Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Hot Air Force readies for one last Afghan strike

Dispatches From the War Fronts:

The Hot Air Force Takes Wing Again
Destination: Kandahar, Herat, Kabul

by War Correspondent Douglas MacArthur with
Meta-Content Generator A.J. Liebling in Washington

Twenty years of futile war in Afghanistan have reached their its inevitable climax, thanks to the incompetence, corruption, and illegitimacy of the Afghan Government we have propped up since 2002.  This has given rise to, among other things, questions:

But to its credit The New York Times provides some answers:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The surrenders seem to be happening as fast as the Taliban can travel.

In the past several days, the Afghan security forces have collapsed in more than 15 cities under the pressure of a Taliban advance that began in May. On Friday, officials confirmed that those included two of the country’s most important provincial capitals: Kandahar and Herat. ...

This implosion comes despite the United States having poured more than $83 billion in weapons, equipment and training into the country’s security forces over two decades.

Building the Afghan security apparatus .... produced an army modeled in the image of the United States’ military, an Afghan institution that was supposed to outlast the American war.

But it will likely be gone before the United States is. ....

It started out great!

The United States’ 20-year endeavor to rebuild Afghanistan’s military into a robust and independent fighting force has failed, and that failure is now playing out in real time as the country slips into Taliban control....

But even before that, the systemic weaknesses of the Afghan security forces — which on paper numbered somewhere around 300,000 people, but in recent days have totaled around just one-sixth of that, according to U.S. officials — were apparent. ...

Soldiers and policemen have expressed ever-deeper resentment of the Afghan leadership. Officials often turned a blind eye to what was happening, knowing full well that the Afghan forces’ real manpower count was far lower than what was on the books, skewed by corruption and secrecy that they quietly accepted.

And when the Taliban started building momentum after the United States’ announcement of withdrawal, it only increased the belief that fighting in the security forces — fighting for President Ashraf Ghani’s government — wasn’t worth dying for. In interview after interview, soldiers and police officers described moments of despair and feelings of abandonment.

It sounds as if the whole Afghan War was the military version of “Weekend at Bernie's:” there was no extant Afghan state or government and as soon as we stopped propping it up, it fell down dead.  We saw this movie in 1975 and thought we had learned our lesson.

But wait – what's that sound we hear in the distance?  Is it the Cavalry?  Even better, it's the 101.1st Hot Air Force, ready to fight again from their air-conditioned Washington offices or, with luck and enough Koch Brothers dark money, from their cedar decks overlooking Vineyard Sound or at least Chesapeake Bay.

Yes, it's the same stalwart band of brothers (and a few sisters) who sent your sons and daughters into harm's way in Afghanistan and Iraq and kept them there long after it was clear to even the meanest intelligence, by which we mean President Former Loser Grifter, that their lives were being squandered for nothing.

They're back!  Here's Hot Air Force Col. Fred Kagan landing on the New York Times Op-Ed Page urging more decades of carnage:

Sending additional troops into Afghanistan could have allowed the United States to carry out the withdrawal safely without severely disrupting military support. When the president ordered the pullout, there were some 3,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. One thousand or 2,000 additional troops deployed for less than a year could have made a significant difference. They would have allowed Gen. Austin S. Miller, .. to continue supporting the Afghan security forces while simultaneously prepping the withdrawal.

Is HAF Generalissimo Freddie Hiatt AWOL?

And one year would turn into two, and then four, and then eight, just as President Biden learned when the military pulled the same argument on his boss back in '09. Afghanistan was the Roach Motel of war: American troops could check in, but they could never check out, because there never was a real Afghan nation to build or military to support. 

By the way, who is Col. Fred Kagan and how did he earn his Hot AF wings? 

Frederick W. Kagan is a senior fellow and director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute. He was part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s civilian advisory team in Afghanistan in 2009 and advised three commanders of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan.

And the great job he did in 2009 qualified him to launch the HAF over the same targets eleven years later. 

But wait there's more.  He was one of the principal architects of George W. Bush's 2007 surge of troops into Iraq which ensured that the whole mess would be dumped into Obama's lap, but led to the creation of a strong, stable, pro-Western anti-Iran democracy in Iraq, at least in Col. Kagan's fevered dreams.

Speaking of veteran Hot Air Force commanders, what's up with Generalissimos Freddie Hiatt '76 and Billy Kristol, who relentlessly promoted the pointless war in Iraq that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions more suffering the wounds and dislocation of war, and the creation of the corrupt feeble Iranian client state that is modern Iraq?

Generalissimo Freddie, still entrenched in his Fortress of Bloviation at The Washington Post is AWOL, having delegated the Afghan clean up to his columnist Colbert King:

But as with Vietnam, a weak and unstable Afghan government can only make tragedy, disaster and American losses worse.

Say it ain't so, Freddie. 

Do you mean that the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center doesn't justify eternal war in the Middle East and Central Asia? If so, could you think of any other time you might have shared this conclusion with a grateful nation?

And what about the HAF's brains trust, Gen. Billy Kristol?  Don't tell me after decades of pushing endless war and torture in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and God knows where else, he's sitting at the HAF Officers' Club bar sucking down g-and-t's.

There's good news tonight, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea.  Gen'l Billy is still fighting from his bunker in Chevy Chase:

Now he's interested in avoiding a humanitarian disaster?  Do tell, Billy:

Would a bold intervention now commit us to sustain a military presence in Afghanistan indefinitely? Not necessarily, but there is a strong case for an enduring military presence there, in order to combat terrorists and help defend our nation, as well as to honor our alliance with the people of Afghanistan.

And where's the brains of the HAF, Billy Kristol?

Just because something has lasted for 20 years without apparent progress doesn't mean it's going to last forever. 

Don't take it from us. In the words of Republican stoic philosopher Marjorie Taylor “I always make those noises when I'm working out” Greene: “We all have to die sometime.” This has been proven hundreds of thousands of times in the last 20 years by Iraqis and Afghanis, so it's got to be true.

We're not here to trivialize the dangers to the thousands of Afghans who helped us, only to have their visa applications trapped in endless red tape, and to Afghan women.  But we can't build a just, fair, and equal Afghan society unless that's something that Afghans desire.  Sadly, the evidence compels the conclusion that they don't, or at least not enough to fight for it.  

And we don't really need to hear heart-rending humanitarian appeals from the Hot Air Force, who brought us waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and hundreds of thousands of lives needlessly lost or ruined.

Even less compelling is their second argument, recycled from Vietnam-era talking points:

Withdrawal from Afghanistan is abandoning our allies in the middle of the fight. What would such abandonment tell the world about American character and reliability in future moments when we look to make alliances in our strategic interests? 

It would tell them what they know already: the United States is not prepared to lavish blood and treasure forever on a country that lacks the will to fight for itself. That was true in Vietnam, and it's true today in Afghanistan. 

We'll ask another question: what will it say about the United States if the Hot Air Force manages to drag out the inevitable in Afghanistan for years or decades?  

It will tell the world that we're a nation of schmucks who can no longer distinguish truth from lies, or important national interests from empty talking points.  

Of course, the 2016 election told the world that already.

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