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Wed Sep 1, 2021, 02:27 AM

MSNBC op-ed: War in Afghanistan was far different from how it has been depicted in American media

https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/biden-s-afghanistan-withdrawal-could-ve-gone-so-differently-n1278163

Don't pay attention to the caption which is BS and not what the article was saying. The historical background on the war itself, the bit about the 2 Afghanistans - rural & urban, the warmongering of Bush/Rumsfeld - makes it a great read and gives a much different narrative of what really happened. More importantly, it underscores all the reasons why @POTUS needed to end this failed war the GOP got us into. Oy vey.

I don't agree w/ the author the manner of evacuation could have gone any differently. Withdrawing from losing wars are messy, ugly and highly perilous as we've witnessed. Our 13 troops who gave their young lives so valiantly are true patriots of liberty and we are indebted to them. BUT overall the article has given me a greater understanding of the situation spanning 20 long years. The author interviews Anand Gopal, an embedded journalist & sociologist, who has a firsthand account and tremendous understanding of what happened on the ground.

Excerpts below
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"But the reality is that the very speed of the collapse of the Afghan security forces requires a much deeper, and more cosmopolitan, understanding of decades of U.S. policy failures in the country...
Right now, all the coverage is in Kabul, so one would think there is complete chaos in the country. But most of that chaos is just around the airport, and most of Kabul itself is calm. And then life outside Kabul is calm, and for the first time, outside of Kabul there's no war, which, if you talk to men and women in the countryside, especially in those areas that had faced heavy fighting, that's the most significant difference that they've seen, compared to what was there before.

Afghanistan is one of the most rural countries on Earth. The individuals that we tend to hear about are the extreme outliers in Afghan society which is not to say that they don't deserve a shot and they don't deserve to have a good life in Afghanistan as everyone else does. But if you just focus on these people, you won't actually understand how the Taliban was able to take over. In the countryside, people face very different calculus. They're facing war, and they can be killed either by airstrikes or by roadside bombs or whatever else, and the most important thing they need right now is security, above all else. Afghanistan's been in a civil war for 40 years...

Aleem: The speed of the Taliban's takeover shocked even seasoned analysts and defied U.S. intelligence predictions by a significant margin. What would you say the swiftness of the collapse revealed about what the U.S. was building in Afghanistan for the past 20 years? What are the roots of this failure?

Gopal: The most immediate reason, I think, is that the Afghan military was weaned on the U.S. way of fighting wars, which is almost entirely reliant on air power and on contractors. This goes back to the Rumsfeld Doctrine of the early 2000s, which is to try to decrease the size of the military; decrease the military footprint on the ground; to outsource a lot of the core functions of war-fighting to private contractors; and to shift a lot of the burden of the fighting onto air power.

When the Taliban started to advance, a few things happened at once. One is the U.S. removed its air power, and the Afghan army didn't know how to fight without air power, because unlike the Taliban, they'd been made in the mold of the United States military. Two, all these contractors left, at least the foreign contractors a lot of the supply chain started to fall in shambles. And then, three, what was left is this military that had no legitimacy on the ground, and nobody was willing to fight and die for the military, because they didn't really believe in it, outside of getting a paycheck or knowing that they're on the winning side. And so, all those things came to a head simultaneously and collapsed like a house of cards.
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