Afghanistan

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Brightonian
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Afghanistan

Post by Brightonian » Sun Aug 15, 2021 8:22 am

Seems that the Taliban are about to take Kabul. How is it that they managed to sweep across Afghanistan so quickly? I assume the official Afghan government's forces have a load of military equipment bequeathed by the Americans plus whatever they've procured whereas the Taliban only have AK47s, IEDs etc. so why have they collapsed so easily?

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Trinucleus » Sun Aug 15, 2021 8:35 am

That happened with ISIS in Iraq. Sounds like local Governors did deals to save their skin.

I wonder if things would be different if we'd spent the military money on humanitarian aid and education instead

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sTeamTraen » Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:00 am

Brightonian wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 8:22 am
Seems that the Taliban are about to take Kabul. How is it that they managed to sweep across Afghanistan so quickly? I assume the official Afghan government's forces have a load of military equipment bequeathed by the Americans plus whatever they've procured whereas the Taliban only have AK47s, IEDs etc. so why have they collapsed so easily?
In an old-fashioned war between countries it's very simple. The winning side will not regard the armed forces or civilians of the losing side as either traitors or a future threat. We accept that people don't like us invading them.
Hence everyone's motivation (politically, at least) is roughly symmetrical. If we lose we may get treated well or we may get massacred, but that isn't going to depend on how the victorious side perceives our individual actions.

In contrast, civil wars are much more complex. Everyone has to choose a side, knowing that when the war is over there will be consequences for having chosen the wrong side. There is a role for game theory.

(On a different scale, but not without common features, is the question of what Scotland would look like the day after a 53-47 Yes vote for independence, or 6 months after the first border posts go up. I doubt if there would be pro-Union terrorism, but I can imagine families being even more split than what happened with Brexit.)
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by shpalman » Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:05 am

Why is Afghanistan falling to the Taliban so fast?
Daniel L. Davis wrote:At a 2016 interview with SIGAR staff, Crocker explained that the Afghan special forces could help the US “clear an area, but the police can’t hold it, not because they’re out-gunner or out-manned. It’s because they are useless as a security force and they’re useless as a security force because they are corrupt down to the patrol level.”

That observation was nothing new to Crocker, however, as he further admitted that “of all the painful lessons I carry out of my time in those two war zones, Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s the … corruption at every level, that is the starkest point.”
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Little waster » Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:13 am

Tom “Rhyming-Slang” Tugendhat in usual disingenuous form on the BBC.

Apparently this is all down to Biden and Obama, presumably his own party’s decision to also withdraw all* UK troops is just one of those uncontrollable things like solar eclipses or continental drift. Also there was only the briefest acknowledgement that Trump may also carry some of the blame, it’s a pity that whoever was US President before Obama has been lost in the mists of time as if w.nker’s-Hat could recall his name he’d perhaps have reserved some excoriation for him too.

He pooh-poohed any suggestion that the Afghan engagement couldn’t just continue indefinitely, highlighting South Korea, Germany and Cyprus as examples. I can only assume his zoom webcam developed a glitch as his sentence acknowledging that unlike Afghanistan none of those are active war zones and haven’t been almost from the outset seemed to have went missing. Damn technical glitches!
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by OffTheRock » Sun Aug 15, 2021 3:39 pm

It’s OK, our Foreign Secretary is back from holiday to sort it all out.

https://mobile.twitter.com/DominicRaab/ ... 7909623809

I’m sure now we’ve told them to play nicely they’ll start to take notice.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sTeamTraen » Sun Aug 15, 2021 4:09 pm

Interesting thread from someone with local experience.

As she says, "It's Team Taliban or Team Stay Forever, there is no third team." Rory Stewart argues cogently for Team Stay Forever. Laura Jedeed here is arguing (in effect) for Team Taliban. The naïvety was imagining that there is another option (the Afghan army and police enforcing the will of the government). Probably it would require a NATO presence across multiple generations, combined with some way to reduce the Taliban's logistical support from countries like Pakistan.

I think this situation shows the limits of Western thinking. Whether you're coming from the "stereotypical American" angle ("We will bring political freedom and capitalism") or the "stereotypically European" angle ("We will bring social enlightenment and education"), we are discovering that Afghanistan doesn't have enough people who care about those things to make the stand that was required against the medieval thugs. But both Republicans and Democrats, Conservative and Labour politicians kind of have to believe, or pretend to, that they can effect some kind of change in a situation. The thought of sitting back and saying "Trying to fix a place like Afghanistan is a waste of time" sounds rather racist, frankly, and I'd certainly feel uncomfortable defending that. But I don't know if there is a solution that isn't expensive and pretty colonialist.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by individualmember » Sun Aug 15, 2021 5:20 pm

OffTheRock wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 3:39 pm
It’s OK, our Foreign Secretary is back from holiday to sort it all out.

https://mobile.twitter.com/DominicRaab/ ... 7909623809

I’m sure now we’ve told them to play nicely they’ll start to take notice.
Oh sh.t, I’d forgotten who the foreign secretary is :(

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Gfamily » Sun Aug 15, 2021 7:30 pm

sh.t.
The young man who had been staying in our place in France while applying for asylum status has heard that his village outside Kabul has been taken by the Taliban and he can't contact his mother and sister.

He's currently away in Paris, so has nobody with him who he knows, so he's really upset.
On the other hand, he can't really have his application refused again now. Surely not.

Thankfully he's not relying on Priti Patel's humanity.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Fishnut » Sun Aug 15, 2021 9:42 pm

The Guardian
With the government offices closed down, my sister ran for miles across town to get home. “I shut down the PC that helped to serve my people and community for four years with a lot of pain,” she said. “I left my desk with tearful eyes and said goodbye to my colleagues. I knew it was the last day of my job.”
...
I worked for so many days and nights to become the person I am today, and this morning when I reached home, the very first thing my sisters and I did was hide our IDs, diplomas and certificates.
...
All I could see around me were the fearful and scared faces of women and ugly faces of men who hate women, who do not like women to get educated, work and have freedom. Most devastating to me were the ones who looked happy and made fun of women. Instead of standing by our side, they stand with the Taliban and give them even more power.
...
I could not stop my tears when I heard the stories of some families. One had lost their son in the war and didn’t have any money to pay the taxi fare to Kabul, so they gave their daughter-in-law away in exchange for transportation. How can the value of a woman be equal to the cost of a journey?
I can't help but read this and think how I'd feel if I was in Afghanistan right now. Absolutely terrified is about all I can come up with. I don't pretend to know what the solution to Afghanistan is but just abandoning it to the Taliban is the worst possible decision that's ever been made in a long history of terrible decisions regarding Afghanistan. The Taliban take-over was so predictable, so inevitable, and ordinary people are already suffering and dying.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sTeamTraen » Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:23 pm

It's a bad day for liberal-neocon imperialism, which is the most important thing, apparently. :roll:

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Gfamily » Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:31 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:23 pm
It's a bad day for liberal-neocon imperialism, which is the most important thing, apparently. :roll:


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How is your post any different to his?
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sTeamTraen » Sun Aug 15, 2021 11:57 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:31 pm
sTeamTraen wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:23 pm
It's a bad day for liberal-neocon imperialism, which is the most important thing, apparently. :roll:
How is your post any different to his?
I don't understand the question. Which of my 3 posts in this thread (before this one) are you referring to?
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Aug 16, 2021 9:23 am

sTeamTraen wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:23 pm
It's a bad day for liberal-neocon imperialism, which is the most important thing, apparently. :roll:


Untitled.png
I suspect that its as defeated now as when Saigon fell/was liberated in 1975, or when US diplomats in Tehran were taken hostage in 1979.

Withdrawing from Afghanistan may well mean that the US has more resources to devote to military power elsewhere.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Aug 16, 2021 9:35 am

sTeamTraen wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 4:09 pm
I think this situation shows the limits of Western thinking. Whether you're coming from the "stereotypical American" angle ("We will bring political freedom and capitalism") or the "stereotypically European" angle ("We will bring social enlightenment and education"), we are discovering that Afghanistan doesn't have enough people who care about those things to make the stand that was required against the medieval thugs.
Probably better to state that there weren't enough people who cared about things imposed by foreigners who knew little or nothing about the country even when based there, and who worked with afghan soldiers and officials who were utterly corrupt and despotic.
sTeamTraen wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 4:09 pm
But both Republicans and Democrats, Conservative and Labour politicians kind of have to believe, or pretend to, that they can effect some kind of change in a situation. The thought of sitting back and saying "Trying to fix a place like Afghanistan is a waste of time" sounds rather racist, frankly, and I'd certainly feel uncomfortable defending that. But I don't know if there is a solution that isn't expensive and pretty colonialist.
I think that the problem comes from a tendency to treat foreign policy like a game of risk. Move armies here and there and think nothing of the situation inside the state.

I really have no idea whether there could have been a different outcome if the US and allies had done things differently. There has been a lot of criticism about how they operated, and there was some optimism back in 2001-2003 (before they were distracted by Iraq).

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Aug 16, 2021 11:31 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 9:35 am
I think that the problem comes from a tendency to treat foreign policy like a game of risk. Move armies here and there and think nothing of the situation inside the state.
It's in the nature of being the leader of a Western military power. Footage emerges of something bad happening, vulnerable people suffering, and public opinion will be asking, "Something bad is happening, why aren't we doing something to help, what do we have all this military spending for if not this?". I'm not sure there is a solution. If you don't take part you get called cheese-eating surrender monkeys.
Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 9:35 am
I really have no idea whether there could have been a different outcome if the US and allies had done things differently. There has been a lot of criticism about how they operated, and there was some optimism back in 2001-2003 (before they were distracted by Iraq).
Very few people have had a consistent position on this across 20 years. Stop The War have, and perhaps a few people in the Rory Stewart camp. But otherwise it comes down to how it's going. When it looks like there's a moment of peace we get told what a good job the Western presence is doing (girls going to school, wedding dress shops open in Kabul, famers giving up growing poppies for heroin). Then when there's a lot of fighting we get asked (often by the same outlets) whether it's worth it: Photos of parents of dead soldiers, graphics showing how the fighting leads to refugees crossing from Calais, etc.

Perhaps one tiny, tiny silver lining here could be a realisation that in every dinghy full of people crossing the channel there are a few Afghans. It's horrible that it takes this kind of event to bring home to people exactly what refugees are running from, but maybe a few Mail readers will realise that if some migrants have a "valid" reason, maybe more of them do too. (I am not hugely optimistic about this.)
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Aug 16, 2021 11:57 am

Images on Twitter of crowds of desperate Afghans at Kabul airport.

Things could get even worse if the US and allied troops decide to use force to keep the airport open.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Aug 16, 2021 12:12 pm

You wouldn't want to be a woman in Afghanistan right now. And you wouldn't want to be a member of the Afghan armed forces.

But one of the consequences of the modest degree of emancipation brought by the West is that some women are both. :cry:
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Fishnut » Mon Aug 16, 2021 12:31 pm

I can't stop thinking of how absolutely terrifying it must be in Kabul right now. I saw a very brief clip of people running to the airport, some with a suitcase or two, most with just the clothes they were wearing, desperately trying to leave the country while gunfire could be heard in the background. Imagine having to do that - to grab what you can and run to the airport in the desperate hope that you can get a flight because you know no-one is going to come and save you or your country. It's unconscionable.

I don't care about people's hot takes. I don't care what parallels people see between this and brexit or your current political pet peeve - talk about minimising the human disaster that is currently unfolding. I don't give a sh.t that Ben Wallace choked up and feels dreadful that people are being left behind. I am so angry with the British and US governments who have allowed this to happen and so terrified for all the people who are now in fear for their lives.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Cardinal Fang » Mon Aug 16, 2021 1:03 pm

I hate to say this but this was inevitable

The US couldn't stay in Afghanistan indefinately. Sooner or later they were going to leave. There was zero political will on either side of the divide to keep the current situation going.

In the last 20 years the US, UK and other governments have systematically supported a kleptocracy, pouring millions of dollars into the pockets of corrupt warlords and politicians and turning a blind eye to it, meaning that the sort of state architecture that was actually needed to make and sustain a functioning democratic society was never built, and meaning that the average Aghan citizen had no reason to support the state or participate in a way that would keep it going. Once the USAdians left, it was obvious that the kleptocrats would make deals with the Taliban to hand over the keys in return for either the ability to leave for Dubai, Saudia Arabia etc with their ill gotten gains, or in return for them being able to retain their power with the pretence of being loyal.

The moment the US (at that time under Trump) announced they were leaving it was only a matter of time before the Taliban remobilised. The Afghan army was never going to be a threat to them - the average soldiers were under equipped and underpaid, whilst their commanders made out like fat cats and would just hand over the reins.

The only surprise in this whole situation is how many politicians are going "we could never have forseen this, it's all a big surprise". If someone like me could see it coming, with no special knowledge of international affairs, then our so-called leaders with their armies of experts definately would / should have been being told the same thing.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Aug 16, 2021 1:43 pm

Hopefully the countries responsible for the current mess will be fair about accepting refugees, like the UK was with Hong Kong, for instance.

Apparently they've now changed their minds and will be accepting those scholarship holders, which is a start.

And given the abject failure of, and undeniable bias in, these kinds of Western interventionist projects, I'd love to hope that similarly misguided ideas can be avoided in future. This is pretty much exactly what opponents to the invasion were predicting before and during the occupation.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Aug 16, 2021 1:44 pm

I'm not sure if this story fits with the tone of the rest of the thread, but it is quite extraordinary. Part of me still isn't sure if it's a spoof.
A student at Loughborough University who is stranded in Kabul has said he has “no regrets” after flying out to Afghanistan for a holiday.

Miles Routledge, 21, from Birmingham, arrived in Afghanistan four days ago, having seen videos on YouTube promoting the country as a tourist destination.

“I thought [Afghanistan] looked quite nice, the food seemed amazing and it was dirt cheap,” he said.

However, as Taliban insurgents began surrounding the capital he realised the danger he was in and claimed he had been abandoned by the British embassy, who had not responded to any of his phone calls or emails.

He told The Times this morning that his situation remained chaotic but he was now “in safe hands”.

The physics student is currently in a United Nations safehouse in Kabul along with about 50 other foreign citizens from Britain, the US and Turkey. The compound is manned by British and Turkish soldiers, according to Routledge.

He said he had been issued with “body armour” and was hopeful of an emergency evacuation. “Most compounds are to be abandoned but I’m with the best of the best,” he said.

During his stay, Routledge said, he had seen dead bodies lying in the streets and witnessed families attempting to flee the city with all of their possessions in one car. Others queued outside banks fearing that their savings might be lost.

Routledge, a Catholic, said he had been praying “roughly every 20 minutes” and wearing his cross while walking the streets.

Last night he wrote to friends on social media: “I’m struggling to stand and keep down water, I don’t think I’ll sleep tonight, I’ve seen too many dead people.

“I just wanted this whole thing to be a little charity thing where I can explore a weird country but I’ve mentally broken down. I’m not sure what’s going on right now, my face in the mirror doesn’t look right.”

He later added: “I still have no regrets but damn I wish I packed more socks.”

Convoys of armed Taliban fighters entered the city yesterday, he said, with no resistance from the army. Routledge said he was confronted by the insurgents this morning when he attempted to go to the airport.

When they asked him where he was from, he told them he was from Wales rather than tell them he was British. As he had hoped, the fighters did not know where Wales was and let him go. He later came across another armed convoy and took a selfie on one of their gun emplacements.

He said that he had made the decision to go to Afghanistan after watching tourism videos on YouTube. When the Taliban insurgency began, he found he was unable to refund the flights he had booked in April so decided to travel anyway.

Routledge, who has spent a summer as an intern at a wealth management firm, said: “I like risk, I’m a banker, so it makes sense.

“I hate lying around on a beach so I wanted to do something a little bit different. After graduating I’ll have a full-time job and maybe a family so won’t have the opportunity to do things like this again. It’s been an experience to say the least.”

Upon arrival, however, he soon regretted his visit. He said he had accepted the possibility that he might die in Afghanistan and in a message addressed to friends on social media wrote: “I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and something has not gone to plan resulting in this situation.

“There was no convincing me otherwise and I knew the risks, it was a gamble I took that went wrong despite my confidence and jokes.”

He has been documenting his trip on Twitch, the live streaming platform, and on 4chan, the message board site.

In a Q&A on the platform, Routledge was asked whether he was in contact with his family. He said: “Not in contact with them. Haven’t been in contact with them for three years,” and that he had cut his family off. He said his girlfriend “trusted him” to be safe in Afghanistan.

A keen traveller, Routledge made his first trip abroad in 2019 to visit Chernobyl, Ukraine, the site of the worst ever nuclear disaster. Were it not for the pandemic, he said, he would also have liked to visit North Korea this year.

The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Sciolus » Mon Aug 16, 2021 4:33 pm

It's not at all obvious to me that the current situation is any worse than it would have been without the US-led action. There was a lot wrong with it, specifically the failure to ensure the changes were entrenched in the long term, but overall a lot of people have had 20 years of relatively non-sh.t life, and Al Qaida have been quiet, even if that is coming to an end. I can't see it, overall, as a bad thing. Of course time will tell if the Taliban are better or worse than before.

And let's not forget to chalk the Taliban up as another triumph of western drugs policy.

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Re: Afghanistan

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Aug 16, 2021 5:08 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Mon Aug 16, 2021 4:33 pm
And let's not forget to chalk the Taliban up as another triumph of western drugs policy.
Indeed.

And we can also chalk up Al-Qaeda (in part) as another triumph of western anti-Marxism policy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaeda#History.

It's almost like trying to use people far away in cultures you barely understand to pursue your own domestic economic goals can sometimes have unintended consequences, generally for others but occasionally even for yourself.

Perhaps its time to consider a different model of interacting with the world.
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Re: Afghanistan

Post by IvanV » Mon Aug 16, 2021 8:06 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Sun Aug 15, 2021 10:23 pm
It's a bad day for liberal-neocon imperialism, which is the most important thing, apparently. :roll:
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