Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Perpetual Insanity That We Accept


So, after twenty years, the richest countries in the world (the USA and its NATO allies) were unable to construct a viable government that could meet the very modest expectations of the people of Afghanistan (one of the poorest countries in the world). Despite having spent literally TRILLIONS of dollars, the USA and its NATO allies were also unable to defeat a "Third World" insurgency, or to build an Afghan military force that could fight the insurgency autonomously. I don't know what sort of world you'd have to live in where you could constantly throw billions of dollars a month at a problem, and be genuinely indifferent and incurious about how nothing ever seems to improve. That's not my world. It's not the world of many leftists. Being critical thinkers, it is second-nature for us to acknowledge the realities that stare us straight in the face, look honestly for their causes, and think honestly about possible solutions. And if this self-praise sounds a little obnoxious, ... well, just consider how powerful people, being paid to think about and manage something like the Occupation of Afghanistan, showed themselves entirely incapable of doing the same thing that leftist critics of that occupation did for pretty much the entire twenty years of its existence. Which, in the end, produced articles like this:

"Biden said he had 'trust' in the Afghan military. Weeks later, it's facing total defeat and a Taliban takeover."

In early July, President Joe Biden vehemently rejected the notion that withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan meant a Taliban takeover of the country was "inevitable."

"The likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely," Biden said during a news conference on July 8, underscoring that the Afghan armed forces were "as well-equipped as any army in the world."

"I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and ... more competent in terms of conducting war," the president said at the time, responding to questions about whether withdrawing the roughly 2,500 remaining US troops would precipitate a civil war or a Taliban victory.

Though the security situation has deteriorated with blistering speed, Biden on Tuesday told reporters he does not regret ordering the withdrawal.

"Look, we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years.  We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces," Biden said. "And Afghan leaders have to come together.  We lost thousands — lost to death and injury — thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."

But the US-trained and equipped Afghan forces have consistently proven to be either unwilling or unable to keep the Taliban at bay. As Afghan troops have surrendered, the Taliban has seized weapons provided by the US, forcing the US to carry out strikes on captured military equipment to stop the Taliban from turning it on the Afghan forces.

All culminating in the fall of Kabul on August 15th, 2021. What led to this defeat of the USA's goals in Afghanistan? It's not a great mystery to solve. Left-wingers have been sounding the warnings the entire time. In some instances, prescient observers have been justifiably critiquing US policy towards Afghanistan decades earlier. (For backing reactionary forces against Afghan communists; for abandoning the country after the Soviet withdrawal and the later fall of its client government; for ignoring the human tragedies caused by the in-fighting among corrupt, gangster warlords; and so-on and such forth.) Leftist criticisms have been accurate, on-point, and valid, as well as completely ignored (or occasionally mocked and derided) the entire time.

Case in point: I'm currently reading The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress, a collection of essays by Chris Hedges, published in 2011. Some of these essays go back to 2008. The essay "Afghanistan's Sham Army" is from November 9, 2009. Here's some excerpts:

American military advisers who work with the Afghan National Army,
or ANA, speak of poorly trained and unmotivated Afghan soldiers who
have little stomach for military discipline and even less for fighting.
They describe many ANA units as being filled with brigands who
terrorize local populations, exacting payments and engaging in
intimidation, rape and theft. They contend that the ANA is riddled with
Taliban sympathizers. And when there are combined American and Afghan
operations against the Taliban insurgents, ANA soldiers are fickle and
unreliable combatants, the U.S. advisers say. 

This was reported the entire time. The ANA was infiltrated by Taliban members who would give material and information from the ANA to the Taliban. Or it was full of guys who had run out of prospects and turned to the army for a paycheque. For those men, dying in combat defeats the whole purpose, the entire purpose for their enlistment. Finally, the ANA was manned by fictional soldiers, names provided by corrupt officers who kept the very real payments sent to them.

Hedges next mentions how, as opposed to the mania for (often inflated) bodycounts of Vietnamese resistance fighters in the Vietnam War, the military/political leadership in the USA used the metric of the size of the ANA to measure their "success."

American military commanders in Afghanistan, rather than pump out
statistics about enemy body counts, measure progress by the swelling
size of the ANA. The bigger the ANA, the better we are supposedly
doing. The pressure on trainers to increase the numbers of the ANA
means that training and vetting of incoming Afghan recruits is nearly

Being arrogant and stupid, the USA's military and political leadership took this nonsensical measure and worked hard to make sure that they achieved it as shambolically as possilbe:

The process of induction for Afghan soldiers begins at the Kabul
Military Training Center. American instructors at the Kabul center
routinely complain of shortages of school supplies such as whiteboards,
markers and paper. They often have to go to markets and pay for these
supplies on their own or do without them. Instructors are pressured to
pass all recruits and graduate many who have been absent for a third to
half the training time. Most are inducted into the ANA without having
mastered rudimentary military skills.


Afghan soldiers are sent from the Kabul Military Training Center
directly to active-duty ANA units. The units always have American
trainers, know as a "mentoring team," attached to them. The rapid
increase in ANA soldiers has outstripped the ability of the American
military to provide trained mentoring teams. The teams, normally
comprised of members of the Army Special Forces, are now formed by
plucking American soldiers, more or less at random, from units all over


"You're lucky enough if you had any mentorship training at all,
something the Army provides in a limited capacity at pre-mobilization
training at Fort Riley, but having none is the norm," he said.
"Soldiers who receive their pre-mobilization training at Fort Bragg
learn absolutely nothing about mentoring foreign forces aside from
being given a booklet on the subject, and yet soldiers who go through
Bragg before being shipped to Afghanistan are just as likely to be
assigned to mentoring teams as anyone else."

And, again, there's the problem of the ANA being full of thieves and rapists:

But what disturbs advisers most is the widespread corruption within
the ANA which has enraged and alienated local Afghans and proved to be
a potent recruiting tool for the Taliban.

"In the Afghan logistics battalion I was embedded with, the
commander himself was extorting a local shopkeeper, and his staff
routinely stole from the local store," the adviser said. "In Kabul, on
one humanitarian aid mission I was on, we handed out school supplies to
children, and in an attempt to lend validity to the ANA we had them
[ANA members] distribute the supplies. As it turns out, we received
intelligence reports that that very same group of ANA had been
extorting money from the villagers under threat of violence. In
essence, we teamed up with well-known criminals and local thugs to
distribute aid in the very village they had been terrorizing, and that
was the face of American charity."

Hedges spends the rest of the essay describing the privatization of much of the US military's non-combat requirements, vehicle maintenance, logistics, food provision, military advisors (!) and how this leads to further vested private interests seeking to prolong the conflict to continue to profit. (This whole privatization scheme was mainly the work of the slimey Donald Rumsfeld. A useless, incompetent, arrogant, corrupt asshole who should have ended his life at the end of a noose years earlier than it did, if precedents in international law had any say in the matter.) Hedges also describes the economic distortions caused by the foreign military presence in Afghanistan and by the gigantic levels of corruption on the part of the foreigners and the puppet government they're protecting.

So, as we see, what surprised and mystified political leaders, the corporate media, and any and all other high-rollers among the oligarchy, was always brazenly obvious to honest people with a desire to know the truth. In this case, TWELVE YEARS AGO, Chris Hedges called it, and it could have only been wilfull blindness and delusion and dishonesty that obscured these obvious truths from our elites and their mouthpieces. Here's me from 2008 explaining it all. At the present moment I'm working in a factory in Scarborough. At the time I wrote that I was teaching general-level political science and sociology at a community college. I'm not trying to say that I'm a genius who should be put in charge of the world. It's just that the facts at the time, ... the ENTIRE time, ... pointed to the Occupation of Afghanistan becoming a debacle. But the problem is that the people in charge are simultaneously corrupt, incompetent and insane, and our society, having been constructed by these maniacs, is so inevitably debased, that we continue to stumble from one easily (avoidable catastrophe) after another.

Could there not have been better uses for those $2 Trillion??? Wouldn't you say that this entire tragedy is indicative of elite insanity? Wouldn't you agree with me that the millions of human beings traumatized by this instance of the USA's megalomaniacal power elite is a bad thing? The whole thing was a bloody, horrible, tragic waste. But notice how, aside from a view voices on the left-wing media institutions, who were ignored the whole time, continue to be ignored, even after the main story is over and they have been proven right!  Everyone is ready to go on to the next insane project orchestrated and run by greedy psychopaths. The takeaway from the defeat of the USA in Afghanistan (as concocted by the propaganda system) is that the US evacuation has left the women of Afghanistan to suffer at the hands of the evil Taliban and that therefore the withdrawal was a mistake. (Some right-wing/pro-war pundits were manfully calling for a permanent presence of other US-American and NATO human beings in Afghanistan, to continue to prop-up a corrupt regime of rapists and murderers forever.) Obviously, the general public did not want to stay in Afghanistan. As debased as the corporate media is, it could not prevent the impression of failure and futility that was a result of Washington's brutality and arrogance and stupidity. But the media, doing its job of narrative policing has ensured that the sentiments surrounding the actual end of the conflict focus on people's concerns for women's rights and how the end of the Occupation has placed them in peril.

If our leaders actually gave a shit about the women of Afghanistan, or about ordinary Afghan people in general, they would have done the hard work of reining in the warlord scumbags and curbing the corruption of the puppet government in Kabul. They would have re-thought their incoherent, contradictory, stupid policies towards Pakistan. But they didn't care and so we have the result that we have. It's just one example of the irredeemable insanity of our system. A system that the Left, for all its stirring rhetoric, has absolutely no plan to topple. I'm so tired of this insanity.


Anonymous said...

If our leaders gave a shit about the women of Afghanistan, they would never have armed OBL and his fellow Saudi religious lunatics bent on overthrowing the secular Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Almost all the women physicians in Afghanistan today were trained in the 1970s and 1980s under this government. If you poke around on Australian journalist John Pilger's website, there's a photo taken at the university in Kabul in the 80s showing women without head coverings wearing fashionably short skirts. Now, there are no women at university and it's burkas everywhere. Some progress!


thwap said...


That's exactly true. The deluge of reporting about the human rights catastrophe in the new Taliban-controlled Afghanistan was hypocritical propaganda.