The Donald’s Pathetic Afghan Flip-Flop

We are speaking of his horrid lip-synching effort last night to keep time with the voice of his ventriloquist generals. Not only was the substance of their speech threadbare, risible, foolish and quasi-criminal; they basically turned the Donald into a pathetic joke in the process of flip-flopping him on worldwide TV.

To justify the 180 degree shift on an anti-Afghan policy position that he had tweeted about vociferously for six years running (see below), the Donald’s teleprompter scripters offered an explanation that was beyond lame:

"My original instinct was to pull out – and, historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office. In other words, when you’re President of the United States."’

Actually, we are relived to hear Trump finally recognizes that he actually is President and wish he would start doing something presidential. For instance, he could declassify all the NSA intercepts about purported Russian meddling in the US election, and prove that it’s all a hoax generated by Obama’s despicable national security advisor, John Brennan, and a handful of deep state operatives who properly feared the Donald’s solid anti-interventionist instincts.

So doing, Trump could crush the anti-Russian hysteria and the Deep State/Dem/mainstream media campaign to hound him from office and get on with the desperately important business of effectuating a rapprochement with Russia. World peace depends on it; the failing American Empire can’t be dismantled without it; and the nation’s fast growing fiscal calamity can’t be stemmed unless there is a drastic, multi-hundred billion reduction in defense spending.

But it’s not to be. The Donald has been hoodwinked by three discredited, failed generals – Kelly, McMasters, and Mattis – who have been dissembling, spinning and lying to civilian officials about Afghanistan for most of the past 17 years.

Any generals worth their salt would have told their civilian superiors years ago that Afghanistan is mission impossible and irrelevant to the security of the American homeland. That’s because there never was more than a few hundred al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and when bin-Laden hightailed to his hideaway in Pakistan in 2003 that should have been the end of Washington’s pointless but incredibly destructive invasion and occupation.

By contrast, there was never any US national security interest whatsoever in cleansing the godforsaken lands of the Hindu Kush of the 12th century Taliban fanatics who took over this hapless country during the 1990s. And largely with weapons that had been supplied by the CIA during the 1980s in a pointless mission to drive the Soviets out.

In short, the generals have spent 17 years sacrificing 2,400 dead US soldiers, 20,000 wounded and upwards of $1 trillion of taxpayer money to do what? Kill tens of thousands of Taliban who never threatened us and who could not remotely harm any American in farms, towns and cities across the land from sea to shining sea – even as Washington’s war machine has reduced the Afghans’ own country to rubble and economic desolation and caused upwards of 60,000 civilian deaths and casualties.

Needless to say, rather than listening to his generals, the Donald would have been well advised to heed the advise of the one Senator who actually understands and can articulate the truth about Washington’s Afghan disaster. Said Rand Paul, it’s time to come home now:

The mission in Afghanistan has lost its purpose, and I think it is a terrible idea to send any more troops into that war. It’s time to come home now.

Our war in Afghanistan began in a proper fashion. We were attacked on 9/11. The Taliban, who then controlled Afghanistan, were harboring al Qaeda, and after being warned, and after an authorization from Congress, our military executed a plan to strike back. Had I been in Congress then, I would have voted to authorize this military action.

But as is typical, there was significant mission creep in Afghanistan. We went from striking back against those who attacked us, to regime change, to nation-building, to policing their country for them. And we do it all now with an authorization that is flimsy at best, with the reason blurred, and the costs now known. We do it with an authorization that was debated and passed before some of our newest military personnel were out of diapers. This isn’t fair to them, to the American people, or to a rational foreign policy.

In light of these obvious truths, what words of justification for a renewed escalation of the US occupation did the generals put into the Donald’s teleprompter?

In a word, that Afghanistan might otherwise remain a "sanctuary" for al-Qaeda and other terrorist marginalia who might be thinking of buying an airline ticket to Mexico in order to infiltrate America before the Donald gets his wall done!

But for crying out loud – don’t these fools recognize that it is their bombs, missiles, drones and door-busting troops which have created most of the world’s terrorists? And that until Washington stops raining death from the sea, sky and land, the supply of fanatical young men in black turbans toting lethal weapons or wearing suicide vests will not diminish.

And these jihadists most certainly will find "sanctuaries" in some godforsaken hellhole somewhere on the planet. Indeed, a Martian wandering unto the scene would surely think that Washington has actually been in the "sanctuary" making business – with its destruction of previously stable states in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Somalia, among others.

And that’s to say nothing of the endless pockets of lawlessness in Saharian and north Africa, Pakistan, Chechnya, Dagestan, other Muslim "stans" of the former Soviet Union, any number of potential refuges in South Asia and even the Muslim dominated suburbs of France, Belgium, England, Germany and more.

In other words, the logic of occupying Afghanistan to deny "sanctuaries" to terrorists – even if it could be accomplished, which it can’t – implies that Washington should occupy most of the planet. After all, in the years since 9/11 virtually none of the hundreds of minor and major terrorist incidents that have occurred (mostly) in Europe and North America were organized and executed from Afghanistan.

For that matter, there were no Afghans at all involved in 9/11. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia and the others were from the United Arab Emirates (2),Egypt and Lebanon. Only three of the 19 ever even visited Afghanistan and all of them undertook their flight training and preparation for the attack in Europe and America. The fact is, with 21st century technology the evildoer who planned and directed the 9/11 abomination, Osama bin-Laden, could have done so from nearly any hideout anywhere on the planet.

Furthermore, the overwhelming share of post-9/11 attacks have been the work of homegrown terrorists and miscreants who got their inspiration from the Internet and their weapons from do-it-yourself web-sites and manuals. Even the ones who got foreign "training" for the most part did so in Syria and Libya – two terrorist "sanctuaries" that absolutely would not exist if Washington and its Gulf state allies had not attacked their governments.

Indeed, ending the war on the Assad government and working with Russia and its allies to clear the remnants of ISIS from Syria would do far more to enhance the safety and security of the American people than killing half the Taliban army. Yet here is what the Donald’s ventriloquists mumbled as he lip-synched along with the TelePrompTer:

Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country was ruled by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11th.

And, as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq. As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorist enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for, and bled to liberate, and won, were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS. The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.

That is just plain risible hogwash. Osama bin-Laden was trained and financed by the CIA in Afghanistan during the 1980s, returned to Saudi Arabia as a western anti-communist hero in the early 1990s and only became an anti-American terrorist after George HW Bush’s foolish intervention in an oil-drilling dispute between Saddam Hussein and the Emir of Kuwait in 1991, which resulted in 500,000 pairs of "crusader" boots on the purportedly sacred Islamic lands of Arabia.

Even then, bin-Laden operated for the next five years out of Sudan and when forced out by the US in 1996 could have decamped to any number of backwater refuges, but went to Afghanistan because of the Washington funded and enabled networks he had set up there. That is to say, Afghanistan’s role in the horror of 9/11 was happenstance; it was not some kind of unique, irreplaceable fount of primary evil. And once bin-Laden decamped for Abbottabad (Pakistan) in 2003, even that tangential linkage evaporated.

In essence, the Washington military machine has been pounding Afghanistan back to the stone age for 17 years for no logical or rational reason except revenge and the fact that unless it is outright defeated, as in Vietnam, the American military machine rarely leaves that lands its occupies (e.g. Japan, South Korea, Germany etc.)

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s 35 million citizen have been reduced to a life of misery, destitution, violence and constant warfare. In fact, its living standard has been cut to just $560 of GDP per capita – among the lowest figures anywhere on the planet. Even then, what passes for "GDP" consists largely of the drug trade and the immense multi-billions of corruption and graft on which the Afghan state is based.

The Afghan operated logistical networks which bring military material and munitions, fuel and provisions to the US occupational forces, for example, costs several billions per year and gives inflation an altogether new definition. Military gasoline delivered to the giant Bagram military base costs upwards of $250 per gallon!

The sheer insanity of the occupation policy that the Donald has now embraced is perhaps best illustrated by this juxtaposition. During 2017 DOD will spend nearly $45 billion on a war to kill and destroy alleged enemies in a country that has only $19.5 billion of GDP. Even then, the Taliban controls upwards of 40% of the country, including much of the Pashtun/Sunni heartland.

Yet even more preposterous than the demonization of Afghanistan that lies at the heart of Washington’s policy is the generals’ ludicrous claim that withdrawing would foster the rise of another ISIS, as purportedly happened in Iraq.

No it didn’t!

The medieval butchers now being driven from Raqqua and other dusty backwaters of the Upper Euphrates were able to temporarily establish their demented caliphate solely and exclusively because they were heavily armed by Washington and its allies. That includes the $25 billion weapons cache Washington left behind in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq on the naïve theory that there was such a thing as an "Iraqi Army" when there was actually just Shiite militias bent on revenge.

It also includes the massive additional weaponry which came when Khadafy’s arsenals were emptied and transmitted up the CIA "ratline" through Turkey to the Syrian rebels; and the billions more that was supplied by the CIA and Saudis to the so-called "moderate rebels" being trained in Jordan, who ended up selling their weapons or defecting to the jihadists.

In short, the "sanctuary" rationale for staying the course in Afghanistan makes no sense whatsoever. And the apparent plan to raise the US force level from 8,500 at present to 13,000 is even more farcical.

Below is the history of Washington’s build-ups and drawdowns in Afghanistan over the last 17 years. At the peak, there were 200,000 uniforms and contractors in the country – or one occupier for each 170 man, woman and child in the land.

Needless to say, that massive build-up accomplished nothing but death and destruction on both sides. Indeed, the evidence that the Afghans hate outside occupiers – as they have since Alexander the Great – far more than their internal Taliban tormenters is now as plain as day.

In that context, the generals’ plan to boost the American presence back to about 30,000 military and contractors and to vastly step up the level of violence through relaxed rules of engagement that will inexorably result in widespread civilian casualties can only be described in one way: it borders on the criminal.

The Donald once had a voice of skepticism and dissent from the depredations of the War Party. No more. He has already been defenestrated by the Deep State and its legions of Imperial City allies, tools and shills.

But it’s worth remembering what the Donald once thought of the matter, and the alacrity with which these sensible views were snuffed out by the rulers of the Imperial City.

Last night’s speech also clarifies why the left-behind citizens of Flyover America feel increasingly dispossessed, ignored and belittled. They thought they were voting for America First, but in his first speech to the nation the Donald capitulated to the Deep State and read a speech that sounded much like it was being read to cameras by a hostage – or at least by self-deputized tools of the Warfare State like George Bush, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Marco Rubio.

As we said: PITIFUL!

  • Ron Paul is right when he says we are wasting lives and money in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    4:04 PM – Aug 17, 2011
  • Afghanistan is a total disaster. We don’t know what we are doing. They are, in addition to everything else, robbing us blind.
    2:17 PM – Mar 12, 2012
  • Exactly 5 years ago, Trump tweeted: "Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!"
  • Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.
    2:55 PM – Jan 11, 2013
  • We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.
    3:10 PM – Mar 1, 2013
  • Our gov’t is so pathetic that some of the billions being wasted in Afghanistan are ending up with terrorists
    2:31 PM – Apr 17, 2013
  • Do not allow our very stupid leaders to sign a deal that keeps us in Afghanistan through 2024-with all costs by U.S.A. MAKE AMERICA GREAT!
    9:12 AM – Nov 21, 2013
  • Now Obama is keeping our soldiers in Afghanistan for at least another year. He is losing two wars simultaneously.
    5:20 PM – Dec 1, 2014
  • We have wasted an enormous amount of blood and treasure in Afghanistan. Their government has zero appreciation. Let’s get out!
    3:06 PM – 21 Nov 2013

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David Stockman was a two-term Congressman from Michigan. He was also the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street. He’s the author of three books, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and TRUMPED! A Nation on the Brink of Ruin… And How to Bring It Back. He also is founder of David Stockman’s Contra Corner and David Stockman’s Bubble Finance Trader.

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