Afghanistan: Graveyard of Empires

By Eric Margolis

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This week, the venerable Washington Post newspaper revealed a bombshell, 2,000 page, secret Pentagon report detailing the astounding failure of US war strategy in Afghanistan, America’s longest war.

Americans have been fed a steady stream of lies about the Afghan War, concluded the Post. So asserted this writer in ‘American Conservative’ magazine in 2003 when the US invaded Afghanistan.

`We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,’ admitted three-star General Douglas Lute who commanded US forces in Afghanistan under Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.

Arrogance and ignorance, backed by mammoth brute force, led US policy in the remote Asian nation. Attacking Afghanistan was revenge for the 9/11 attacks against the US. As this writer saw first hand in Afghanistan, all the claims about Osama bin Laden’s ‘terrorist training camps’ in Afghanistan were lies. 9/11 was not planned in Afghanistan.

Taliban were not ‘terrorists.’ They were lightly armed tribal warriors fighting bandits and the US-backed Afghan intelligence services run by the Communist Party. Taliban’s fathers, the mujahidin, were hailed as ‘freedom fighters’ by Ronald Reagan. In 2003, the US did a total volte-face to support the Afghan Communists who promised to allow US-owned pipeline routes south from Central Asia’s oil-rich Caspian Basin to Pakistan’s coast. After Taliban refused the chintzy US pipelines offer, this nationalist, anti-drug movement that battled the rape of Afghanistan was branded ‘terrorists’.

The US-installed Kabul regime was a bunch of off-the-shelf CIA assets: warlords, major drug dealers, and communists. Billions upon billions of US dollars were flown in to hire mercenaries and pay off warlords and criminals. The biggest war criminals in Afghanistan became key US allies.

When Taliban was in power, it eliminated 90% of Afghanistan’s extensive trade of high-grade morphine and heroin. Once the US seized Kabul and installed its own puppet regime, drug production surged to all-time highs. US forces and their allies became deeply involved in the drug trade that sustained the nation’s economy. Today, US-run Afghanistan is the world’s biggest drug dealer.

Those journalists like this one who insisted on telling the truth about Afghanistan were fired or ignored. I was booted off CNN for denying their false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And that the US was ‘winning’ the Afghan War. I was banned from certain radio and public TV networks for asserting that ISIS was a western invention, backed by Turkey, the US, France, Britain and Israel. I was branded a ‘radical’ for trying to tell the truth.

I mention these examples to affirm charges, made by the Washington Post, that the entire Afghan conflict was a farrago of lies and half-truths cooked up by the US government to justify a brutal war of aggression against a weak, medieval nation that dared to block our demands for strategic pipeline routes.

The Washington Post played a key role in promoting the lies that opened the way to the US invasion of Iraq. Today, it is doing penance by revealing all the lies that facilitated the Afghan War – and the thousands of US soldiers killed or wounded there, the vast destruction wrought on Afghanistan by US warplanes, wide-scale torture, starvation, mass killing of civilians and all the other horrors of war.

According to the Pentagon report, the US has wasted at least one trillion dollars ($1 trillion) on its Afghanistan War to no discernible effect other than great numbers of dead and wounded, destroyed villages, machine-gunned farm animals, and vast chemical pollution. If it moves, bomb it is the American credo.

That’s why we see the shameful spectacle of US B-1 and B-52 heavy bombers carpet bombing Afghan villages, and swarms of helicopter and AC-130 gunships blasting apart medieval Afghan tribesmen and wedding parties. The Soviets were just as ruthless; but we are more efficient.

America’s media, with a few small exceptions, has promoted the Pentagon’s war against the Afghan people and totally covered up its atrocities and egregious lies. This war has become a giant, money devouring killing machine that boosts politicians and military contractors. The past presidents who cheered on this disgraceful war against one of the world’s poorest, most backward nations deserve to be disgraced.

Meanwhile, we must stop and think about the Pashtun tribal fighters who held off the world’s mightiest military machine for the past 18 years with little more than old AK-47 rifles and indomitable courage. We owe them our sincerest apologies and a rebuilt country. As a former US soldier I salute them, these bravest of the brave.

Rethinking National Security: CIA and FBI Are Corrupt, but What About Congress?

Image result for Rethinking National Security: CIA and FBI Are Corrupt, but What About Congress?
Philip Giraldi
November 21, 2019

The developing story about how the US intelligence and national security agencies may have conspired to influence and possibly even reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election is compelling, even if one is disinclined to believe that such a plot would be possible to execute. Not surprisingly perhaps there have been considerable introspection among former and current officials who have worked in those and related government positions, many of whom would agree that there is urgent need for a considerable restructuring and reining in of the 17 government agencies that have some intelligence or law enforcement function. Most would also agree that much of the real damage that has been done has been the result of the unending global war on terror launched by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, which has showered the agencies with resources and money while also politicizing their leadership and freeing them from restraints on their behavior.

If the tens of billions of dollars lavished on the intelligence community together with a “gloves off” approach towards oversight that allowed them to run wild had produced good results, it might be possible to argue that it was all worth it. But the fact is that intelligence gathering has always been a bad investment even if it is demonstrably worse at the present. One might argue that the CIA’s notorious Soviet Estimate prolonged the Cold War and that the failure to connect dots and pay attention to what junior officers were observing allowed 9/11 to happen. And then there was the empowerment of al-Qaeda during the Soviet-Afghan war followed by failure to penetrate the group once it began to carry out operations.

More recently there have been Guantanamo, torture in black prisons, renditions of terror suspects to be tortured elsewhere, killing of US citizens by drone, turning Libya into a failed state and terrorist haven, arming militants in Syria, and, of course, the Iraqi alleged WMDs, the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. And the bad stuff happened in bipartisan fashion, under Democrats and Republicans, with both neocons and liberal interventionists all playing leading roles. The only one punished for the war crimes was former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed some of what was going on.

Colonel Pat Lang, a colleague and friend who directed the Defense Intelligence Agency HUMINT (human intelligence) program after years spent on the ground in special ops and foreign liaison, thinks that strong medicine is needed and has initiated a discussion based on the premise that the FBI and CIA are dysfunctional relics that should be dismantled, as he puts it “burned to the ground,” so that the federal government can start over again and come up with something better.

Lang cites numerous examples of “incompetence and malfeasance in the leadership of the 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” to include the examples cited above plus the failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. On the domestic front, he cites his personal observation of efforts by the Department of Justice and the FBI to corruptly “frame” people tried in federal courts on national security issues as well as the intelligence/law enforcement community conspiracy to “get Trump.”

Colonel Lang asks “Tell me, pilgrims, why should we put up with such nonsense? Why should we pay the leaders of these agencies for the privilege of having them abuse us? We are free men and women. Let us send these swine to their just deserts in a world where they have to work hard for whatever money they earn.” He then recommends stripping CIA of its responsibility for being the lead agency in spying as well as in covert action, which is a legacy of the Cold War and the area in which it has demonstrated a particular incompetence. As for the FBI, it was created by J. Edgar Hoover to maintain dossiers on politicians and it is time that it be replaced by a body that operates in a fashion “more reflective of our collective nation[al] values.”

Others in the intelligence community understandably have different views. Many believe that the FBI and CIA have grown too large and have been asked to do too many things unrelated to national security, so there should be a major reduction-in-force (RIF) followed by the compulsory retirement of senior officers who have become too cozy with and obligated to politicians. The new-CIA should collect information, period, what it was founded to do in 1947, and not meddle in foreign elections or engage in regime change. The FBI should provide only police services that are national in nature and that are not covered by the state and local jurisdictions. And it should operate in as transparent a fashion as possible, not as a national secret police force.

But the fundamental problem may not be with the police and intelligence services themselves. There are a lot of idiots running around loose in Washington. Witness for example the impeachment hearings ludicrous fact free opening statement by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (with my emphasis) “In 2014, Russia invaded a United States ally, Ukraine, to reverse that nation’s embrace of the West, and to fulfill Vladimir Putin’s desire to rebuild a Russian empire.”

And the press is no better, note the following excerpt from The New York Times lead editorial on the hearings, including remarks of the two State Department officers who testified, on the following day: “They came across not as angry Democrats or Deep State conspirators, but as men who have devoted their lives to serving their country, and for whom defending Ukraine against Russian aggression is more important to the national interest than any partisan jockeying…

“At another point, Mr. Taylor said he had been critical of the Obama administration’s reluctance to supply Ukraine with anti-tank missiles and other lethal defensive weapons in its fight with Russia, and that he was pleased when the Trump administration agreed to do so

“What clearly concerned both witnesses wasn’t simply the abuse of power by the president, but the harm it inflicted on Ukraine, a critical ally under constant assault by Russian forces. ‘Even as we sit here today, the Russians are attacking Ukrainian soldiers in their own country and have been for the last four years…’ Mr. Taylor said.”

Schiff and the Times should get their facts straight. And so should the two American foreign service officers who were clearly seeing the situation only from the Ukrainian perspective, a malady prevalent among US diplomats often described as “going native.” They were pushing a particular agenda, i.e. possible war with Russia on behalf of Ukraine, in furtherance of a US national interest that they fail to define. One of them, George Kent, eulogized the Ukrainian militiamen fighting the Russians as the modern day equivalent of the Massachusetts Minutemen in 1776, not exactly a neutral assessment, and also euphemized Washington-provided lethal offensive weapons as “security assistance.”

Another former intelligence community friend Ray McGovern has constructed a time line of developments in Ukraine which demolishes the establishment view on display in Congress relating to the alleged Russian threat. First of all, Ukraine was no American ally in 2014 and is no “critical ally” today. Also, the Russian reaction to western supported rioting in Kiev, a vital interest, only came about after the United States spent $5 billion destabilizing and then replacing the pro-Kremlin government. Since that time Moscow has resumed control of the Crimea, which is historically part of Russia, and is active in the Donbas region which has a largely Russian population.

It should really be quite simple. The national security state should actually be engaged in national security. Its size and budget should be commensurate with what it actually does, nothing more. It should not be roaming the world looking for trouble and should instead only respond to actual threats. And it should operate with oversight. If Congress is afraid to do it, set up a separate body that is non-partisan and actually has the teeth to do the job. If the United States of America comes out of the process as something like a normal nation the entire world will be a much happier place.

The Repression of Free Inquiry and Academic Debate Concerning 9/11 and Israel/Palestine Relations

By Prof Anthony Hall

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During the New Horizon Conference in Beirut earlier this autumn, the event’s Chair, Nader Talebzadeh, discussed with Prof. Anthony Hall the trials and tribulations of trying to render public service by contributing to public discussion on controversial topics. In the free-ranging conversation on the Nader Show, references were made to comparisons that can be drawn between the illegal tactics deployed against both discussants. In 2016 the administration of the University of Lethbridge suspended Prof. Hall without any due process whatsoever, even as in 2019 the US Treasury branch designated Dr. Talebzadeh as a “Global Terrorist” for the supposed crime of hosting intellectual exchanges at international conferences.

Both cases demonstrate the widening of the concept of “pre-emptive war” after 9/11. The concept of striking first, worrying about proof and evidence later, is fast being extended into the realm of civil society and international relations. In placing extensive emergency powers in the realm of executive discretion after 9/11, many of the protections attached to the principle that people are have been nullified and withdrawn. The war party is thus strengthened by putting in its hands many new means of unilaterally stifling the voices of its critics.

After 9/11 rights-bearing citizens were transformed into criminal suspects as police state and surveillance state tactics proliferated. The most recent examples of this approach are demonstrated by the imposition of new types of sanctions on Iranian as well as on Lebanese institutions and individuals. The attacks on the economic viability and reputations of the designated targets are advanced through unilateral actions mounted by Zionist cells deep within the US Treasury Department.

The Trump government’s imposition of sanctions without due process or any right of appeal makes a mockery of the United Nations and of international law. The degradation of the international system after 9/11 can be highlighted through the illumination of a telling contrast. Consider the differences between the unilateral impositions amounting to economic warfare on Iran and the thick walls of obstructions put in the way of the imposition of sanctions on Israel through the BDS campaign.

 

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