489 Comments

Thank you HCR (and good morning all) for this sensible assessment, which is one of the few voices of reason in the morass of faux concern and melodramatic hand wringing going on, especially in the community of pols that have resisted with every fiber of their being the idea that the people who aided us in Iraq and Afghanistan should get automatic green cards and come the US if they so choose.

This is a convenient whip with which to beat Biden. When the disgusting and do-nothing Josh Hawley starts mouthing off I know that the Ghastly Ones have no intention of dealing honestly with any of this. And the chutzpah of Pompeo whining about Biden just makes me want to slap him silly. NONE of these f***ers give a s*** about the women of Afghanistan. But here's the thing: NEITHER DID THE AFGHANI GOVERNMENT. NEITHER DID THE LOCAL AFGHANI COUNCILS. The Afghanis had 20 years of us propping up one corrupt regime after another to get their own job done. If they had wanted to neutralize the Taliban, they would have done so. If they had wanted to actually structure a government and infrastructure that supported women and girls, that provided social services throughout the country, that employed people and educated them, they would have done so. But as always, the so-called "elites" who have a lot of experience with flattering western leaders and pocketing most of the treasure flowing into their countries profited from this and did nothing.

I am just a normal person who watches and listens and reads. I said to myself 19 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 3 years ago, last year, last month: As soon as we no longer are propping up the incompetent boobs in Kabul the Taliban will come back and take over and no one will stop them because no one WANTS TO STOP THEM except a few educated people and some women (not all women because, as we know, educating women was not really a priority for the Afghan government; they trotted out that old saw only when they had a female western politician in town). So here is my question: WHY THE FUCK DO ALL OF THESE SO-CALLED EXPERTS CLAIM THAT THEY WERE SHOCKED--SHOCKED I SAY--THAT IT HAPPENED SO FAST? I think that this is mendacity on a stick. They all knew. They had to have known. But as always, western pols delude themselves because it flatters their massive egos to do so.

I don't blame Biden: he is not responsible for this particular mess. But I do blame the entire western political establishment (including Biden in this) for the unforgivable pretense of competence they present when it comes to dealing with cultures that are clearly not. like. ours. And yes: I am disgusted. And angry. And I apologize to all of you for the caps but I live alone and my dog gets worried when I start screaming at the radio.

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Brava, Linda! And this may be going too far, but I'm saying it anyway. The question that keeps niggling in my brain is, how different are we, really, at heart, in this country right now, from the situation in Afghanistan? How far does the rethuglican party today diverge from the Taliban in their corruption, their wish to control the lives of women and girls, to turn a blind eye toward childhood poverty, to keep everyone in their little boxes that they built, their disdain for democracy, their thirst for power, wealth and authoritarian rule? They may not be willing to die for it but they appear perfectly willing to stake their political careers on lying, cheating and stealing. And those propping them up? Need I say more?

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The answer to "how are we different at heart?" We. Are. Not. Any male dominated religion has the fingerprints of domination of and control over women as part and parcel of its belief structure. The Republiqans today are NO DIFFERENT from the Taliban in what they want to have happen to women and children as they take an extreme turn towards legislating against women's rights. Not at all.

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Ally you hit the core of it. A male-dominated Bronze Age religious cult (yes a cult) is the basis of it all. For those with a theological bent do some digging on Abrahamic religions. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions)The core belief is "The Abrahamic religions believe in a judging, paternal, fully external god to which the individual and nature are subordinate." Notice that 'nature' is also subordinate - exploit the planet to please your god. Yep, we are in deep doo-doo here.

I could go on but my coffee cup is empty. Simply put, Movement Conservatives (HCR's brilliant term) are our Taliban. Do not expect anything different.

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I agree, Charlie. However, these same cult participants will do their best to tar and feather Biden, and negate every good thing that he has accomplished. I'm sick at the prospect.

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Yes, they will. They have nothing but negativity, scorn, and hatefulness. Makes one wonder if they missed something in their childhood like love and caring. Just a thought.

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Please don't go soft on us, Charlie.

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I think it's largely genetic.

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And, like the Taliban, Movement Conservatives are fueled by "dark money". Arizona is boiling with it.

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Yep. Down here in District 2 we are about to see a tone of it dumped.

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Yes, when imaginary sky fairies are the standard it's hard to have reason.

My only beef with Biden's withdrawal is that we have not leveled every piece of infrastructure that remains.

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Upvote for 'imaginary sky fairies'. Me? I'm kind of a magical mystery tour kinds guy.

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Proud Boys merely exchanged turbans for ball caps, but the effect of cutting blood flow to the brain is the same.

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We have a problem here in Oregon with the Proud Boys who act as "security" for various churches that are taking over the downtown park all the time and having "church" in front of Planned Parenthood. Not much help here from LE either. Just saw a notice about a Pride Event and they have hired some security because at this point they will surely have problems with the local fundamentalists....who are also responsible in many cases for helping spread the virus. Lots of hubris here too.

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Sorry to hear this neighbor. Washington state has it’s homegrown troublemakers, too, but not good trouble. Haven’t heard about parks being overrun, yet. :/

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Love it. I understand that when ordering a ball cap your IQ can be used as a rough substitute for sizing, pea brain, and all that you know. Morans!

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Oh, I laughed hard and long on that one. A much appreciated relief.

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And women got the blame from the get go with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden. I once had an argument (just after mafia don was elected) with a male who had supported Bernie and I was in the process of warning him of what was going to happen. He was unrepentant. He also tried to tell me that women getting the vote was a revolution and I just laughed. I believe that only the agricultural and industrial revolutions are the only ones that mean anything.

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Totes Ally.

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I don't think you see too many burqas in Alabama. Just sayin'...

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No, but I see no difference in Sharia Law and what the "Religious Right" wants for women.

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Beth, well said. But I will add, THEY may not be willing to die for it, but they didn’t have any problem encouraging the thugs on January 6th to fight or die for it. They don’t want to dirty their own hands.

Linda, thank you. I couldn’t have said it better.

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Yes, Cheri, the rightwing militias are the rethuglicans Taliban-like forces. And if we think for a moment that they don't have the same goals as the Taliban (theocracy, female repression, end of education, etc) we are sorely mistaken.

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Beth right on the money.

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RIGHT ON!

(Sorry, I just watched the movie "Judas and the Black Messiah" and it threw me back into the 1960s. :)

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apropos - we are just replaying the 60s

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Including images of desperate people running along side U.S. airplanes leaving without them.

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You wrote my thoughts!

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Bravo, Beth. Better words have not been spoken about the rethuglican party.

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I too screamed at my TV when that old turtle, Moscow Mitch came on with his lies and NOT ONE NEWSCASTER BUSTED HIM FOR IT. All news is INFOTAINMENT and right now it is about the competing headlines CRISIS IN AFGHANISTAN-CRISIS IN HAITI (The worldwide forest fires & heat waves are now on a back burner).

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And resting on that back burner with the climate crisis is Covid , each eying the the other nervously, both jealous of the notoriety the other gets.

The climate crisis has now brazenly announced itself, lapping at our shores, burning immense tracts of woodland to the ground, and causing multiple deaths in areas where “once in a thousand year” heat waves have struck.

The end of America in Afghanistan is a stroke of lightning which has stirred our excitement (and wonder that it ever came). But in a cosmic sense it is but a trifling matter.

To our great surprise we are learning that *we* have to bear the first strong lashes of climate change. The timetable has sped up enormously from what scientists have been saying for years. It is sad to see that the long term effect of denialism was to intimidate scientists into shaving at the margins of their studies, presenting results to the world for which they would be attacked less.

Now there’s no pretending. It’s here and the only thing to wonder about is where the next stroke of the whip will land.

And still we do not respond in any meaningful way. Still we do precious little to mitigate. Geopolitical forces are such that action must come from the bottom up. Governments must be forced into action. Countries must be forced to work with their allies, their rivals, and their enemies to forge agreements that will slow the mad progress of this unfolding apocalyptic nightmare.

An interesting first step would be to mandate or bribe every media outlet of substance on earth to inform its readers, viewers or listeners about what is really going on. The United Nations, some consortium of governments, private foundations could spend money to produce articles, news pieces, films, advertisements with regularity to keep the facts of climate change in front of us. Not just episodically. But with numbing, brutal regularity.pay media to use the material for x amount of minutes in one newscast a day. But commercial time and pound the message home. Do the same with major newspapers.

This should be the PSA to beat all PSAs. The highest skill would be used to make articles and visual representations of such a quality that people would be hard pressed to turn away.

And this massive project would be done in such a way as to make people realize their *imminent* peril. And to induce people to demand action. And the actions and mandates would have to have the strictest deadlines that experts would deem feasible. A world without Exxon Mobil and its ilk by 2040 for example. We can lose a war in twenty years. Could we not mandate something positive to happen in that timeframe.

It’s all a pipe dream of course. As I wrote the above, I recognized all the contradictions inherent in such whimsy. But I despair when I see inaction year after year after year. Or rather, action on a piddling scale.

We are slouching towards not Bethlehem but anarchy, getting closer year by year. We collectively devote a few of our brain cells for a hot minute to whatever latest disaster occurs.

When Miami is entirely underwater, it will be a Page 4 story, a Block B report on Maddow, an opportunity - somehow - for Fox to pin the blame on the Democrats. A few editorials will be written to mark the moment.

And the really important stories - the ones that make money for media - will jostle for Page 1 or Block A space.

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Eric, In my opinion, the country's withdrawal from Afghanistan was not a small matter, while paling against Climate Change and the pandemic. Plan B needs to safely relocate many thousands of Afghans who helped us for the past 20 years.

The use of social media as a means of delivering vital information about Climate Change, covid, vaccines and masks is vital. The benefits of public health need to be conveyed.

Continuous messages regarding damage that the Republicans are inflicting on health and welfare of the American people is I believe an obligation of the president and the Democratic Party.

I have joined your 'pipe dream' Eric with the wish that it will be brought to life.

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It’s clearly not a small matter. Historically it resonates with many other foreign interventions by what used to be an isolationist country.

And it is definitely no small matter for Afghanis, especially those who bet their lives on America. There may well be epic killing there when the US is out and the Taliban has taken over.

And it’s not a small matter in America either. Both sides of the political spectrum will fight tiresomely for the right to claim the political high ground, where there is, in fact, none to be had.

Further, it’s entirely unknown whether this will deflect from Biden’s idealistic and necessary agenda. There are only so many hours a day and so much energy to expend. If Afghanistan stays, for whatever the reason, on the front burner, then the slim chances of nurturing this legislation to fruition will become minuscule.

And there is the “butterfly effect” possibility. With the Americans out, Asian geopolitics becomes revved up again and perhaps one thing will lead to another until some incarnation of Gabriel Principle emerges and the world goes rocketing off in another direction of serious consequence.

And still the climate emergency advances. It remains the overwhelming central fact in the part of our lives that doesn’t involve our personal family worries. In that sense, it diminishes anything short of a nuclear holocaust.

On another note:

I answered your post yesterday, but aggravatingly, it didn’t get published. Sub stack contacted me to inform me of the matter.

I can’t remember what the bulk of it was. But at the beginning I had hastened to tell you that I wasn’t in the least joking about Alzheimer’s. I may have said it in a light way, but I pursue intellectual interests in great part simply to exercise my brain.

Cheers. :)

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Eric, Did you receive John Cleese yesterday? Thank you for mentioning your perspective about Alzheimer's. Did you delete your comment for the purpose of privacy?

Okay, now on to current events, public health, Climate Change, foreign affairs, a humanitarian crisis, domestic politics, the destiny of Afghan women and girls, morality and sanity. Next question. (Afghan: a person - Afghani: the basic monetary unit)

Your thoughts reflected many of mine.

I liked your smile.

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You are so insightful and I appreciate

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Your kind words smiled at me this morning.. Thank you, L Wilhelm.

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Kudos. I have also screamed and sworn at the TV especially the last couple days with all the handwringing. I listened to Lester Holt interview ex-general David P. (sorry can't spell his last name) and I was shouting at what a fool and liar the general was. Surely he knew how corrupt things were there as soon as our money started pouring in. I muted Mitchy because i wasn't about to listen to that old corrupt hypocrite. I really can't understand why we are so naive about cultures that are quite obviously different than ours. It must be hubris combined with blindness and stupidity. I just remembered being in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and meeting some Americans in Freetown who made the most inane comments I had ever heard up to that point (late 60s) Yes, egos.

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Part of the problem is that most Americans are so inadequately educated that they think “culture” refers only to the arts: they have no idea how or why any other society could think/believe/act differently than their own. They dont even understand that they/we all live in some subculture of our mass culture. They see rich snd poor, black and white, east, west, north, south, Christian or not, male, female….mo gradients, and mo appreciation for how geography shapes societies. I hope to God we get a competent department of education out of this mess.

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Actually, I think "culture" is usually associated by many Americans with buttermilk.. Yoghurt, believed to be foreign in origin, is not even considered...

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I scream at the TV on occasion, and I was screaming at Biden yesterday to call out the Republican opposition, who basically don't know what they're "fer" or "agin". They just wait for him to take an action or position and 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐍 they're against it, whatever it is. If Biden had elected to ignore the T***p agreement that was getting our troops out and if he had decided to keep troops on the ground there a bit longer, you know Republicans would 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐍 have been raking him over the coals for not getting our troops out like their Big Orange God-king was doing. Biden was going to be "damned if he did, and damned if he didn't". I think Biden just said, "Enough! Let's cut bait and leave." I think the American public will grudgingly go along with this in the long run. I think if we keep flying people out of there, as is happening non-stop right now, that can ameliorate some of the criticism. We owe it to those people who went along with us. Of course, predictably Little Tuckie Carlson over on The Propaganda Network is now predicting we'll be besieged by "a million" Afghan refugees in this country, but that that is what Biden wants since they'll all vote Democrat. Um...huh?? Ya know, some things are just beneath any contempt they're so completely, utterly stupid.

Michele, I was also yelling at General What's-His-Name in the Lester Holt interview too. I thought, "𝐇𝐎𝐖 on earth can anybody be that clueless??" He was saying that he had seen for himself how willing the Afghans were to fight and how well-armed they were, and he didn't believe the President at all for saying the Afghans wouldn't fight. I was like, "Dude, 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐲𝐚 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐮𝐩 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐧𝐞𝐰𝐬??? They were putting up zero resistance. So much for your well-armed and trained fighting force, a$$hole!!" As you said, American military hubris and not understanding all the ins & outs of another culture (and not really wanting to) when you plough into their country is once again on sad display. Yes, we have a hell of a lot to answer for with all the screw-ups of the past 20 years, but I think Biden was right to lay some of the blame for the recent Taliban blitzkrieg with the Afghans themselves. A part of me thinks that after over 40 years of constant war, they're just f***ing tired of it all. I can't blame them for that.

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I couldn't agree with you more. Biden was handed a bill of goods by our prior who-shall-remain-nameless president, so the stage for the lightening round of Taliban takeover was already set, probably long before. I personally am relieved that we have withdrawn from a war that could never be won, as the Russians well know. Now we need to use those dollars and that energy to hunker down and work with fierce concentration and intention on all of the ills we are facing in our own country. And, thanks for "mendacity on a stick." That will be absorbed into my own expressions now - fabulous.

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Honestly, this lady wrote a thoughtful essay about her feelings on the news. But I have been disgusted by most of the comments. Many of them are mis-informed or at least not informed by a modicum of critical thought. But your comment motivated me to subscribe because it is so callous. First of all, we have not withdrawn unless you are willing to write off 10 to 15 thousand US lives. Nearly 3 times the number lost in 911 and Pearl Harbor. By his own admission yesterday, Biden aggressively confirmed that he was getting out regardless of what Trump did. He didn't get a bill of goods, he got what he's wanted since his one moment of clarity in nearly 50 years of foreign policy experience. "If we think Bin Laden is in Pakistan, why are we occupying Afghanistan." He wasn't wrong. But when you ran for President as the adult in the room, you better be ready to deliver. And at this point, he has not demonstrated the capability to operate the doorknob to enter the room.

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Good morning, Linda, and thank you so much for this comment. All caps and profanity are perfectly acceptable when describing the debacle that we are witnessing in Afghanistan.

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When screaming is as intelligent as yours, I say, go for it. You have made excellent points. Your dog and I thank you.

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Usually it’s cats that are mentioned on here. Glad to see a dog weighing in with a canine perspective.

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Dear Linda, to exacerbate your angst, I noticed you live in Missouri and I sympathize because I live in Texas and both states are “led” by incompetent nincompoops…but we must persist. My goals are to register and get out the young voters while guiding them toward info that will help educate them to vote with knowledge and not to vote like I did…blindly like my parents. Yes, for Nixon twice.

I’m trying to overcome my sordid past voting commencement.

Keep up your eloquent, well-thought-out responses to the incredible thought provoking HCR, who gives us historical perspective, too.

Screams can be helpful, at least for humans.

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Right between the eyes, Linda. I thank you and my cats thank you and your dog!

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I'm so with you on this.. Well said, written, and screamed. Also, I too have a dog that hates when I scream at the TV:)

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Kudos, Linda and good morning all. I wrote a reply to you, but must have forgotten to post it. I was screaming and swearing at the TV last night when Lester Holt was interviewing General P (can't spell his last name) because the general was lying big time. Of course, he knew how corrupt things were there. Then there was Mitchy. I muted him because I can't stand the sound of that sanctimonious hypocrite. After other failures in the middle east, I can only attribute this to hubris coupled with stupidity.

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With you, Linda. Thank you. I’m firing up on all cylinders.

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friendly correction:

Afghan

in American English

(ˈæfˌgæn; ˈæfgən)

NOUN

1. a person born or living in Afghanistan

af·ghan·i

/afˈɡänē,ˈafˌɡanē/

NOUN

1. the basic monetary unit of Afghanistan, equal to 100 puls.

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The fact that the previous administration excluded the Afghan government from negotiations with the Taliban sent a clear, unambiguous message that the US had no faith in that government's ability to govern, and would not support that government once the US military departed the country. The handwriting was on the wall for anyone to see, especially every member of the Afghan army, half of whom were likely Taliban infiltrators anyway. (The other half enlisted to get the best pair of shoes they ever had.) The political "leadership" skipping out so quickly was another clear indication of what was ahead.

Blaming Biden for any of this is absurd. He's the first president to act responsibly in Afghanistan. He knew our exit would be a mess, he knew the kind of political heat he would face, and he acted anyway. That is leadership.

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Ralph Averill, I was very proud of how he took responsibility for the miscalculation on how fast Afghanistan would fall. I currently have no problem with how he is continuing to stay on course to leave.

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I thought he was a little short on that end. Wished he would have explained more about the miscalculation. That's the main reason for this debacle. Otherwise, withdrawal would have been more gradual and orderly. Biden thought they had another 3-6 months.

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We have ourselves a real Leader this time around Ralph. Thanks for your comment. I hope enough Americans realize how lucky we are, because real Leaders need real Citizens behind and beside them, no? And I believe we still have a few of them hanging around!

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I respect Biden and support him but will not be a 'yes' woman for whatever he does. Wow, am I hearing a call for a cult of Biden?

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I wondered if I was a cult member myself as I supported his decision immediately, despite the hideous events that unfolded. So I thoughtfully considered all the criticism I was hearing - lots of it out there - and kept having reasonable responses of my own to most of them. Bottom line, it's been a hot mess all along and it's now going out in a huge destructive fire. It's like a very ugly divorce, and that's how humans often end things, despite all better intentions. I accept it for what it is and hope it clears quickly so we can move on to more pressing threats: global warming, covid, voting rights here at home, etc.

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Said by an artist in the best sense. Thank you, Margaret.

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Stay calm, Fern. There are SO many issues this man must still face as he weaves his way through the mess left for him. That doesn't mean there is a "cult of Biden"...it means we are looking at leadership and respecting it.

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I am not so sanguine about Biden’s chances. He has been clearly the right man at the right moment to this point in his Presidency.

Now he has executed a plan that seemingly was uninformed by American intelligence agencies. They were either caught flat-footed or Biden threw the dice in spite of being properly informed. Who can know for sure?

The right thing has been done in the wrong way regardless. Now the situation will be rescued, or not.

Regardless, it is at the least a detour into a serious foreign relations event. This will surely slow down the tricky domestic scene and has the potential to end up derailing further good (and vitally important) legislation.

The clown cars will rumble on. I hope that they do not do so unopposed by a distracted administration.

I’m not entirely optimistic.

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Reasoned to a T.

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Alexander, Is raising a question about a seeming demand that Biden's planning for withdrawal from Afghanistan not be faulted seem over excited? Thank you, in any case. I would not like to see Biden's supporters frozen with rigidity.

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Nah, don't think that is going to happen. There are some things he also needs to get behind that he is ignoring like the Voting Rights Act. Praise for the good things, but also raise questions and concerns for other issues.

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Critical thinking remains a priority......hopefully it can replace some criticism.

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I don't think there is any danger of a "cult of Biden" here or anywhere else. Those who tend to support him will have something that the those from Cult45 do not; the ability for rational thought, application of reasoning, and the ability to consider information from a variety of sources and make their best decisions in that manner.

Our withdrawal from this mire of 20 years war is not easily undertaken, but it must be done. To have gone after Bin Laden as an act of retribution for the events of September 11 was understandable yet juvenile. That nominal justification for entering into the GWOT that expanded to what the Bush II administration did ended when Bin Laden was taken out. That said, there is no easy way out of this conflict; to impose our belief structure over that region of the world is sheer hubris, something that our government has a surfeit of.

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Thank you, Ally. I did not agree with the war in Afghanistan and its occupation. It may be difficult for some accept any fault in Biden given the threat to democracy by much of the Republican party. Strong support of Biden without rigidity of thought is the hope of many.

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I don’t think it will ever be a cult of Biden. This is what Republicans are trying to say about those of us that didn’t abandon him like they do with everyone who says something they don’t agree with. When he does things we disagree with we say so. I was extremely outspoken when everything fully opened and mask mandates went away immediately. Massive mistake and we’re paying for it now with our children’s lives.

But on Afghanistan I did not rush to judgement because there’s so much we don’t know. Heather has done a great job explaining the history. I appreciate that’s she gives us facts without judgement. I look forward to her insights and that I can use her references to read more on my own if I want to.

I have been using her articles to tweet to the GOP out there laying on the blame on Biden. They are making a massive effort to scrub any sign of support and even the fact that Trump made this deal from the internet. When will they learn that web pages, social media, TV and even print media live on forever.

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I'm in. :-)

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You're in what, Mike, the cult of Biden?

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You bet! :-)

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"The fact that the previous administration excluded the Afghan government from negotiations with the Taliban sent a clear, unambiguous message that the US had no faith in that government's ability to govern"

Exactly.

Nor did any of the Afghani people have any faith in that government, arguably one of the most corrupt on earth.

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Thank you for nailing it. The heartbreaking situation is so painful to watch, the site of people clinging to the landing gear of an airplane as it flys off, the horror on the faces of thousands of people... and you are so right, where is the leadership in the Afghan government? When Biden spoke yesterday afternoon I was so proud of him, relieved that he was so clear and adamant about his decision, that was a wonderful thing to behold!

I am devastated for the women and girls, their futures are truly threatened, and I will watch with a lump in my throat as the Taliban reign, but I trust that Biden is right about leaving. I don't know much about the CIA and what they did or didn't do, but I hope that it all comes out. I am eager to read The Legacy of Ashes....

As always Dr. H, thanks so much for laying it all out.

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The president I blame is George W. Bush. He was a puppet of the military-industrial complex (Cheney) et al and this conclusion was foregone.

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Sizzlin’ comment, Ralph. Like bacon in a hot griddle pan. Thank you, fellow American.

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Amen, Christine!

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Completely agree. Biden is doing the best he can with the terrible cards he was dealt. There is no playbook for pulling out of Afghanistan. No matter when it happened it would have been a disaster. At least Biden is finally getting out of there instead of kicking the can down the road. Republicans circle their wagons and Democrats self-flagellate. Could we please just support Biden and his administration? Attacking Biden just helps Republicans. The media is a large part of all this drama. They love to gin up controversy only caring about eyeballs and $. HCR is a breath of fresh air with a more nuanced and thoughtful perspective.

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Exactly my thoughts, GMB. The media should have reiterated our history there as Biden did. It's imperative to understand the whole history. The media is doing neither Biden nor democracy a favor.

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Biden's also ripping the band-aid off now, early in his term. Three years from now when the next election rolls around this will be a dim memory for most.

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Biden is the first President in a long line who really is 'Leading". So, I have a question, being a suspicious kind of guy. What do the Saudi's get out of this? I can not help but think that this whole transition back to the Taliban is part of a larger MBS strategy. Maybe we should go consult the 'orb' again.

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I've seen this mentioned elsewhere--just WHAT was discussed in those security briefing that Biden was denied access to during what should have been the transition period????

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Well, he's had 7 months of security briefings since then, and according to the intelligence community, what he's been briefed on is not what he told the American public. All I know for sure is, is that Anthony Blinken last week on Wednesday or Thursday said "It wouldn't be a Thursday to Monday thing if Kabul fell." Didn't that happen on Sunday?

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Charlie, can MBS send his terrorist legions to Afghanistan now so that his hands appear clean?

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And let's remember Russia and China with more strength in the area.

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Snarky and Smart -- what a guy!

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Thanks, Ralph, for pointing out (in fairness) that our previous administration had no confidence in the Afghan government. As others have said, that should have been recognized a long time ago by both parties and probably was -- behind closed doors. I remember Republicans criticizing younger Bush for thinking he could bring democracy to that country who said it "must be a focus of American policy for decades to come."

Whether you blame it on their Abrahamic "cult" or plain ol' human corruption, many people knew it was impossible to change their way of government.

I agree with you entirely that Biden is the first president to act responsibly and to get out. I applaud him for that.

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I’m inclined to agree with you.

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Thank you for this. Completely agree as well.

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What are you saying? To quote, 'Blaming Biden for any of this is absurd'. Ralph, is it because a large number of Republicans appear to be a danger to democracy that president Biden will be blameless for whatever his errors in judgement and actions taken on the matter of withdrawal for Afghanistan? My democratic throat is gaging on that and my disagreement with you about this is firm.

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So what, specifically, should Biden have done differently? Gotten more collaberating Afghans out? To where? Will you share your house with, and feed and clothe, an Afghan family perhaps for years? Besdes, the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani asked Biden specifically not to because it would undermine the legitimacy of his government. He assured Biden, personally, during a White House visit, that the Afghan army would stand and fight. Biden admitts he made a mistake believing any of that, but he had little reason not to.

Biden is doing his imperfect, honest best to get us out of a hopeless situation not of his making. He inherited this mess, especially the terrible agreement made by his immediate Mr. "Art-of-the-Deal" predecessor.

That is why I argue that "blaming Biden for any of this is absurd."

There is twenty years worth of blame to go around, including all of us who have hardly given Afghanistan a thought at all until last week.

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The following link will apprise you more fully concerning the lives of the Afghans who helped us:

https://www.vox.com/world/22627049/planes-afghanistan-evacuation-refugees-taliban

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I'm not so sure that supporting Biden's decision is joining a 'Biden cult'. I am trying to understand all of the issues, failures, and circumstances that are at play here. The reality appears to me is so complicated and I have much to learn, but it absolutely appears that there was a total absence of leadership in this country. And I am withholding any criticism until this plays out....

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Cynthia, I agree with not rushing to judgement. My discomfort is with hearing that it is disloyal to find fault with Biden's preparation for the withdrawal. Getting out of Afghanistan began with us not getting in to begin with.

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You are the first to use the word disloyal, Fern. The original request was to support the President, or other leaders, when tough decisions are made. How can we expect our leaders to make hard decisions if they receive no support except when things work perfectly. The press is calling Biden a failure are predicting this will lose the Democrats the midterms, but how did anyone really think this was going to roll out? The Taliban have been showing us who they are for decades, why didn’t we believe them?

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For a fuller understanding of the situations of Afghans who worked for the USA:

https://www.vox.com/world/22627049/planes-afghanistan-evacuation-refugees-taliban

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With reference to the withdrawal, I used the word 'disloyal' as it seemed applied to me for raising a question about the level of planning done in support of Afghans who support the troops. Of course, it also applies to your accusation against me. Anything more to say about the matter, ELIZABETH WILKERSON?

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You have misread me. I have not bashed Biden but raised the question many have about preparation in support of the many thousands of Afghans that worked with the US troops stationed there and are now stranded. Where have I used a positive word about the Taliban? I was not in favor of the war in Afghanistan nor our occupation. You seemed to have put a false narrative together to falsely accuse me. No thank you.

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I don’t think you’re interpreting what Elizabeth said correctly. I don’t see any sign of accusations against you. It is upsetting for most of us that we now have to scramble and hope for the best for the people of Afghanistan that are innocent victims.

I think part of the problem with getting them out sooner becomes really clear when you read the Republicans on Twitter screaming that we can’t bring terrorists into the country and Ted Cruz putting up a jab at a woman reporting because she was wearing a burka. They survive because they make the people in this country afraid. The real terrorism in the country is coming right from our own politicians.

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My read on this Fern, is that Biden supporters are reluctant to criticize him for fear of weakening his hand. He has so much work to do and too little time.

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You raise a crucial concern. Thank you.

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Let's stipulate that TRUMP was an idiot, etc. eff'ed it up by not including the Afghan government in the negotiations and that sent a bad message, even if it were for the legitimate reasons you have noted. Biden could have backed out for any number of technical reasons as far as the agreement. Or he could have just said, We are the US, the beacon of hope in the free world and we don't believe you and brought another couple thousand troops in. Or he could have secured all the critical US weapons and tech. And quietly drawn down the crazy number of civilians in country (Why does the embassy have 4000 employees in the first place? That seems super crazy, but I guess it was the will of the interagency consensus! You know - the "experts" who feel they can impeach a President for not agreeing with them, (even if the key witnesses perjure themselves.) Instead he abandoned key assets in the middle of the night. Tom Bodet is not a foreign policy expert, but he's smart enough to "leave the lights on". Yeah, Biden is blameless, especially when he claimed contra US intelligence assessments a month ago that exactly this scenario (Saigon) would not play out. And Kamala Harris will be visiting Viet Nam this weekend. Poetic.

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It's his follow up that really condemns him as a leader. The human tragedy of an Afghani to whom we probably promised asylum, desperate to get out falling to his death. Asked about it, our president shrugs it off as old news, : That was four or five days ago." Even though it was factually wrong, that's a brutal statement for a guy ran for President as compassionate and trying to unite the country. At this point, he's unredeemable.

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This is one of the best pieces I've read on Afghanistan. And those last two paragraphs show the hypocrisy that exists in America and especially with the Republican Party.

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Nothing to add, you and Heather said it all.

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You said it for me as well. Heather, I wish you had run against Susan Collins! Argh.

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I would like to know if the Trump Administration, mainly Trump and Pompeo, knew that the Taliban had or were going to make local/regional deals to not resist retaking the Country. It seems with the timeline Trump established, the Trump Admin had no plan to remove the people who helped the U.S., much less the journalists, women activists, the list goes on. It appears to me that the U.S./Biden had really bad intel because of these local deals and was fed a lie by the Afghan Govt about not wanting a mass exodus when the U.S. could get these people out. I'd like to know if the the Afghan Govt was in on the agreement the local tribes made with the Taliban (it appears that way to me), basically setting up the U.S./Biden for what we are seeing today. I believe most Afghan men don't care about women's rights and they only exist at some level now because of the U.S. money and military that forced it to happen. I could be wrong, there is so much information to weed through and I'm not an expert on Afghanistan. I'm open to more information if I'm going the wrong direction. I am really sick of the Repugnicans faux outrage.

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" I believe most Afghan men don't care about women's rights..."

In all honesty, Janet, I believe many men in many cultures don't care about women's rights, including a preponderance of men in the United States. That the ERA, passed by the US Senate in 1972, has never been ratified by all states is criminal. The latest blow was dealt on March 7, 2021 when Federal Judge Rudolph Contreras, Washington, DC, ruled that the latest [3] ratifications did not have to be recorded by the National Archivist stating, "Plaintiffs' ratifications came after both the original and extended deadlines that Congress attached to the ERA, so the Archivist is not bound to record them as valid," he concluded."

Then, on March 17, 2021, the House voted 222-204 to pass a proposal which would eliminate the the 1989 deadline for state ratification. The proposal was sponsored by California Democrat Jackie Speier. Six Republicans, Six! voted with Democrats on this proposal. How far has the ERA moved since March?

Since World War II, the US stock in trade, has been to spread (impose) our idea of democracy to the unenlightened countries of the world. Unfortunately, as has become increasingly obvious over the last five years, our democracy, was in large part, smoke and mirrors. We did a pretty good job of hiding just how undemocratic we were until the 45th president helped strip away the thin veneer that hid our many shames. The drivers of inequality in the United States, and elsewhere, are men. Look around the world, women (and people of lesser means) are dominated by men who refuse to let go of the "supremacy" conferred upon them by their various and sundry gods. In the US, it's white men, elsewhere, it's men of whatever color happens to be of the ruling class. We have no business harping about the lack of women's rights, human rights, civil rights, children's rights and democracy elsewhere in the world because we simply can't be bothered to confer those rights, equally, across the board, for ALL who reside in the United States.

Does my heart ache for the women and girls of Afghanistan? Indeead, it does. But it also aches for women and girls around the world who live compromised lives, and often in fear, simply because of their sex. That includes women and girls in the US. The fact is, its time to put up or shut up.

https://abc7chicago.com/equal-rights-amendment-era-federal-judge-advocates/10395278/

https://www.rollcall.com/2021/03/17/house-votes-to-nix-deadline-for-equal-rights-amendment-ratification/

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This part of the argument is well thought out. I, myself, have for years believed we should support basic human rights and dignity throughout the world. Today, my belief is a little blurry, like my eyesight ( but I am going to get that fixed soon).

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Kathy, I struggle with my anger around this issue...so any hypocritical men and women in this country wring their hands over injustices far away but don't give a tinker's dam about what's going on at home. Sigh.

You will LOVE not having blurry vision. I had both eyes done, in turn, last autumn.

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Many not any.

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Well written Professor, well said and deeply troubling.

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I hope they investigate and find out why Biden was not allowed access to information once he won the election, so that he could prepare for his Presidency. That was always fishy, but with the insurrection and now how Trump and Pompeo’s Deal with the Tailiban turned into such a terrible situation for Biden it makes it even more important for what went on to be revealed.

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Any other administrative change, and I mean any, would have facilitated the transfer of power. The deep rot in the goddamn clown’s administration was so pervasive that it had spread everywhere. When they realized that they were going to be shown the door none of them had any interest in helping the transition, what interests me is seeing all of the bastards transition into prison.

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I see no value in "an investigation". Dick Montagne makes clear what I think most of us knew at the time - the previous members of the administration who were appointed by TFG had no interest in helping Biden 'hit the ground running', in fact many were determined to ensure that Biden did not receive all of the essential information he required for setting up a new administration.

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I asked this very question in another comment

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Thank you Heather.

The last paragraph of your letter is what I find both curious and revealing. These are the same players who are willing to deny our own citizens rights, yet can't get infront of a camera fast enough to talk about how Biden's decision will impact the rights of another Country.

I have my concerns about how this will all play out. After listening to Biden, I could see a clearer path.

Yet the hypocrisy from the GOP and some Democrats is biting .

Be safe, be well.

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I keep wondering about how the US using our might to spread democracy is different from/the same as, missionaries spreading Christianity. And how we now view the methods around spreading Christianity as being barbaric, presumptive, brutal and wrong. But that’s not how it was viewed back when Christianity was considered the only way and viewed with less suspicion than it is viewed now. And I wonder how our invasions in order to spread our ideology will be viewed by history. Please understand, I’m all for democracy. But why do we assume that’s a universal sentiment? Also, just a note. We’ve spent a lot of time noting how horrible it is that other countries are invading us and trying to affect our governance. And yet, that is exactly what we do.

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Democracy requires respect for the rule of law and informed consent. Frankly we are falling short in our own country, let alone trying to enforce it abroad.

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The same could be said about Christianity

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May you questions resonate and stay in the minds of the American people.

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Amen, Fern.

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People attacking Biden for not standing up against terrorists and for "democracy" in Afghanistan are the same people supporting "insurrectionists" who attacked our government on January 6th. They are also attacking democracy in states throughout our nation.

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Correct.

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"It strikes me that some of the same people currently expressing concern over the fate of Afghanistan’s women and girls work quite happily with Saudi Arabia, which has its own repressive government, and have voted against reauthorizing our own Violence Against Women Act."

Dr. Richardson, the above sentence is one of the most well written and humorous sentences I have ever read. I will smile the rest of the day as I send that sentence to my (few) Republican friends.

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How is that in any way humorous? Again, *we* didn't put Saudi women and girls at risk. We did the Afghani girls--we built the tribal schools, we urged the parents to send their kids, we took the pictures to publicize their progress. We put the targets on their backs.

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The sentence is darkly humorous because it highlights the failures of our own government relative to the Afhani government in a sarcastic manner.

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Ironic maybe.

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Yes, a much better and more apt word.

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Or "laughable."

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I appeared to me that HCR was demeaning hypocritical Republicans, but I did not read of her support for the Afghan women and girls, nor did I read it is your 'most well written...' compliment to her.

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Understood and that is one way her comment could be received for sure. I understand.

For me I saw it more as a tongue in cheek poke at the hypocritical Republicans who are demeaning themselves with their own behaviors, which, Dr. Richardson kindly pointed out.

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...and we will stand up for them, here, too, where dismal of their struggle may also emerge.

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make that 'dismissal' for dismal, although, 'dismal' support for Afghan women and girls may be true as well.

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That sentence and a few others in the Letter also raised my eyebrows but for reasons different than yours. I wondered whether HCR was displaying some bias of her own. Those Republicans looked upon as opponents of democracy are far from the only people very worried about the fate of the women and girls of Afghanistan, if they are indeed worried. Among the most engaged pro-democracy activists are not only voicing their concern about this but looking for ways the women of Afghanistan may be protected. The odds are not good.

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There are two entities that can protect the women of Afghanistan:

1) The women of Afghanistan

2) The men of Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, no matter who else wants to help, only those two groups can help the women of Afghanistan in a sustainable way.

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You are correct and it is more than a sad truth. The destiny of the Afghan women and girls is excruciating. It is also far too easy for men from Republicans to progressives to pass it right by.

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Fern, there are religious sects right here in the USA that afford women little leeway to do anything other than bear and rear children, cook and clean.

At the risk of this being deleted, which, may be the correct outcome:

1. Amish and Mennonite

2. A subset of Mormons.

3. Some evangelical Baptists (not all).

4. And some off the map, nutcase sects here in the USA.

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So, what is your point? You have justified your thinking with a 'what aboutism'. Your rational for not giving a millisecond to the future of Afghan women and girls has absolutely no connection to me, nor my respect

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Fern, I am sorry for any apparent insensitivity. Truly. I do care. However. I cannot do anything to help or support Afghan women. As a long habit, when I am certain I can do nothing, I try to avoid emotional involvement. Just like I cannot help Amish women near my farm in Western Ny. Hence, except for buying fruit and vegetables at their farm stands I don’t get involved.

I apologize to you for appearing insensitive. That was not my goal.

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Thank you, Dr. R, for presenting a more-than-meets-the-eye perspective of the current situation in Afghanistan. It remains to be seen whether our lawmakers will support efforts to evacuate our Afghan friends or turn a blind eye.

I received this email from AOC this morning: "If you or someone you know is a U.S. citizen in Afghanistan that wants to leave the country, have them fill out this form:

https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?akid=2346.2314374.-qy2-h&id=dFDPZv5a0UimkaErISH0S0jG7jCPVrpAs2b5YumFx6FUOUNBS0lPNFk1SjhEQzBRRDlXS0NXNFM1WCQlQCN0PWcu&rd=1&t=2

If you or someone you know has an approved petition for a Special Immigrant Visa, email NVCSIV@state.gov or call 1-603-334-0828."

Here are other links she posted in her email:

"If you or someone you know worked as a contractor with U.S. forces, non-governmental organizations, or the media in Afghanistan, you can find information on the P-2 safe passage admissions program here.

https://www.state.gov/u-s-refugee-admissions-program-priority-2-designation-for-afghan-nationals/?akid=2346.2314374.-qy2-h&rd=1&t=3

"If you are in the United States and wish to help people fleeing Afghanistan, you can sign up here to volunteer for airport pickup, apartment setups, and/or meals for Afghans with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service."

https://lirsconnect.org/get_involved/action_center/siv?akid=2346.2314374.-qy2-h&rd=1&t=4

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Every member of Congress should be sending out this information. Wonderful for AOC to have done so.

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I first got on her email list when she went to Texas to help with the grid collapse. I was skeptical about her before, but my opinion of her changed (for the better) when I started getting these kind of "Here's what you can do" postings.

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She reminds me of Elie’s energy and vision.

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For me, Lynell, AOC showed her true creds when she decided to take a chance to leave her waitressing job and apply for a new job as "United States Congresswomen.” While I don’t always feel she has a solution for other districts, I believe her heart beats for her neighbors in NYC.

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Spot on, Lynell. Good morning friend. Working furiously here in Florida regarding our schools and the spread of Covid with no real mitigation in place. It is mind boggling.

There was a hour long special that Dana Bash of CNN did with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez last week. It was enlightening. I really liked learning more about her. For one so young, she has a deep commitment to ‘we the people’ and community.

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Morning, Christine! You got your hands full re mask controversy. Hope the children win this one.

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Special mtg today with school board. Got a sort-of mask mandate in place with an opt out for parents or staff not willing. Puts onus on “I want my personal freedom” screamers to put it in writing. Not parents or staff willing to mask up to mitigate spread. Fighting for each step to put pandemic at least in rear view mirror.

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You’re swimming against the tide with deSantis who seems to make only bad decisions. Nevertheless, wishing you luck and keep fighting.

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That's our Christine, Marcy. One sharp salmon who knows how to navigate against the tide's flow!

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You are one of the brave on the front line. Thank you, Christine.

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Thank You. I posted this on author Doug Stanton's fb site. He wrote "Horse Soldiers" and reports "I never imagined I'd wake up one morning to emails from people I met in Afghanistan 15 years earlier asking me to help get them out of the country." I support Biden's position, but with such a heavy heart.

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If just one person is helped by AOC's efforts, it's a win. Thanks for re-posting MaryPat.

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Wow - that young woman is right on time!!

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AOC, Here you are when so many people who helped us are in need. Lynell, your comment brought what little cheer there could be for many of us today. Thank you.

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We need more People like AOC in government. I remember after 9/11 listening to the lies of our government of our need to invAde Iraq to destroy the weapons of mass destruction . Next we needed to invade Afghanistan which really perplexed me. So now 20 years later we are retreating. Lives lost here and there and what did we accomplish?

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Missions accomplished for military industries, oil companies...

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Hey, Susan. You are so right, but my memory is we went to Afghanistan first; then Iraq?

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You are right. Bin laden then Iraq

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Thank you, Lynell, for these extremely valuable links!

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Thanks also to AOC!!

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Thank you for providing these links!

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The American Tragedy is that America's #1 industry is war. No one wins.

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Oh, you are exactly right. The military-industrial-congressional complex Eisenhower feared has guaranteed and underwritten what has become our #1 industry. But, yes there are winners: Sikorsky Aircraft (maker of Blackhawk helicopters), AM General (maker of humvees), Blackwater (maker of ruthless pretend soldiers)... Withdrawing troops doesn't stop our war escalation. Stockholders, suppliers, employees, politicians, lobbyists - even military personnel - all lose when "the enemy" wins and we pull out. So, a new "conflict" will be identified and hyped, and "advised" and "supported" and... How do We The People, All of us This Time, stop this lucrative war machine? A peace machine? Troops to Haiti to rebuild after the quake? An environmental machine? Literally convert Sikorsky amd AM General plants into electric domestic vehicle production? We don't have to stop the "lucrative", just the wars.

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"...swords into plowshares.....spears into pruning hooks....."

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"A peace machine." Yes !!! Stick with that, amply it. It's definitely an idea whose time has come.

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As one commentator wrote, Afghanistan was never a nation. It is a loose collection of nomadic tribes that were enclosed in a border that the British arbitrarily drew on a map many generations ago.

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The same thing happened in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) when the country's boundary lines were drawn to include the Mashona and the Matabele tribes in the same nation. They could never get along. The British had to leave, thank heavens the Americans didn't get involved.

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Yet. I am sure that somewhere, there is a contractor itching to go make their fortune there.

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Bingo Ally! I'm sure somewhere deep in the bowels of Lockheed and Raytheon the 'strategic marketing folks are slobbering over some maps. I'm thinking Nigeria would be a good anchor location. Bombs + Bullets = Profits

/snark

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Let’s not forget exploitation of natural resources!

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My immediate thought on this comment is that it’s not unlike the gerrymandering of districts in this country. Draw lines to retain control or actually to keep others out by locking them into artificial borders.

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Sharon, good and astute analogy.

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The roping together of tribes makes me think of the roping together of colonies here-

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At least the colonies here (in the form of their limited elites) chose to rope themselves together.

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The limited elites chose to maybe, but I don’t imagine all the southern plantation owners chose to be roped together with the anti-slavery northern colonies and vice-versa. It has always made me curious.

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Perhaps, the founding fathers decided that ‘a marriage of convenience’ was the only way a foundling nation could survive. Meanwhile, the so called ‘anti-slavery’ fathers in the north were selling insurance and providing loans to the slave owners!

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Some were slave traders (i.e., Peter Faneuil from Boston), and were rewarded with substantial wealth; and remember that northern soil was rocky and the growing season too short to justify the cost of slaves for agriculture. As you have pointed out, northerners profited in dealing with slave owners.

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and all over the world. We didn't win against the British, we wore them out and almost bankrupted them, so they went home.

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The same could be said for Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and wait for it. Coming next to Sub-Saharan Africa.

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In 1955 I co-hosted the first African conference at an American university. As a Foreign Service Officer in the Congo-1960-1966-my blinders about glorious African independence were removed. Sixty years later the two most ‘promising’ African nations , South Africa and Nigeria, are on life support. Currently one of the most ‘promising’ African nations is Namibia. I am ready to help those African counties that demonstrate an ability to help themselves. Corruption and tribalism render this unlikely.

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Sharon, thank you for this. I didn’t know Afghanistan’s history. It strikes me that its creation is somewhat similar to Israel’s, another country where peace is seemingly impossible.

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You might find the biography "Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert" informative about the political issues and machinations in the Middle East (Near East) during the late 19th and early 20th century. She was an amazing woman and became a major political advisor to the British & others in the lead up, during, and post-WW I due to her decades of travel throughout the region. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/164972.Gertrude_Bell

Another book I like to recommend, about more "recent" history in Afghanistan, is the novel "Caravans" by James Michener. Published in 1964, it recounts the experiences and travels of a low-level foreign service officer, shortly after the end of WW II, detailed to track down and convince the daughter of a U.S. senator to leave Afghanistan and return home. The daughter had married an Afghan engineer that she met at a U.S. college then joined him when he returned to Afghanistan. First, he had to locate her, resulting in travels throughout Afghanistan as he followed clues and met many Afghan leaders, much information about the major investments by both Russia and the U.S. to bring Afghanistan into the 20th century. I've never forgotten the comment by a young tribal leader that the day would come when the Russians and the Americans would be bombing Afghanistan (1964, author's take on things). https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12662.Caravans?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=KrE4l5hBdw&rank=4

Finally, this book I found in our local library collection looks like a very useful text for an overview of 19th & 20th century Afghanistan. Afghanistan, a Modern History : Monarchy, Despotism or Democracy? the Problems of Governance in the Muslim Tradition. Rasanayagam, Angelo 2003.

Angelo Rasanayagam was Chief of Mission for the United Nations in Iran and a number of other countries, before becoming Director of the UNHCR office in Peshawar, Pakistan. This link to the SDPL page for full details of the book provides the list of the book Contents, providing a brief overview of topics addressed. https://sandiego.bibliocommons.com/v2/record/S161C1067821

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Thank you, Judith. My ignorance never ceases to astound me and I really appreciate suggested reading.

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Don't feel badly about that. The only reason I've learned as much as I have is because I'm a generalist who has read a very diverse range of materials over many years. I also had the pleasure of meeting Bonita Chamberlin, a San Diego woman who - in the early 1970s was working in Switzerland - read Michener's "Caravans", quit her job and hopped into her VW Bug and headed for Afghanistan to seek out a "tribal prince on a white horse". Instead, she fell in love with Afghanistan and spent many years in and out of the country, even during the Russian occupation, walking in through the Khyber Pass with the Mujahideen. She must be devastated watching the current situation.

Eventually, she established the Afghan Jewelry Project after getting a degree at the Colorado School of Mines then buying the necessary equipment for Kuchi tribe members to make jewelry which Bonita was able to bring to the U.S. duty-free (Afghanistan had "Most Favored Nation" status during those years).

I met her because she held jewelry sales in private homes; she would preface sales with an informative slide presentation about the Afghanistan she came to know prior to the Russian invasion in 1979. The money from jewelry sales was deposited into an account in Kabul for building schools and paying teachers. According to her, thanks to post-WW II investments by western countries, Afghanistan was a net exporter of various agricultural products and not "poppy juice". This all ended with the Russian invasion and hundreds/thousands(?) of well-educated Afghans who had been educated abroad including in the U.S. fled the country.

Though she married and "retired" about 10 years ago, Bonita's website is still up if you want to browse though no longer jewelry sales. Some links at the site are no longer active. The site has links to reading materials and one to excellent maps of the country and for various cities. http://www.insideafghanistan.org/

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Judith, what a wonderful and fascinating woman Bonita is. And such a role model! Thank you for sharing her story with me. She is surely a treasure trove of information. I will definitely visit her website tomorrow morning.

Thank you again.

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Dear Prof. HCR,

To my mind, this is your best letter to date. It reveals the depth of your assessment and insight into the essence of history-in-the-making. You are more than an historian, you are a true scholar who does not conclude without asking the right questions. I was so hoping that you would address President Biden's speech and I thank you for that -- it was just what the doctor ordered: a prescription that asks us to think before railing at all that has taken place.

"It strikes me that some of the same people currently expressing concern over the fate of Afghanistan’s women and girls work quite happily with Saudi Arabia, which has its own repressive government, and have voted against reauthorizing our own Violence Against Women Act. Some of the same people worrying about the slowness of our evacuation of our Afghan allies voted just last month against providing more visas for them, and others seemed to worry very little about our utter abandonment of our Kurdish allies when we withdrew from northern Syria in 2019. And those worrying about democracy in Afghanistan seem to be largely unconcerned about protecting voting rights here at home."

I needed your direction. As always, my thanks!

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Rowshan Nemazee, I agree! All of HCR's points were spot on about hypocrisy associated with this debacle. I pray people get out safely. Watching them hang from airplanes was heartbreaking

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Listening to people blaming President Biden for it was so irresponsible. I believe he will order the forces and means to get them out in the immediate days ahead.

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I am getting a metric S-ton of this on my page from my Republiqan friends. It does not seem to matter that this withdrawal was "brokered" by the former guy and the Taliban...

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Agreed! One of her best!

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Bravo, Professor. No event in history ever happens in a vacuum. Your even-handed assessment is welcome and much needed. Long after all the finger pointing and partisan accusations die down, historians will be examining the various threads to understand what actually happened in Afghanistan, and in America.

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This is a mess created by the Republican Party decades ago. Blaming Biden and the democrats is just the latest smear by the Republicans. They cry fake tears over the “loss of democracy “ and fear for women in Afganistán when they are busy destroying the right to vote in the US and have never cared a fig about women in the US. The stench of rot from the Republican Party is overwhelming. We need to put our house in order before spending the lives and honor of our young men and women in the military at risk abroad. History will uncover and expose the decades of Republican lies and dishonor. My usual joke about historical “misadventures” is that hundreds of thousands of Ph.D. Dissertations that will lie unread in the archives will be written about - name the event. This disaster may rank as one of the worst case of hubris by politicians who know nothing but act as if they are god. We watch and listen to the so-called Republican leadership in the Senate destroy our constitutional system and now scream how the disaster in Afganistán is entirely the doing of the Biden administration ignoring the fact that their own party and their own fingers are stuck firmly in this mess that they helped create. It makes my head spin and breaks my heart.

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Thanks to HRC for picking up on the WAPO's story on how the Taliban "pursuaded" locals to forgo fighting. Strangely, the NYT has failed to notice this. Which brings us to the central historical point of all this. The history of imperialism, quite generally, has been marked by a refusal to learn anything more about the peoples being dominated than is needed to dominate them; rather, sham "knowledge" in the form of racism substituted for deliberate ignorance. Sadly, the history of American imperialism has proven to be utterly unexceptional - American exceptionalism to the contrary notwithstanding. As in the Philippines, as in Vietnam, so now in Afghanistan: the "serious people" knew little or nothing about the people in the countryside they were supposedly "helping" to govern, precisely because they were trapped in classical imperialist modes of thinking and acting and thought such "low level" knowledge to be unneccessary. NGOs have had such knowledge in Afghanistan for decades, but appear never to have been consulted, let alone taken seriously, in policy-making circles. The price is being paid now, just as it was paid in Vietnam. What astounds me is the utter inability or unwillingness of the policy establishment to learn anything at all in such cases. Yet again, the history of American foreign policy, like the history of imperialism in general, appears to be, put kindly, a history of international misunderstanding, put more bluntly, a history of substituing willful ignorance or the pretense of knowledge for actual knowledge.

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WHY WE FAIL - It's the American way of war.

https://tcinla757.substack.com/p/why-we-fail

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Good morning all, I was glad to see us leave Afghanistan, but saddened by the mess that is left behind. Afghanistan has been a no win situation for centuries for any outside country that attempted to interfere with their internal struggles. I read The Daily Poster as well and I am including that in my text. It is not a piece removed from the conflict but observations and quotes from our people who served there.

Content warning: This story includes accounts of graphic violence

As the United States leaves Afghanistan after 20 years of war, a chaotic scene is unfolding with the Taliban reasserting control over the country in mere days as the state’s government and military collapsed.

It’s hard to know what comes next. Thousands of Afghans are begging to be airlifted out of the country, pleading with American officials at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to put them in planes and get them to safety. The situation in the country is increasingly dangerous and may have already changed by the time you read this.

One refrain from pro-war critics of the withdrawal is that the absence of U.S. and other foreign soldiers in the country will lead to increased death and violence. But after 20 years of bloodshed, with tens of thousands of civilians dead, it's hard to stomach the assertion that the continued presence of coalition forces in the country would lead to anything other than more brutality for the Afghan people.

I talked to three U.S. veterans of the war about their experiences in the country and whether or not their presence made things better. Nate Bethea, who served in Paktika province from February 2009- to March 2010, told me that coalition presence made things worse, and the military attempts to make up for the upheaval fell flat.

“When people died accidentally and it was the fault of the coalition, we’d make condolence payments of around $1,000 to $2,000, depending on if it was the breadwinner or like a spouse or child,” Bethea said. “And people thought, ‘Okay, this is fine, we paid them out’ — but you killed their fucking family. How could they not hate you forever?”

“The War Effectively Had No Real Purpose”

Bethea, 36, said that his time in the country quickly convinced him the mission was destined to fail.

“My impression when I got there was that the war effectively had no real purpose, because in my experience, the foreign troop presence was the single largest driver of the insurgency,” Bethea told me.

The ongoing battles between the coalition soldiers and insurgents cost civilian lives and fueled anger against the foreign troops, whose presence provided a clear target for attacks by the Taliban and other groups. According to Bethea, occupation led to death and destruction, mostly through collateral damage.

During his tour, Bethea said he witnessed people killed in the crossfire in numerous ways, including “families hit by stray bullets, cars shot up at checkpoints by mistake, houses strafed or bombed by mistake, families killed by IEDs [improvised explosive devices] intended for coalition vehicles, people in… public areas hurt or killed by IEDs or mortars, children killed by large military vehicles in traffic accidents, collisions with military vehicles and civilian vehicles,” and more.

That bred resentment and anger, said Bethea, which in turn led to more violence and resistance — adding to the instability of a government that wasn’t serving the people and was clearly destined to fail the minute the U.S. wasn’t there to back it up.

“An Impossible Cause”

For Jason Kirrell, 42, there was never a chance for a different outcome. The war effort was doomed from the outset.

“Afghanistan was a beautiful country, but nothing we did would make much of a long-term difference,” Kirrell told me. “And for the war in general, it was not, like, a lost cause, because lost implies we could have done something different to succeed, but an impossible cause.”

Kirrell was in Afghanistan from June 2010 to April 2011. He told me that the war’s relentless grind, the complete lack of accountability for wrongdoing by soldiers, and the general instability exacerbated by the invasion made the situation for the Afghan people absolute hell.

“I saw civilians blown up,” Kirrell said. “I know we used grape huts [where] farmers used to store their harvests for target practice. I was in a mortar unit and we used them to practice dropping rounds on. I can’t imagine having an outside force come in and use your workplace as a target range [engenders] much love and respect.”

As the war dragged on, things only got worse, said Kirrell. The Afghans had zero trust in the occupation forces, who rotated out with such regularity that there was no way to build relationships. Soldiers had total control over the population. Their boredom and lack of inhibitions made for disturbing situations.

“I had to talk guys out of just shooting farmers because they thought it would be fun,” Kirrell told me. “They literally didn’t care by that point.”

“It Really Feels So Pointless”

Tyler — who did not want to give his last name — is a 31-year-old veteran whose eight years in the military included a stint in Afghanistan from February 2012 to November 2012. He believed in the mission at the time, Tyler told me, but looking back on his experiences today, he’s of a different mind.

“I was 22 at the time and I vividly remember watching 9/11 in junior high, so I went in with enthusiasm and patriotic feelings, but in the years since I’ve gotten more frustrated, not only with my time there but with the ‘War on Terror’ as a whole,” Tyler said. “It really feels so pointless, and like a huge waste of time, money, lives, and grief. I hate what we as a nation have done to the people of Afghanistan.”

During his tour, Tyler witnessed horrific incidents that served to calcify local resistance to the occupation. A firefight with insurgents culminated in a call for air support that got the coordinates wrong, bombing an apartment building full of civilians instead. The consequences of the mistake, he said, damaged the relationship with local officials.

“I’m not sure how many civilian casualties there were, but I do remember explicitly that the provincial police chief’s wife and daughter were among the ones that were killed,” Tyler said. “This obviously made tensions between us and the police very tight for the remainder of my time there.”

Another disturbing incident made the human cost of the war apparent to the young soldier. An investigation into an explosion in a nearby city brought the soldiers to the burned-out wreckage of a car.

“We approached the wreckage and found a woman covered in blood and burns who was holding something in her arms that was red and black as she was trying to pull another body out of the car,” Tyler said.

The object in her arms was a child.

“The black was the charring on her body, and the red was the blood and where her skin had peeled off,” Tyler told me. “She pushed her into my chest and I grabbed the body and set it down on the ground so that the medics could aid her. Her torso was ripped open, I could see her ribs and collar bone, as well as what looked like multiple organs. She likely died instantly — I hope she did, anyways.”

“I’m Glad That We Have Left”

All three veterans are now looking at the collapse of the Afghan government with anger and sadness. This outcome was predictable, said Kirrell.

“The U.S. tried to build Afghanistan from the top down, and the Taliban went bottom up,” Kirrell said. “One way clearly worked better than the other.”

“Afghanistan isn’t Germany or Japan after World War II,” he added.

Tyler agreed. He told me that the entire approach to putting together the Afghan army was wrong from the beginning.

“There was no training of Afghan forces that could have been done to get them to fight like American forces,” Tyler said. “And there was no way that local tribal leaders were gonna trust us when we kept rotating in and out every year and they kept having to deal with new Americans.”

Today, as control of the country turns over to the Taliban, Tyler is relieved that the U.S. is leaving — though he wishes the departure had been better planned.

“I’m glad that we have left, I just wish we’d had an actual plan in doing so. We were there for 20 years, and the best we could do was to pack everything up in the middle of the night and hand the keys off to the locals and say good luck,” Tyler said.

That’s par for the course in how the country’s people have been treated, Bethea said.

“If there’s any one thread throughout this whole venture, in my opinion, it is our limitless contempt for the Afghan people, who are some of the poorest and most victimized people on this entire planet,” Bethea said.

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Thank you, Pamela, for sharing this.

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Pamela, I feel as if I just read "The Truth,” the horrific stories of lives lost due to war. Unimaginable and yet too raw and real. And so necessary. That you so, so much.

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