An empire in love with its Afghan cemetery

MAY 06, 2021

An empire in love with its Afghan cemetery

The New Great Game 3.0 is just beginning with a hat tip to Tacitus and dancing to the Hindu Kush groove

By Pepe Escobar with permission from the author and first posted at Asia Times

One cannot but feel mildly amused at the theatrical spectacle of the US troop pullout from Afghanistan, its completion day now postponed for maximum PR impact to 9/11, 2021.

Nearly two decades and a staggering US$2 trillion after this Forever War was launched by a now immensely indebted empire, the debacle can certainly be interpreted as a warped version of Mission Accomplished.

“They make a desert and call it peace,” said Tacitus – but in all of the vastness of the Pentagon there sits not a single flack who could imagine getting away with baldfacedly spinning the Afghan wasteland as peaceful.

Even the UN bureaucratic machinery has not been able to properly account for Afghan civilian deaths; at best they settled for 100,000 in only ten years. Add to that toll countless “collateral” deaths provoked by the massive social and economic consequences of the war.

Training and weaponizing the – largely inefficient – 300,000-plus Afghan Army cost $87 billion. “Economic aid and reconstruction” cost $54 billion: literally invisible hospitals and schools dot the Afghan landscape. A local chapter of the “war on drugs” cost $10 billion – at least with (inverted) tangible results: Afghanistan now generates 80% of the world’s opium.

All these embarrassing facts disappear under the shadow play of 2,500 “official” departing troops. What really matters is who’s staying: by no means just a few out of some 17,000 “contractors,” over 6,000 of whom are American citizens.

“Contractor” is a lovely euphemism for a bunch of mercenaries who, perfectly in tune with a shadow privatization drive, will now mingle with Special Forces teams and covert intel ops to conduct a still lethal variation of hybrid war.

Of course this development won’t replicate those David Bowie-style Golden Years in the immediate post-9/11 era. Ten years ago, following the Obama-Petraeus surge, no fewer than 90,000 contractors were dancing to the Hindu Kush groove, lavishly compensated by the Pentagon and dabbling in everything from construction, transportation and maintenance to “enhanced interrogation services.”

Collectively, this shadow army, a triumph of private enterprise many times cheaper than the state-sponsored model,  bagged at least $104 billion since 2002, and nearly $9 billion since 2016.

Now we’re supposed to trust CENTCOM commander General Kenneth McKenzie, who swears that “the U.S. contractors will come out as we come out.” Apparently the Pentagon press secretary was not briefed: “So on the contractors, we don’t know exactly.”

Some contractors are already in trouble, like Fluor Corporation, which is involved in maintenance and camp construction for no fewer than 70 Pentagon forward operating bases in northern Afghanistan. Incidentally, no Pentagon PR is explaining whether these FOBs will completely vanish.

Fluor was benefitting from something called LOGCAP – Logistics Civil Augmentation IV Program – a scheme set by the Pentagon at the start of Obama-Biden 1.0 to “outsource logistical military support.” Its initial five-year deal was worth a cool $7 billion. Now Fluor is being sued for fraud.

Enhancing stability forever

The current government in Kabul is led by a virtual nonentity, Ashraf Ghani. Like his sartorially glamorous predecessor Hamid Karzai, Ghani is a US creature, lording it over a rambling military force financed by Washington to the tune of $4 billion a year.

So of course Ghani is entitled to spin a rosy outlook for an Afghan peace process on the pages of Foreign Affairs.

It gets curioser and curioser when we add the incandescent issue that may have provoked the Forever War in the first place: al-Qaeda.

“former security coordinator for Osama bin Laden” is now peddling the idea that al-Qaeda may be back in the Hindu Kush. Yet, according to Afghan diplomats, there is no evidence that the Taliban will allow old-school al-Qaeda – the Osama/al-Zawahiri incarnation – to thrive again.

That’s despite the fact that Washington, for all practical purposes, has ditched the Doha Agreement signed in February 2020, which stipulated that the troop pullout should have happened this past Saturday, May 1.

Of course, we can always count on the Pentagon to “enhance security and stability”  in Afghanistan. In this Pentagon report we learn that “AQIS [al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent] routinely supports and works with low-level Taliban members in its efforts to undermine the Afghan government, and maintains an enduring interest in attacking US forces and Western targets.”

Well, what the Pentagon does not tell us is how old-school al-Qaeda, pre-AQIS, metastasized into a galaxy of “moderate rebels” now ensconced in Idlib, Syria. And how contingents of Salafi-jihadis were able to access mysterious transportation corridors to bolster the ranks of ISIS-Khorasan in Afghanistan.

The CIA heroin ratline

All you need to know, reported on the ground, about the crucial first years of the imperial adventure in Afghanistan is to be found in the Asia Times e-book Forever Wars, part 1.

Two decades later, the politico-intel combo behind Biden is now spinning that the end of this particular Forever War is an imperative, integrated to the latest US National Security Strategy.

Shadow play once again reigns. Withdrawal conditionals include the incompetence and corruption of the Afghan military and security forces; that notorious Taliban-al-Qaeda re-engagement; the fight for women’s rights; and acknowledging the supreme taboo: this ain’t no withdrawal because a substantial Special Forces contingent will stay in place.

In a nutshell: for the US deep state, leaving Afghanistan is anathema.

The real heart of the matter in Afghanistan concerns drugs and geopolitics – and their toxic intersection.

Everyone with transit in the Dubai-Kandahar axis and its ramifications knows that the global-spanned opium and heroin business is a matter very close to the CIA’s heart. Secure air transport is offered by bases in Afghanistan and neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

William Engdahl has offered a concise breakdown  of how it works. In the immediate post-9/11 days, in Afghanistan, the main player in the opium trade was none other than Ahmed Wali Karzai, presidential brother and a CIA asset. I interviewed him in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, in October 2001 (the interview can be found in Forever Wars). He obviously did not talk about opium.

Ahmed Karzai was snuffed out in a Mafia-style hit at home, in Helmand, in 2011. Helmand happens to be Afghanistan’s Opium Central. In 2017, following on previous investigations by Seymour Hersh and Alfred McCoy, among others, I detailed the workings of the CIA heroin ratline in Afghanistan.

New Great Game 3.0 is on

Whatever happens next will involve layers and layers of shadow play. CENTCOM’s McKenzie, at a closed-door hearing at the US House Armed Services Committee, basically said they are still “figuring out” what to do next.

That will certainly involve, in McKenzie’s own assessment, “counter-terrorism operations within the region”; “expeditionary basing” (linguistic diversion to imply there won’t be any permanent bases, at least in thesis); and “assistance” to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (no details on what this “assistance” will consist of).

Now compare it with the view by major Eurasian powers: Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran, three of them members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with Iran as an observer and soon full member.

Their number one priority is to prevent any mutating Afghan jihadi virus to contaminate Central Asia. A massive 50,000 troop-strong Russia-Tajikistan military exercise in late April had exactly that in mind.

Ministers of defense of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) met in Dushanbe with the objective of further fortifying the porous Tajik-Afghan border.

And then there’s the Turkmen-Afghan border, from which the opium/heroin trail reaches the Caspian Sea and diversifies via Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Moscow, even more than the CSTO, is particularly worried by this stretch of the trail.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is poppyfield-300x168.jpg

The Russians are very much aware that even more than different opium/heroin routes springing up, the top danger is a new influx of Salafi-jihadis into the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Even if analyzing it from completely different perspectives, Americans and Russians seem to be equally focused on what Salafi-jihadists – and their handlers – may come up with in post-9/11, 2021 Afghanistan.

So let’s go back to Doha, where something really intriguing is afoot.

On April 30, a so-called extended troika – Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan – issued a joint statement in Doha on their discussions regarding a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.

The extended troika met with the Kabul government, the Taliban and host Qatar. At least they agreed there should be “no military solution.”

It gets curioser and curioser again: Turkey, backed by Qatar and the UN, is getting ready to host a conference to further bridge the gap between the Kabul government and the Taliban. Realpolitik cynics will have a ball wondering what Erdogan is scheming at.

The extended troika, at least rhetorically, is in favor of an “independent, sovereign, unified, peaceful, democratic, neutral and self-sufficient Afghanistan.” Talk about a lofty undertaking. It remains to be seen how Afghanistan’s “neutrality” can be guaranteed in such a nest of New Great Game serpents.

Beijing and Moscow will be under no illusions that the newly privatized, Special Forces Afghan-American experiment will eschew using Salafi-jihadis, radicalized Uighurs or other instant assets to destabilize what in effect should be the incorporation of Afghanistan to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (where it’s already an observer) and the larger Eurasia integration project.

An extra-intriguing piece of the puzzle is that a very pragmatic Russia – unlike its historical ally India – is not against including the Taliban in an overall Afghan settlement. New Delhi will have to go along. As for Islamabad, the only thing that matters, as always, is to have a friendly government in Kabul. That good old “strategic depth” obsession.

What the major players – Russia and China – see in the framework of a minimally stabilized Afghanistan is yet one more step to consolidate the evolution of the New Silk Roads in parallel with the Greater Eurasia partnership. That’s exactly the message Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivered during his recent visit to Pakistan.

Now compare it with the – never explicit – strategic deep state aim: to keep some sort of military-intel “forward operating base” in the absolutely crucial node between Central and South Asia and close, oh so close, to national security “threats” Russia and China.

The New Great Game 3.0 is just beginning at the graveyard of empires.

Chris Hedges: The Unraveling of the American Empire

April 19th, 2021

By Chris Hedges

Source

US leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another, a trajectory mirroring the sad finales of other historical imperial powers.

Princeton, New Jersey (Scheerpost— America’s defeat in Afghanistan is one in a string of catastrophic military blunders that herald the death of the American empire. With the exception of the first Gulf War, fought largely by mechanized units in the open desert that did not – wisely – attempt to occupy Iraq, the United States political and military leadership has stumbled from one military debacle to another. Korea. Vietnam. Lebanon. Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Libya. The trajectory of military fiascos mirrors the sad finales of the Chinese, Ottoman, Hapsburg, Russian, French, British, Dutch, Portuguese and Soviet empires. While each of these empires decayed with their own peculiarities, they all exhibited patterns of dissolution that characterize the American experiment.

Imperial ineptitude is matched by domestic ineptitude. The collapse of good government at home, with legislative, executive and judicial systems all seized by corporate power, ensures that the incompetent and the corrupt, those dedicated not to the national interest but to swelling the profits of the oligarchic elite, lead the country into a cul-de-sac. Rulers and military leaders, driven by venal self-interest, are often buffoonish characters in a grand comic operetta. How else to think of Allen Dulles, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Donald Trump or the hapless Joe Biden? While their intellectual and moral vacuity is often darkly amusing, it is murderous and savage when directed towards their victims.

There is not a single case since 1941 when the coups, political assassinations, election fraud, black propaganda, blackmail, kidnapping, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns, U.S. sanctioned massacres, torture in global black sites, proxy wars or military interventions carried out by the United States resulted in the establishment of a democratic government. The two-decade-long wars in the Middle East, the greatest strategic blunder in American history, have only left in their wake one failed state after another. Yet, no one in the ruling class is held accountable.

War, when it is waged to serve utopian absurdities, such as implanting a client government in Baghdad that will flip the region, including Iran, into U.S. protectorates, or when, as in Afghanistan, there is no vision at all, descends into a quagmire. The massive allocation of money and resources to the U.S. military, which includes Biden’s request for $715 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal year 2022, a $11.3 billion, or 1.6 percent increase, over 2021, is not in the end about national defense. The bloated military budget is designed, as Seymour Melman explained in his book, “The Permanent War Economy,” primarily to keep the American economy from collapsing. All we really make anymore are weapons. Once this is understood, perpetual war makes sense, at least for those who profit from it.

The idea that America is a defender of democracy, liberty and human rights would come as a huge surprise to those who saw their democratically elected governments subverted and overthrown by the United States in Panama (1941), Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Honduras (2009) and Egypt (2013). And this list does not include a host of other governments that, however despotic, as was the case in South Vietnam, Indonesia or Iraq, were viewed as inimical to American interests and destroyed, in each case making life for the inhabitants of these countries even more miserable.

I spent two decades on the outer reaches of empire as a foreign correspondent. The flowery rhetoric used to justify the subjugation of other nations so corporations can plunder natural resources and exploit cheap labor is solely for domestic consumption. The generals, intelligence operatives, diplomats, bankers and corporate executives that manage empire find this idealistic talk risible. They despise, with good reason, naïve liberals who call for “humanitarian intervention” and believe the ideals used to justify empire are real, that empire can be a force for good. These liberal interventionists, the useful idiots of imperialism, attempt to civilize a process that was created and designed to repress, intimidate, plunder and dominate.

The liberal interventionists, because they wrap themselves in high ideals, are responsible for numerous military and foreign policy debacles. The call by liberal interventionists such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Susan Rice and Samantha Power to fund jihadists in Syria and depose Muammar Gaddafi in Libya rent these countries — as in Afghanistan and Iraq — into warring fiefdoms. The liberal interventionists are also the tip of the spear in the campaign to rachet up tensions with China and Russia.

Russia is blamed for interfering in the last two presidential elections on behalf of Donald Trump. Russia, whose economy is roughly the size of Italy’s, is also attacked for destabilizing the Ukraine, supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, funding France’s National Front party and hacking into German computers. Biden has imposed sanctions on Russia – including limits on buying newly issued sovereign debt – in response to allegations that Moscow was behind a hack on SolarWinds Corp. and worked to thwart his candidacy.

At the same time, the liberal interventionists are orchestrating a new cold war with China, justifying this cold war because the Chinese government is carrying out genocide against its Uyghur minority, repressing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and stealing U.S. patents. As with Russia, sanctions have been imposed targeting the country’s ruling elite. The U.S. is also carrying out provocative military maneuvers along the Russian border and in the South China Sea.

The core belief of imperialists, whether they come in the form of a Barack Obama or a George W. Bush, is racism and ethnic chauvinism, the notion that Americans are permitted, because of superior attributes, to impose their “values” on lesser races and peoples by force. This racism, carried out in the name of Western civilization and its corollary white supremacy, unites the rabid imperialists and liberal interventionists in the Republican and Democratic parties. It is the fatal disease of empire, captured in Graham Greene’s novel “The Quiet American” and Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient.”

Afghanistan War
A young boy watches a US Marine scan the area during a patrol south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2010. Dusan Vranic | AP

The crimes of empire always spawn counter-violence that is then used to justify harsher forms of imperial repression. For example, the United States routinely kidnapped Islamic jihadists fighting in the Balkans between 1995 and 1998. They were sent to Egypt — many were Egyptian — where they were savagely tortured and usually executed. In 1998, the International Islamic Front for Jihad said it would carry out a strike against the United States after jihadists were kidnapped and transferred to black sites from Albania. They made good on their threat igniting massive truck bombs at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that left 224 dead. Of course, the “extraordinary renditions” by the CIA did not end and neither did the attacks by jihadists.

Our decades-long military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, are called “micro-militarism.” The Athenians engaged in micro-militarism during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) when they invaded Sicily, suffering the loss of 200 ships and thousands of soldiers. The defeat triggered successful revolts throughout the Athenian empire. The Roman empire, which at its height lasted for two centuries, created a military machine that, like the Pentagon, was a state within a state. Rome’s military rulers, led by Augustus, snuffed out the remnants of Rome’s anemic democracy and ushered in a period of despotism that saw the empire disintegrate under the weight of extravagant military expenditures and corruption. The British empire, after the suicidal military folly of World War I, was terminated in 1956 when it attacked Egypt in a dispute over the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Britain was forced to withdraw in humiliation, empowering Arab nationalist leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and dooming British rule over its few remaining colonies. None of these empires recovered.

“While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power,” the historian Alfred W. McCoy writes in his book “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power”: “Often irrational even from an imperial point of view, these micromilitary operations can yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the process already under way.”

The worse it gets at home the more the empire needs to fabricate enemies within and without. This is the real reason for the increase in tensions with Russia and China. The poverty of half the nation and concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny oligarchic cabal, the wanton murder of unarmed civilians by militarized police, the rage at the ruling elites, expressed with nearly half the electorate voting for a con artist and demagogue and a mob of his supporters storming the capital, are the internal signs of disintegration. The inability of the for-profit national health services to cope with the pandemic, the passage of a Covid relief bill and the proposal of an infrastructure bill that would hand the bulk of some $5 trillion dollars to corporations while tossing crumbs — one-time checks of $1,400 to a citizenry in deep financial distress — will only fuel the decline.

Because of the loss of unionized jobs, the real decline of wages, de-industrialization, chronic underemployment and unemployment, and punishing austerity programs, the country is plagued by a plethora of diseases of despair including opioid addictions, alcoholism, suicides, gambling, depression, morbid obesity and mass shootings — since March 16 the United States has had at least 45 mass shootings, including eight people killed in an Indiana FedEx facility on Friday, three dead and three injured in a shooting in Wisconsin on Sunday, and another three dead in a shooting in Austin on Sunday. These are the consequences of a deeply troubled society.

The façade of empire is able to mask the rot within its foundations, often for decades, until, as we saw with the Soviet Union, the empire appears to suddenly disintegrate. The loss of the dollar as the global reserve currency will probably mark the final chapter of the American empire. In 2015, the dollar accounted for 90 percent of bilateral transactions between China and Russia, a percentage that has since fallen to about 50 percent. The use of sanctions as a weapon against China and Russia pushes these countries to replace the dollar with their own national currencies. Russia, as part of this move away from the dollar, has begun accumulating yuan reserves.

The loss of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency will instantly raise the cost of imports. It will result in unemployment of Depression-era levels. It will force the empire to dramatically contract. It will, as the economy worsens, fuel a hyper-nationalism that will most likely be expressed through a Christianized fascism. The mechanisms, already in place, for total social control, militarized police, a suspension of civil liberties, wholesale government surveillance, enhanced “terrorism” laws that railroad people into the world’s largest prison system and censorship overseen by the digital media monopolies will seamlessly cement into place a police state. Nations that descend into crises these severe seek to deflect the rage of a betrayed population on foreign scapegoats. China and Russia will be used to fill these roles.

The defeat in Afghanistan is a familiar and sad story, one all those blinded by imperial hubris endure. The tragedy, however, is not the collapse of the American empire, but that, lacking the ability to engage in self-critique and self-correction, as it dies it will lash out in a blind, inchoate fury at innocents at home and abroad.

Debunking Bloomberg: Biden’s Afghan Withdrawal Isn’t A Blow To China

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Debunking Bloomberg: Biden

It was hyperbole for Ghosh to claim that ‘Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Is A Blow To China’. It might only be so in the worst-case scenario, which is far from certain.

Bloomberg published an op-ed last week provocatively claiming that “Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Is A Blow To China”. Opinion columnist Bobby Ghosh argues that the country might soon slip back into an all-out civil war that would not only disrupt China’s connectivity interests in the country, but also spill over to threaten the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In addition, he predicts that Afghanistan will become “a sanctuary for jihadists of every stripe — some of whom will undoubtedly direct their attention to that very short, mountainous and porous border with China.”

This line of thinking is typical of what many in the Western mainstream media are saying. They were against former US President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban last year and subsequent promise to complete his country’s military withdrawal by the beginning of next month. His successor, US President Joe Biden, will instead initiate the full withdrawal by that date and complete it before the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Some establishment voices fear that this will create strategic opportunities for China and the US’ other so-called peer competitors like Russia to exploit for zero-sum ends against American interests.

In reality, however, it’s in everyone’s interests that the US completes its promised withdrawal from Afghanistan as soon as possible. America has spent trillions of dollars there without much of anything to show for it. It’s true that Afghanistan now has a governing system comparatively closer (key word) to Western democracy than before and that woman now enjoy greater rights, but the Taliban still controls large swathes of the country and ISIS’ entry to the battlefield in 2014 immensely complicated the anti-terrorist situation there. Indefinitely continuing the US’ occupation of Afghanistan would only make matters much worse without solving anything.

By boldly agreeing to withdraw from the country and clearly articulating the strategic reasons behind this decision in his national speech on Wednesday, President Biden concluded that it’s better to cut America’s losses and simply move on even though the victimized Afghan people won’t be able to move past this twenty-year dark chapter of their national history so easily. In any case, their future is arguably brighter than before, not dimmer. The completion of the US’ withdrawal will unlock promising socio-economic opportunities for Afghanistan provided that their leadership and local stakeholders have the political will to support them.

To explain, it’s precisely because of China that this is possible. Afghanistan’s geostrategic location in the center of the tri-regional Central-South-West Asian space affords it enormous potential for connecting these three massive markets through BRI. In particular, CPEC’s de facto expansion into Afghanistan via the recently agreed Pakistan-Afghanistan-Uzbekistan (PAKAFUZ) railway will complement existing rail connectivity with China via the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The Chinese-Iranian Strategic Partnership deal also creates the chance of further expanding this connectivity network to West Asia with time via W-CPEC+.

Domestically, the Afghan economy would require extensive reconstruction, but its reported $3 trillion worth of minerals – including some rare earth ones – could ideally be extracted in the most responsible way possible to ensure the equitable distribution of this wealth to every citizen. Coupled with grants and low-interest no-strings-attached loans from partner states like China and others, the Afghan people actually stand a very credible chance of succeeding in the future so long as their country can avert the all-out civil war that Ghosh fears might soon erupt.

That worst-case scenario is plausible, but nevertheless not inevitable. The Taliban, despite being designated as terrorists, have recently proven themselves to be shrewd diplomats on the international stage during multiple rounds of peace talks over the past few years. They seem to have understand the pragmatism of facilitating such connectivity and extractive projects for the purpose of improving their citizens’ living standards. Should they enter into the planned inclusive transitional government that’s been proposed, then they’ll probably not do anything to threaten those projects since they’ll too have a stake in their success.

Considering all of this, it was hyperbole for Ghosh to claim that “Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Is A Blow To China”. It might only be so in the worst-case scenario, which is far from certain. What’s much more likely is that the existing low-intensity conflict continues but doesn’t reach catastrophic proportions. Instead, with the Taliban possibly becoming part of the Afghan government, the international community might remove their terrorist designation and accept them as equal stakeholders in Afghanistan’s future socio-economic success, a large part of which will be due to mutually beneficial cooperation with China.

The Russian-Taliban Bounty Conspiracy Theory: Postmortem

By Andrew Korybko

Source

The Russian-Taliban Bounty Conspiracy Theory: Postmortem

The recent revelation that the US Intelligence Community only ever had ‘low to moderate confidence’ in last summer’s sensational claims that Russia was paying bounties to the Taliban for every American soldier that they killed prompts observers to reflect on the lessons that can be learned from this debunked conspiracy theory.

The US Intelligence Community’s sensational claims last summer that Russia was paying bounties to the Taliban for every American soldier that they killed was a stereotypical conspiracy theory from the very beginning, one that was weaponized for the purpose of inflicting strategic damage to the Eurasian Great Power’s diplomatic efforts to end that long-running war. I explained all of this in my piece at the time about how “The Fake News About Russia & The Taliban Aims To Achieve Three Strategic Objectives”, which was followed up by another analysis about how “The Truth About Russian-Taliban Ties Is As Intriguing As The Fake News About Them”. My work has since been vindicated after the recent revelation that the US only ever had “low to moderate confidence” in this now debunked conspiracy theory, which is a spytalk that basically translates to an admission that it was either all made up or based on unreliable rumors without any tangible evidence whatsoever.

Observers’ postmodern reflection on the lessons that can be learned form those discredited reports reveals some relevant insight. The first and most obvious thereof is that the US Intelligence Community cannot be trusted, especially whenever it comes to their increasingly wild accusations against Russia. Secondly, such accusations can be weaponized for strategic purposes such as the three ones that were explained in the earlier cited analysis, which also includes meddling in the elected head of state’s own foreign policy insofar as this related to former US President Trump’s efforts at the time to explore a “New Detente” with Russia. Thirdly, there’s a global network of perception managers in the Mainstream Media that eagerly amplify the US Intelligence Community’s claims, whether on their own prerogative or perhaps also under the influence (if not direct orders) of American spies.

Building upon that last-mentioned lesson, this observation adds substance to the claims that the Mainstream Media is no longer credible. Unlike in times past, they don’t function as actual journalists anymore but more like policy activists, especially in the foreign sphere. The US Intelligence Community’s claims are treated like the gospel and can’t be publicly questioned lest one risk being smeared as a so-called “Russian asset” just because they asked for actual evidence to back up such scandalous accusations. This speaks to the objective lack of a free press in modern-day America whereby the so-called “fourth estate” nowadays ceases to exist as any even semi-independent entity but has since become an instrument of the country’s permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (“deep state”). What’s all the more ironic about the Russian-Taliban conspiracy theory is that it was debunked by none other than the same “deep state” which first invented it.

Furthermore, US President Biden himself said during his monumental speech at the White House last week announcing his decision to fully withdraw American forces from Afghanistan by the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that “we’ll ask other countries — other countries in the region — to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey. They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan.” In other words, he implicitly acknowledged Russia’s leading role in the Afghan peace process that his Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad officially recognized last month after he participated in the latest round of peace talks in Moscow for the first time ever. It stands to reason that if President Biden truly thought that Russia was paying bounties to the Taliban to kill US soldiers, then he would never have publicly called on Russia “to do more to support Afghanistan” after this September’s withdrawal.

This debunked conspiracy theory did successfully serve one purpose though and that’s to have muddled American minds ahead of last year’s elections by getting some of them to wrongly think that former President Trump was so “soft on Russia” (perhaps due to the earlier discredited claims that he’s secretly a “Russian puppet”) that he’d let President Putin get away with allegedly paying bounties to the Taliban to kill US soldiers. It was this conspiracy theory from the US Intelligence Community itself and not any of the accusations that they’ve made back then and since about purported “Russian meddling” that amounted to actual interference in America’s democratic processes. It’s all the more ironic then that US spies outed themselves when they could have just kept the conspiracy going if they really wanted to, though this might have been meant to rub it into their citizens’ faces that the “deep state” is now in full control of the dystopian hellhole that’s Biden’s America.

U.S. Joins Past Empires in Afghan Graveyard

President Biden announced a removal of all U.S. troops by September 11, but he failed to include some important details.

By Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies

Global Research, April 16, 2021

All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).

***

An Afghan taxi-driver in Vancouver told one of us a decade ago that this day would come. “We defeated the Persian Empire in the eighteenth century, the British in the nineteenth, the Soviets in the twentieth. Now, with NATO, we’re fighting twenty-eight countries, but we’ll defeat them, too,” said the taxi-driver, surely not a member of the Taliban, but quietly proud of his country’s empire-killing credentials. 

Now, after nearly twenty years of a war that has been as bloody and futile as all those previous invasions and occupations, the last 3,500 U.S. troops and their NATO brothers-in-arms will be coming home from Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden tried to spin this as the United States leaving because it has achieved its objectives, bringing the terrorists responsible for 9/11 to justice and ensuring that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for a future attack on the United States. “We achieved those objectives,” Biden said. “Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is degraded. It’s time to end the forever war.”

What Biden did not admit is that the United States and its allies, with all their money and firepower, were unable to vanquish the Taliban, who currently control about half of Afghanistan and are positioned to control even more in the coming months without a ceasefire. Nor did Biden admit that, in two decades, the United States and its allies have been unable to build up a stable, democratic, popular government or a competent military in the country.

Like the U.S.S.R., the U.S. is leaving in defeat, having squandered the lives of countless Afghans, 2,488 U.S. troops and personnel, and trillions of dollars.

A U.S. withdrawal—especially one not based on conditions on the ground—is, nevertheless, a bold move for Biden. He is going against the advice of the U.S. intelligence community and top Pentagon officials, including the head of the U.S.-Afghan Forces and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Biden is also coming under attack from Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell artfully slammed Biden’s decision, accusing him of helping U.S. enemies “ring in the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by gift-wrapping the country and handing it right back to them.” Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the withdrawal “undermines our commitment to the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women.”U.S. Joins “Rules-Based World” on Afghanistan

But while Biden is being pilloried by some for pulling out too soon, the truth is that he is violating a May 1 deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal that was painstakingly negotiated under the Trump Administration.

Ironically, Biden acknowledged in his speech on Wednesday that the withdrawal agreement the United States signed with the Taliban in February 2020 was a solemn commitment, but then he said U.S. forces would begin their withdrawal on May 1 and complete it by September 11, which is not what was agreed to.

After it was clear that the United States was going to break the May 1 withdrawal agreement, Mohammad Naeem, the Taliban spokesperson in Qatar, issued a statement that the Taliban would now not take part in the ten days of U.N.-led peace talks scheduled to begin in Istanbul on April 24, nor would it take part in any further peace negotiations until the last foreign soldiers leave Afghanistan.

This is a reversion to the Taliban’s long-standing position that it would not negotiate with a government backed by foreign occupation forces.

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad spent years of his life negotiating with the Taliban to arrive at the 2020 withdrawal agreement. Secretary Blinken took a potentially historic step back from U.S. unilateralism when he invited the United Nations to lead a new Afghan peace process. And Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov set the stage for a ceasefire and a peaceful transition of power by bringing the two Afghan warring parties together in Moscow in March, where they agreed to keep talking.

By reneging on the May 1 deadline, President Biden has squandered much of the hard-won goodwill and trust that was painstakingly built up through these diplomatic efforts. It was not impossible to meet the May 1 deadline. The Trump Administration was steadily withdrawing troops, Biden’s transition began in November, and he’s been President since late January.

It is also unclear whether the United States will continue the war by providing airpower for the Afghan military and carrying out covert operations. Throughout these two decades, the United States has dropped more than 80,000 bombs on Afghanistan and waged a secret war with special forces, CIA operatives, mercenaries, and paramilitary units. Ending U.S. airstrikes and covert operations is as vital to peace as withdrawing U.S. troops.

It’s true that a U.S. withdrawal may lead to setbacks in the gains made by Afghan women and girls. But those gains have been mainly in the capital city of Kabul. Two thirds of girls in Afghanistan still receive no primary education, and Afghan women will never achieve significant advances while their country remains at war.

The United States and NATO military presence has made an end to violence impossible for twenty years, as the Taliban have long made clear that they will keep fighting as long as their country is under foreign occupation. And as long as the U.S. continues to prop up a weak, corrupt government in Kabul, instability and political fragmentation is inevitable.

Ending the fighting and investing a small fraction of U.S. war spending in education and health care would do far more to improve the lives of Afghan women and girls.

The United Nations, even with the full support and cooperation of the United States, will have its work cut out to convince the Taliban to rejoin talks. If the U.N. fails to negotiate a lasting ceasefire before the occupation forces withdraw, the U.S. and its NATO allies will be leaving a country still at war with the Taliban, the Afghan government, and various warlords vying for power.

We must hope that, in the coming months, the U.N. will find a way to bring the warring parties in Afghanistan together and craft a ceasefire and a workable peace process based on power sharing. After so many decades of war and intense suffering, much of it perpetrated by the United States and its allies, the Afghan people desperately need—and deserve—an end to this war.

*

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This article was originally published on The Progressive.

Medea Benjamin is co-director of the peace group CODEPINK. Her latest book is Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic.

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of “Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.” He is a researcher for CODEPINK: Women for Peace, and a freelance writer.

Here’s A List Of The US’ Top Failures In Afghanistan

16 APRIL 2021

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Here

The US’ War on Afghanistan spectacularly failed to accomplish anything positive of significance.

US President Biden’s announcement that his country will initiate its full withdrawal from Afghanistan on 1 May and complete it by the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on America’s top failures there over the past two decades:

Topple The Taliban

Not only does the Taliban still control a significant swath of Afghanistan, but it’s poised to return to power through peaceful means via the planned establishment of an inclusive transitional government.

Defeat Terrorism

While Al Qaeda’s reported capabilities to plan international attacks from Afghan soil have successfully been destroyed, the entrance of ISIS to the battlefield from 2014 onward means that such threats still remain.

Build A “Democratic” Afghanistan

Far from being the regional beacon of Western-style “democracy” that America envisioned, modern-day Afghanistan is a cesspool of anti-democratic practices, corruption, and extra-judicial killings.

Support Human Rights

Some women now enjoy broader rights in line with the new socio-political model externally imposed upon parts of the country, but many Afghans have also fallen victim to the occupiers’ vicious human rights abuses.

Extract Rare Earth Minerals

Despite having an estimated $1 trillion of rare earth minerals under its soil, the Western occupation forces have failed to extract these on any large enough scale to make a strategic difference due to Taliban attacks.

Destabilize The Central-South-West Asian Regions

Late US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plans to divide and rule those three regions through externally provoked “Balkanization” processes didn’t succeed due to the targeted states” Hybrid War resilience.

Avoid A Vietnam 2.0 Scenario

The US ignobly repeated the same Vietnam scenario that it hoped to avert by ultimately withdrawing from Afghanistan following a dishonorable defeat at the hands of militarily less sophisticated foes.

———-

All told, the US spectacularly failed to accomplish anything of significance in Afghanistan. None of its objectives, whether stated or speculated, succeeded. The only ones who benefited from this war were the military-industrial complex and especially those within it who stole at least $19 billion in public funds.

The Endless War: Afghanistan Goes On and On

APRIL 02 ,2021

By Philip Giraldi

Source

All indications are that the Pentagon will be able to maneuver more effectively in Washington than on the battlefield.

Given the present atmosphere in Washington in which there is no lie so outrageous as to keep it out of the mainstream media, a great deal of policy making takes place without even key players in the government knowing what is going on behind their backs. Of course, there is a long tradition of government lying in general but most politicians and officials have probably convinced themselves that they are avoiding the truth because complicating issues might lead to endless debate where nothing ever gets done. There may be some truth to that, but it is a self-serving notion at best.

The real damage comes when governments lie in order to start or continue a war. The Administration of George W. Bush did just that when it lied about Iraq’s secular leader Saddam Hussein seeking nuclear weapons, supporting terrorists and developing delivery systems that would enable Iraq to attack the U.S. with the nukes. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice knew she was not telling the truth when she warned that “the problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” She also was a key player in the Bush team approval of the CIA’s use of torture on captured al-Qaeda.

Rice is, by the way, not in jail and is currently a highly esteemed elder statesman serving as Director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Likewise for her friend and patron Madeleine Albright who famously declared that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. imposed sanctions were worth it. In the United States the only ones who are ever punished are those who expose the crimes being committed by the government, to include a number of whistleblowers and journalists like Julian Assange.

The active American military role in lying probably started at Valley Forge but it came into prominence with the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which was an alleged attack by the North Vietnamese on U.S. Navy ships that led to an escalation in Washington’s direct role in what was to become the Vietnam War, which produced 58,000 American dead as well as an estimated three million Vietnamese. No one was punished for faking the casus belli and today Vietnam is a communist state in spite of the martial valor of the U.S. Army.  Overall commander of US forces in Vietnam General William Westmoreland, who died in 2005, repeatedly advised the media and the White House that the American military was “winning” and there would be victory in six more months. General Westmoreland knew he was lying, as the Pentagon Papers subsequently revealed, and he also proved reluctant to share his plans with the White House. He even developed a contingency plan to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam without informing the president and Secretary of Defense.

Prize winning investigative reporter Gareth Porter has written an article “Trump Administration Insider Reveals How US Military Sabotaged Peace Agreement to Prolong Afghan War” that describes how the brass in the Pentagon currently are able to manipulate the bureaucracy in such a way as to circumvent policy coming out of the country’s civilian leadership. The article is based in part on an interview with retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, a decorated combat arms officer who served as an acting senior adviser to the Secretary of Defense during the last months of Donald Trump’s time in office.  He would have likely been confirmed in his position if Trump had won reelection.

Porter describes the negotiations between the Taliban and Trump’s Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, which began in late 2018 and culminated in a peace agreement that was more-or-less agreed to by both sides in February 2019. The Pentagon, fearing that the war would be ending, quickly moved to sabotage a series of confidence building measures that included disengagement and cease fires. In short, US commanders supported by the Pentagon leadership under Secretary of Defense Mike Esper as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to attack Taliban positions in spite of the agreements worked out by the diplomats, blaming all incidents on the Taliban. They also used their “perception management” media contacts to float fabricated stories about Taliban activity, which included the false account of Russians paying Taliban fighters bounties for every American they could kill.

After the 2020 election, which Donald Trump appeared to have lost, Esper, Central Command chief General Kenneth McKenzie and the senior field commander General Scott Miller took the offensive against any withdrawal by sending a memo to the president warning that no troops should be removed from the country until “certain conditions” had been met. An enraged Trump, who believed that the disengagement from Afghanistan was the right thing to do, then used his authority to order a withdrawal of all US troops by the end of the year. He also fired Esper, replacing him with Christopher Miller as SecDef and brought in Macgregor, who had openly expressed his belief that the war in Afghanistan should be ended immediately as well as the wars in the Middle East.

Macgregor and Miller reasoned that the only way to remove the remaining troops from Afghanistan by year’s end would be to do so by presidential order. Macgregor prepared the document and President Trump signed it immediately. On the next day November 12th, however, Colonel Macgregor learned that Trump had subsequently met with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Acting Secretary Miller. Trump and Miller were told by Milley and O’Brien that the orders he placed in the memorandum could not be executed because a withdrawal would lead to a surge in violence and would damage chances for an eventual peace settlement. Trump was also told that an ongoing US presence in Afghanistan had “bipartisan support,” possibly a warning that he might be overruled by Congress if he sought to proceed. Trump later agreed to withdraw only half of the total, 2,500 troops, a number that has continued to remain in place under President Joe Biden. A current agreement has the US withdrawing those last soldiers, together with allied NATO troops, by May 1st but it is under attack from Congress, think tanks, the mainstream media and the military leadership for the same reasons that have been cited for staying in Afghanistan over the past twenty years and predictably Biden has folded. Last week he announced that some American soldiers will remain in country to maintain stability after the deadline.

The story of Trump and Afghanistan is similar to what took place with Syria, where plans to withdraw were regularly reversed due to adroit maneuvering by the Pentagon and its allies. It remains to be seen what Joe Biden will do ultimately as he is being confronted by the same forces that compelled Trump to beat a retreat. The more serious issue is, of course, that the United States of America portrays itself as a nation that engages only in “just wars” and which has a military that is under control and responsive to an elected and accountable civilian government. As Afghanistan and Syria demonstrate, those conceits have been unsustainable since the US went on a global dominance spree when it launched its War on Terror in 2001. All indications are that the Pentagon will be able to maneuver more effectively in Washington than on the battlefield. It will continue to have its pointless wars, and its bloated “defense” budgets.

Is Trump’s Afghan Drawdown Driven By Principles Or Machiavellian Motives?

By Andrew Korybko

Source

Trump’s decision to cut the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 4500 to 2500 raised questions about whether he’s simply fulfilling a campaign promise out of principle or whether he’s hedging his bets in a Machiavellian way by preemptively attempting to obstruct Biden’s possible foreign policy in the event that his opponent successfully seizes power after the disputed presidential election.

Americans are divided along partisan lines over whether Trump is a man of his word or just a sore loser after he decided to cut the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 4500 to 2500. His supporters recall how he previously campaigned on doing just that with the ultimate goal of completely withdrawing the American military presence from Afghanistan while his opponents believe that he’s preemptively attempting to obstruct Biden’s possible foreign policy in the event that the Democrat candidate successfully seizes power after the disputed presidential election. The reality is probably somewhere in between. The President is moving forward with his original plans out of confidence that he’ll be certified the winner but also understands very well that this move would make Biden’s plans much more difficult to implement in that region in the worst-case scenario that he replaces him.

Although Trump is criticized even among some of his supporters for controversially bombing Syria in 2017 and assassinating Major General Soleimani at the start of this year, he nevertheless holds the distinction of being the first president in nearly four decades not to embroil America in a new war. To the contrary, despite his heavy-handed “America First” policy of so-called “surgical strikes”, “maximum pressure”, and other coercive measures against his country’s adversaries, Trump has remained committed to ending the US’ “endless wars” across the world. Nowhere is this more evident than in Afghanistan, which is the longest war in American history. So serious is Trump about executing on this ambitious vision that he even approved talks between his administration and the Taliban, the latter of which is still officially designated as a terrorist group and thus contradicts his 2016 campaign pledge to show zero tolerance towards what he calls “radical Islamic terrorists”.

For Trump, pragmatism is more important than politics, which is something that his base in general sincerely appreciates about him in contrast to his predecessors. Unlike what his opponents claim, however, he’s not just recklessly withdrawing from a war-torn region without any backup plan in mind, but actually envisions American engagement with that landlocked country and the Central Asian region beyond to be more economically driven in the future as elaborated upon by Pompeo in February. The author analyzed this new vision at the time in a piece about how “The US’ Central Asian Strategy Isn’t Sinister, But That Doesn’t Mean It’ll Succeed”. The gist is that the US might expand upon Pakistan’s recent infrastructural gains under CPEC to use the “global pivot state” as a platform for pioneering a trans-Afghan trade corridor to Central Asia. This would be a more peaceful way for the US to compete with Russia, China, and Turkey in that strategic region.

Biden, however, has signaled that he might appoint neoliberal war hawk Michele Flournoy as his Secretary of Defense if he “wins” the election. She’s been previously criticized by many as a warmonger who risks returning the US back to its destabilizing strategy of “endless wars” and “humanitarian interventions”, which would be the exact opposite of how it’s conducted its foreign policy over the past four years under Trump. Democrats are already decrying his Afghan drawdown as dangerous so it’s likely that they intended to at the very least retain the previous troop numbers there for a bit longer than he did, or possibly even expand them under a milder variation of the Obama-era “surge”. It doesn’t seem like there’s much appetite even among those ideologues for doubling down on the war in any traditional sense, especially since the geostrategic situation there has tremendously changed since the Obama era, but their plans would still be less peaceful than Trump’s.

Since it’s still uncertain whether or not the incumbent will remain in office next year, it makes sense that he’d also try to obstruct his potential successor’s policies, not just out of petty spite, but also in order to ensure his own legacy. By reducing the US military presence in Afghanistan by almost half of its current number (which is already much less than what he inherited), Trump would make it more difficult for Biden’s team to sabotage the sensitive peace process that he oversaw across the past four years. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t still ruin everything in the event that they seize power, but just that they’d have to try harder and their subversive efforts would be much more noticeable. It’s therefore with these points in mind that the author concludes that Trump made his Afghan drawdown decision for both principled and Machiavellian reasons.

Why Is This Even a Story: Russians Allegedly Paid Afghans to Kill US Soldiers?

Source

June 29, 2020 Arabi Souri

Taliban Mujaheddin fighters in Afghanistan - Russia USSR USA

The New York Times is pushing this story, denied by Trump and his war ministry the Pentagon and his ‘intelligence’ services publicly, that Russia is running a plot paying bounties to Afghan recruits of Taliban and others to kill US troops in Afghanistan.

What were the Afghan Taliban and most of the Afghan fighters doing all the past 19 years exactly? Maybe distributing flowers to the US occupation troops who were giving them chocolate in return!

The New York Times Russia bounty to Afghan fighters to kill US troops
The New York Times Breaking News on an alleged Russian bounty to Afghan fighters to kill US troops.
This comes after Trump made some vague announcement on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

And, of course, the mainstream media jump to spread the explosive news that were uncovered by the ‘exceptional’ work of the New York Times:

Mainstream Media Hype on New York Times Russia bounty to Afghan fighters to kill US soldiers
Mainstream Media hype on New York Times Russia bounty to Afghan fighters to kill US soldiers story

That’s one side, what if Russia actually paid Afghan fighters to kill US soldiers? What’s wrong with that? Didn’t the US overtly arm the same Afghan fighters to kill Soviet troops in Afghanistan including with surface to air missiles paid for by the Saudis and the US taxpayers to shoot down Soviet planes and copters killing Russians?!

US President Ronald Reagan with Afghanistan Mujahideen plotting to kill Soviet Troops
US President Ronald Reagan with Afghanistan Mujahideen (later to be al-Qaeda) plotting to kill Soviet (mainly Russian) troops
Afghan Mujahideen al Qaeda US Surface to Air Missiles to Kill Russians and USSR Soldiers
Afghan Mujahideen al Qaeda US Surface to Air Missiles to Kill Russians and USSR Soldiers

Just a reminder to the USAians: Afghanistan was directly on the Soviet Union southern borders; the USA is across the planet, like literally on the other side of the planet, if you look at the globe and find the USA just look at the other side of the globe and you’ll find Afghanistan. Flat-Earthers: The USA is a 1 full day, that’s 24 hours trip from New York (the closest city on the eastern US coast) to Afghanistan!

The USA considers Venezuela and all of Central America and South America as their backyard and they share borders only with Mexico, Russia is 4 hours flight from Afghanistan and that’s from Kabul to Moscow, not the distance between two border cities and not the closest two points…

New York to Kabul flight - google search
New York to Kabul flight – Google search

Also a reminder to USAians, during her confirmation hearings Clinton bragged that the US created al Qaeda and armed al Qaeda and that this was a good idea.https://www.youtube.com/embed/Dqn0bm4E9yw

It’s only because the US presidential elections race has started and they want to confirm that Trump is a Russian asset, the thing they failed to prove in their lengthy costly ridiculous Muller investigations that revealed so many other things except this one. And this is not to defend Trump, he’s a lunatic war criminal, rather fearing he will impose more sanctions on Russia and push the already tense relations into further escalation to prove he’s not a Russian asset, just like how they played him all the past almost 4 years on every single subject they wanted him to act as tough on, remember his orders to withdraw from Syria?

image-A 70 Years Old President of the USA Donald J. Trump
A 70 Years Old President of the USA Donald J. Trump

Can we talk about the direct and indirect overt and covert aid the USA and all its stooges and lackeys (Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Australians, Gulfies, Canada, Denmark, Israel…) gave to terrorists of Al-Qaeda and all its derivatives (FSA, Nusra Front, HTS, ISISFaylaq RahmanMaghawir Thawra, Khalid Army, Jaysh Al-Islam, Turkestan Islamist Party……..) to kill and maim Syrian soldiers and Syrian civilians in Syria? Iraqis in Iraq? Lebanese in Lebanon? Libyans in Libya? Iranians in Iran? …. in ….?

The Pentagon Threatening to Revive ISIS

War is Good for Business and Organized Crime: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Opium Trade. Rising Heroin Addiction in the US

By Michel Chossudovsky

Source

In December 2019, the Washington Post released a reviews of The Afghanistan Papers. A series of interviews and documents “compiled in secret” and then the subject of a “legal challenge” from the US government. The WaPo baldly called it“A secret history of the war”. But there’s nothing here that’s really secret, and very little actual history. What do they tell us? Absolutely nothing, except what we’re supposed to believe.” ( Kit Knightly, December 20, 2019)

What is the unspoken “secret truth” which has not been featured in the Afghanistan Papers? The 2001 US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan sustains the surge in heroin and opioid addiction in the United States.

The following article (first published in December 2018) is brought to the attention of Global Research readers as a contribution to the June 26 2020 United Nations “global observance to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society”. 

Michel Chossudovsky, June 25, 2020

Afghanistan’s opium economy is a multibillion dollar operation which has a direct impact on the surge of  heroin addiction in the US. 

Despite president Trump’s announced US troop withdrawal, the Afghan opium trade continues to flourish. It is protected by US-NATO occupation forces on behalf of a nexus of powerful financial and criminal  interests. 

Today a rough estimate based on US retail prices suggests that the global heroin market is above the 500 billion dollars mark. This multibillion dollar hike is the result of a significant increase in the volume of heroin transacted Worldwide coupled with a moderate increase in retail prices.

Based on the most recent (UNODC) data (2017) opium production in Afghanistan is of the order of 9000 metric tons, which after processing and transformation is equivalent to approximately 900,000 kg. of pure heroin.

With the surge in heroin addiction since 2001, the retail price of heroin has increased. According to DEA intelligence, one gram of pure heroin was selling in December 2016 in the domestic US market for $902 per gram.

The Heroin trade is colossal: one gram of pure heroin selling at $902 is equivalent to almost a million US dollars a kilo ($902,000) (see table below)

Flash back to to 2000-2001.

In 2000, the Taliban government with the support of the United Nations implemented a successful drug eradication program, which was presented to the UN General Assembly on October 12, 2001, barely a week after on the onset of US-NATO invasion. Opium production had collapsed by 94 percent.

In 2001 opium production had collapsed to 185 tons down from 3300 tons in 2000. (see Remarks on behalf of UNODC Executive Director at the UN General Assembly, Oct 2001, excerpt below)



The US-NATO led War against Afghanistan served to Restore the Illicit Heroin trade

The Afghan government’s drug eradication program was repealed.  The 2001 war on Afghanistan served to restore as well as boost the multibillion dollar drug trade. It has also contributed to the surge in heroin addiction in the US.

Opium production had declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001 as a result of the Taliban government’s drug eradication program.

Immediately following the invasion (October 7, 2001) and the occupation of Afghanistan by US-NATO troops, the production of opium regained its historical levels.

In fact the surge in opium cultivation production coincided with the onslaught of the US-led military operation and the downfall of the Taliban regime. From October through December 2001, farmers started to replant poppy on an extensive basis.” (see Michel Chossudovsky, op cit.)  

Since 2001, according to UNODC, the production of opium has increased 50 times, (compared to 185 ton in 2001) reaching 9000 metric tons in 2017. It has almost tripled in relation to its historical levels. (See Figure 1 below)

Heroin Addiction in the US

Since 2001, the use of heroin in the US has increased more than 20 times. Media reports rarely report how the dramatic increase in the global “supply of heroin” has contributed to “demand” at the retail level.

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2012-13, there were 3.8 million heroin users in the US according to a study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Extrapolating the 2012-2013 figures (see graph below), one can reasonably confirm that the number of heroin users today (including addicts and casual users) is well in excess of four million.

In 2001, 1,779 Americans were killed as a result of heroin overdose. By 2016, the number of Americans killed as a result of heroin addiction shot up to 15,446. (see graph below)

“My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic” says Donald Trump.

Those lives would have been saved had the US and its NATO allies NOT invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 2001. 

The first thing they did was to undermine the drug eradication program, restore the opium economy and the drug trade.

Source: National Institute of Drug Abuse

Opium production has increased 50 times in relation to 2001 (following the Afghan government’s drug eradication program). In 2001, the areas of opium cultivation had fallen to 8000 hectares (185 metric tons of opium).

According to the UNODC, Afghanistan produces (2007) 93% of the illegal “non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates” namely  heroin.

The 2017 Afghanistan Opium Survey (released in May 2018) by UNODC confirms that the farm areas allocated to opium are of the order of 328,000 hectares with opium production in excess of 9,000 tons.  

War is good for business. It contributed to spearheading heroin use. The Afghan opium economy feeds into a lucrative trade in narcotics and money laundering.

It is worth noting that in 2010 UNODC modified the concepts and figures on opium sales and heroin production, as outlined by the  European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

UNODC estimates that a large proportion of the Afghan opium harvest is not processed into heroin or morphine” (UNODC, 2010a). …EU drug markets report: a strategic analysis, EMCDDA, Lisbon, January 2013 emphasis added.

What this new methodology has done is to obfuscate the size and criminal nature of the Afghan drug trade, intimating –without evidence– that up to 20% of Afghan opium is no longer channeled towards the illegal heroin market.

More than Half a Trillion Dollars

The profits are largely reaped at the level of the international wholesale and retail markets of heroin as well as in the process of money laundering in Western banking institutions, an issue which is not addressed by the Vienna based UNODC.

The global monetary value of the heroin market (which is protected by powerful groups) is colossal.

Estimation

The retail price of heroin (sold by the gram) can vary dramatically from one country to another, it also depends on the percentage of pure heroin. This does not facilitate the process of estimating the monetary value of the global trade in heroin.

Recorded retail street prices for heroin with a low level of purity must be converted to a dollar value which corresponds to pure heroin.

What is sold at the street level usually has a low percentage of pure heroin. The process of estimation requires transforming the street level prices into what the DEA calls heroin price per gram pure (PPG)

From one ton of opium you can produce 100 kilos of pure heroin. The US retail prices for heroin (with a low level of purity) was, according to UNODC (2012) of the order of $172 a gram (namely $17,200 per kilo)

The estimated price per gram of pure heroin, however, is substantially higher.

In December 2016, the heroin price per gram pure (PPG) was of the order of $902 in the US, according to DEA intelligence  ie. $902,000 a kilo.

Heroin Prices in the UK

In the UK which is the entry point of Afghan heroin into the EU market, the recorded retail price (according to a 2015 estimate quoted by the Guardian) is consistent with that estimated for the US market by the DEA:

“An imported kilo [of heroin] cut at 25% street purity provides enough raw material for 16,000 individual deals at £10 a hit – pushing the takings to £160,000 [a kilo] (The Guardian, December 20, 2015)

GBP160,000 (25% purity) converts into GBP 640,000 per kilo for pure heroin, ie. approximately  US$960,000 per kilo (December 2015 GBP USD exchange rate).

Rough Estimate of the  Monetary Value of  Afghanistan’s Global Heroin Market

According to the UNODC, 7600-7900 tons of opium were available for heroin production and export (out of a total of 9000-9300 metric tons). According to the UNODC, approximately half of the opium is processed into heroin within Afghanistan.

The global monetary value for heroin can be roughly estimated using the US price equivalent PPG measurement for pure heroin of US 902,000 a kg. (December 2016, DEA) and the (lower) production figure of 790,000 kg of pure heroin (estimated by the UNODC).

Using the US retail price equivalent of pure heroin (DEA), the global monetary value generated by the Afghan heroin trade (2017) is of the order of  $712,580,000,000 (712.58 billion dollars), an amount equivalent to the US defense budget.

This is a conservative estimate based on adopting the “lower figure” of 7900 metric tons (2017)  (recommended by the UNODC methodology which is arbitrary and questionable, see above).

If we had based the calculation on the total production of opium which is in excess of 9ooo metric tons (2017), the global monetary value of the heroin market would have been in excess of $800 billion. It should also be mentioned that this estimate relies solely on the the US price for pure heroin (DEA).

Back in August 2018, President  Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act “which authorizes a top-line [defense] budget of $717 billion”, just a few million dollars in excess of the estimated global monetary value of the Afghan heroin market.

The global monetary value of the heroin market is of the same order of magnitude as the defense budget of the USA.

Needless to say, the Pentagon not to mention the CIA which launched the opium economy in Afghanistan in the late 1970s  are intent upon protecting this multibillion dollar industry. The proceeds of the Afghan drug trade were initially used to finance the recruitment of Al Qaeda Mujahideen mercenaries to fight in the Soviet-Afghan war.

ICC Probe of US War Crimes in Afghanistan. Trump Lashes Back. ICC is “Threat” to America.

By Stephen Lendman

Source

It is fairly well established that Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Osama bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11 — the mother of all state-sponsored false flags, a pretext for the US to smash one nation after another.

US new millennium forever wars rage against invented enemies with no prospect for resolution because Republicans and Dems reject world peace and the rule of law.

It’s unclear what will come out of the International Criminal Court’s probe of indisputable US war crimes in Afghanistan.

Since established by the Rome Statute in 2002, the ICC never held the US, other Western nations, or Israel accountable for high crimes of war and against humanity.

Only their victims were prosecuted, falsely blamed for the highest of high crimes committed against them by the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners.

For nearly two decades, the ICC operated solely as imperial tool — continuing the same agenda today unless chooses an unprecedented new course for justice.

Though mandated to prosecute individuals (not nations) for crimes of war, against humanity, genocide and aggression, the court never targeted the main offenders of these crimes.

Given its disturbing history, it requires a giant leap of faith to believe it will go where it never went before.

It’s got a lot of proving to do to convince skeptics of its intention to go another way.

In early March, ICC judges authorized an investigation into accusations of war crimes by US military and intelligence personnel, Afghan forces, and the Taliban in the country.

According to Judge Piotr Hofmanski, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda “is authorized to commence investigation in relation to alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period since 1 May 2003.”

The probe may also include the period since July 1, 2002. Why not from day one of US aggression (10/7/01) wasn’t explained.

US war on the country was planned six months or longer before 9/11.

On the shelf ready to go, it was launched less than 5 weeks after that fateful day.

Many months of planning precede all US wars, nothing impromptu about them.

At the time of the ICC’s March announcement, Pompeo called it “breathtaking (and) reckless,” threatening reprisals against court officials if they investigate US actions in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

Bensouda said the ICC determined that a reasonable basis exists to probe war crimes by US military forces and intelligence operatives in Afghanistan.

She should have said just cause exists to investigate all US wars of aggression against nations threatening no one — including US state terror, illegal sanctions, and other hostile actions against peace, constituting war by other means.

All of the above falls within the ICC’s mandate.

US new millennium direct, proxy, and other types of warmaking alone have been responsible for countless millions of lost lives, vast destruction, and human misery in numerous countries.

They also inflicted enormous harm on ordinary Americans by using US discretionary income to feed the nation’s military, industrial, security complex at the expense of vital homeland needs gone begging.

WikiLeaks’ Afghan war diaries documented the highest of US high crimes against the nation and its people.

They represent the most comprehensive documentation of US aggression against a nation threatening no one since the Pentagon Papers.

Data came mainly from soldiers and intelligence officers, also from US embassies and other sources.

They revealed US criminality in Afghanistan, including coverups, collusion, distortion, and duplicity.

All wars are based on misinformation, disinformation, Big Lies and deception. Truth-telling would destroy pretexts for waging them.

The UN Charter explicitly states under what circumstances war by one nation against another is permitted.

Articles 2(3) and 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes.

Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use.

Article 51 allows the “right of self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member…until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.”

Justifiable self-defense is permitted, never preemptive wars for any reasons with no exceptions.

The Security Council alone is authorized to decide under what circumstances warmaking is permitted — not heads of state, legislators, or the courts anywhere.

In 1974, the UN General Assembly defined aggression to mean “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.”

Throughout the post-WW II period, the US has been indisputably guilty time and again — today in multiple theaters.

What’s going on unaccountably is what chief Nuremberg Tribunal’s Justice Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime against peace.”

Time and again, the US breached the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the US War Crimes Act, the UN Torture Convention, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles, US Army Field Manual 27-10, and other US and international laws.

If all of the above doesn’t demand accountability in an international tribunal, what does!

WikiLeaks lifted the fog of war by documenting US atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning were arrested, imprisoned, and brutalized for releasing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, collateral murder video, and related US diplomatic cables.

They both should have been honored instead of demonized, imprisoned, and brutally mistreated — for the “crime” of truth-telling about what everyone has a right to know.

In response to the ICC’s announced intention to probe US war crimes in Afghanistan, Trump declared a national emergency for what he called a “threat” to the US by the ICC.

He issued an executive order, authorizing (illegal) sanctions and visa restrictions against ICC officials and their family members.

Pompeo lashed out at the court, saying the Trump regime is “determined to prevent having Americans and our friends and allies in Israel and elsewhere hauled in” for ICC prosecution.”

In response to Trump regime actions, a statement by the Court said the following:

“(T)hreats and coercive actions cannot be allowed to hinder the rule of law.”

“These attacks (by the Trump regime) constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings.”

“An attack on the ICC also represents an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice.”

In 2002, the American Service Members’ Protection Act (ASPA, aka Hague Invasion Act) was enacted to prevent US “military personnel and other (US) elected and appointed officials (from) criminal prosecution by an international court to which the United States is not party.”

The measure authorizes the president to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.”

The US is not a state party to the Rome Statute or ICC.

The principle of universal jurisdiction principle (UJ) holds that certain crimes are too grave to ignore, including genocide, crimes of war and against humanity.

Under UJ, nations may investigate and prosecute foreign nationals when their country of residence or origin won’t, can’t, or hasn’t for any reason.

US Nuremberg-level high crimes of war and against humanity in Afghanistan and numerous other countries are far too grave to ignore.

It’s long past time for unaccountability of its officials to end.

Holding them responsible may be the best chance to pursue world peace and stability over permanent US wars on humanity that one day may kill us all if not stopped.

‘Justice is Indivisible’: Placing Palestine Back at the Center of Muslim Discourse in the West

Source

May 4, 2020

Times Square, New York in July 2014, during Israeli brutal military attack on Gaza. (Photo: via AMP)

By Ramzy Baroud

It was nearly twenty years ago at a Muslim conference in Washington D.C. that I heard the distressing argument that Palestine should not be made a central topic in the American Muslim political agenda.

The point, which took many by surprise, was enunciated by a young American Pakistani Muslim academic, whose name is not important for my purpose here.

What I found reassuring then, however, was that almost everyone at the gathering shook their head in disagreement. The young academic was clearly an intellectual pariah. It was clear that Muslims, at least the attendees of that specific conference, will not be abandoning their advocacy for the freedom of the Palestinian people anytime soon.

A few months later, the September 11 attacks took place, unleashing a Pandora’s Box of violence, racism, orientalism, and Islamophobia, the outcome of which would continue to be felt for years to come.

A less discussed portion of the American war on Islam and Muslims in the last twenty years is the systematic and centralized attempt at breaking down the American Muslim society. The same can, of course, be said of the anti-Muslim sentiment that flourished in Europe during the West’s wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, and other Muslim countries.

Since then and till today, American Muslims found themselves forced to make bleak choices to avoid media demonization and government persecution.

Some chose to toe the line, in fact, to become an advocate of the very colonial, savage powers that were unleashed against Muslims everywhere – killing, torturing, imprisoning and sanctioning with no regard whatsoever for the very international law that the West itself had fashioned following World War II.

The likes of Hamza Yusuf, formally known as Mark Hanson, was and, perhaps, remains the best example of the so-called ‘pet Muslim’, as he became known due to his collaboration with the George W. Bush regime during the genocidal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The likes of Yusuf became immensely crucial to the American-Western designs in Muslim countries, being the ideal amalgamation between the ‘native informer’ – as a supposedly learned Muslim, although a white person himself – and the typical orientalist – the Western scholar that can be trusted in deciphering and dissecting the Muslim ‘Orient’ to the colonialist West.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Yusuf once told Muslim political dissidents, “If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country”, thus displaying the same racist sentiment often lobbed by far-right chauvinists to anyone who dares question government policies on war, immigration, or anything else.

This very sentiment was repeated by US President, Donald Trump, when he tweeted last July, “In America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave.”

According to the infinite wisdom of Yusuf and Trump, one can only earn the right to be a fully bonified citizen if one fully abandons one’s right to display any disagreement with one’s government’s policies.

In Yusuf’s shameful thinking, it also follows that a Muslim can never truly be a permanent citizen in any western polity, a sentiment embraced by the very neo-fascist movements that are currently plaguing Europe.

It should come as no surprise, then, that when US Secretary of State and well-known anti-Muslim bigot, Mike Pompeo, announced the formation of the Commission on Unalienable Rights – another platform for political and religious prejudices targeting Trump’s enemies around the world – Yusuf was immediately handpicked to be a member of that commission.

The problem, however, is bigger than a single orientalist. It has become clear that the terrible consequences of September 11 – the bloody wars that followed, and the tragic but predictable backlash of anti-Western militancy in the US, Europe and elsewhere – have, sadly, emasculated mainstream Muslim discourse in Western countries, the US especially.

Once upon a time, every Friday, hundreds of Imams throughout American mosques would breach solidarity with Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and so on. Money would be raised for various organizations that provided aid for victims of wars throughout the Muslim world. In fact, unity around Palestine seemed to bring millions of Muslims together despite their vastly different cultures, classes, and even their very own interpretations of Islam itself.

The outcome of September 11, namely the so-called ‘war on terror’, has changed all of that, imposing a new paradigm and a stark choice on Muslim communities all across the country.

The shutting down of the Holy Land Foundation, because of its support of Palestinian and other victims of Israeli violence, was only the tip of the iceberg. The accounts of many Muslim charities and organizations were drained, while hundreds, if not thousands of well-educated and outspoken Muslim intellectuals were either detained, deported, fired from their jobs or forced into silence by other means.

Sadly, it was the dawn of a new and tragic era where the self-loathing, self-seeking and opportunistic Muslim intellectual peddlers reigned supreme.

It is through this compromising bunch, that Western governments managed to tailor their own version of the ‘good Muslim’, to be juxtaposed with the radical, God-forbid, free-thinking Muslim, unfairly but incessantly seen as a terrorist sympathizer.

I had the displeasure of knowing or learning about many of these ‘good Muslims’ in the last twenty years, who are so keen at claiming the spots at phony ‘interfaith dialogue’ conferences, giddily serving the role of the well-behaved Muslim whenever demanded of them.

For this odd breed of Muslims, Palestine is an obstacle, and Kashmir is a forgotten, wasteland, for their mission is not to advocate on behalf of the oppressed. Instead, they are often used as middlemen who convey the official diktats of governments, states, and city councils to their fellow Muslims. In other words, they become the ‘official’ Muslims, whose agenda is not that of their own community – helping to mobilize, organize and advocate while building solidarity with other marginalized groups – but, as in the case of Yusuf, embracing the agenda of Trump himself.

The problem with these spiritual charlatans is that they feed the misguided view that Muslims can only be either quisling hacks or potential terrorists; that Muslims must be subdued or they become a danger to society; and that Muslims cannot be part of a larger collective of political dissidents who advocate justice and equality in their own society, and the world over.

Currently, at many mosques across the US, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, and other places of great and perpetual injustice are hardly mentioned. Many shy away even from political advocacy and intersectionality within their own communities. Perhaps, they fear that doing so would place them at the radar of the FBI or local enforcement agencies.

But, what is Islam without justice?

In one Quranic verse (5:8), God says, “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for God, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness”.

The emphasis on justice and the building of communities and nations that stand for what is right is at the core of Islamic values, and neither Mark Hansen nor any other self-proclaimed Muslims can possibly change that.

As for governments that are constantly caricaturing Muslims and Islam to fit their own agendas, they are not doing themselves any favors either, for a strong society is predicated on the freedom of individuals and groups to operate within a legal and democratic framework, with the overriding goal of advancing the interests of the entire nation.

Freedom for Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, as well as the rights of minorities, social justice, gender and racial equality, all go hand-in-hand. No sincere justice advocate, self-respecting scholar, and needless to say, true Muslim, would disagree with the notion that justice is indivisible, a moral doctrine has defined Islam and Muslims for fifteen centuries.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

واشنطن تخسر آخر رهاناتها الاستراتيجيّة

ناصر قنديل

ربما يكون الكثيرون على اعتقاد بأن الاحتباس الذي شهده سوق النفط الآجل في أميركا حالة عابرة، وربما بنى عليه الكثيرون بالمقابل آمالاً بانهيار اقتصادي شامل في أميركا، وكل من الاستنتاجين على قدر عالٍ من التسرع، وبعيد عن فهم حقيقة ما جرى وأبعاده وخلفياته، فالمتفق عليه هو أن الاحتباس في السوق ناجم عن بلوغ موعد البيع الآجل لشهر أيار موعد نهاية عمليات البيع في 20 نيسان، بينما لا تزال كميات ضخمة منه غير مبيعة، بحساب طاقة الإنتاج، والسبب عدم وجود دورة اقتصادية قادرة على الاستيعاب، وإشباع مراكز التخزين بفعل الانخفاض المتواصل منذ شهرين في سوق النفط وبلوغ الأسعار أرقاماً قياسية متدنية، ما حمل بعض حاملي قسائم الشراء يضاربون على المنتجين في التخلي عن قسائمهم لمن يشتريها بسعر منخفض تفادياً لحلول موعد التسليم وهم عاجزون عن تسلّم مستحقاتهم، حيث لا سوق تستهلك ولا مخازن تستوعب، وتخطّي الأزمة تم بشراء الدولة لـ75 مليون برميل ضمّتها إلى مخزوناتها، وتدوير ما تبقى من عرض في السوق لمنتجات أيار إلى معروضات حزيران، التي تنتهي مهل بيعها في 20 أيار.

عند حدود هذا “المتفق عليه” ترد الوقائع التي لم يأخذها المتفائلون بقدرة الاقتصاد الأميركي على تخطيها في حسابهم، والتي بالغ الذين يتوقعون انهياراً اقتصادياً شاملاً بفعلها في اعتبارها مجرد مؤشرات على بلوغ الاقتصاد الأميركيّ الركود الشامل، الذي قد يأتي لاحقاً بفعل استمرار الإغلاق الناتج عن كورونا، لكن ليس بفعل تداعيات ما يجري في السوق النفطية وحدها. وقد سرعت أزمة كورونا تفاعلاتها من ضمن هذا الركود الذي جلبته، وأبرز هذه الوقائع يتصل بكون السوق التي يجري الحديث عنها وتدور الأزمة النفطية حولها، هي سوق النفط الصخري الذي يتركز في غرب تكساس، وهذه السوق ليست عادية لا استراتيجياً ولا اقتصادياً. فالتطلع الأميركي لزعامة العالم جرى ربطه منذ سقوط الاتحاد السوفياتي بالسيطرة الأميركية على سوق الطاقة، بحسابات تشبه رهان الثمانينيات على سباق التسلح وحرب النجوم، الذي انتهى بانهيار الاتحاد السوفياتي.

راهن الأميركيون في العشرية الأولى من القرن الحادي والعشرين على حربي العراق وأفغانستان لتحقيق هدف السيطرة على ما أسموه بحوض قزوين، وإمداد أوروبا من خط نبوكو الآتي من كازاخستان إلى تركيا لحساب السوق الأوروبية، بعد تطويع إيران وشطب موقع العراق، واحتواء سورية. وقد باء هذا الرهان بالفشل وسقط عند تعاظم حضور إيران وإمساكها بمضيق هرمز عنق التجارة النفطية في العالم. وانتقلت المواجهة في العشرية الثانية من القرن على رهان جديد هو السيطرة على سورية، والنجاح بتحقيق فرصة التخلص من مخاطر إغلاق مضيق هرمز، وتوفير إمداد أوروبا بالنفط والغاز عبر الخليج بأنابيب تخترق سورية. وسقط الرهان بثبات وصمود سورية، وتموضع روسيا فيها واستبسال إيران وقوى المقاومة بالدفاع عنها. فبدأ الاستعداد منذ 2017 لإطلاق حصان رهان جديد يفترض أن يبدأ بفرض حضوره في العشرية الثالثة من القرن، والحصان هو النفط والغاز الصخريان، والساحة هي غرب تكساس، حيث نهضت خلال ثلاثة أعوام عشرات آلاف الشركات العاملة في القطاع، واستثمرت الدولة الأميركية وشركات النفط وكبار المستثمرين تريليونات الدولارات في هذا القطاع، والهدف إنتاج كمية عشرة ملايين برميل يومياً، تضخ إلى أوروبا بديلاً من نفط وغاز كل من الخليج وروسيا، بصورة تكون آمنة من مخاطر إغلاق هرمز، وتحكم الطوق على الحضور الروسي، بعدما فشل خط نبوكو، وخط سورية الافتراضي.

الوقائع والأرقام تقول إن الإنتاج بلغ في كانون الثاني من هذا العام رقم 8،7 مليون برميل يومياً من النفط عبر الصخور البركانية، وإن كلفة إنتاج البرميل هي 47 دولاراً، وإن السعر التجاري المناسب لتطور هذا السوق هو 65 دولاراً للبرميل، وإن المخازن الأميركية تتسع لـ580 مليون برميل للنفط الخام، ومثلها للمشتقات النفطية، وإن هذه المخازن العائدة للدولة والقطاع الخاص قد امتلأت، بعدما ضخت إليها الدولة آخر 75 مليون برميل قبل أيام، وبالتالي فإن مواصلة حال الركود ومعها الانخفاض في أسعار النفط إلى دون الثلاثين دولاراً، ستعني فقط مواصلة ما بدأ من شهر ويستمرّ، وهو إفلاس آلاف الشركات وضياع مليارات الدولارات المستثمرة في هذا القطاع. وقد أفلست حتى الآن إحدى عشرة ألف شركة والحبل على الجرار. والقدرة على إنعاش القطاع في ظل أضرار روسية سعودية مشتركة من تضخّمه تبدو مستحيلة، وسعر البرميل لن يعود إلى الستين دولاراً قبل سنتين حسب التقديرات المتفائلة لصندوق النقد الدولي، إذا تعاونت روسيا والسعودية في تجفيف العرض الزائد من السوق، وما جرى مع تسليم استحقاقات أيار سيتكرر مع حزيران وغير حزيران، حتى يجف سوق النفط الصخري ويهوي، ويسقط معه آخر رهانات الاستراتيجية الأميركية للسيطرة على سوق الطاقة، في ظل عروض صينية لعقود طويلة الأجل مع المنتجين الخليجيين على أسعار متوسطة لا تتعدّى الأربعين دولاراً لسنوات مقبلة، فيما تعرض روسيا مبيعاتها الطويلة الأجل في السوق الأوروبية بأسعار موازية.

ما جرى وما سيجري في غرب تكساس، أكبر من مسألة نفطية، وأكبر من مسألة اقتصادية، فهو خسارة حصان رهان استراتيجي، يمكن له إذا تلاقى مع نتائج تفاقم الركود في زمن كورونا، وما يترتب من حال بطالة لأكثر من ثلاثين مليون أميركي، وتراجع للنشاط الاقتصادي لخمسة عشر مليون شركة أميركية مهددة بالإفلاس، أن يتحول إلى أزمة بنيوية، تفتح الطريق لتوقعات دراماتيكية اقتصادية وسياسية واجتماعية، ربما تكون وحدة أميركا على محك التجربة فيها، وربما يكون سباق النفط عكس سباق التسلح الذي انتهى بتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي، مرشحاً لأن ينتهي بتفكك الولايات المتحدة الأميركية.

Two Decades of Afghan War… and a Shabby U.S. Retreat

Photo: REUTERS/Nasir Wakif

Source

March 13, 2020©

Is that it? Nearly two decades of war – America’s longest-ever, almost twice as long as the Vietnam War – and now, finally, a dubious peace deal.

It’s a “deal” that could have been signed years ago by previous U.S. administrations, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars in damages.

The Afghan combatants that the U.S. vowed to defeat back in 2001 – the Taliban – are stronger than ever and look set to take back control when the Americans eventually tuck tail and get out. The militants view it as a “victory over a superpower”, according to NBC.

President Trump’s administration is of course trying to sell the conclusion of the Afghan War as some kind of honorable exit from the Central Asian country. But the shaky peace pact – cobbled together in haste and with no input from the U.S.-backed regime in Kabul – looks more like an electioneering ploy by Trump.

There are some 13,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan. That’s about 10 per cent of the levels that were there under the GW Bush and Obama administrations. Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban mandates that troop levels will be drawn down to about 8,500 in the next four months. After 14 months, the aim is to have no U.S. troops remaining there.

The scheduling looks arranged to give Trump a timely electioneering boost. After all, he took office in January 2017 promising to end the “endless” Afghan War. Nearly four years on and just in time for the November election, Trump can claim he is delivering on that promise.

The flimsiness and contradictions of the bargain – the word “deal” seems misplaced – also indicate more haste than honor. Washington wants the Taliban to cease military attacks on U.S. troops over the drawdown period, but the militants appear to have leeway to continue assaults on the local U.S.-backed Afghan security forces.

Washington says its wants to see an “intra-Afghan” political dialogue on the future polity of the country. But the Americans fatally undermined the authority of its Kabul regime by excluding it from talks with the Taliban. The regime looks set to collapse without U.S. support. Why would the Taliban bother to engage with an entity it sees as a corrupt American puppet? Trump has even admitted that he sees the possibility of the Taliban taking full control of Afghanistan once the U.S. finally pulls out.

Here there is an echo of the “Fall of Saigon” when the Americans sold out the venal South Vietnamese regime in a 1973 peace deal with Communist North Vietnam which then went on to rout the crumbling U.S. Saigon puppet in 1975.

On a wider note, it is understandable that the region is apprehensive about the future of Afghanistan. Two decades of war and a botched retreat by the Americans could leave the country as a miserable failed state with no stable government for many years to come. Russia and Iran have good grounds to be concerned about the security implications from such a failed state. Fortunately, Russia has been developing working relations with Afghan parties over recent years, including the Taliban and its opponents. Thus, Moscow may be well-placed to help stabilize the country in the aftermath of Washington’s exit from the Afghan quagmire. How ironic is that? Afghanistan was supposed to be Moscow’s “Vietnam”, according to U.S. imperial planners. Turned out, however, that Afghanistan became America’s “Second Vietnam”.

An absurd contradiction in Washington’s deal-making with the Taliban is the expectation from the Trump administration that the Taliban will cooperate to prevent the emergence of Al Qaeda-linked terror groups. Hold on a moment. The official reason why the Americans invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 was a “war on terror” against the Taliban following the September 9/11 attacks in New York. Now we are told that the Taliban are some kind of legitimate partner against terrorism.

No wonder most U.S. military veterans are disillusioned with the Afghan War and the latest attempt to end it. As one former soldier told Time magazine: “I’m okay with the Afghans fighting for their own country and us supporting them from a distance. I’m not comfortable with us just walking away. It is morally wrong to give legitimacy to an enemy that continues to murder our people,” he said. “And it undermines our credibility around the world. Who can – or should – trust an America that cavalierly surrenders an ally like this?”

War fatigue in America is understandable. But the fact is this war should never have been started in the first place. The Afghan War stands as a monumental crime by the American state. Its aim and justifications by Washington were always a farrago of lies, as declassified U.S. documents show.

About 157,000 people are estimated to have been killed, with 43,000 of the dead being civilians. If there was any justice in this world, American leaders and generals should be prosecuted in a Nuremberg-type war crimes court, including Bush, Obama and the incumbent president, Donald Trump.

A reduction in violence is unquestionably welcome. We may hope the Afghan people can somehow develop a political process for a peaceful future. But eternal shame on Washington. It’s the Afghan people and the region which are having to pick up the pieces from criminal American adventurism.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

The Illusion of Restoring Peace and Stability in Afghanistan

By Stephen Lendman

Source

The US came to Afghanistan to stay, the same true for all its war theaters by occupation and/or installed puppet regimes serving its interests. More on this below.

Afghanistan’s troubled history goes back centuries. John Pilger explained that “no country has been abused and suffered more, and none has been helped less than Afghanistan.” 

If hell on earth exists, it’s headquartered in Afghanistan — with many global affiliate locations in the modern era, largely because of endless US wars by hot and other means.

For centuries, Afghans endured what few can imagine. Marauding armies besieged cities, slaughtered thousands, and caused vast destruction. 

In the 19th century, Afghans were victimized by “great game” struggles between imperial Britain and czarist Russia — a time of endless war, destruction, occupation and human misery, continuing from then to now, notably post-9/11.

Wherever the US shows up, endless wars and mass destruction follow, the human toll of no consequence.

According to Gideon Polya, “the horrendous carnage of the (post-9/11) US War on Terror (launched in Afghanistan caused) the deaths of 32 million Muslims abroad (by violence or imposed deprivation) and the preventable deaths of 27 million Americans at home inescapably linked to the fiscal perversion of committing to a $7 trillion long-term accrual cost of killing millions of Muslims abroad.”

The true cost is likely three-fold or more higher because of unaccounted for multi-trillions of dollars by the Pentagon since the 1990s.

“Bush, Obama and Trump are indeed American-killing US presidents,” Polya stressed, adding:

“(S)erial war criminal (Trump warned) that “no place is beyond the reach of American might.”

“The US-imposed, 4-decade Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide is to continue under more draconian rules of engagement.”

Since the 1990s, Polya estimated six million preventable Afghan deaths, millions more refugees, an entire population emmiserated, largely post-9/11.

Since US aggression against North Korea in 1950, he estimates around 40 million preventable deaths and tens of millions of refugees.

Since WW II, the US invaded or otherwise attacked “52 countries.”

“American exceptionalism means that the US is disproportionately  involved in…existential threats (to) humanity” — notably possible nuclear war that could destroy all life forms on earth.

The notion of first strike with these weapons that’s stated in US National Security Strategies from Bush/Cheney to Obama to Trump should terrify everyone everywhere.

What’s unthinkable is possible because of US rage to control planet earth, its resources and populations.

The so-called Trump regime/Taliban peace agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

Time and again throughout US history, it breached treaties, conventions, and agreements — clear proof that its ruling regimes can never be trusted.

Time and again throughout US history, it breached treaties, conventions, and agreements — clear proof that its ruling regimes can never be trusted.

The notion of the US agreeing to peace and an end to its occupation of Afghanistan is pure illusion.

The deal calls for reducing numbers of US and allied forces in the country in the coming months, withdrawing entirely in 14 months, including abandonment of Pentagon bases that cost billions of dollars to build and maintain.

Earlier drawdowns of US forces in the country were followed by increased deployments — troops in a so-called advisory and counterterrorism capacity.

Pentagon terror-bombing continued throughout the war.

In mid-2017, with around 8,400 US forces in Afghanistan, Trump OK’d increasing their numbers, then-US war secretary Mattis saying:

“This assures (that the Pentagon) can facilitate our missions and nimbly align our commitment to the situation on the ground (sic),” adding: 

“Our overall mission in Afghanistan remains the same, to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces so they can safeguard the Afghan people and terrorists can find no haven in Afghanistan for attacking us or others (sic).”

The Trump regime’s Afghan strategy put no limit on the number of US forces in the country.

US policy under Bush/Cheney, Obama and Trump has nothing to do with safeguarding the Afghan people or denying terrorists a safe haven — elements the US created and supports in all its war theaters and elsewhere.

Trump’s claim about “working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home” awaits its moment of truth in the coming weeks and months — the illusion of ending over 18 years of war in Afghanistan likely to be dispelled.

Whether Pentagon and allied troops stay or leave, the CIA maintains a private army of paramilitaries in the country that serve US interests.

They’re staying, not leaving, including ISIS, al-Qaeda, and likeminded jihadists to be deployed to the country at the discretion of Langley and the Pentagon.

Afghanistan’s strategic value to the US includes its vast resources and its geographical location near Russia and China.

The US wants both countries encircled with Pentagon bases. It wants oil and gas pipelines constructed across Afghanistan.

It wants opium production continued for heroin manufacture and distribution to world markets — a key revenue source for Western banks and the CIA.

It wants control over the country continued under pro-Western puppet rule.

It wants endless war waged in multiple theaters, serving its imperial agenda, feeding its military, industrial, security, media complex.

Restoration of peace and stability in its war theaters defeats its interests, why new millennium wars rage — threats invented to continue them endlessly.

Restoration of peace and stability to Afghanistan is likely to last no longer than an invented US pretext to breach what was agreed on.

All US wars are based on Big Lies and deception. The possibility for either of its war party wings turning a page for world peace and stability is virtually nil.

Longstanding US history shows it’s a warrior nation — how its been from inception against its native people to today against humanity at home and abroad.

The Afghanistan ‘peace deal’ riddle

Pepe Escobar for the Saker Blog : Posted with permission 

As far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military want to stay in what is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques

In this photo taken on February 21, youths and peace activists gather as they celebrate the reduction in violence, in Kandahar. A week-long partial truce took hold across Afghanistan on February 22, with some jubilant civilians dancing in the streets as the war-weary country prepared for this coming Saturday’s planned agreement on a peace deal between the Taliban and the United States. Photo: AFP / Javed Tanveer

Nearly two decades after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan post-9/11, and after an interminable war costing over $ 2 trillion, there’s hardly anything “historic” about a possible peace deal that may be signed in Doha this coming Saturday between Washington and the Taliban.

We should start by stressing three points.

1- The Taliban wanted all US troops out. Washington refused.

2- The possible deal only reduces US troops from 13,000 to 8,600. That’s the same number already deployed before the Trump administration.

3- The reduction will only happen a year and a half from now – assuming what’s being described as a truce holds.

So there would be no misunderstanding, Taliban Deputy Leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, in an op-ed certainly read by everyone inside the Beltway, detailed their straightforward red line: total US withdrawal.

And Haqqani is adamant: there’s no peace deal if US troops stay.

Still, a deal looms. How come? Simple: enter a series of secret “annexes.”

The top US negotiator, the seemingly eternal Zalmay Khalilzad, a remnant of the Clinton and Bush eras, has spent months codifying these annexes – as confirmed by a source in Kabul currently not in government but familiar with the negotiations.

Let’s break them down to four points.

1- US counter-terror forces would be allowed to stay. Even if approved by the Taliban leadership, this would be anathema to the masses of Taliban fighters.

2- The Taliban would have to denounce terrorism and violent extremism. That’s rhetorical, not a problem.

3- There will be a scheme to monitor the so-called truce while different warring Afghan factions discuss the future, what the US State Dept. describes as “intra-Afghan negotiations.” Culturally, as we’ll see later, Afghans of different ethnic backgrounds will have a tremendously hard time monitoring their own warring.

4- The CIA would be allowed to do business in Taliban-controlled areas. That’s an even more hardcore anathema. Everyone familiar with post-9/11 Afghanistan knows that the prime reason for CIA business is the heroin rat line that finances Langley’s black ops, as I exposed in 2017.

Otherwise, everything about this “historic” deal remains quite vague.

Even Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was forced to admit the war in Afghanistan is “still” in “a state of strategic stalemate.”

As for the far from strategic financial disaster, one just needs to peruse the latest SIGAR report. SIGAR stands for Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. In fact virtually nothing in Afghanistan has been “reconstructed.”

No real deal without Iran

The “intra-Afghan” mess starts with the fact that Ashraf Ghani eventually was declared the winner of the presidential elections held in September last year. But virtually no one recognizes him.

The Taliban don’t talk to Ghani. Only to some people that are part of the government in Kabul. And they describe these talks at best as between “ordinary Afghans.”

Everyone familiar with Taliban strategy knows US/NATO troops will never be allowed to stay. What could happen is the Taliban allowing some sort of face-saving contingent to remain for a few months, and then a very small contingent stays to protect the US embassy in Kabul.

Washington will obviously reject this possibility. The alleged “truce” will be broken. Trump, pressured by the Pentagon, will send more troops. And the infernal spiral will be back on track.

Another major hole in the possible deal is that the Americans completely ignored Iran in their negotiations in Doha.

That’s patently absurd. Teheran is a key strategic partner to its neighbor Kabul. Apart from the millenary historical/cultural/social connections, there are at least 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Iran.

Post 9-11, Tehran slowly but surely started cultivating relations with the Taliban – but not at a military/weaponizing level, according to Iranian diplomats. In Beirut last September, and then in Nur-Sultan in November, I was provided a clear picture of where discussions about Afghanistan stand.

The Russian connection to the Taliban goes through Tehran. Taliban leaders have frequent contacts with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Only last year, Russia held two conferences in Moscow between Taliban political leaders and mujahideen. The Russians were engaged into bringing Uzbeks into the negotiations. At the same time, some Taliban leaders met with Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives four times in Tehran, in secret.

The gist of all these discussions was “to find a conflict resolution outside of Western patterns”, according to an Iranian diplomat. They were aiming at some sort of federalism: the Taliban plus the mujahideen in charge of the administration of some vilayets.

The bottom line is that Iran has better connections in Afghanistan than Russia and China. And this all plays within the much larger scope of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Russia-China strategic partnership wants an Afghan solution coming from inside the SCO, of which both Iran and Afghanistan are observers. Iran may become a full SCO member if it holds on to the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, until October – thus still not subjected to UN sanctions.

All these actors want US troops out – for good. So the solution always points towards a decentralized federation. According to an Afghan diplomat, the Taliban seem ready to share power with the Northern Alliance. The spanner in the works is the Hezb-e-Islami, with one Jome Khan Hamdard, a commander allied with notorious mujahid Gulbudiin Hekmatyar, based in Mazar-i-Sharif and supported by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, more interested in restarting a civil war.

Understanding Pashtunistan

Here’s a blast from the past, reliving the context of the Taliban visit to Houston, and showing how things have not changed much since the first Clinton administration. It’s always a matter of the Taliban getting their cut – at the time related to Pipelineistan business, now to their reaffirmation of what can be described as Pashtunistan.

Not every Pashtun is a Taliban, but the overwhelming majority of Taliban are Pashtuns.

The Washington establishment never did their “know your enemy” homework, trying to understand how Pashtuns from extremely diverse groups are linked by a common system of values establishing their ethnic foundation and necessary social rules. That’s the essence of their code of conduct – the fascinating, complex Pashtunwali. Although it incorporates numerous Islamic elements, Pashtunwali is in total contradiction with Islamic law on many points.

Islam did introduce key moral elements to Pashtun society. But there are also juridical norms, imposed by a hereditary nobility, that support the whole edifice and that came from the Turko-Mongols.

Pashtuns – a tribal society – have a deep aversion to the Western concept of the state. Central power can only expect to neutralize  them with – to put it bluntly – bribes. That’s what passes as a sort of system of government in Afghanistan. Which brings the question of how much – and with what – the US is now bribing the Taliban.

Afghan political life, in practice, works out from actors that are factions, sub-tribes, “Islamic coalitions” or regional groups.

Since 1996, and up to 9/11, the Taliban incarnated the legitimate return of Pashtuns as the dominant element in Afghanistan. That’s why they instituted an emirate and not a republic, more appropriate for a Muslim community ruled only by religious legislation. The diffidence towards cities, particularly Kabul, also expresses the sentiment of Pashtun superiority over other Afghan ethnic groups.

The Taliban do represent a process of overcoming tribal identity and the affirmation of Pashtunistan. The Beltway never understood this powerful dynamic – and that’s one of the key reasons for the American debacle.

Lapis Lazuli corridor

Afghanistan is at the center of the new American strategy for Central Asia, as in “expand and maintain support for stability in Afghanistan” coupled with an emphasis to “encourage connectivity between Central Asia and Afghanistan.”

In practice, the Trump administration wants the five Central Asian “stans” to bet on integration projects such as the CASA-1000 electricity project and the Lapis Lazuli trade corridor, which is in fact a reboot of the Ancient Silk Road, connecting Afghanistan to Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia before crossing the Black Sea to Turkey and then all the way to the EU.

But the thing is Lapis Lazuli is already bound to integrate with Turkey’s Middle Corridor, which is part of the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, as well as with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Plus, also part of Belt and Road. Beijing planned  this integration way before Washington.

The Trump administration is just stressing the obvious: a peaceful Afghanistan is essential for the integration process.

Andrew Korybko correctly argues that “Russia and China could make more progress on building the Golden Ring between themselves, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey by that time, thus ‘embracing’ Central Asia with potentially limitless opportunities that far surpass those that the US is offering or ‘encircling’ the region from a zero-sum American strategic perspective and ‘forcing’ it out.”

The late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski’s wishful thinking “Eurasian Balkans” scenario may be dead, but the myriad US divide-and-rule gambits imposed on the heartland have now mutated into hybrid war explicitly directed against China, Russia  and Iran – the three major nodes of Eurasia integration.

And that means that as far as realpolitik Afghanistan is concerned, with or without a deal, the US military have no intention to go anywhere. They want to stay – whatever it takes. Afghanistan is a priceless Greater Middle East base to deploy hybrid war techniques.

Pashtuns are certainly getting the message from key Shanghai Cooperation Organization players. The question is how they plan to run rings around Team Trump.

US AIR FORCE E-11A AIRCRAFT CRASHED IN AFGHANISTAN – IRANIAN REVENGE?

ٍSouth Front

On January 27, an E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft of the US Air Force crashed in the Taliban-controlled Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, 150 kilometers from the Afghan capital.

When the incident took place, the crashed plane was initially described as a passenger plane with up to 83 people on board. However, after Taliban-affiliated media accounts released videos from the crash site, the passenger plane version was debunked and the Pentagon confirmed that the incident happened with a US military aircraft.

The crashed E-11A (tail number 11-9358) was one of just four Bombardier Global Express Business jet aircraft purchased by the U.S. Air Force and equipped with the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN).

The BACN is a communications relay and gateway system that enables real-time information flow across the battlespace between similar and dissimilar tactical data link and voice systems through relay, bridging, and data translation in line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight situations.

The BACN can allow surface and air forces to overcome communications difficulties caused by rough terrain, distance and different types of communications networks employed by different types of aircraft and equipment.

The unit cost of a single E-11A equipped with the BACN has not been officially revealed. However, it is approximately $1 billion. In January 2020, the Pentagon announced that Northrop Grumman Systems was awarded a $217.2 million modification contract to support payload equipment and services for the BACN. Work will be carried out in San Diego and at undisclosed overseas locations, with an expected completion date of January 23, 2021. The total cost of the contract after the recent modification is $570.2 million.

The crashed aircraft was assigned to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron based at Kandahar Air Field and providing service across the CENTCOM area of operations.

All existing E-11As are deployed in Kandahar. The E-11A flies over Afghanistan constantly. It surpassed 10,000 sorties in 2017, about eight years after being initially deployed to the country.

The loss of such a high-value asset as the E-11A is a major blow to the US capabilities in the region by itself. Prior to the January 27 incident, the US had 8 aircraft equipped with the BACN: four E-11As and four unmanned EQ-4Bs which are modernized variants of the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Now, there are only 7 such aircraft capable of performing command-and-control battle management functions, communication, electronic warfare tasks, and surveillance. 12.5% of the BACN fleet was lost in a single day.

The mystery surrounding the crash is another issue. The Taliban was first to report that the incident involved a US military aircraft on January 27 and release videos and photos from the site. The movement claimed that the aircraft was shot down by a rocket and applauded “the bravery and courage” of the “men” that did this.

Reports appeared claiming that Michael D’Andrea, head of the CIA’s Iran Mission Centre and one of the persons that orchestrated the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, died in the E-11A crash, which he supposedly used as a mobile command. This story describes the E-11A crash as Iranian revenge for the actions of the United States. Nonetheless, these claims remain unconfirmed.

The US military did not comment on the supposed death of D’Andrea, but strongly denied reports that the aircraft was shot down by enemy fire. It also announced that on January 28 US forces recovered the remains of two personnel from the site, the flight data recorder and destroyed the remnants of the aircraft.

The aircraft destruction was needed to prevent high-tech equipment from falling into the hands of the Taliban. The aforementioned casualties were identified as Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, and Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30.

In general, the E-11 flies with a crew of two. So, the casualtie part of the US official version is plausible. The problem is the ability of US forces to ensure that no high-tech equipment or sensitive data leaked to the Taliban.

Images from the crash site released from the Taliban on January 27 show at least one burned body.

  • If we adopt the version that two US personnel died in the crash and US forces evacuated their bodies, it becomes evident that Taliban forces were there first and took all that they wanted. This may include BACN components that will later become accessible for third parties. Washington and mainstream media have repeatedly accused Russia and Iran of contacting the Taliban despite the fact that the US itself is in talks with the group.
  • If we imagine that US forces somehow reached the crash site first and just announced this on January 28 to trick its rivals, the question appears: to whom did the images of the body shown by the Taliban belong? In this case, reports claiming that the US is hiding some vital casualties become reasonable.

The D’Andrea death story could easily appear to be just a successful example of propaganda in the ongoing US-Iranian media and diplomatic standoff. However, the reality behind this media noise may appear even more hard-hitting with some BACN components soon appearing in the hands of key US geopolitical competitors.

The Afghanistan Fiasco and the Fall of the American Military

By Philip Giraldi

Source

Afghanistan Marines 86aa5

A devastating investigative report was published in the Washington Post on December 9th. Dubbed the “Afghanistan Papers” in a nod to the Vietnam War’s famous “Pentagon Papers,” the report relied on thousands of documents to similarly expose how the US government at the presidential level across three administrations, acting in collaboration with the military brass and civilian bureaucracy, deliberately and systematically lied repeatedly to the public and media about the situation in Afghanistan. Officials from the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations have all surged additional troops into Afghanistan while also regularly overstating the “success” that the United States was attaining in stabilizing and democratizing the country. While they were lying, the senior officers and government officials understood clearly that the war was, in fact, unwinnable.

The story should have been featured all across the US as Afghanistan continues to kill Americans and much larger numbers of Afghans while also draining billions of dollars from the United States Treasury, but the mainstream media was largely unresponsive, preferring to cover the impeachment saga. Rather more responsive were the families of Army Chief Warrant Officer Second Class David C. Knadle, 33, of Tarrant, Texas, and Chief Warrant Officer Second Class Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., 25, of Keaau, Hawaii. Both were killed in a helicopter crash on November 20th in Afghanistan’s Logar province while assisting troops on the ground, according to a Pentagon press release. They were participating in what was characteristically dubbed Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Both men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas. The Taliban took credit for the downing of the chopper, but the Army is still investigating the cause.

Knadle and Fuchigami are only the most recent of the more than 2,400 American service members who have been killed in Afghanistan since October 2001, together with 20,589 wounded and an estimated 110,000 Afghan dead. In the wake of the Post’s report, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1974, told a CNN reporter that the Pentagon and Afghanistan Papers exposed the same governmental dysfunction: “The presidents and the generals had a pretty realistic view of what they were up against, which they did not want to admit to the American people.”

The New Republic observes how “The documents are an indictment not only of one aspect of American foreign policy, but also of the US’s entire policymaking apparatus. They reveal a bipartisan consensus to lie about what was actually happening in Afghanistan: chronic waste and chronic corruption, one ill-conceived development scheme after another, resulting in a near-unmitigated failure to bring peace and prosperity to the country. Both parties had reason to engage in the cover-up. For the Bush administration, Afghanistan was a key component in the war on terror. For the Obama administration, Afghanistan was the ‘good war’ that stood in contrast to the nightmare in Iraq.”

The Afghan War’s true costs have never been precisely calculated, though they certainly exceed $1 trillion and counting. The documents relied upon for the Post report include more than 2,000 pages of confidential interviews with people who played a direct role in the war, including soldiers and diplomats, as well as civilian aid workers and Afghan officials. Many of the interviews were initially carried out by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The Post divided the interviews and supporting documentation into subject categories that demonstrate how the situation in Afghanistan began to deteriorate as soon as the United States followed up on its rapid invasion with a plan for nation building. Resorting to the usual American expedient, the occupiers flooded the country with money, which meant that the only thing blooming on the thin soil was corruption, apart from the poppies that have made Afghanistan the world’s leading supplier of opium.

One contractor who was involved in nation building described how he was required to spend $3 million daily for projects in an Afghan district roughly the size of a US county. He asked a visiting congressman if he could be authorized to spend that much money in the US “[The lawmaker] said hell no. ‘Well, sir, that’s what you just obligated us to spend and I’m doing it for communities that live in mud huts with no windows.’ ”

In another interview the report cites Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, the White House Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, who told the interviewers in 2015. “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” later adding “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

Army Colonel Bob Crowley, who served in Kabul in 2013-4, described how at headquarters “Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” adding also how “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

Part of the problem with Afghanistan was the rotation of American soldiers in and then out after one year or less, just as they were learning about the country and the problems they faced. It has led to the joke that the United States has not fought an eighteen-year war in Afghanistan: it has fought a one-year war eighteen times.

The Post investigative report coincides with an interesting deconstruction of the US military and how it operates. David Swanson of World BEYOND War provides a lengthy review of West Point Professor Tim Bakken’s new book The Cost of Loyalty: Dishonesty, Hubris, and Failure in the US Military. Per Swanson, the book “traces a path of corruption, barbarism, violence, and unaccountability that makes its way from the United States’ military academies (West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs) to the top ranks of the US military and US governmental policy, and from there into a broader US culture that, in turn, supports the subculture of the military and its leaders. The US Congress and presidents have ceded tremendous power to generals. The State Department and even the US Institute of Peace are subservient to the military. The corporate media and the public help maintain this arrangement with their eagerness to denounce anyone who opposes the generals. Even opposing giving free weapons to Ukraine is now quasi-treasonous.”

Bakken even disputes the widely held view that the military academies have high academic standards. He describes how the “system” pays to get potential athletes and accepts students nominated by congressmen commensurate with donations made to fund re-election campaigns. Swanson sums it up by observing how the academies offer “a community college-level education only with more hazing, violence, and tamping down of curiosity. West Point takes soldiers and declares them to be professors, which works roughly as well as declaring them to be relief workers or nation builders or peace keepers. The school parks ambulances nearby in preparation for violent rituals. Boxing is a required subject. Women are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted at the three military academies than at other US universities.”

Bakken concludes that appreciating the fundamental structural flaws in the US armed forces “leads to a clearer understanding of the deficiencies in the military and how America can lose wars.” In fact, he does not even seek to identify a war that the United States has won since World War 2 in spite of the country being nearly constantly engaged in conflict.

Together the Bakken book and the Afghanistan Papers reveal just how much the American people have been brainwashed by their leaders into believing a perpetual warfare national narrative that is more fiction than fact. Donald Trump may have actually appreciated that the voters were tired of the wars and was elected on that basis, but he has completely failed to deliver on his promise to retrench. It suggests that America will remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future and the inevitable next war, wherever it might be, will be another failure, no matter who is elected in 2020.

What after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and ISIS ?! ماذا بعد أبو بكر البغدادي وداعش؟!

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What after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and ISIS ?!

Dr. Mohammed Sayed Ahmed 

It’s not the first time we’ve talked about the U.S. taking control of two of the world’s most important industries: terrorism and media. Through the first industry, it has been able to make significant gains at the expense of destroying societies and harvesting innocent human beings. Through the second industry, she was and still is trying to brainwash world public opinion and the illusion that she is innocent of terrorism, but the world’s first warrior, in an attempt to cleanse her blood-stained hand..

This week, the U.S. media came out to talk about the killing of Isis terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi through a U.S. military operation in Idlib, Syria, followed by the departure of U.S. President Donald Trump himself to talk about al-Baghdadi’s death through a u.S. military operation. The man continued to weave from his imagination a long story about the hunt for Al-Baghdadi, who was eventually forced to blow himself up with an explosive belt, trying to convince the world public that they had thus permanently destroyed the myth of ISIS, and therefore there is no justification for their presence in Syria..

Despite the weakness and fragility of the American narrative and its long-standing lack of resilience to the conscious mind. Within hours, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that there were no u.S. air flights or allied forces in Idlib, not on Saturday or in the days before, yet the United States, through its control of the media, was trying to promote its false news, and unfortunately World public opinion is still under the influence of this infernal media machine, which is working to falsify consciousness around the clock. In the age of digital media, man has become a prisoner of fabricated and false information and information through this new media..

The story of the United States of America with terrorism is old and began during the Cold War with the former Soviet Union on the pretext that it was an infidel state and was trying to spread atheism in the world and Muslims should fight it. Indeed, some Islamist groups have been encouraged to go to Afghanistan to fight against disbelief and atheism with the support of the United States, which has provided the sacrificed mujahedeen with money and weapons. The battle ended with the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1990, and the mujahedeen returned from Afghanistan to their Arab and Muslim countries to practice violence and terrorism within these communities..

Then the United States created al-Qaeda, which has terrorized the world for two decades, turning osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi, into a legend by the mighty American media machine, which he and his organization attributed to the world’s largest terrorist incident, the bombing of two towers. World trade in the United States itself on September 11, 2001, using the latest missile and aircraft warfare technology. This has raised many questionmarks about the strength and capability of the organization that managed to penetrate the world’s largest security system, even though its leaders, as portrayed by the U.S. media itself, live in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan. America has declared war on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden on the grounds that they are responsible for terrorism in the world, and yet the organization has remained present and leading the terrorist scene around the world and issues daily statements circulated through the American media machine that he is responsible for all explosion is happening here or there.

With the activation and acceleration of the steps of the new Middle East project, through which the United States of America seeks to break up and divide the Arab region along sectarian, ethnic and sectarian lines, which requires the use of the paper of terrorist groups to be the process of partition and fragmentation from within without direct confrontation from it, As in Afghanistan and Iraq, it took advantage of popular anger within some Arab countries and poured more fire on it while pushing its trained elements to lead the street in its favor. This is where al-Qaeda disappeared from the global terrorist scene, and also disappeared from the media platforms that were promoting it, which means that it was the United States that sponsored and promoted this organization, and when its mission ended, it disappeared from existence..

It then manufactured a number of new terrorist organizations and launched its hand in the region and supported it with money and weapons. We heard about Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in Sinai, Jabhat al-Nusra and Jund al-Sham in Syria, but these organizations quickly disappeared and sold out to the new terrorist organization and the legend created by the United States and promoted to it through its powerful media machine, the Islamic State in Iraq. Al-Sham, who is known as THE MEDIA of ISIS and has become a new scare by America, scares the whole world, and it is surprising that there is no sane person on earth who wondered how these terrorist organizations appear?! And how do you disappear without introductions?! How can al-Qaeda, whose operations have terrorized the whole world, disappear from existence? We no longer hear of anything about him, even though there is no real confrontation to fight it and eliminate it?!

After the United States of America manufactured ISIS in Iraq, it gave it the signal to start entering Syria to carry out its partition plan after the first organizations that led the terrorist operations at the beginning of the global war on Syria failed to achieve what America hoped thanks to the steadfastness of the people. And the valor of the Syrian Arab Army. Here, America found itself in need of a larger organization that would manufacture, support it with money and weapons, and amplify it with its media machine, and ISIS, which began to move from one place to another, was at one moment the primary responsibility for terrorist operations around the world. There is no terrorist incident unless ISIS leaders claim responsibility for it, they have weapons that are superior to those of regular armies..

The question is, who gave them this weapon? The United States is the world’s largest arms dealer, and it is in its interest to continue this terrorism to continue its trade, because countries threatened by terrorism seek to buy weapons from the United States to fight terrorism and defend themselves. If terrorism ceases, its trade will cease. Of course, the media is one of the most important tools of the United States to promote its terrorist goods and industry, so we can now explain why the myth of ISIS began to fall and the U.S. announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death in preparation for its withdrawal from Syria after the failure of its project. It is now equipped to manufacture a new terrorist organization, its media machine is ready to promote and amplify, and the global collective mind is ready for receptions and repetitions without the realization of reason..

Oh God, I warned So bear witness

ماذا بعد أبو بكر البغدادي وداعش؟!

د. محمد سيد أحمد

ليست المرة الأولى التي نتحدث فيها عن سيطرة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية على صناعتين من أهم الصناعات في العالم وهما صناعتا الإرهاب والإعلام. وعبر الصناعة الأولى تمكنت من تحقيق مكاسب كبيرة على حساب تدمير مجتمعات وحصد أروح بشر أبرياء. ومن خلال الصناعة الثانية كانت ومازالت تحاول غسل أدمغة الرأي العام العالمي وإيهامه أنها بريئة من الإرهاب، بل هي المحارب الأول له في العالم، في محاولة لتطهير يدها الملوثة بالدماء.

وخلال هذا الأسبوع خرجت علينا وسائل الإعلام الأميركية تحدّثنا عن مقتل أبي بكر البغدادي زعيم تنظيم داعش الإرهابي عبر عملية عسكرية أميركية في إدلب السورية، ثم تبع ذلك خروج الرئيس الأميركي ذاته «دونالد ترامب» ليتحدث عن مقتل البغدادي عبر عملية نوعية للجيش الأميركي. وظل الرجل ينسج من خياله قصة طويلة حول مطاردة البغدادي الذي اضطر في النهاية الى تفجير نفسه بحزام ناسف، محاولا بذلك إيهام الرأي العام العالمي بأنهم بذلك قد قضوا بشكل نهائي على أسطورة داعش، وبالتالي لا يوجد مبرر لوجودهم في سورية.

وعلى الرغم من ضعف وهشاشة الرواية الأميركية وعدم صمودها طويلاً أمام العقل الواعي. فخلال ساعات كانت وزارة الدفاع الروسية تؤكد أنه لم يكن هناك في إدلب أي طلعات جوية للطيران الأميركي أو القوى المتحالفة معه لا في يوم السبت الذي حدّدوه أو في الأيام السابقة عليه، ومع ذلك تحاول الولايات المتحدة وعبر سيطرتها على وسائل الإعلام الترويج لأخبارها الكاذبة، وللأسف الشديد مازال الرأي العام العالمي يخضع لتأثير هذه الآلة الإعلامية الجهنمية التي تعمل على تزييف وعيه على مدار الساعة. فقد أصبح الإنسان في عصر الإعلام الرقمي أسير ما يُقدَّم له من معلومات وأخبار مفبركة وكاذبة عبر هذا الإعلام الجديد.

وقصة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية مع الإرهاب قديمة فقد بدأت أثناء الحرب الباردة مع الاتحاد السوفياتي السابق بدعوى أنها دولة كافرة وتحاول نشر الإلحاد في العالم وعلى المسلمين أن يقوموا بمحاربتها. وبالفعل تم تشجيع بعض الجماعات الإسلامية للذهاب إلى أفغانستان للجهاد ضد الكفر والإلحاد بدعم من الولايات المتحدة التي أمدت المجاهدين المضحوك عليهم بالمال والسلاح. وانتهت المعركة بتفكيك الاتحاد السوفياتي عام 1990، وعاد المجاهدون من أفغانستان إلى بلادهم العربية والإسلامية ليمارسوا العنف والإرهاب داخل هذه المجتمعات.

ثم قامت الولايات المتحدة بصناعة تنظيم القاعدة الذي أثار الرعب في العالم على مدى عقدين من الزمان تحوّل على أثرها أسامة بن لادن الثري السعوديّ إلى أسطورة بواسطة الآلة الإعلامية الأميركية الجبارة، حيث نسب إليه وإلى تنظيمه أكبر حادثة إرهابية في العالم وهي تفجير برجَي التجارة العالمية بالولايات المتحدة ذاتها في 11 سبتمبر 2001 وباستخدام أحدث أساليب التكنولوجيا الحربية من صواريخ وطائرات. وهو ما أثار العديد من علامات الاستفهام حول قوة وقدرة التنظيم الذي استطاع أن يخترق أكبر منظومة أمنية في العالم، على الرغم من أن قادته وكما صوّر لنا الإعلام الأميركي ذاته يعيشون في الجبال والكهوف في أفغانستان. وقامت أميركا بإعلان الحرب على تنظيم القاعدة وأسامة بن لادن بدعوى أنهم المسؤولون عن الإرهاب في العالم، ورغم ذلك ظل التنظيم موجوداً ومتصدراً للمشهد الإرهابي حول العالم ويصدر يومياً بيانات يتم تداولها عبر الآلة الإعلامية الأميركية أنه المسؤول عن كل تفجير يحدث هنا أو هناك.

ومع تفعيل وتسريع خطوات مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد الذي تسعى من خلاله الولايات المتحدة الأميركية إلى تفتيت وتقسيم المنطقة العربية على أسس مذهبية وعرقية وطائفية وهو ما يستلزم استخدام ورقة الجماعات الإرهابية لتكون عملية التقسيم والتفتيت من الداخل دون مواجهة مباشرة منها، كما حدث في افغانستان والعراق، حيث استغلّت موجات الغضب الشعبي داخل بعض البلدان العربية وقامت بسكب مزيد من النيران عليه مع الدفع بعناصر مدربة تابعة لها لتقود الشارع لصالحها. هنا اختفى تنظيم القاعدة من المشهد الإرهابي العالمى، واختفى أيضاً من فوق المنابر الإعلامية التي كانت تقوم بالترويج له، وهو ما يعني أن الولايات المتحدة هي التي كانت ترعى هذا التنظيم وتروّج له وعندما انتهت مهمته اختفى من الوجود.

ثم قامت بعد ذلك بصناعة عدد من التنظيمات الإرهابية الجديدة وأطلقت يدها بالمنطقة ودعمتها بالمال والسلاح. فسمعنا عن أنصار بيت المقدس في سيناء، وجبهة النصرة وجند الشام في سورية، لكن سرعان ما اختفت هذه التنظيمات سريعاً وقامت بمبايعة التنظيم الإرهابي الجديد والأسطورة التي صنعتها الولايات المتحدة وروّجت لها عبر آلتها الإعلامية الجبارة وهو تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية بالعراق والشام والذي عرف إعلامياً بتنظيم داعش والذي أصبح بعبعاً جديداً تخيف به أميركا العالم أجمع، ومن المثير للعجب أنه لا يوجد عاقل على وجه الكرة الأرضية تساءل عن كيف تظهر هذه التنظيمات الإرهابية؟! وكيف تختفي دون مقدمات؟! فكيف لتنظيم القاعدة الذي كانت عملياته ترعب العالم أجمع يختفي من الوجود؟! ولم نعد نسمع عنه أي شيء رغم عدم وجود مواجهة حقيقية لمحاربته والقضاء عليه؟!

وبعد أن قامت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بصناعة داعش في العراق أعطته إشارة البدء للدخول إلى سورية لتنفيذ مخططها التقسيمي والتفتيتي بعد أن فشلت التنظيمات الأولى التي كانت تقود العمليات الإرهابية في بداية الحرب الكونية على سورية في تحقيق ما ترجوه أميركا بفضل صمود الشعب وبسالة الجيش العربي السوري. هنا وجدت أميركا نفسها في حاجة إلى تنظيم أكبر تقوم بصناعته ودعمه بالمال والسلاح وتضخّمه بواسطة آلتها الإعلامية فكان تنظيم داعش الذي بدأ ينتقل من مكان إلى آخر حتى أصبح في لحظة معينة هو المسؤول الأول عن العمليات الإرهابية التي تتم حول العالم. فما من حادثة إرهابية إلا ويعلن قادة داعش عن مسؤوليتهم عنها فهم يمتلكون أسلحة تتفوق على أسلحة الجيوش النظامية.

والسؤال هنا مَن الذي أعطاهم هذا السلاح؟! الولايات المتحدة هي أكبر تاجر للسلاح في العالم، ومن مصلحتها استمرار هذا الإرهاب لتستمر تجارتها رائجة، لأن الدول التي يتهددها الإرهاب تسعى إلى شراء السلاح من الولايات المتحدة لمكافحة الإرهاب والدفاع عن نفسها. وإذا توقف الإرهاب ستتوقف تجارتها. وبالطبع الإعلام إحدى أهم أدوات الولايات المتحدة للترويج لبضاعتها وصناعتها الإرهابية، لذلك يمكننا الآن تفسير لماذا بدأت أسطورة داعش في الأفول وإعلان الولايات المتحدة الأميركية عن مقتل البغدادي تمهيداً لانسحابها من سورية بعد فشل مشروعها. فهي تجهز الآن لصناعة تنظيم إرهابي جديد، وآلتها الإعلامية جاهزة للترويج والتضخيم، والعقل الجمعي العالمي المغيب جاهز لعمليات الاستقبال والترديد دون إعمال للعقل.

اللهم بلغت اللهم فاشهد.

Video: Why Are We Still in Afghanistan?

Global Research, September 13, 201

18 years later, the US and its NATO allies still have troops in Afghanistan with no plans on leaving.

We were told this was about 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden, but these were lies.

So why are the troops still there?

What was the war in Afghanistan really about?

The decision to invade Afghanistan was taken by the Bush-Cheney war cabinet in the evening of September 11, 2001. It was based on the presumption, “confirmed” by the head of the CIA that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks and that Al Qaeda was supported by the Afghan government.

On the following morning, September 12, 2001, NATO’s Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, endorsed the Bush administration’s declaration of war on Afghanistan, invoking Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

Michel Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalization joins us to explain.

(Interview conducted in 2016)

*

October 7, 2001: Waging America’s 9/11 War of Retribution against Afghanistan

The immediate response of the US and its allies to the 9/11 attacks was to the declare a war of retribution against Afghanistan on the grounds that the Taliban government was protecting “terror mastermind” Osama bin Laden. By allegedly harboring bin Laden, the Taliban were complicit, according to both the US administration and NATO, for having waged an act of war against the United States.

Parroting official statements, the Western media mantra on September 12, 2001 had already approved the launching of “punitive actions” directed against civilian targets in Afghanistan. In the words of William Saffire writing in the New York Times: “When we reasonably determine our attackers’ bases and camps, we must pulverize them — minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage” — and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror’s national hosts”.

This decision was taken by the Bush-Cheney war cabinet in the evening of September 11, 2001. It was based on the presumption, “confirmed” by the head of the CIA that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks.

On the following morning, September 12, 2001, NATO’s Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, endorsed the Bush administration’s declaration of war on Afghanistan, invoking Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

An act of war by a foreign nation (Afghanistan) against a member of the Atlantic Alliance (the USA) is an act of war against all members under NATO’s doctrine of collective security. Under any stretch of the imagination, the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon cannot be categorized as an act of war by a foreign country. But nobody seemed to have raised this issue.

Meanwhile, on two occasions in the course of September 2001, the Afghan government –through diplomatic channels– offered to hand over Osama Bin laden to US Justice. These overtures were turned down by president Bush, on the grounds that America “does not negotiate with terrorists”.

The war on Afghanistan was launched 26 days later on the morning of October 7, 2001. The timing of this war begs the question: how long does it take to plan and implement a major theater war several thousand miles away. Military analysts will confirm that a major theater war takes months and months, up to a year or more of advanced preparations. The war on Afghanistan was already in the advanced planning stages prior to September 11, 2001, which begs the question of foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

The repeal of civil liberties in America was launched in parallel with the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, almost immediately following 9/11 with the adoption of the PATRIOT legislation and the setting up of a Homeland Security apparatus, under the pretext of protecting Americans. This post-911 legal and institutional framework had been carefully crafted prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Michel Chossudovsky, September 12, 2019

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