The ugly exit in Afghanistan is happening because America spent decades denying reality

The ugly exit in Afghanistan is happening because America spent decades denying reality

In the days following the attack on the United States by al Qaeda militants on September 11, 2001, then-President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban government of Afghanistan hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The Taliban refused to extradite bin Laden. On October 7, the United States attacked and invaded Afghanistan to prove that no nation could safely harbor terrorists such as the al Qaeda militants. Within two months, the Taliban forces were largely driven from power.

Four days after U.S. forces entered Afghanistan, Bush appeared on a televised address to the nation. “This particular battlefront will last as long as it takes to bring al Qaeda to justice,” said Bush. “It may happen tomorrow, it may happen a month from now, it may take a year or two, but we will prevail.”

What happened next may be best summed up by freelance journalist Laura Jedeed who, as a military member, did two deployments to Afghanistan.

“I remember finding propaganda footage cut together from the Soviet invasion and our own Operation Enduring Whatever, and laughing about how stupid the Afghans were to not know we weren’t the Russians.  And then eventually realizing I was the stupid one.”

On Monday morning, that’s a realization that still hasn’t reached everyone. But it will. And the consequences are likely to be as lengthy and as costly as the war.

Under Bush, the occupation officially ended on terms drawn up in February 2020, when Donald Trump signed a conditional peace agreement with the Taliban. That agreement called for U.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months—as long as the Taliban agreed not to attack the United States or allow another al Qaeda-like group to use Afghanistan as a base to plan attacks against the United States. The agreement notably did not require that the Taliban agree to leave the existing Afghan government in place. In fact, the Afghan government was not even a party to the negotiations.

That the Taliban is now in control of Afghanistan again should surprise no one. Not only was it clear they have held the military power to take the nation the moment the U.S. departed, but the United States also signed Afghanistan over to the Taliban. 

Once Biden took office, he moved back the date of the U.S. withdrawal by a few months. None of that affected an outcome that was had been obvious to those deployed to the nation from the beginning of the conflict: As soon as U.S. forces withdrew, Taliban forces came in. The only difference that Biden made was that it happened four months later.

Blaming President Biden for the events in Afghanistan is foolish, but of course, he will be blamed. And Biden practically begged for that blame with statements that downplayed comparison to Vietnam and the final days of American control in Saigon. The idea that the Afghan military was ever going to play an effective role in stopping the advance of the Taliban was always a fiction. What the United States did in Afghanistan over the last few years was spent hundreds of billions of dollars to provide a window of false hope, an illusion of progress, and provide massive training and equipment for the Taliban army.

As The New York Times reports, recriminations are already underway. with the conclusion that “… this has been a cascade of failures at the Defense Department, with the intelligence community and within our political community.” No matter when these plans were put in place, no matter what reassurances were being sent to the White House from the Pentagon, no matter how many Republicans claim the U.S. is actually being operated from a shadow government in Mar-a-Lago, expect Biden to take the brunt of this. Forty-six years after the last helicopter lifted off from the roof of the American embassy in Saigon, American forces are holding a small portion of the airport in Kabul. And if they’re leaving with even the slightest perception of order, they’re doing so with the permission of the Taliban.

Republicans, who were until this week finding that their idea of basing the 2022 campaign around defying masks and vaccines was starting to look a little … shaky, have been thrown a lifeline. The exit, arranged by Trump in a deal that leaves everything to the Taliban, is now completely owned by Biden. Because that’s the way things work.

It doesn’t matter that the Associated Press reported on Donald Trump’s conversation with a Taliban leader back in March of last year. The talk in which they planned for the events that are unfolding right now. “We had a very good conversation with the leader of the Taliban today, and they’re looking to get this ended, and we’re looking to get it ended. I think we all have a very common interest,” said Trump. “We had, actually, a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban.”

What’s happening today in Kabul is the result of that “very good talk.” This is the intended outcome.

That doesn’t matter. It honestly doesn’t matter because this was a mistake made in 2001. And 2020. And every other day, week, month, and year right up until today. 

The problem with Afghanistan is that, from the beginning, no one planned for failure. Out of some asinine superstition that only by ignoring what happens if things go wrong, America walked through a trillion dollars and tens of thousands of lives on the pretense that it would turn out peachy. When everyone — everyone — understand that was a lie. There were other endings to this thing. There were ways this didn’t end in the loss of hope for millions of women and the deaths of everyone who so much as signaled their support for freedom. But those endings were ignored because they weren’t in the storybook written before the first American boot touched Afghan soil.

Bush is to blame. Obama is to blame. Trump is to blame. Biden is to blame. I’m to blame. So are you.

We f**ked over the lives of 2,448 members of the U.S. military, 1,144 allies, and at least 100,000 Afghans. And before anyone blames the local military for failing to fight the Taliban advance, that local military has already lost 66,000 people. That’s more than the U.S. lost in Vietnam, Korea, or World War I—out of a country with a population one-tenth of America’s. They already fought. They already lost. We knew that.

Now, as NBC News reports, Afghans are swarming the airport, desperately trying to get on a plane to anywhere, with full and accurate knowledge that slaughters are coming; wholesale destruction and repression are coming; rape and brutality against women and girls are coming; repression and reprisals and horrors beyond counting are coming. All the dreams of the Afghan Women’s Soccer Team and the women entrepreneurs who tried to build a new Kabul and the artists who brought back music to a nation silenced … that will all end. Because of our mistakes.

President Biden will address the nation on Afghanistan this afternoon. Don’t expect any good news.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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