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.

The Western propaganda of homosexuality and cannibalism

The Western propaganda of homosexuality and cannibalism

September 07, 2019

by Ruslan Ostashko

Translated by Scott and captioned by Leo

The propaganda of perversions in the West has reached new heights. The British leading sports clubs promote the LGBT “values,” and their scientists drag cannibalism into the category of normal.

No matter how much effort is made by the “normal countries” to promote degeneration, it never seems to be enough for them. In the course of pushing the Western agenda all methods are good. For example, the use of well-known sports clubs.

Manchester City Football Club partnered with Puma in release of a special uniform in support of the LGBT community. The set is timed to coincide with the annual gay pride events that started in Manchester on August 23. Students from Manchester Metropolitan University – the fifth largest in the UK (per number of students), including the School of Arts, Theater School and school of Architecture, participated in the design of the uniform. The t-shirt is made in white with rainbow edging around the emblem of the “City”. The LGBT flag is featured on the back with the inscription “Proud”, highlighted in sky blue. Also the design of the football club t-shirt contains the inscription “Together We Stand”, and the logo of the organization “Football Against Homophobia.”

That is, the idols of British youth, by taking to the field in this uniform, will take part in promoting the thesis that being a pervert is normal. Characteristically, the named club is owned by sheikhs from the United Arab Emirates. It would seem that homosexuality and the Islamic worldview are incompatible. But come to think of it, there was no objection from Manchester City club owners to LGBT uniforms. Apparently they decided that a PR for the club is acceptable, since it promises an increase in profits.

“In the online store of the club this uniform can be purchased for $30 (basic kits cost $235). ‘This is an ideal way for citizens to express support for everything related to the LGBT community and, of course, to demonstrate love for the team,’ the product description says.”

However, if we speak about perversions, the West promotes much more wild things.

In recent years, the Western info-field has increasingly started to generate ‘authoritative’ statements that, perhaps, ‘it’s time to reconsider the outdated taboo on human cannibalism,’ and that ‘ethical cannibalism can not be excluded from the public debate.’”

Last year, the University of Warwick hosted a curious conference called “BITES HERE AND THERE”: LITERAL AND METAPHORICAL CANNIBALISM ACROSS DISCIPLINES,” where serious topics such as “Cannibalism and anthropocentrism: getting to know the other as meat” were discussed. “Identification of the noble and baser cannibalistic motif: typology of risk and necessary,” “Ethical approach to eating: justification of cannibalism in modern literature” and “a kiss as beginning of cannibalism.”

If you think it’s obvious madness – a single madness of a senile individual, it’s not.

The other day, scientists-psychologists from the British Lancaster University turned the volume up by publishing the results of the study, where the subjects were asked to assess the situation where their friend gave them permission to eat his flesh after his death, and the risks of diseases were excluded. In doing so, they were given a context in which eating the corpse of the deceased is an act of respect and memory. The authors of the study regret to state that, despite all the explanations and logical calculations, people overwhelmingly consider even ‘ethical cannibalism’ disgusting and absolutely unacceptable. However, scientists express the hope that we will still ‘be able to adapt to eating human meat if the need arises.’”

Cannibalism is common in the animal kingdom – here’s why for humans it’s the ultimate taboo

Note: this fits perfectly into the fashionable Western talk about the need to reduce the population of the planet. The same US is trying its best, constantly killing residents of Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries with drones as part of the hypocritical “fight against terrorism.” American drones constantly miss for years, killing civilians instead of extremists.

[Not in the video.]

An instructive account of how many civilians, including children, must be killed to eliminate a terrorist with “precision weapons”.

They were aiming for 41, but killed 1,147.

A new analysis of data from a human rights agency (in the United States), which was shared with the Guardian newspaper, raises questions about the accuracy of “point strikes” drones.

On January 13, 2006, drones came for Ayman Zawahiri, allegedly hiding in Damadola village in Pakistan. 10 months later they were bombing Bajaur. 8 years later, Zawahiri is still alive. 76 children and 29 adults were killed after 2 strikes.

Many Americans have never heard about Zawahiri, even less they heard about Qari Hussain. He was the head of the Pakistani Taliban, a group believed by the US to be linked to al-Qaeda, and prepared Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad for his failed attack in 2010. The drones came for Hussain years before.

First, 29 Jan 2008, then 23 June 2009, 15 Jan. 2010, 2 Oct. 2010, and Oct. 7 2010.

Finally, on 15 October a Hellfire rocket killed Hussein, that the Taliban later confirmed.

To kill a man whom almost no American couldn’t name, the United States killed 128 people, including 13 children.

A new analysis by the Agency shows that even when an operator targets a particular person, they kill significantly more people. Attempts to kill 47 people resulted in 1,147 deaths on 24 November 2014.

The analysis is an estimate of the damage done by Obama’s favorite weapon, called “the most accurate.”

Drone strikes were sold to the American public as “accurate.” But they’re just as “accurate” as the intelligence that feeds us. There’s nothing “accurate” about killing 28 unidentified people, including children, for every person the U.S. hunts.

24 people in Pakistan have been hunted, it resulted in the death of 874 people. All were announced to the press as “killed “ many times, suggesting multiple strikes anywhere. An estimated 142 children were killed in the hunt for 24 people, and only 6 of those 24 were actually killed in drone attacks.

Under the pretense to target some 41 terrorists, the US killed 1,147 random people. They say it was “accidental.”

[Back to the video.]

But this rate of reducing the population is not enough for them. If they succeed in brainwashing the population that devouring neighbors is normal, then the struggle to reduce the number of people will go to a whole new level.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But you’ve seen links to research sites about cannibalism. The Overton window is already open and stinks of cooked human flesh. And don’t say it’s impossible. Who in their right mind in Britain could say out loud in the middle of the past century that after 70 years, Manchester City players will play in t-shirts propagandizing sexual perversions?

And they’re willing to wear these t-shirts for money. And their Muslim sponsors are willing to turn a blind eye. From this perspective, the idea of legalizing cannibalism in the West does not seem so impossible, does it?

The propaganda of perversions in the West has reached new heights. The British leading sports clubs promote the LGBT “values,” and their scientists drag cannibalism into the category of normal.

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