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Afghanistan question - no partisan politics


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3 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

Wow, I feel so dumb.

I honestly thought we were there to help rebuild/strengthen the Afghan nation. 

 

Realistically I guess we went there to prevent another September 11 - terrorist attacks on home soil.  It was never really about the Afghani people 😞 

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2 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Realistically I guess we went there to prevent another September 11 - terrorist attacks on home soil.  It was never really about the Afghani people 😞 

Yeah, I knew that was why we went there initially. Just dumbly assumed we stayed for other reasons. 

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3 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Realistically I guess we went there to prevent another September 11 - terrorist attacks on home soil.  It was never really about the Afghani people 😞 

Which also didn't make a ton of sense, as our invading was always likely to cause more hatred and attacks. 

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1 hour ago, alisoncooks said:

The school I mentioned upthread, two of their main programs are computer training and early-marriage prevention (which works to also educate the families of the girls on options other than early marriage). 

I don't see the Taliban allowing either of the above. 

I agree. In many places women aren't even allowed to leave their home. Period. They are under house arrest as property. 

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When you set out to do something you should have a specific goal. A war on terror is not a specific goal. It is a fuzzy mess and yes, a lot of defence contractors made a lot of money over there. I think Jon Stewart stated it something like this, "When are we done? When terror ceases to be a human emotion?"

There is a part of me which wants to say if Americans really cared they would have handed a gun and trained every single person over the age of 15 because they needed to be able to defend their freedom from the Taliban. Instead they did drone strikes at wedding parties if a Taliban member was involved and wondered why more people were being recruited by the Taliban. But then again, weapons and maybe training (this part is debatable) was provided by America to help Afghans fight the Soviets and look what good that did. We ended up helping our future enemy.  I think America needs to mind it's own business unless there is a very clear and definable goal. "Support" of a political mess for decades doesn't meet that criteria. 

Once involved it is horrendous to leave your allies in need and yet we always do. Partially, because what do you do?  It would be better to be more clear in the first place and not make impossible promises. It is heartbreaking though.

 

Edited by frogger
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4 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

Wow, I feel so dumb.

I honestly thought we were there to help rebuild/strengthen the Afghan nation. 

 

Militaries exist to kill people and break things.  You can't really rebuild a nation until the war is over and you weren't the one who lost ("won" doesn't seem like correct usage in that context) -like the US/Allies rebuilt Germany and Japan after WWII. Since that hadn't happened in Afghanistan, talk of "rebuilding" was always premature or at least euphemistic.

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4 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

You can't occupy a country unless every family is willing to sacrifice their children to keep it. We never had that kind of resolve. 

Yep.  That's the first thing Sun Tzu said about War. We, as a society, talk waaay to abstractly about war. People need to stop saying stupid things like, "I support the war" and put it in real terms, "I'm willing to send my self/parent/spouse/sibling/child/grandchild into the front lines of this war and risk my/their deaths." That's what supporting a war sounds like.

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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47 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Yep.  That's the first thing Sun Tzu said about War. We, as a society, talk waaay to abstractly about war. People need to stop saying stupid things like, "I support the war" and put it in real terms, "I'm willing to send my self/parent/spouse/sibling/child/grandchild into the front lines of this war and risk my/their deaths." That's what supporting a war sounds like.

I'm trying to remember the last time I heard someone say, "I support the war." I think for the last couple decades I hear, "I support the troops."   Which is very different. If you send someone to war, you owe it to them to help them out on the other end. Of course, some people are also very proud to serve or have their children serve. Others, of course, think their service can just be lip service.

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5 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

So, post getting rid of All Quaeda, (sp?)it was all a con? 

I think George W. really believed in nation building.  I think that belief is incorrect.  As to the next Presidents- half of Pres. Obama's first term was still dealing with Al Qaeda.  Then I think he went along with the military, intelligence and state- and followed their advice.  Both Pres. Trump and Biden wanted to leave.  Pres. Trump signed the peace treaty with the Taliban to not allow Al Qaeda to return  in exchange of a withdrawal.    The full withdrawal was supposed to be May 2021 by the treaty.  Biden administration extended the withdrawal to Aug 31.  But as we withdrew, so did contractors that were being used by the Afghan military= specifically their Air Force- and they couldn't fight even if they wanted to.  

Now we have a giant mess- 6000 UIS troops ordered in- helicopters evacuating US embassy-   and I am not even sure how even all the diplomatic staff are going to get out-- both US and foreign.  

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11 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Who wants them? 

This.  We can all sit around and say that this or that should have been done, but in the end, it has been extremely difficult for millions and millions of Afghans who want a better, safer life to actually find a permanent solution for the last 40 years.  They've gotten stuck in bad situations and refugee resettlement is extremely limited.  Their country has been occupied by different groups for decades.  Most Afghans have very little power to fix anything.  

Almost everyone in Afghanistan qualifies for asylum, but no one will actually take them.

I don't know what to do, but the current situation isn't at all surprising.  And I really, really don't think there are very many people on this board who can or should say what Afghans ought to do in this situation. Afghans in general shouldn't be blamed for the Taliban doing what it's doing.  More war and fighting in Afghanistan will not help.  How would a civil war be better here?  It would just be a different kind of horrible.  War is just as harmful to women and girls as extremist ideologies.  Maybe more so.

Also, the Taliban isn't only bad for women and girls. Their ideologies and methods are extremely damaging for men and boys too. 

Edited by Amira
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25 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

It looks like Kabul airport is closed.  According to ABC there’s still about 100 Australians in Afghanistan as well as those who helped Australian troops to be evacuated. 😞 

I am up unexpectedly and saw this too-  I don't know what is going on since we have so many troops coming- or maybe not?  It is 4:42am in Washington DC and the news about what in the world the US is doing since we also have people needing evacuation is not forthcoming.

And Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, just yesterday decided to take the week off- I guess she didn't want the intense barrage of hostile questions she would be facing.  Because even though our country wanted to withdraw-- this was not the way we wanted it to go and I know that our allies are very disappointed in the way this withdrawal is happening.

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Just now, TravelingChris said:

I am up unexpectedly and saw this too-  I don't know what is going on since we have so many troops coming- or maybe not?  It is 4:42am in Washington DC and the news about what in the world the US is doing since we also have people needing evacuation is not forthcoming.

And Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, just yesterday decided to take the week off- I guess she didn't want the intense barrage of hostile questions she would be facing.  Because even though our country wanted to withdraw-- this was not the way we wanted it to go and I know that our allies are very disappointed in the way this withdrawal is happening.

On flight tracker at the moment you can see a civilian (Turkish aircraft on the runway) and a US military one doing circles close by.  Not sure why the military aircraft is visible on the tracker. I think the military have alternative airbases?  But I don’t know that.  Maybe they are trying to get embassy staff journalists etc out to those locations for evacuation?  

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The official report is that the military side of the airport is secure but not the civilian side.

but videos on Twitter etc look to be telling a different story.

An Australian plane left with soldiers to attempt an evacuation mission, I guess maybe via a 3rd country.

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Fareed has an informative take on this situation with a spot on conclusion that there is no elegant way to lose a war. 
https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2021/08/15/fareeds-take-us-afghanistan-withdrawal-gps-vpx.cnn

 

Also anybody interested in reading about that part of the world during Afghan war against Russians should look at Robert Kaplan’s “Solders of God.”

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ODEQ3Y/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i11

 

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3 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

On flight tracker at the moment you can see a civilian (Turkish aircraft on the runway) and a US military one doing circles close by.  Not sure why the military aircraft is visible on the tracker. I think the military have alternative airbases?  But I don’t know that.  Maybe they are trying to get embassy staff journalists etc out to those locations for evacuation?  

No. The USA abandoned Bagram Air Base near Kabul a month or so ago. IMO that was a terrible mistake. I believe the USA is in control of the International airport in Kabul, or trying to get control and that scheduled commercial flights have been cancelled?  If the military aircraft is visible it is because their ADS-B is turned on and sending out their information.  It is obviously not a combat aircraft.

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34 minutes ago, Lanny said:

No. The USA abandoned Bagram Air Base near Kabul a month or so ago. IMO that was a terrible mistake. I believe the USA is in control of the International airport in Kabul, or trying to get control and that scheduled commercial flights have been cancelled?  If the military aircraft is visible it is because their ADS-B is turned on and sending out their information.  It is obviously not a combat aircraft.

Thanks.  The Turkish Flight managed to leave and the US plane disappeared from the tracker shortly afterwards.  So there isn’t an airbase alternative to Kabul airport at all?  That does seem bad.

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6 hours ago, TravelingChris said:

I think George W. really believed in nation building.  I think that belief is incorrect.  As to the next Presidents- half of Pres. Obama's first term was still dealing with Al Qaeda.  Then I think he went along with the military, intelligence and state- and followed their advice.  Both Pres. Trump and Biden wanted to leave.  Pres. Trump signed the peace treaty with the Taliban to not allow Al Qaeda to return  in exchange of a withdrawal.    The full withdrawal was supposed to be May 2021 by the treaty.  Biden administration extended the withdrawal to Aug 31.  But as we withdrew, so did contractors that were being used by the Afghan military= specifically their Air Force- and they couldn't fight even if they wanted to.  

Now we have a giant mess- 6000 UIS troops ordered in- helicopters evacuating US embassy-   and I am not even sure how even all the diplomatic staff are going to get out-- both US and foreign.  

The AP and NPR are reporting that all embassy staff were evacuated to the airport.  

 
https://www.npr.org/2021/08/16/1028027315/u-s-embassy-staff-in-afghanistan-are-evacuated-to-kabuls-airport


 

 

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8 hours ago, frogger said:

I'm trying to remember the last time I heard someone say, "I support the war."

Do you not know many hawkish Republicans? The idea that we can send troops to secure the place and free people from Islamofascist extremism that will result in terrorists no longer being willing/able to terrorize and the people rejoicing as we liberate them is fairly common among them. (I'm not a Republican or a Democrat.) The classic American problem is that as a whole, we're a people who see everything through a political lens, and not a cultural lens.  It's the same naivete that assumed that once the Iron Curtain was ripped down then a love of Judaeo-Christian principled democracy and freedom would naturally fill the void instead of a secular autocracy in Russia.

The US military and its leadership just aren't people who are studied in human nature and the complexities of cultural issues. I think those at the highest levels in the military and politics are an older generation still enamored with idealism over pragmatism and still long to be part of a righteous war like they think of WWII. Add in all the military contractors that have money, and therefore lobbying influence with politicians, and you get more voices pushing for international conflicts and the resulting perceived economic opportunities.

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2 hours ago, Lanny said:

No. The USA abandoned Bagram Air Base near Kabul a month or so ago. IMO that was a terrible mistake. I believe the USA is in control of the International airport in Kabul, or trying to get control and that scheduled commercial flights have been cancelled?  If the military aircraft is visible it is because their ADS-B is turned on and sending out their information.  It is obviously not a combat aircraft.

Exactly. US should never give up the air space. Never give up the high ground.

Where is our CIC? He hasn’t addressed public in 6 days…and news yesterday was he might address the country in a few days. This is a worldwide event.  He owes it *everyone* to answer for this, and show his face.

 


 

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1 hour ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Thanks.  The Turkish Flight managed to leave and the US plane disappeared from the tracker shortly afterwards.  So there isn’t an airbase alternative to Kabul airport at all?  That does seem bad.

No. The USA abandoned Bagram about 4 or 5 weeks ago. The Kabul airport is now closed, because there are hundreds of people on the runway. There were people clinging to a USAF C-17. Incredibly dangerous there.  Hopefully the Marines and Army troops can get control of the people who are so desperate to leave Afghanistan.  And, hopefully God will watch over and protect the troops who are there trying to help them.

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I can’t find blame in this situation.  I think it’s fruitless to point fingers.    
It’s not a republican thing and it’s not a democrat thing.  It’s not a this country or that country thing.  

It just is what it is, which is a heartbreaking end to a heartbreaking war and occupation.    It was never going to end well and I think it’s just a kick in the nuts for every military person from any and every country who served in that region. 

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35 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Do you not know many hawkish Republicans? The idea that we can send troops to secure the place and free people from Islamofascist extremism that will result in terrorists no longer being willing/able to terrorize and the people rejoicing as we liberate them is fairly common among them. (I'm not a Republican or a Democrat.) The classic American problem is that as a whole, we're a people who see everything through a political lens, and not a cultural lens.  It's the same naivete that assumed that once the Iron Curtain was ripped down then a love of Judaeo-Christian principled democracy and freedom would naturally fill the void instead of a secular autocracy in Russia.

The US military and its leadership just aren't people who are studied in human nature and the complexities of cultural issues. I think those at the highest levels in the military and politics are an older generation still enamored with idealism over pragmatism and still long to be part of a righteous war like they think of WWII. Add in all the military contractors that have money, and therefore lobbying influence with politicians, and you get more voices pushing for international conflicts and the resulting perceived economic opportunities.

Not really. I know a lot of Republicans but they are more the Trump ones and his goal was also a pull out. 

 

Edited to add: I know it's a thing but I think they are a shrinking population. 

Edited by frogger
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29 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Do you not know many hawkish Republicans? The idea that we can send troops to secure the place and free people from Islamofascist extremism that will result in terrorists no longer being willing/able to terrorize and the people rejoicing as we liberate them is fairly common among them. (I'm not a Republican or a Democrat.) The classic American problem is that as a whole, we're a people who see everything through a political lens, and not a cultural lens.  It's the same naivete that assumed that once the Iron Curtain was ripped down then a love of Judaeo-Christian principled democracy and freedom would naturally fill the void instead of a secular autocracy in Russia.

The US military and its leadership just aren't people who are studied in human nature and the complexities of cultural issues. I think those at the highest levels in the military and politics are an older generation still enamored with idealism over pragmatism and still long to be part of a righteous war like they think of WWII. Add in all the military contractors that have money, and therefore lobbying influence with politicians, and you get more voices pushing for international conflicts and the resulting perceived economic opportunities.

QFT. 

Yesterday I heard people alleging that this happened because our military is too "woke." It's nuts. Our military should know more about the complexities of other cultures, not less. 

I opposed going into Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. I refer to that time as the "freedom fries" era. Remember "freedom fries?" I was in law school so didn't have much time to think about politics. I remember being shocked that we were so stupid to assume that it would easy to take over in Afghanistan and conquer Iraq. And here we are 20 years later. I remember being accused of being unpatriotic because I opposed these wars. Now most people won't admit that they supported them at time.  

The older I get the more grateful I am that I was raised by my parents. My parents were not hippies but there were two things that they always discussed with their kids, the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. I remember realizing as I got older that other kids didn't hear those messages at home. Hearing about Vietnam always made me skeptical of claims about nation-building or helping the women of Afghanistan. Honestly, and I don't mean to sound snarky here, but I don't understand how anyone could have believed that's why were there. 

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A local radio host read a letter on his show this morning that was written by two US veterans as if they are the Taliban.   (I've never heard of their company before, but the CEO is a combat veteran who was in Afghanistan.)    

"If the Taliban were to write a letter to America, it would likely look something like this."

https://www.combatflipflops.com/blogs/combat-flip-flops/written-in-taliban

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One concrete thing that Americans can do to avoid at least a little of this in the future is to tell your senators and representatives to simplify the process for SIVs, at least in emergencies like this (and personally, I think, always). That’s the visa type that people who have worked for the US government overseas usually qualify for after a certain time or type of employment.  There has been a lot of focus on translators working for the US government in Afghanistan, but there are many other people who also need SIVs to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible.  One reason why some US diplomats were in Kabul until the very last second was that they were working on SIVs.  Those American diplomats have worked with many Afghan nationals at the US embassy and wanted to get them and others out.  (Most people working at just about any US embassy are not American citizens.)

Another factor is that SIVs have been much harder to get since 2017, so trying to catch up in 2021 has been really, really difficult.

Here’s a useful piece about this.  https://www.npr.org/2021/08/15/1027848893/former-department-assistant-secretary-of-state-discusses-future-diplomacy

Edited by Amira
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2 hours ago, pinball said:

Exactly. US should never give up the air space. Never give up the high ground.

Where is our CIC? He hasn’t addressed public in 6 days…and news yesterday was he might address the country in a few days. This is a worldwide event.  He owes it *everyone* to answer for this, and show his face.

 


 

He's on vacation. Is reported to now be cutting his vacation short to return to WH. 

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2 minutes ago, Fritz said:

He's on vacation. Is reported to now be cutting his vacation short to return to WH. 

Yeah, I guess he’s back at WH and will be addressing the issue at 345 pm eastern

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The thing is, this was never going to end well.  There really was no peaceful way out.  My dh was on a Middle East diplomacy track years ago and we lived in several countries there over the years (never in Afghanistan though.)  He's always held the view that it was a no-win situation.  I kind of understand why the US at the time felt they needed to act in response to 911 though.

My heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan.

Edited by J-rap
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I'm on my Representative's email distribution, and just received this -- passing it along for the links:

I am closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan. My office is working on getting Americans and our Afghan allies out of the country. 

If you know someone who is stranded in Afghanistan, please complete this Google Form. Additionally, American citizens attempting to get out of Afghanistan should fill out this State Department form

If you/someone you know has an approved petition for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), email NVCSIV@state.gov or call 1-603-334-0828. Find more information about the program here. For those who are eligible for an SIV, but do not yet have an appointment or have not yet applied, please immediately contact AfghanSIVapplication@state.gov. Contractors who do not qualify for an SIV may qualify for a Priority 2 designation (P-2), which you can learn more about here. If you/someone you know qualifies or may qualify for a SIV or P-2 designation and is stranded in Afghanistan, contact my office by completing this Google Form.  

There will be a time in the future to examine the collapse of Afghan security forces, but now our focus must be on getting Americans and our allies to safety. If you have questions, please contact my office at (202) 225-5541. 

Sincerely, 

Jim 

Image
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This was a good long form article my son sent me. It talks about the divide between rural and urban Afghans and a bunch of other things. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/as-the-taliban-rise-again-afghanistans-past-threatens-its-present

I think it's a mistake to assume that the Taliban enjoys widespread support in Afghanistan.  They enjoy widespread fear + the corruption in the government created the same type of chaos and mistrust that allowed the Taliban to seize control the first time in 1996.  

Quote

 

A top-down culture of corruption fueled by foreign money has had an exceptionally damaging effect on police. “If a police station needs 15 officers, there are only three; the rest of the money is stolen,” said Ahmadi, the former district governor in Kandahar Province.

Poorly equipped, police also are widely loathed for shaking down people to make up for unpaid salaries and scarce supplies. “The Taliban don’t provide any services, and they don’t build houses or clinics, but they do not steal,” asserted Abdullah Jan, an unemployed farmer who fled Arghandab, echoing a common refrain among rural Afghans.

 

 

Edited by LucyStoner
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The Taliban have set up a "ring" around the airport in Kabul.  Now, people who are not inside the airport cannot get into it...

I am very  old and remember the disastrous evacuation of Saigon.  What is going on in Kabul now seems far worse. Please include the brave men and women of the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army who are there in your prayers.  Hopefully they will all get home safely.

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On 8/15/2021 at 4:06 AM, Melissa Louise said:

The Taliban are on the outskirts of Kabul.

My question is, why have they been able to retake so much of the country, so quickly? 

I heard 2 theories yesterday. 

1.  They were hiding in neighborhood countries

2.  They were infiltrated in the country's military.  Once Taliban was approaching and orders given they stripped off their uniforms, they already had guns and "turned about" to conquer from within.

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This was never going to end well. Whether it happened quickly like it did or slowly as it did when the Soviets left, it was going to happen. We went to Afghanistan with a very specific goal: Get Bin Laden. We stayed for the very vague goals of "nation building" and "the war on terror". We've had two decades to train and arm the Afghan military in order for them to keep the Taliban at bay. They chose not to fight when it came down to it. We were also locked into a treaty to leave plus we released 5000+ Taliban prisoners. The previous president released the prisoners, signed the treaty, and set the timeline. The current president extended it but his hands were tied lest we stay and get mired in another two decades. How long should we have stayed? Just one more year? Another ten years? Twenty? Fifty? Forever? Afghanistan has tribal connections that outsiders can never understand and cannot change. The British learned that in the 1890s. The Soviets learned it in the 1980s. We should have learned from history but we chose to ignore it. 

I don't mean that to sound harsh. My heart breaks for the people, especially the women, who are now under the Taliban. But the end was always going to be heartbreaking no matter how it was handled. 

Edited by Lady Florida.
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On 8/15/2021 at 9:12 PM, Ordinary Shoes said:

Yes, and remember that the USA created Al Quada (sp?) because they were the "good guys" when Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviets. 

Yep. Osama Bin Laden was a young leader in the mujahideen we supported against the Soviets.

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29 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

This was never going to end well. Whether it happened quickly like it did or slowly as it did when the Soviets left, it was going to happen. We went to Afghanistan with a very specific goal: Get Bin Laden. We stayed for the very vague goals of "nation building" and "the war on terror". We've had two decades to train and arm the Afghan military in order for them to keep the Taliban at bay. They chose not to fight when it came down to it. We were also locked into a treaty to leave plus we released 5000+ Taliban prisoners. The previous president released the prisoners, signed the treaty, and set the timeline. The current president extended it but his hands were tied lest we stay and get mired in another two decades. How long should we have stayed? Just one more year? Another ten years? Twenty? Fifty? Forever? Afghanistan has tribal connections that outsiders can never understand and cannot change. The British learned that in the 1890s. The Soviets learned it in the 1980s. We should have learned from history but we chose to ignore it. 

I don't mean that to sound harsh. My heart breaks for the people, especially the women, who are now under the Taliban. But the end was always going to be heartbreaking no matter how it was handled. 

You left out the part that it was a prisoner SWAP and that 1,000 Afghan fighters were released by the Taliban.

 

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On 8/15/2021 at 10:56 AM, Spy Car said:

The Afghan government lost their sponsor, felt abandoned, and the people knew what they faced if they opposed the Taliban.

What is happening is precisely what I expected to happen.

Bill

This. Gut wrenching, but not unexpected.

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On 8/15/2021 at 11:22 PM, ktgrok said:

Which also didn't make a ton of sense, as our invading was always likely to cause more hatred and attacks. 

Agreed. US foreign policy has been in a state of "short term react, long term regret" since the Korean Conflict.

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We could stay forever and not fix the plight of women in Afghanistan. What might make a difference is for Sunni leaders to speak up for women's rights. For example, Al Azhar University (probably the most prestigious Islamic university associated with an important mosque) has women students. Saudi Arabian women attend university and work (and can even drive now 😒). If these extremely conservative Sunni institutions have come to terms with modernity, it is possible that the Taliban will too. That will happen faster if their coreligionists exert their moral suasion. It will happen slower if the US and EU pressure them and trigger their defiance.

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This was never winnable, and it was even less winnable when we also invaded Iraq.  I kinda can see why we went after Osama Bin Laden, but staying after that seemed increasingly counter productive.  And a very difficult situation occurred when the former president abruptly withdrew so many soldiers that it made it basically impossible to hold the country even long enough to get our people and allies out.  Reliance on contractors and lack of coherent strategy made it even less effective over the years.  

But at this point, after what we've done to our allies in both Syria and now Afghanistan, why does the US even have allies anymore?  Why would ANYONE on the ground trust us?  Why would anyone help us?  We are completely and totally untrustworthy.

That seems incredibly counter-productive from the standpoint of our own national self interest.

I am horrified for what is happening to the people in Afghanistan, and I am worried about how people who fought/ spent time there are doing.  Moral injury was already a concern, but now to have it be pointless as well is just.....really, really sucky.

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35 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

So, I think I understand better why the takeover was so fast. 

But now I have a new question - knowing how inevitable ( or at least, likely) it was, why did we not urgently get people out before the US pulled the pin?

Same as Amira said yesterday. Nobody wants them.
 

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