 

    Many comments at WaPo think that car with the missile tubes was the one hit by the drone, and either had the kids in it, or was next to the one with the kids in it. No connection.

    Biden two hours ago:

    and from the official Twitter acct. of the DNC:

    and from the other party:

    echoing the Jr.:

    Blinken announces that the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan has ended, and that a new diplomatic mission towards Afghanistan has begun, with headquarters in Doha, Qatar -

    Reuters Exclusive: Before Afghan collapse, Biden pressed Ghani to ‘change perception’

    “I need not tell you the perception around the world…is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”

    — Meredith Lee (@meredithllee) August 31, 2021

    Reuters reviewed a transcript of the presidential phone call and has listened to the audio to authenticate the conversation. The materials were provided on condition of anonymity by a source who was not authorized to distribute it.

    Pretty astounding. Ghani had a plan, and an open ticket to Doha. Wonder what Biden's national security guy, Sullivan, thought of Biden's 11th hour, 59 minute pep talk.

    I have come to believe Biden thinks handling foreign policy is like playing rope a dope political charades in the Senate.

    I'm glad we're finally out, but Biden's bungling of the withdrawal is criminal negligence.

    The lying by Biden and his administration, and the head in the sand 'preparation for all contingencies' BS are jaw dropping.

    This today, General Milley no longer claiming 'secondary exp!osions and car bomb', but 'righteous' drone strike.   

    WaPo: Live Afghanistan updatesTop general defends Kabul drone strike, despite reported civilian casualties

    "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday defended Sunday’s U.S. drone strike in Kabul that appears to have caused civilian casualtieshe strike, targeting an “imminent” threat posed by the Islamic State’s offshoot in Afghanistan, was “righteous,” Gen. Mark A. Milley said, and through a “variety of means,” military officials know that at least one Islamic State member, whom they have declined to name, was killed.

    “At the time — and I think this is still valid — we had very good intelligence that ISIS-K was preparing a specific type of vehicle at a specific type of location,” he said. “We monitored that through various means and all of the engagement criteria were being met. We went through the same level of rigor that we’ve done for years....."

    Milley not only didn't name the person, he provided no proof how this person was an imminent danger to American forces, as the car bomb excuse is such obvious BS they have now dropped it.

    To repeat, check photos from NYT and WaPi, and above. No car bomb: 

    Structure of parking lot walls intact. 2nd floor patios intact with furniture, flimsy sun shade intact, clothes still  on wash line, no windows broken, first floor green door (NYT) undamaged, no crater.

    We are being lied to again over this negligent act that Biden 'needed' to show he was tough. It was a heinous capper to a fiasco.

    Huh? We've been withdrawing from Afghanistan for 20 years, we've been lying about it 20 years. If they blew more smoke up Joe's ass, so it goes. You and i knew things were fucked up there despite the constant Petraeus-like bullshit. And the reason politicians lie is people want to hear lies. Sure, Taliban could've taken over in 2 months instead of 2 weeks and somehow people would be happier, it would've been cleaner. We are suckers.

    I'm somewhat surprised to find people online defending Biden's handling of the withdrawal.

    Define "defend"

    Saying he couldn't have handled it any better(I don't mean people here).

    Difference between "wasn't ever going to look that pretty" and "in many areas his hands were tied" vs "he couldn't have handled it better".

    Someone pointed out last night his shock that Biden didn't coordinate this with allies (such as the Brits) - that's perhaps a more bothersome essential detail than many of the complaints - are we still runnintlg Trumpian go-it-alone policy and pissing off Europe?

    BBC account of drone strike quotes expert who backs NCD posts above:

    "One expert, Brian Castner of Amnesty International, said the visual evidence led him to believe this was a single strike, followed by a fire in the car itself, and possibly the explosion of a fuel tank in a neighbouring vehicle.

    "I have not seen evidence of a secondary blast," he told us. "If there had been a significant secondary explosion, I would have expected to see much more damage in a confined space."

    He said there appeared to be only light fragmentation damage on the adjacent vehicle and on the walls of nearby buildings. He also points out that the black smoke that can be seen rising in a video filmed from nearby, is consistent with a petrol fire from a vehicle."

    A comprehensive investigation by the NYT shows Joint Chief of Staff Milley's claim that the drone strike, the last US strike before leaving Afghanistan, and which killed 10 innocent civilians including 7 children, was not "righteous" (Milley's word) but perhaps the most unwarranted, egregious and criminal single drone operation in US military history.

    "The Times reporting has identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group. The evidence, including extensive interviews with family members, co-workers and witnesses, suggests that his travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work. And an analysis of video feeds showed that what the military may have seen was Mr. Ahmadi and a colleague loading canisters of water into his trunk to bring home to his family..

    Experts who examined photos and videos pointed out that, although there was clear evidence of a missile strike and subsequent vehicle fire, there were no collapsed or blown-out walls, no destroyed vegetation, and only one dent in the entrance gate, indicating a single shock wave.

    “It seriously questions the credibility of the intelligence or technology utilized to determine this was a legitimate target,” said Chris Cobb-Smith, a British Army veteran and security consultant..."

    Dagblog, 8/30, NCD:

    "Ground floor green door in picture above was not blown off, not to mention walls damaged/blown to bits, and old stucco is undamaged, 2nd floor patio sunshade undisturbed, see WaPo article or my blog.

    Drone missiles are specially made just to kill people in target vehicles, explosive amount is a tiny fraction of a car bomb."

    funny how drastically the winds can change in a few short months

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