Tag Archives: Press

“it was not the outcome we had anticipated”: afghanistan

During the past few weeks the corporate news media has been studiously ignoring the disastrous military and humanitarian crisis shaping up in Afghanistan.  They have been doing so, I think, because the crisis makes Biden look feckless, ruthless, and incompetent. 

For so long, there was almost nothing on the corporate news, but every day it was possible to read about astonishing advances by the Taliban.  Every day estimates of how much of Afghanistan was controlled by the Taliban increased, and estimates of how long it would be until the Taliban took over Kabul decreased.

I am no foreign policy expert, but even I could see that the Biden withdrawal of forces in Afghanistan was accelerating a Taliban takeover of the country.

The negotiated “peace plan” was non-existent.  I never understood what was being “negotiated” with the Taliban in the first place either by the Trump or the Biden administration.  One reporter late this week said that the “negotiated” peace process was not only on hold, it was in the basement with the door locked. 

And who had the bright idea that the Taliban could be negotiated with in the first place?  The group is defined by a suicidal religious refusal to compromise or negotiate with the modern world. 

Let me be clear, I did not support the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq but even I acknowledge that once you have invaded and occupied a country you can’t just walk out and leave everyone who has fought with you at the mercy of the enemy.  You cannot just withdraw without considering the implications for the population you are leaving behind.

But this is precisely what the Biden administration seems to have done.  They either didn’t consider the implications for the population, or they didn’t care.  I’m not sure which is worse.

Reports today (Friday) are that members of the Biden administration knew that this disaster was coming.  The Joint Chiefs warned them.  But the Biden administration decided that the disaster was inevitable (although they have denied this reality).  One official was quoted by Peter Baker as saying: It’s a tragedy, but it’s not our tragedy.  Who would say something this crass and unfeeling? There is not even much of a pretense of having any empathy with the abandoned population.

And in an effort to make the chaotic, precipitous, and disastrous withdrawal look better, the Biden administration has blamed everyone in sight – except themselves.

Evidently, the defense department that costs us trillions every fifteen minutes, just couldn’t manage to plan a withdrawal from a country they had occupied that didn’t create a humanitarian crisis.  How can that be?

Gen. John Kirby, in a painful press conference today, said the Afghanis had every conceivable advantage in the war.  A reporter asked Kirby how the Afghanis could have every conceivable advantage and still be losing.  Kirby balked at the rudeness of the question, then evaded answering it.  He went on to list all the advantages the Afghanis had (airplanes, an air force, more soldiers, etc.).  So, according to Kirby, the Afghanis have all these advantages and it’s just a great fucking mystery why they are losing.

The people of this country are told repeatedly that we have the greatest military in the history of the world, but that military just can’t figure out how after twenty years of supplying and training and fighting, to get the Afghanis in a position to hold their own against the opposing force. 

Earlier this week I listened to a podcast where the panel was pointing out that supply lines were a problem in Afghanistan.  Supply lines?  Twenty years and they haven’t figured out how to secure supply lines?  Even my cat knows not to go further away from the door than he can safely run back should there be a threat.  And they can’t figure out secure supply lines?  I just find this preposterous.  What the bleeding devil have they been doing for twenty years?

A lot of the feedback on Twitter consists of people arguing that the very fact that we have been in Afghanistan for twenty years legitimates the withdrawal. But, nobody is objecting to the withdrawal, it’s the way the withdrawal is carried out. 

As Paul Riekhoff said on Nicolle Wallace’s show the other night, this was a “reckless” withdrawal.  Riekhoff’s honesty about the situation made me wonder if the producers on MSNBC knew what he was going to say. (The next night I don’t think Wallace even talked about Afghanistan). Riekhoff lambasted the Biden administration’s withdrawal.  And Riekhoff, like Kevin Baron from Defense One, stated flatly that the administration was not “leveling” with the American people. 

The refusal to “level” was painfully obvious in the Pentagon presser this afternoon with Gen. John Kirby.  Kirby couldn’t even bullshit with any talent the obfuscation was so blatant.  Kirby stood at the podium and spewed nonsense.  He looked like a man experiencing a severe attack of piles as he fielded questions from reporters. 

He was fine with questions like that from MSNBC’s Pentagon correspondent.  After a day when every conceivable TV pundit repeated like a parrot: “The administration was not surprised with what happened but at the speed with which it happened” she asked if the administration was surprised at the speed with which the take over had happened.  Seriously?   

Another reporter doggedly tried to get Kirby to say that Kabul was “isolated.”  “Would you say Kabul was isolated?”  He asked repeatedly.  Kirby verbally danced all over the universe refusing to say that Kabul was “isolated.”  We all fucking know that Kabul is “isolated.”  What is the purpose of a journalist taking up valuable time trying to get Kirby to say the word?  Kirby said everything under the sun else except that Kabul was “isolated.”  What goddamn difference does it make if he uses the word?

I don’t think I have seen such a blatantly pathetic Pentagon press conference since Vietnam, and even then the brass talked the bullshit with some panache.  Kirby just seemed to be desperate to finish, desperately uncomfortable, resentful of meaningful questions.  John Kirby is a bad liar and bullshitter. If they are going to try to pass off this level of (do you believe me or your lying eyes) bullshit, they need to get another spokesperson.

And, it seems that we should have learned (with the best military in the history of the world) that the solution to a badly thought-out war is not (or should not be) a badly thought-out withdrawal.  Evidently not.

But the thing that keeps sticking in my craw and going through my mind for the past few days is why?  How could the Biden administration be so inept as to create this situation?  Who was this precipitous withdrawal designed to please?  I just can’t think of anybody placated or pleased with this hair-brained withdrawal.  Why, after breezing through the deadline in May that the Trump administration had set, did Biden rush headlong into this withdrawal that seems so badly planned.

I will give just one example.  On another podcast about Afghanistan the commentators were pointing out that the Taliban ratchets up fighting in the Spring and then makes a big push over the summer.  Then, I suppose because of the weather, they retreat to bases in Pakistan in the fall and fighting dies down.  The panel members were pointing out that if Biden had just waited over the summer and pulled out most of the troops in the fall, it would have helped immensely.  So, what was the problem with that small change?

And there another thing that keeps going through my mind.  This is in response to a comment made on the Majority Report (a great podcast).  The guest was saying that there are many competing factions represented within the Biden administration – progressives (damn few), conservatives, moderates, hawks.  When some policy or appointment comes up that sparks strong opposition among these groups, they fight it out vociferously.  Fine. But when all this fighting and debate occurs, when positions are entrenched, Biden evidently does not step in and make a decision so everybody can go on.  Biden refuses to take make a decision that might alienate somebody and so everybody retreats to their respective corners.  The result is that nothing gets done.  The example that was being talked about was an appointment that had remained vacant for months.

I can’t keep from wondering if something like that happened here.  There was such strong disagreement about what to do, everybody was fighting and pushing and Biden just walked away (sort of like he’s doing in Afghanistan) and nothing got done. The withdrawal just ticked on without Biden taking control.  It was easier to do nothing than to make a decision.  Now, the administration is facing not only a humanitarian crisis, but a political disaster.

I have watched Fox News, OANN, and that other channel of Steve Bannon’s in the past two days.  You can bet they are making hay over this situation.  And, to my great discomfort and consternation, I agree with some of the commentary. 

A final thing that makes me uncomfortable about this situation is how similar it is to the way Democrats are handling the serious threat Republicans pose to the continuation of democracy. 

Democrats are so engorged with hubris, so convinced that the world is the way they want it to be, they are leading us into disaster at every turn.

I fear that they are going to do with Republicans exactly what they are doing with the Taliban – negotiate without reason, rely on the good intentions of murderous men determined to assume power at all costs and then when these men pull off a religious based authoritarian take over, wring their hands and say it was not the outcome they had anticipated.  

essential podasts: ahmaud arbery. “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”

https://www.wabe.org/shows/buried-truths/

On a Sunday afternoon, February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery jogged through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.  He had jogged in the neighborhood before.

But, this jog ended with a retired police investigator and his son, Greg and Travis McMichaels, jumping into their pick up truck and pursuing Arbery.  They shot Arbery in the street and killed him.

For nearly three months, the police, prosecutors, and press DID NOTHING.  Only when a video of the killing surfaced on social media was national attention focused on the case and the total lack of action about the murder. 

Another man in the Satilla shores neighborhood phoned 911 about Arbery jogging.  After a few seconds, the caller said: “He’s running now” referring to Arbery.  The 911 operator asked:    “What is he doing?”  Then, she asked: “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

Every citizen of this country needs to listen to the podcast about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery based on an investigation conducted by members of Emory University.

“I just need to know what he was doing wrong.” 

Notes from “Hiding in Plain Sight” by Sarah Kenzior

hiding

The Bellwether of American Decline

“…the facts make you wish they were fiction, but that is all the more reason we need to hear them.”

Greitens, governor of Missouri

“Whereas once mere publicity about his scandals would have prompted resignation, Greitens proved that hanging on to executive power to dodge or manipulate prosecution remains a viable option in an era of unfettered corruption—a lesson the Trump administration knows well. One of the most awful things about the Greitens case is that Missourians felt lucky he left, like peasants relieved at the passing of an evil king. There was never accountability, there was never transparency—there was just luck, otherwise known as dead expectations.
“When asked to vote on a specific issue, Missourians chose the most progressive options. But when asked to vote for a politician, over half of Missourians chose Republicans who sought to strike down the very ballot initiatives for which they had voted.”

 

The 1980s: Roy Cohn’s Orwellian America

 

“In 1984, one year after the tower’s completion, Soviet army veteran David Bogatin purchased five luxury condos for six million dollars—a purchase so substantial that Trump made sure to personally oversee the closing.”

 

“In 1987, Bogatin admitted he had purchased the Trump Tower condos “to launder money, to shelter and hide assets…”

 

“…a Senate investigation revealed him to be a leading figure in the Russian mafia. The Russian mafia had been growing in New York City due to a wave of Soviet émigrés and a crackdown on the Italian mob…”

 

“…Comey, who replaced Mueller as FBI head in 2013, the FBI removed Mogilevich—the dangerous Russian mafia head who had been ancillary to Trump since the 1980s—from the Ten Most Wanted list in December 2015 and replaced him with a bank robber. “

 

“When the press works against its own financial interest—as it did by rejecting the harrowing truth of Trump—there is a deeper problem.”

 

“…documents to claim that, beginning in 1977, Trump would remain “completely tax-exempt for the next 30 years” thanks to a mysterious arrangement between his company and the American government; that he was contractually bound to have three children with Ivana (which he did); and that he was being groomed to run for president in 1988 (which he nearly did).”:

 

“February 20, 2017, one month after Trump’s inauguration, Churkin died suddenly at the age of sixty-four….Churkin had been the fifth Russian diplomat to die unexpectedly and in an unexplained fashion since Trump won the election.”

 

“…1987, he (Trump) told journalist Ron Rosenbaum that he sought to partner with Russia on nuclear weapons with the aim of threatening other countries into compliance.”

 

“Stone was involved in every Trump presidential run thereafter as well as in Trump’s near-run for New York governor in 2014.

 

“Trump had one condition for entering a race: his win needed to be preordained.”

 

“…crime committed brazenly is over time redefined as something other than crime. It is entertainment, and then it is autocracy, and then it is too late.”

 

“That a significant number of today’s high-profile journalists did know the Trump family personally is cause for concern.”

 

“These powerful sectors of society have been overtaken by connections rather than merit, and dynasties rather than unbiased workforces.”

 

“The deep secret of all Trump coverage is that it is cost-effective news—”

 

“David Cay Johnston, author of multiple bestsellers about Trump, noted that in addition to refusing to cover the rape of Ivana, the 2016 press would not report on Trump’s documented ties to organized crime.”

 

“..confessed drug trafficker. [The trafficker is Joseph Weichselbaum,”

 

“This is called “normalcy bias”: the idea that if a situation is truly dangerous, if massive crimes are being committed in plain sight, someone will intervene and stop them.”

 

“Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past,” Orwell wrote in 1984. “Past events, it is argued, have no objective existence, but survive only in written records and in human memories. The past is whatever the records and the memories agree upon. And since the Party is in full control of all records, and in equally full control of the minds of its members, it follows that the past is whatever the Party chooses to make it.”