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Afghanistan, graveyard of empires, lives up to its name

(FILES) In this file photo Afghan people gather along a road as they wait to board a U S military aircraft to leave the country, at a military airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021 days after Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. (AFP)

It's August 2021 and the Taliban has, for all intents and purposes, taken over Afghanistan, establishing full territorial control after it was toppled in 2001 by American and NATO troops who invaded and occupied the country for almost 20 years.

The longest war in United States history, has come at a cost of over $2.2 trillion, with around three and a half thousand NATO troops killed and more importantly, over 50,000 Afghan civilians killed, a conservative estimate, has millions displaced or turned into refugees.

So what was it all for and why did the United States spend so much money, and stay in Afghanistan for so long, only for the Taliban to retake the country so quickly and easily; was it all for nothing?

Very few seem to be asking what Afghans are getting from this war and why they paid with their lives, their homes, and why people thought it was okay to colonize their country for 20 years.

Was this really about nation building and fighting a war on terror, or was it an occupation and a war of terror?

Almost 20 years ago, following the events of September 11 in 2001, a cataclysmic chain of events was set into motion by the neoconservative administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney.


The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan under the pretext of capturing Osama bin Laden and toppling the Taliban who they claimed had sheltered him and his terrorist organization al Qaeda.

Afghanistan quickly turned into a quagmire for American and NATO troops who were unable to catch Bin Laden or establish full territorial control over the rugged and rough terrain of the Central Asian country.

Despite this, administration after administration, every American president since Bush, including Obama and Trump kept the war going. The defense budget became increasingly bigger and the arms manufacturers made bigger profits as they provided everything from boots to bullets to tanks and missiles, and all the while the US was able to maintain a military presence on China's borders, Iran's borders, and in close proximity to Russia. It was not until 2011 that Osama Bin Laden was allegedly killed during a US raid.

And despite this, the US continued occupying Afghanistan for another 10 years under the pretext of nation building.

They argued that Afghanistan wasn't equipped to deal with any of the challenges that it faced and needed help, NATO claimed to be training the Afghan security forces who are supposed to take over once they left, which should have been on May 1 of 2021 as agreed by Donald Trump's administration and the Taliban in Doha, last year.

US trained security force disappear overnight

So here we are, and what happened when NATO began to leave, complete chaos, the supposedly 300,000 strong Afghan security forces, that the US claimed it had spent 20 years training and equipping suddenly vanished overnight.

US President Joe Biden blamed the entire collapse of the Afghan government and security forces on Afghans and then had the audacity to claim that the US should have never been in Afghanistan nation building after he supported the war on terror, the war in Iraq and oversaw the occupation of Afghanistan as vice president under Obama. Ironically on July 8 Biden gave a speech, ensuring there will be no humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, or anything like what we saw in Saigon, at the end of the Vietnam War.

There's going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy of the United States from Afghanistan.

US President, Joe Biden

And, of course, that's precisely what happened; the withdrawal was most definitely just like Saigon if not worse.

The Taliban was able to advance, and gain territory rather rapidly.

On the 9th of July the Taliban held 90 provinces while the Afghan government and security forces held 141 Leaving 167 provinces contested.

A month later the Taliban had gained control of almost every single district in the country, in many instances it even took back some cities like Jalalabad and provincial capitals, without a fight.

Images of people panicking and attempting to flee the advancing Taliban flooded the news, US military planes took over Kabul International Airport ferrying diplomats. Military personnel and other people deemed worthy by the US government of being airlifted out of the country.

People were desperate to be evacuated some were seen scaling the walls of the Kabul International Airport, desperately trying to get out of the country. as one of the American planes was taxiing for takeoff on the runway people could be seen walking alongside the craft and even clinging onto the plane.

A tragic video showed some people falling to their deaths from the departing aircraft, and another person is reported to have later been found in the planes landing gears.

Again a very tragic reminder of just who NATO prioritized and who it left behind when the chips were down.

Now a striking photograph was taken showing an American Chinook helicopter flying over the US Embassy in Kabul. This immediately drew comparisons to the iconic photos that we saw taken in Vietnam in 1975, when people were being evacuated by helicopter from the rooftop of the US Embassy as the People's Army of Vietnam advanced to take the city.

When asked about these comparisons a visibly irritated Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected outright the similarities between the US withdrawal in Kabul and 50 years prior in Saigon.

President Biden said that under no circumstance, that was his word. Those were his words under no circumstance where the US personnel embassy personnel be airlifted out of Cabo and a replay of the scenes that we saw in Saigon in 1975. So isn't that exactly what we're seeing now, I mean, even the images are evocative of what happened in Vietnam?


Let's take a step back, this is manifestly not Saigon.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinkin

Yet the mountains of photographic evidence suggests otherwise. Indeed, not just analogously but tangibly and quite visibly Biden's Saigon moment had come.

Ray McGovern, worked as a CIA analyst for 27 years. He prepared the President's daily brief for Ronald Reagan, when Reagan was president. In 2006 McGovern returned his commendation medal in protest at the CIA's torture programme, and he's been a vocal critic and outspoken activist against war even publicly confronted Donald Rumsfeld for the Bush administration's lies on Iraq.

On another occasion, he was severely beaten for turning his back in silent protest to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He's appeared on virtually every major news network as well as numerous other radio, TV shows and documentaries in recent times he's even grown his beard in solidarity with political prisoner and journalist, Julian Assange.

Why do you think the war in Afghanistan was such a failure? You recently wrote an article for discussing this and you've offered several explanations. What are they and why was this withdrawal compared to Saigon?

Well, the activities and the events speak for themselves. The only thing I would point out is that for one group it was not a failure at all. It was a gravy train. A[n] entity, that I call the Military Industrial congressional intelligence, media, academia, Think Tank complex. Why do I say, MEDIA, as in all caps? The media is the linchpin here.

You can't deceive the American people at large without capturing the media, the media, of course, is happy to be captured. And so you have what Dwight Eisenhower warned against 60 years ago, the military industrial complex on steroids.

So these people made money hand over fist I think the latest indications are that if you had stocks, stocks in Lockheed or Raytheon, your gains in this gainful period though, you know what, for the last, what, 20 years would be 58% higher than the norm of the gains and, you know, that does not make me wish that I had invested in any of these war things, but it's very instructive, isn't it, how people profiteer on wars and the foot soldier dies or gets wounded?

Ray McGovern, Veteran former CIA analyst, Activist and Commentator

When we talk about the military industrial complex what made it such a gravy train?

Mone, as I just mentioned the appreciation of stocks. A lot of these generals went through the revolving door.

Even Austin, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. He was head of CENTCOM, the central command which commands that area of the world, Afghanistan, Iraq and the rest of it.

And when he retired as CENTCOM commander he was really unapologetic about what had just gone on. He testified before Congress just before he retired, and they asked him, now, General Austin tell us, we invested $500,000, a half a million dollars, in preparing and training, good guys, moderate terrorists, to go to Syria and do our bidding. How many, how many are still in action? He looked very stolidly and said four or five.

The next week, he joined Raytheon.  I think you're supposed to wait a year at least, maybe two years. He joined Raytheon then Biden picks him to be the Defence Secretary four years later I mean hello is this a great country or what?

So fast forward now to this past three weeks. Well let's go back to when Biden said we are geting out of Afghanistan and we're going to be out of that by 911. He said that in mid April.

So, it was the 14th of April, two months, April, May, June 14 General McKenzie Head of CENTCOM  announced we're pulling all our air support out of Afghanistan, we're not going to do any close air support anymore. And the only thing that would persuade me to reintroduce air support If there were an attack on our homeland, or on the homelands of our allies, the only thing. Otherwise, we're out of there 14th of June, right.

Two weeks later, the first to second of July, the middle of the night. The biggest airbase ever, Bagram, everybody gets out of town under cover of darkness, in the middle of the night, you know, okay.

So what's my point? My point is this. What did they expect?

The only thing that was keeping the Afghan army in operation was the close air support anytime they were attacked by the Taliban, the would with do there bidding. So here on the 14th of June, the head of CENTCOM says they will not provide air support anymore. And then two weeks later he made good on that promise by taking all his troops in many places they could add a Bagram Air Force Base. Okay, so you're a Taliban, or you are an Afghan army officer, or province leader, and you say, you know, I think I'll switch sides. And of course there have been all kinds of deals being made for previous years actually. So you just switch sides. Taliban comes in, and before you know it, Last Sunday, they control the whole country, or almost the whole country, they come into Kabul.

Ray McGovern, Veteran former CIA analyst, Activist and Commentator

Yeah and you know when we're talking about withdrawal, the troop numbers have fluctuated as, as you said it was 6000 it was supposed to be to 2500 and go down, but  what about the CIA? because as we know the first people on the ground in Afghanistan in 2001 were CIA they were paramilitaries and we've heard no mention of their withdrawing as a matter of fact, the CIA director Burns said back in April that they are not leaving.


You know that's not been covered anywhere in the media. And what about the private contractors the contracts are still in place? So, is it a real withdrawal or just a withdrawal of conventional armed forces?

Well, the Afghan Air Force, such as it is, can't possibly function without the contractors. Even the helicopters can't be kept in the air very long without spare parts and so forth. So the contractors will have to stay.

You think the Taliban is going to say okay, you keep our helicopters going and you can stay? Well, maybe because there are helicopters.

The whole thing is so sadly ludicrous. The fellows from the CIA that came in on those words, remember those pictures they came in on horses and, and they were catering to the Northern Alliance, those warlords. Just, just, worse than the Taliban, in my view, and they're gone. I mean the US military took over, and one function of that which is worth emphasizing is that once the US military takes over, once the US military is at war. Well, they do their own intelligence, thank you very much. We don't need the CIA or DIA, or anything else; we know what the battle requires. Just as in Vietnam.

Ray McGovern, Veteran former CIA analyst, Activist and Commentator

Do you think it's a coincidence that there's no negative coverage of the war, but there is negative coverage of the withdrawal?

No I don't think that's a coincidence. I have very few good things to say about the Washington Post, actually only one, and that is that almost two years ago, they printed Craig Whitlock's Afghanistan papers. Like, you don't need anything else to see the lying and the cheating and the profiteering and the avarice and, you know, the hubris that characterized our top military and in political figures,  now this is documentary. Okay, so if anybody listening or watching here  who would want to know what's really going on I just look up CRAIG WHITLOCK, The Afghanistan Papers, and you'll see what a charade it was, it was a war crime, what's going on, what happened and lots of people died.

Ray McGovern, Veteran former CIA analyst, Activist and Commentator

Most people are focusing very much on the withdrawal and saying that it's been badly executed, it has been botched.

Do you think it would have been different, perhaps, hadn't been completed under Trump, since he, he agreed to this deal with the Taliban in the first place?

It's really hard to speculate on that kind of thing. But how, what did they expect to happen here? And so, you know the next logical step in my view is, did they do it deliberately? Did they want the biggest mess that possibly could occur by simply not doing the necessary planning? It boggles the mind to think they were so dumb, so dumb, that they didn't get really with it.

Ray McGovern, Veteran former CIA analyst, Activist and Commentator

So do you think this whole campaign has diminished the standing of the US and its allies across the world as military powers as nation builders and so forth.

Well, it was avoidable for us. It was perpetrated for the wrong reasons.

Everything is obvious now so certainly, you know, here's a specific, six days ago on Sunday, there were three Luftwaffe, the German air force, three great big Airbus type things circling Kabul airport. Now those of you who have seen the videos, the dots all over the runways, those were people.

And so the Germans were circling around, circling around, they couldn't land because there were people there and they didn't want to land on people. Now, what does that say? They had to go back, they ran out of fuel, they had to go back to this Pakistan refueling outlet. Now, the German people know about that.

Ray McGovern, Veteran former CIA analyst, Activist and Commentator

Repatriation of beer and spirits top German priority

The German people don't know that a week before some German aircraft took what was left of the beer and the spirits left in the embassy and other German compounds back to Germany; they repatriated the beer, and the spirits.

Ray McGovern, Veteran former CIA analyst, Activist and Commentator

The United States claimed it had to invade Afghanistan in order to get rid of al Qaeda and those who harbored and sheltered it but who helped create al Qaeda in the first place?

Was it not the US who created Operation Cyclone with bin Laden and his mentor, Al Zawahiri, receiving assistance and money from the CIA in order to fight the Soviets?

Is the US not supporting al Qaeda in Syria right now, now known as HTS, which controls Idlib?

Who armed the Salafi terrorists and turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia's export of Wahhabism? The United States did. Even Hillary Clinton admits on tape that the US helped create and fund al Qaeda, the same enemy that it claims to be fighting today.

I mean let's remember here, the people we are fighting today we funded 20 years ago. And we did it because we were locked in this struggle with the Soviet Union, they invaded Afghanistan, and we did not want to see them control Central Asia, and we went to work, and it was President Reagan in partnership with the Congress, led by Democrats who said you know what?

 sounds like a pretty good idea, let's deal with the ISI, the Pakistani military and let's go recruit these Mujahideen and let's get some to come from Saudi Arabia and other places, importing their Wahhabi brand of Islam, so that we can go beat the Soviet Union.

And, guess what, they retreated, they lost billions of dollars and it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, so there's a very strong argument which is wasn't a bad investment and the Soviet Union. But let's be careful what we sow because we will harvest.

Hilary Clinton, Former US Secretary of State

So when the Americans and British say that they help Afghanistan, then why are so many people trying to flee them? Why have almost 20,000 People been evacuated in the span of two weeks. Was it helping Afghanistan when British and Australian Special Forces were executing unarmed Afghan men and planting weapons on their bodies to frame them as terrorists? Was it helping Afghanistan when a video released in 2020 showed Australian STS chasing an unarmed man, 26 year old Mohammad, and then executing him in cold blood?


We have previously covered these war crimes by Britain and Australia. We spoke to whistleblower David McBride, who's facing decades in prison because he helped expose these atrocities.

Just a few weeks ago, Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison after he blew the whistle on the US drone programme, showing for example how during a period of five months 90% of the people killed were not even the intended targets.

Julian Assange has been persecuted for a decade now and is facing up to 175 years in a US prison because he published the Afghan War Diaries showing the war was a giant failure and was killing scores of civilians.

Naturally, you see there's only negative coverage of the withdrawal, the new negative coverage of this war on terror, or should I say War of Terror, the media love war.

They want to keep people focused on this so called botched withdrawal so they don't remember the images of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay, the kidnappings, the extraordinary renditions and torture, and even more absurd than George W Bush and Tony Blair's justification for these wars are people now claiming the US should invade and occupy Afghanistan in the name of women's rights, which they say could be threatened under the Taliban.

Women’s rights or oil

Now ironically these same media liberals and fake anti war people never say a word about women's rights in Saudi Arabia, a close US ally.

The only difference being, of course, that Saudi Arabia gives America enough oil for them to shut up and not care about women's rights.

They continue to talk about what to do with Afghanistan and other countries as if they own these countries; they also speak like this about Iran, about Syria, about Iraq, Venezuela and Cuba.

This is so indicative of their colonial mentality and worldview.

They want to "civilize" other people because they think they know better, and they don't see other countries as independent, sovereign nations, that are inhabited by equals. No, they see them as colonies, as vassal states, that must be conquered and controlled.

They think that they are a force for good when they meddle in other countries affairs because deep down they are Neocons.

They believe in American exceptionalism and helped create these so called threats that they claims to fight, and then the West claims it is the only one who can solve these threats through bombs, which is very convenient, of course for the weapons manufacturers like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the military industrial complex as a whole, which has made so much money from the invasion of Afghanistan and the so called War on Terror.

The United States military budget presently stands at over $752 billion. It is the biggest it's ever been in modern history, and the US not only deploys uniformed troops or conventional armed forces, but also private contractors who far outnumber them and are basically paid mercenaries who get paid 10 times more to do the same jobs as enlisted soldiers.

So the contracting firms can basically rip off the taxpayer with even more lucrative deals.

Rightfully nicknamed the graveyard of empires the Afghanistan mission was doomed to failure from day one. Everyone knows this; however it was certainly not a failure for the arms dealers and private contractors who secured lucrative contracts with the military.

The war was never about nation building or about fighting al Qaeda or defeating the Taliban, the United States and Britain invaded Afghanistan based on lies told by George W Bush and Tony Blair, who had fabricated and exaggerated these threats in order to justify the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries.

The only people who benefited from these wars are the arms industry and other private corporations.

If there is no autopsy and detailed critique of the war on terror, then people will learn nothing, and will be fooled again in the future.


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