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Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Steve G.
Date: August 24, 2021 05:01PM
Hearing the bleating voices arguing how things are wrong in Afghanistan conceals the fact that none of them have any suggestions for what to do as an alternative.

1) Bring back the Afghan Army? They have disappeared faster than Snickers bars from a Halloween candy bowl.

2) Somehow blame 'The Democrats'? A favorite of the same people who were praising trump to the skies for setting up this exit.

3) Team up with the Afghan government to negotiate with the Taliban? Nope they left last week in planes. streaming dollar bill.

4) Negotiate better terms with the Taliban? It would be smart for them...but why should they?

5) Enlist the Taliban Pakistani, Chinese and other allies to help calm things down? the Pakistanis are too busy celebrating and China's arranging loans to support them.

6) Threaten to start shooting until we get our people (and friends out)? That might work. The Taliban will kill tens of thousands in retribution, however. They don't care.

7) reinstate Donald Trump as president? Sure, he'll fix it, just like he did when he surrendered back in February 2020.

So, what's your solution, Big Talker? All the wiseguys seem to want to do is blame people. that's NOT SOLVING THE PROBLEM.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/24/2021 05:02PM by Steve G..
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: N-OS X-tasy!
Date: August 24, 2021 05:09PM
Who the @#$%& are you talking to, Steve?



It is what it is.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: August 24, 2021 05:09PM
Install T**** as President of Afghanistan. He alone can fix it.



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Steve G.
Date: August 24, 2021 05:18PM
Quote
N-OS X-tasy!
Who the @#$%& are you talking to, Steve?

all the mouthing-off folks crowding the news channels, editorial spaces, newspapers social media and more.
(not anyone here. Certainly not you.)
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Ca Bob
Date: August 24, 2021 05:50PM
The problem is that Biden was not in a place politically where he could negotiate a surrender with the Taliban, although that would have been a way to solve today's problems with America's supporters and people with American visas who are not at the airport.

But that is not what anybody could do politically. Biden and aides had to pretend (or even hope) that the Afghan government and army would hold on for a while and would then work out their own deals with the Taliban. The fact that they caved over night was perhaps a bit of a surprise, but it does tend to show that there wasn't all that much support for the previous government within the population. There was fear of the Taliban, but that is another thing, and absent the existence of a determined governmental resistance, it wasn't enough.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 24, 2021 05:53PM
We are a blaming culture.

But the democrats attempt to improve actions while the other side are all about bluster and rhetoric. So, I'll take the hits if we make things better.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Acer
Date: August 24, 2021 06:15PM
Didn't Obama leave Biden the keys to the time machine?
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: space-time
Date: August 24, 2021 06:33PM
Carve it up and give one slice province to each neighbor.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Lemon Drop
Date: August 24, 2021 06:48PM
Really good NPR interview tonight with the Afghan political attache at their embassy in DC. He can't go back to Kabul and isn't sure what happens to the embassy now.

He blames the collapse on former president Ganni who he says was completely corrupt and had no plan except to hand the country over to the Taliban if and when our troops stopped propping him up.

ImO our media hasn't put enough emphasis on that.

And no, the armchair strategists have no workable Plan B. It should be obvious that you can't evacuate 80k people without destabilizing the country. And I dont think Bidem could signal weakness or lack of confidence in the Afghan govt , any hint of that and it's all over.

The coordination between the Pentagon and State and intelligence obviously could have been better. But I think it was inevitable that this would start out looking like a fustercluck.

I'm a lot more worried about the people left behind than the evacuees.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: numbered
Date: August 24, 2021 06:54PM
I have to say, I am with Steve G. on this one. I am not sure I have ever seen so much crap on both sides targeting a situation like this.

Josh Marshall said "The bonfire of hyperboles in US press coverage seems limitless at the moment." He had a headline this morning: Evacuation Flights Abroad; Tantrum at home"

Drum:
Quote

I have had it with coverage of the Kabul evacuation. The plain fact is that, under the circumstances, it's going fairly well. Both Americans and Afghan allies are being flown out safely and bloodshed on the ground is surprisingly limited. Sure, the whole operation is going to take a few weeks, but what did everyone expect?

But you'd never know this thanks to an immense firehose of crap coming from the very people we should least believe. This includes:

--The hawks who kept the war in Afghanistan going for years with lies and happy talk, and who are now desperate to defend themselves.
--Republicans who figure this is a great opportunity to sling partisan @#$%&. Their favorite is that Biden has destroyed America's standing in the world, an old chestnut for which there's no evidence whatsoever.
--Trumpies trying to avoid blame for the execution of their own plan. It is gobsmacking to hear them complain about slow processing of Afghan allies when they were the ones who deliberately hobbled the visa process in the first place.
--Democrats who, as usual, are too damn cowardly to defend the withdrawal for fear of—something. It's not always clear what.
--Reporters who are sympathetic to all this because they genuinely care about the danger that the withdrawal poses for people they knew in Afghanistan.

The only real mistake the military made in this operation was in not realizing just what a terrible job they had been doing all along. Everything else flows from that. If the Afghan government had been able to hold off the Taliban for even a few weeks, everything would have been fine. But they didn't even try. Ghani just grabbed a few suitcases of cash and took off.

All by itself, this should tell you how hopeless the situation in Afghanistan has been all along. After 20 years, the Afghan military, even with plenty of warning about when we planned to leave, was unable, and in many cases unwilling, to fight. It's laughable to think that another few months would have made any difference. It's equally laughable to hear from the "light footprint" gang, who think that we could have kept a few thousand troops in Afghanistan forever and avoided any kind of fighting even after the Taliban cease-fire was over.

As for all the Americans being airlifted out, I suppose it's bad form to point out that they were told to leave months ago? If they had a lick of common sense most of them wouldn't be stuck in Kabul and elsewhere waiting to be rescued.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Sarcany
Date: August 24, 2021 06:55PM
45 inadvertently did the groundwork for an exit plan by negotiating directly with the Taliban.

Once you accept that after 45's promises to them and dismantling the State Department there was no way out without the Taliban taking over, you hold secret talks with them to smooth your exit and extract promises from them for a peaceful transition to power.

There really was no other clear way out.

Problem is that Biden is respectable-old-school: You don't negotiate with terrorists. I expect that this was proposed to him at some point, and he found the concept too distasteful/shameful to entertain.







Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/24/2021 06:56PM by Sarcany.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: timg
Date: August 24, 2021 07:29PM
Saw this comment somewhere else (can't remember now where), but I think it sums up the situation with the Afghan military....

"The Afghan military was a jobs programs for Afghanis funded by the United States"

They were nowhere near prepared or willing to fight the Taliban.



Skill without imagination is craftsmanship. Imagination without skill is Modern Art.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: btfc
Date: August 24, 2021 08:31PM
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Steve G.
Date: August 24, 2021 09:12PM
I haven't seen any sane suggestions about what we should do Tomorrow. (I'm talking about complete silence everywhere, not this thread)
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Sarcany
Date: August 24, 2021 10:38PM
Quote
Steve G.
I haven't seen any sane suggestions about what we should do Tomorrow. (I'm talking about complete silence everywhere, not this thread)

Diplomacy.

The Taliban is running the show.

They are in desperate need of food, building supplies, medicine, and the appearance of an orderly government with international recognition.

Ripe opportunity for dealing. To start with, humanitarian aid in exchange for a few civil liberties and protection for the aid-workers. Then power plants for free expression of religion. Roads and radio/cell towers for a free press. An auto-industry if they allow women to work in the factories, etc.



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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: August 24, 2021 11:55PM
A couple of days ago I guessed there were only 20,000 NGO workers there. Tonight the nightly news said over 60,000 US citizens have been evacuated (so far). I would like to see a breakdown of who all those people worked for and why none of them saw this coming so fast.



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: August 25, 2021 12:52AM
Well, I believe it's perfectly fair to offer observations of the problems with Biden's handling of the egress.

But to criticize and rail instead of critique, and not offer a possible solution, is bush-league at best.

The people and platforms hosting those who shake their fist at the sky have no interest in explanations or proposing solutions; they're too fond of and too busy making accusations.

The vehemence of those is to distract from the fact that opponents don't really have viable alternatives.

I'm not a student of diplomacy or foreign affairs.

So with that disclosure, I think it might have been smarter to declare to separate exit dates, a hard out for for US citizens (and some military consultants such as Afghan translators) followed by a later date for US military and remaining consultants, etc.

I have no idea if that's a viable answer, so I can't state i'WhyTF didn't they...' with any know-it-all vehemence and certainty.





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must suffer with him.

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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: RgrF
Date: August 25, 2021 01:22AM
from Fred Reed...

Forty-six years ago in a previous comedy I was in Saigon, recently having been evacuated from Phnom Penh in an Air America—CIA—Caribou carrying, in addition to me, several ARVN junior officers and perhaps a dozen BUFEs (Big Ugly @#$%& Elephants, the ceramic pachyderms much beloved of GIs). America had already embarked on its currently standard policy of forcing small countries into wars and then leaving them in the lurch. In Cambodia this led to the reign of Pol Pot, the ghastly torture operation at Toul Sleng, and a million or so dead. In the unending fight for democracy, casualties are inevitable.

At the time Saigon was tense because Ban Me Thuot had fallen and the NVA roared down Route One toward Saigon. To anyone with the brains of a doorknob, the American adventure in Vietnam was coming to an end, but the embassy was studiedly unconcerned. Embassies do not have the brains of a doorknob, but are keenly aware of public relations. Acknowledging the inescapable is not their way. As usual, Washington would rather lie than breathe, and did. As in Cambodia, so in Nam, and so later in Afghanistan.

Apparently a genius at State realized that a lot of gringo expats lived in Nam—the number six thousand comes to mind, but may be wrong—and that six thousand hostages taken when Saigon fell would be bad PR. So the embassy in Kabul—Saigon, I meant to say, Saigon—quietly announced that expats could fly out on military aircraft from Ton Son Nhut. They didn’t, or at least many didn’t. The NVA continued its rush toward Saigon.

The expats didn’t fly out because they had Vietnamese wives and families and were not going to leave them, period. These wives may not have had the trappings of pieces of paper and stamps and maybe snippets of ribbon. These things do not seem important in Asian war zones. But the expats regarded them as wives. Period. The family went, or nobody did. Period.

The embassy didn’t understand this because embassies are staffed by people from Princeton with names like Derek who wear pink shirts and don’t know where they are. The ambassador is usually a political appointee being rewarded for campaign contributions and probably doesn’t speak the language as few gringos spikka da Pushto or Vietnamese or Farsi or Khmer. For example, nobody at all in the embassy in Cambodia spoke Khmer. The rank and file of State are better suited to a high-end Rotarian barbecue than a Third World city teeming with strange people in funny clothes eating God knows what horrible things in winding frightening alleys. And so the State people could not understand why an American would marry one “of them,” as in the embassy I once heard a gringa put it. It was a good question. Why would a man marry a pretty, sleek, smart, self-reliant woman who wanted family and children? It was a great mystery.

The Taliban—NVA, I mean–NVA kept coming closer. A PR disaster loomed.

Meanwhile the PR apparatus insisted that the sky wasn’t really falling even as it did and no, no, no the US had not gotten its sit-down royally kicked by a ratpack of rice-propelled paddy maggots, as GIs described the opposition. Many in government seemed to believe this. This was an early instance, to be repeated in another part of Asia, of inventing a fairyland world and then trying to move into it.

Finally State faced reality, a novel concept. It allowed quietly that expats and their families could fly out, military. It was getting late, but better than nothing.

The comedic value of this goat rope grew, becoming more amusing by the hour. I was trying to get a young Vietnamese woman out as she had worked for the embassy and we suspected things might not go well with her under the NVA. Call her Linda. Linda and I took the bus to Tan Son Nhut. The Viet gate guards gave her a hard time, envying her for getting out while they could not, but we got in. I was going to tell the State people that we were married but that while I was in Can Tho, by then in VC hands, see, the marriage papers had slipped from my carrying case. This was obvious @#$%&, but I guessed that if I made a huge issue of it they would bend rather than get in a megillah with a reporter, no matter how unimportant.

We found ourselves in a long line of expats with their families leading to the door of a Quonset hut, inside of which a State official was checking papers. Some of the expats had around them what appeared to be small villages of in-laws, brothers of wives, sisters, everything but the family dog. An official with a bull horn told us to write down all their names and the relationships on clipboards being passed around. Tran Thi Tuyet Lan, sister, for example.

Then a genius at the embassy or Foggy Bottom realized that something resembling a third of Viet Nam was about to come out, listed as in-laws. Policy changed, at least in Washington which was as usual blankly ignorant of reality on the ground. At Tan Son Nhut this meant telling men that they had to leave parts of their families behind, which they weren’t going to do. This would not look good above the fold in the Washington Post. Dozens of Americans taken captive because the State Department would not let their families out.” All was confusion because the US had spent years telling itself that the disaster couldn’t happen. What to do?

American ingenuity kicked in. At the Quonset hut the guy with the bullhorn announced, “From now on, all mothers-in-law are mothers, all brothers-in-law are brothers. Change your forms.” All along the line, magic markers went through “in-law.” This meant that some women had two mothers, but this under the circumstances seemed a minor biological quibble. The guy with the bull horn was at most three feet from the guy in the Quonset hut who was certifying papers as valid. He solemnly looked at the papers with their strike-through’s, , certified them as correct, and that was that. A field expedient.

Hours and hours went by. Night came. Tempers frayed. Nobody seemed to have planned how actually to get these people out. Nobody seemed to have planned anything. Finally a 130 howled in. This was the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop cargo bird and a magnificent plane. It taxied over. The engines did not shut down. The prop wash was strong and hot. The tail ramp dropped. The waiting mob were rushed aboard without ceremony. There were no seats in the dark cavern of the fuselage. That would have required planning, which no one in Washington had thought of. The air reeked of burned aviation kerosene. We squatted on the cargo deck while an Air Force guy with a bullhorn warned, “Keep the kids’ hands out of the expansion slots, you’ll lose them.”

The real-world Air Force didn’t have people named Derek in pink shirts and if you told it all rules off, get the job done, it did. Ramp up, fast taxi, takeoff run, tight corkscrewing climb with the engines running at power I didn’t know they had. The NVA and VC were now very close due to incompetent planning (have I mentioned incompetent planning?) and might have SAM-7s so it wasn’t a good idea to fly over territory they now controlled. Cutting and running from a stupid war run by generals as clueless as they were careerist, with Saigon spinning below, seen through open doors amid tightly packed peasants going they had little idea where. Days later when we got to San Fran on a chartered airliner, hundreds of refugees were dumped into the main concourse, no immigrations, customs, or paperwork.

And now we have done it all over again in Kabul, complete with helicopters over the embassy and a panicked evacuation undertaken way too late and sudden concern for turncoat Afghans who made the mistake of working for the US. There is talk of importing 20,000 Afghan refugees to America. I find it amusing that many conservatives, who thought the war was peaches because it was about democracy and niceness and American values, now object to importing people their dimwitted enthusiasms put in line to be killed. Use and discard. Countries and people.

There was the now-traditional underestimation of the speed of the insurgent advance, the predictable deprecation of the “good” Afghans for not fighting with sufficient enthusiasm for the Empire: If they didn’t care enough to defend their country, Biden would say with earnest cluelessness, what could we do?”

So why did this happen? Why another rush to the exit as the world laughs? Which the world is doing. In a sentence, because if you do something stupid and it doesn’t work, it probably won’t work when you do it again.

The psychological explanation is slightly more complex. Vietnam is a good example. America invaded a country of another race, utterly different culture, practicing religions GIs had never heard of, speaking a language virtually no Americans spoke, a country exceedingly sick of being invaded by foreigners, most of them white. in Afghanistan the designated evil was terrorism, in in Viet Nam communism, but the choice of evils doesn’t matter. You have to tell the rubes at home something noble sounding.

Then the Americans did as they always do, training the ARVN, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, to fight the communists to impose democracy, which the Viets had not asked them to do. But when you ask some Viets (Bodes, Laos, Iraqis, Afghans) to fight other Viets (Bodes, etc.) to kill their own people for the benefit of the invaders, they are not greatly charmed. With a predictability that makes sunrise seem chancy, they desert, fight lackadaisically, with officers charging the US pay for soldiers who do not exist, and probably go over to the other side en masse when the collapse comes. Which latter the Afghan army just did. Duh, as the kids say.

The speed of the Taliban advance took Americans by surprise because officers are liars and had been hiding the deplorable state of the “Afghan” army, its numbers, morale, degree of training, and phenomenal rates of desertion. Often the American officer corps thinks that if it can just have a little more time, they can win, so lying is a part of the war effort. Biden bought into this, announcing that the Afghan army vastly outnumbered the Taliban and was better armed and trained and the insurgents couldn’t possibly do what they proceeded to do.

Another reason is that the American style of war recruits its enemies. Soldiers are not the Boy Scout defenders of civilization that so many like to imagine. They kill a lot of civilians, many tens of thousands in the bombing of cities such as Baghdad and Hanoi. Ground troops come to detest the natives whom they designate @#$%&, zipperheads, sand @#$%&, camel jockeys, and the like. They commit war crimes that, when discovered, are called “isolated incidents,” when in fact they are common.

Fragmentation bombs produce such things as a little girl crying with her belly torn open and intestines falling out while her mother goes stark raving bugfuck mad watching her daughter bleed to death and she can do nothing about it. But it is for democracy and American values, and anyway the ragheads breed like flies, and besides, CNN won’t air it. Today drone strikes hit weddings and other gatherings. When you kill people in a village, the young men join the insurgents, wanting revenge. When a few thousands were killed in Nine-Eleven, Americans exploded in rage. Three thousand is a small fraction of the numbers killed in, say, the attack on Baghdad. The Iraqi soldiers killed in a hopeless attempt to defeat the Americans were sons, fathers, husbands, brothers of other Iraqis. How much love do we think it engendered in Iraqis? This seems not to occur to Washington.

Militaries at bottom are amoral. Afghans know of the torture operations at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Americans seem to dismiss such things as minor. They are not. Afghans seeing Moslems lying in pools of blood at Abu Ghraib, or being paraded around naked in hoods, are going to want to kill someone. Guess who.

American wars last a long time because no one has an incentive to end them. American casualties are low, especially now with the killing mostly done from the air against peasants with no defenses. No important American ever gets killed. American wars are all class wars, with the dying being done by blue-collar suckers from Kansas or the deep South, not by Bush II, Hillary, the other Clinton, Bolton, Bannon, Obama, Blinken, Biden, Cheney, Kamala, Trump, and the rest of those not required to fight. The US public has little idea of what goes on in its wars because the corporate media hide them. the Pentagon having learned that the media are their worst enemy, not the Taliban. It would not surprise me if one unfettered camera crew, filming the corpses and mutilated children and devastation, could force an end to such a war.

Americans are not heartless but calculatedly uninformed. Wars are also extremely profitable for those who provide the bombs, fuel, vehicles, and so on. If the US loses a war, the contracts stop, and equally if it wins. Keeping it going for decades provides a steady revenue stream. What’s not to like?

Finally, or as much as I am going to worry about, there is the 1955 Syndrome, the engrained belief that America is all powerful. This is arrogance and self-delusion. In the Pentagon you encounter a mandatory can-do attitude a belief that the US military is indomitable, the best trained, armed, and led force in this or any nearby galaxy. In one sense this is necessary: You can’t tell the Marines that they are mediocre light infantry or sailors that their aircraft are rapidly obsolescing, their ships sitting ducks in a changing military world, and that the whole military enterprise is rotted by social engineering, profiteering, and careerism.

But look around: The US has failed to intimidate North Korea, chase the Chinese out of its islands in the South China Sea, retrieve the Crimea from Russia, can’t intimidate Iran, just got run out of Afghanistan, remains mired in Iraq and Syria, failed to block Nordstream II despite a desperate effort, and couldn’t keep Turkey from buying the S-400. The Pentagon plans for the wars it wants to fight, not the wars it does fight. The most dangerous weapons of the modern world are not nukes, but the Ak-47, the RPG, and the IED. Figure it out.

And now the US comes home, leaving Afghanistan in ruins for decades. Use and discard.

from RgrF...

If you want to talk corruption, Afghanistan was doomed from the moment Dick Cheney redirected military action toward Iraq and money flow to his favored Halliburton.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Speedy
Date: August 25, 2021 06:12AM
From this morning’s NYT newsletter.

By David Leonhardt

Good morning. We explain why much of the Afghanistan commentary skips over a key issue.

People gather outside the airport in Kabul.Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
‘An ugly pullout’
What might a more successful exit from Afghanistan have looked like?

I have spent some time talking with colleagues and experts about that question, and it is a difficult one to answer. President Biden’s exit certainly has not gone well. The “orderly” withdrawal he had promised did not happen, and the world has watched agonizing scenes of Afghans trying to escape.

But I’ve also noticed a naïveté about some of the commentary on Afghanistan. It presumes that there was a clean solution for the U.S., if only the Biden administration (and, to a lesser extent, the Trump administration) had executed it. The commentary never quite spells out what the solution was, though.

There is a reason for that: A clean solution probably did not exist.

The fundamental choice, as my colleague Helene Cooper told me, was between a permanent, low-level U.S. war in Afghanistan — a version of what John McCain once called a 100-year war — and a messy exit. “The pullout was never going to be a simple thing,” says Helene, who covers the Pentagon. “It was always going to be an ugly pullout.”

My goal with today’s newsletter is to explain what the true options in Afghanistan were, as well as some alternate decisions by the Biden administration that might have worked out better.

It’s important to start with this background: The biggest failure in Afghanistan almost certainly was not anything that happened this week or even in the past decade. It was a decision, early in the 2000s, to seek total victory in a faraway war of questionable relevance to U.S. national interests. As Adam Nossiter, who became The Times’s Kabul bureau chief last year, has written, “The American war, like other such neocolonialist adventures,” was “most likely doomed from the start.”

Why not sooner?
The most salient failure of the Biden pullout is the apparent abandonment of thousands of Afghans who worked closely with the U.S. and whom the Taliban may jail, abuse or kill.

These allies have fought against the Taliban for years, served as translators for Americans and helped run civil society in Afghanistan. Many are understandably panicked. Something like 100,000 Afghans probably fall into this disparate category, experts say.

In hindsight, the solution may seem obvious: The U.S. should have helped many more Afghans leave the country before the military withdrawal. In reality, there was no easy way to do so.

When Biden and Afghanistan’s then-president, Ashraf Ghani, met for the final time, in the Oval Office on June 25, one of Ghani’s main requests was that the U.S. do the opposite and limit evacuations. As The Times has reported: “He wanted the United States to be ‘conservative’ in granting exit visas to the interpreters and others, and ‘low key’ about their leaving the country so it would not look as if America lacked faith in his government.”

It was an understandable request. A mass evacuation would have amounted to a surrender to the Taliban (for which Biden would have been blamed). The only hope for Ghani’s government depended on avoiding a large, advance evacuation of the Afghans who were helping run the country.

In the end, of course, Afghanistan still fell to the Taliban in a few chaotic days this month.

The real alternatives
The fairest criticism of Biden acknowledges the implausibility of an enormous advance evacuation — and then grapples with the less-satisfying alternatives. They do exist.

Biden and his team appear to have based their strategy around the consensus view of U.S. intelligence that the Ghani government could hold off the Taliban for months, at least. Little of the White House’s pre-withdrawal planning was based on the possibility — as some diplomats and Afghan officials were warning — that the government could quickly collapse.

“When you’re talking about life and death, you can’t just rely on the consensus opinion,” Michael Crowley, who covers the State Department for The Times, told me. “You have to prepare for contingencies.”

In Afghanistan, contingency planning could have included a much more rapid acceleration of the State Department’s processing of refugee visas, still done quietly. The administration also could have been less definitive about the military’s August exit date: The more territory the Taliban seemed to gain, the more U.S. troops could have remained temporarily, to oversee evacuation.

Both Michael and Helene point out that these scenarios probably still would have been messy. A huge, quiet evacuation program is a contradiction in terms. And under almost any circumstance, more Afghans would have wanted to leave a Taliban-run country than the U.S. would have been willing to admit (especially with the current immigration skepticism in this country). “People were still going to run to Kabul airport,” Helene says.

Since the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15, the Biden administration has been trying to accomplish the large evacuation program that it could not attempt earlier. So far, the U.S. has helped about 70,000 people leave, although it is unclear how many of them are Afghans. Ultimately, the evacuation has the potential to look fairly successful.

Yet that would not make Biden blameless. Put it this way: If he and his aides could do it all over again and be less dismissive of a rapid Taliban takeover, don’t you think they would?


Taliban flags for sale near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
A permanent war
One final alternative did exist: The U.S. military could have stayed in Afghanistan. There is no reason to think it would have succeeded in creating a stable Afghan government, after failing to do so for 20 years. But it probably could have prevented complete Taliban control.

The economic costs were manageable, in the short term. The U.S. mission has recently cost less than $20 billion a year, Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told me. That’s less than 0.5 percent of the federal budget. The continuing war was also killing a handful of American troops each year, and the bombing of Taliban targets was killing hundreds of Afghan civilians a year.

Some former U.S. officials have suggested that staying in Afghanistan indefinitely was worth these costs. On the other hand, these tend to be the same officials whose previous optimistic promises have repeatedly proven false. At some point, the conflict with the Taliban would likely have intensified again, requiring more U.S. troops, money and sacrifice. Already, polls showed that a large, bipartisan majority of Americans wanted the military to leave.

All of which suggests that a withdrawal may have been inevitable, sooner rather than later. It could have gone better than it has. But it was probably destined not to go well.

More Afghanistan news:

Biden said that he planned to stick to his Aug. 31 deadline for military withdrawal but was willing to adjust “should that become necessary.”
The Taliban said they would no longer allow Afghan citizens to reach the airport. (Today’s “The Daily” is about the ongoing evacuation.)
Two House members secretly flew to Kabul on an unauthorized oversight mission.
A group of Afghans who worked for The Times, along with their families, touched down early this morning with help from the Mexican government.
Here’s how life in Kabul has changed under Taliban rule.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 25, 2021 08:12AM
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
A couple of days ago I guessed there were only 20,000 NGO workers there. Tonight the nightly news said over 60,000 US citizens have been evacuated (so far). I would like to see a breakdown of who all those people worked for and why none of them saw this coming so fast.

Yes, fair point
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Lemon Drop
Date: August 25, 2021 08:52AM
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
A couple of days ago I guessed there were only 20,000 NGO workers there. Tonight the nightly news said over 60,000 US citizens have been evacuated (so far). I would like to see a breakdown of who all those people worked for and why none of them saw this coming so fast.

Yes, fair point

One hour ago:

[www.nytimes.com]

"More than 4,000 American citizens, plus their family members, have been evacuated so far, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Thousands more remain: A day earlier, a congressional official put the total number of U.S. citizens still in Afghanistan at 10,000. It was not clear how many of the 4,000 who have been evacuated were included in that tally."

Do you think you may have heard 6000 US troops in Afghanistan?
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: August 25, 2021 11:13AM
Quote
Lemon Drop
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
A couple of days ago I guessed there were only 20,000 NGO workers there. Tonight the nightly news said over 60,000 US citizens have been evacuated (so far). I would like to see a breakdown of who all those people worked for and why none of them saw this coming so fast.

Yes, fair point

One hour ago:

[www.nytimes.com]

"More than 4,000 American citizens, plus their family members, have been evacuated so far, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Thousands more remain: A day earlier, a congressional official put the total number of U.S. citizens still in Afghanistan at 10,000. It was not clear how many of the 4,000 who have been evacuated were included in that tally."

Do you think you may have heard 6000 US troops in Afghanistan?

Latest figures are 88, 000 evacuated. So, vast majority are Afghanis?
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Lemon Drop
Date: August 25, 2021 11:21AM
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Lemon Drop
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
A couple of days ago I guessed there were only 20,000 NGO workers there. Tonight the nightly news said over 60,000 US citizens have been evacuated (so far). I would like to see a breakdown of who all those people worked for and why none of them saw this coming so fast.

Yes, fair point

One hour ago:

[www.nytimes.com]

"More than 4,000 American citizens, plus their family members, have been evacuated so far, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Thousands more remain: A day earlier, a congressional official put the total number of U.S. citizens still in Afghanistan at 10,000. It was not clear how many of the 4,000 who have been evacuated were included in that tally."

Do you think you may have heard 6000 US troops in Afghanistan?

Latest figures are 88, 000 evacuated. So, vast majority are Afghanis?

Yes.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: August 25, 2021 12:27PM
Quote
Lemon Drop
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Lemon Drop
Quote
mrbigstuff
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
A couple of days ago I guessed there were only 20,000 NGO workers there. Tonight the nightly news said over 60,000 US citizens have been evacuated (so far). I would like to see a breakdown of who all those people worked for and why none of them saw this coming so fast.

Yes, fair point

One hour ago:

[www.nytimes.com]

"More than 4,000 American citizens, plus their family members, have been evacuated so far, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Thousands more remain: A day earlier, a congressional official put the total number of U.S. citizens still in Afghanistan at 10,000. It was not clear how many of the 4,000 who have been evacuated were included in that tally."

Do you think you may have heard 6000 US troops in Afghanistan?

Latest figures are 88, 000 evacuated. So, vast majority are Afghanis?

Yes.

The 60,000 figure was ABC's West Coast evening news on 08/24 (pretty sure). I will try to look for a clip but I doubt that it will still be online if there was an mistake like that.

I continue to feel it is disingenuous for any news service (cough*Fairness-Doctrine*cough) to blame only Biden for non-Americans having a hard time getting out. Stephen Miller had been working on disrupting the process of granting SIV's for years. On Oct. 8 of last year, there was a tweet that said armed forces would pull out by the end of the year. Then Cheeto made a quick negotiation that said all armed forces would be out by May, guaranteeing that it would be a fiasco no matter who was President.

Edit: [abcnews.go.com] only has the entire 08/22 show as of 10:36 am.



In tha 360. MRF User Map



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/25/2021 12:31PM by Filliam H. Muffman.
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: bfd
Date: August 25, 2021 03:10PM
Money talks. Pay the warlords to round up the people who need to be evac'd. Alternatively just provide lifetime free ammo for all the U.S. weapons they inherited from the Afghani "army".
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Re: Okay, WiseGuy, what's YOUR Afghanistan plan?
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: August 26, 2021 09:38AM
Hearing the bleating voices arguing how things are wrong in Afghanistan conceals the fact that none of them have any suggestions for what to do as an alternative.


Most of not all of those voices probably failed to mention that 45* and his regime actively conspired and blocked the process of issuing SIVs over four years.





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