Afghanistan-- Will It Be As Bad As It Would Be Here If The Evangelicals Ever Take Over?
After the British were defeated by the patriots in 1783, the third of colonists-- according to John Adams-- who favored the British (the "loyalists"), were disgruntled. Some were so disgruntled that, at least 80,000 of them-- many wealthy-- packed up and left, fleeing to Britain, Canada and British colonies in the Caribbean. Here they were traitors especially those who had actively collaborated with the British, spying on and killing patriots and joining British military units. Think about the local European fascists in France, Norway, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Holland, etc who collaborated with the Nazis against their own countries during World War II. A few lucky ones managed to flee to the Western Hemisphere. The U.S., Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil were especially happy to welcome fascists and Nazis. Others were punished-- anything from firing squads to social castigation. This isn't something I would expect conservative Democrats Seth Moulton or Jake Auchincloss to grasp.
You would be extraordinarily naive if you think there isn't going to be retribution from the Taliban in Afghanistan now against collaborators. Fox and the GOP will blow it up as a way to smear Biden but if there was no retribution, it would be the first time in history people who collaborated with an occupying power got off scot free. Afs know it, of course, which is way so many are absolutely panic-stricken at what is still the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Listen to how Karzai analyzed the failed U.S. occupation in the video up top. Karzai was the incredibly corrupt puppet president of Afghanistan from 2001 until 2014 when Ashraf Ghani got his turn. Unlike Ghani, and lots of other collaborators, Karzai and his family have not fled from Kabul. Still, I don't expect the Kabul airport to remain the Hamid Karzai International Airport for too much longer. And I hope for Karzai's sake he has all his ducks in order.
Wall Street Journal reporters Saeed Shah, Yaroslav Trofimov, Gordon Lubold wrote today about the violence erupting at Kabul Airport as Afghans try to flee. These people are desperate, some are complaining that Biden is giving prioritization to American citizens over themselves. I wonder what planet they're from. "In separate incidents at the airport on Monday," reported The Journal, "U.S. troops shot and killed two armed men at the airport and at least three Afghans clinging to the side of an Air Force jet were run over and killed, according to a U.S. official... Video images from the Kabul airport on Monday showed people holding on to a military plane moving along the tarmac and appeared to show two objects fall off when the aircraft was hundreds of feet in the air. 'I saw one person grabbing the plane when it moved and then later he fell down,' said a man at the airport."
Thousands of desperate Afghans-- many of whom used to work for American forces-- flocked to the airport as the victorious Taliban combed Kabul for those who had collaborated with the West. Rumors circulated that flights were taking passengers even without passports and tickets.
According to people trapped in the airport, American troops repeatedly shot in the air to disperse the crowds during the night. Hundreds of Afghan civilians were seen close to the runway and around parked planes Monday, with some hanging from boarding ramps as they scrambled to get into aircraft, hindering evacuation efforts.
The U.S. military used two military helicopters flying low overhead to try to disperse the crowds, using smoke grenades and firing shots into the air, passengers said. There were roughly 6,000 American troops in the Kabul airport or headed there, U.S. military officials said Sunday. More remained on standby in Kuwait.
U.S. officials have said the American troops in the airport reserved the right of self-defense, and if Taliban or other individuals interfered with operations at the airport, the U.S. forces would use lethal force if necessary.
Inside the terminal, shops were looted, passengers said, adding to the sense of panic.
Some Taliban fighters entered the airport and frequently shot in the air, terrifying passengers, travelers said.
The Taliban said again Monday that they had issued orders to fighters-- whom they call mujahedeen, or holy warriors-- that they couldn’t enter homes without owners’ permission.
“Life, property and honor of none shall be harmed but must be protected by the mujahedeen,” said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban, on Twitter.
Separately, another Taliban spokesman, Mohammad Naeem, told the Al Jazeera channel that the form of the new government in Afghanistan would be made clear soon. He also said that the group wants peaceful relations with other countries.
In Kabul, and in some other places, nongovernmental organizations reported that their offices were visited by Taliban fighters, who told them to register their activities with the group.
...British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Monday that 600 U.K. paratroopers and logistical staff had arrived in Kabul to help evacuate people.
About 300 U.K. passport holders have been evacuated. He told the British Broadcasting Corp. that a further 700 people would be evacuated in the next 24 to 36 hours, including Afghan nationals, with another 800 in a similar time period after that. He said the U.K. had the capacity to take out more than 1,000 people a day but that “processing speed” was limiting the numbers flying out.
Looking through the British papers, you see some attempts to blame the British government for the collapse in Afghanistan, although not as nakedly partisan and savagely as Republicans are attacking Biden. The Guardian's Peter Beaumont asked a more intelligent question than the kind of junk you're seeing in the U.S.media coverage: Who are the Taliban and how will they govern Afghanistan this time? He asserts that "after their lightning conquest, there is little to indicate the group will moderate their strict Islamic beliefs." Last time they took over, though, they didn't claim that they would, for example, uphold the rights of girls to be educated. This time they have been saying that.
Beaumont wrote that women were pushed from public life, mostly barred them from working or studying and confined them to their homes unless accompanied by a male guardian." I was in Afghanistan for extended periods of time in 1969 and 1971 and that's the way it was then too. The Afs are pretty primitive. When I was there I kept thinking how I was back in Biblical times. I lived with a family in a tiny hamlet in the Hindu Kush for a winter-- after breaking my ankle when I fell off my horse. My close pal got married while I was living with them. I never saw his wife (or mother or sisters-- or any other women); I went to the wedding. They didn't. When the Russians took over the country, things lightened up for women. Then what we in the U.S. called the "freedom fighters"-- including bin Laden-- pushed them out with U.S. help, women went back to being treated the Taliban believes women should be treated... third class citizens. At that wedding I went to, after the men ate off the giant platters of food, dogs and slaves (technically "servants") ate and what was left was brought in to the women at the back of the house who, had, prepared the feast all day and certainly knew what they were missing out on. I recall wondering more than once why don't the women kill the men in their sleep?
Beaumont wrote that "public executions and floggings were common, western films and books were banned and cultural artefacts seen as blasphemous under Islam were destroyed." Music was banned entirely. Imagine if evangelicals took over America. Would it be much different?
Some have suggested that the latest iteration of the Taliban-- whose name means “the students”-- has the potential to be more moderate than during the period from 1996-2001, but that has prompted scepticism among others.
In the immediate aftermath of their lightning conquest of Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul, this summer, there have been worrying indications that little may have changed as images showing women have been painted out, guards reportedly posted outside the homes of prominent women, including politicians, and opponents have reportedly been murdered.
As Ahmed Rashid noted in his authoritative 2000 history, Taliban, published before the fall of the first Taliban regime, a fundamental problem of the group then was that it was “essentially caught between a tribal society which they tried to ignore and the need for a state structure which they refuse[d] to establish.”
When the Taliban took power, as the former Afghan deputy minister of defence Tamim Asey has pointed out, they “had no funds and no plan or programme for governance beyond a vague and generalised idea of a government based on the sharia system.”
Have they changed? That is the key question. As Thomas Ruttig suggested in a paper for the Combating Terrorism Center’s Sentinel in March: “During their resurgence [post-2003], and particularly their expansion into non-Pashtun areas, the Taliban increasingly proved that they were a learning organisation.
“Awareness grew within their movement that their own (repressive) policies had resulted in global isolation as well as opposition from many Afghans, including those who had initially welcomed the Taliban when they almost ended the interfactional wars of the 1990s.”
That has been evident in some pragmatism and a greater openness in terms of foreign policy.
Ruttig makes the point, however, that the Taliban-- “unlike other armed insurgent groups elsewhere”-- have never developed a political wing distinct from their military arm, with the closest to a political structure being a negotiations office in Doha.
The job of governing, not least the problem-solving involved, is once again likely to be constrained by what they regard as religiously appropriate within their very narrow strictures.
The Taliban have also dodged the issue recently of what form of government they envisage, although remarks by some officials on Sunday have indicated that they plan to return to the previous Islamic emirate model. Suggestions in recent interventions that the Taliban understand that they may have to share power more openly with other interests in Afghanistan may no longer hold given the scale of their recent victory.
...The new iteration of the Taliban has paid lip service-- albeit in often very contradictory statements-- to what it says is a less harsh approach to women than in the 1990s, though much of it seems designed for external consumption during the negotiations in Qatar.
The deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar’s public statement that the kind of women’s rights promoted under the US-led intervention only led to immorality and anti-Islamic values is probably more indicative of where the Taliban stand on the issue.
Last month Señor Trumpanzee continued his campaign to take credit for withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan: "I started the process," he boasted at one of his hate rallies. "All the troops are coming home. Biden couldn’t stop the process." As for the RNC-- there's a little scrubbin' goin' on, apparently.
Ted Lieu made a lot of sense today when he explained to his constituents what is happening there in terms of our own country:
President Biden made the difficult but correct decision to complete the troop withdrawal process in Afghanistan that was initiated by the former President. If the United States could not win in Afghanistan after 20 years of war, we would not win if we stayed and fought for another 20 years.
Making the right decision for the U.S.’s national interest does not ease the pain of watching Afghanistan-- a country in which we have invested so much over the last two decades-- deteriorate in a matter of days. My heart aches for the thousands of Afghans fleeing for their safety. The U.S. must do everything in its power to evacuate those who helped us, as well as those whose lives are now threatened under Taliban control. My office is working to support these efforts in every way we can, including by working with the administration over the last several weeks on establishing a P-2 program for Afghans who supported U.S. media.
We honor the bravery and sacrifice of our military and civilian members who served in Afghanistan. Events in Afghanistan over the last few weeks are the result of two decades of policy failures across prior administrations. They raise serious questions about why the State Department and Pentagon in prior administrations gave inaccurate assessments about Afghanistan to Congress and the American people. We should also investigate why the Afghan military and police forces collapsed within a matter of days despite over $80 billion of our taxpayer funds spent by both Democratic and Republican administrations to build up the Afghan military and police forces.
I wonder how true the Russian embassy reports are that Ashraf Ghani fled to the airport yesterday with so much money-- U.S. tax dollars-- that it wouldn't all fit into the helicopter and some of the money that was meant for aid to military and his impoverished countrymen was left sitting on the tarmac. That might help explain it. Speaking of Russians... ever hear of buzkashi? It's like polo but with a dead goat and it's the national sport. I recall the Taliban banned it last time they were in power but before that, I remember mujahideen fighters capturing Russian soldiers and using their bodies or heads instead of goats. It's a brutal, and very primitive country. Barbara Lee was so right back when Bush and Cheney were looking to be military heroes. Watch this: