Afghanistan Withdrawal Going About As Well As Any End To A Forever War Would
But wars are so easy to get into.
The US evacuation from Afghanistan is winding down to meet tomorrow's deadline to get all US troops out of the country, as set by President Biden. The giant C-17 transport planes are still flying out of Kabul's airport, but compared to the massive airlifts of last week, the US announced this morning that it had evacuated just 1,200 people in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total since the end of July to 122,300 evacuees. 116,700 of those evacuations occurred after August 14, when Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said in a statement this morning that while the evacuation efforts by the US, the EU, and nongovernmental organizations has been "praiseworthy," the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is only beginning:
"Around 3.5 million people have already been displaced by violence within the country – more than half a million since the start of this year," said Grandi.
"Most have no regular channels through which to seek safety. And in the midst of a clear emergency, with millions in dire need of help, the humanitarian response inside Afghanistan is still desperately underfunded," he added.
Grandi noted that some 2.2 million registered refugees are living in camps in Pakistan and Iran, many of them having been there for years. He noted that while the airlifts will soon no longer be on TV, the tragedy in Afghanistan "will still be a daily reality for millions of Afghans. We must not turn away. A far greater humanitarian crisis is just beginning." [UNHCR]
US Drone Stopped Likely Attack, Killed 10 Civilians
A US drone strike in Kabul Sunday destroyed a car bomb that the U.S. Central Command said had been an "imminent" threat of being used in another attack on the Kabul airport. The missile strike was followed by "secondary " explosions that indicated it was a car bomb, but the attack also killed 10 members of a family living nearby, including seven children, the New York Times reports. One of the adults who died worked with an aid organization, another was a former Afghan army officer and contractor for the US military; both had hoped to be evacuated with their families by the US military. Of course ten deaths is not as terrible as another attack that might have killed hundreds, but it's still horrifying. [NYT]
In a briefing today, Pentagon spokeperson John Kirby said the "threat stream" against the Kabul airport "is still real. It's still active, and, in many cases, it's still specific," and that US forces are "taking it very seriously and we will right up until the end." He also said that there had been rocket attacks aimed toward the airport, but that no one at the airport had been harmed. [CNN]
UN Security Council To Call For Safe Passage
The UN Security Council is expected to approve a resolution this afternoon calling for safe passage for people trying to leave Afghanistan, as well as the establishment of a "safe passage area" at the Kabul airport for people trying to leave the airport itself after the last US plane departs. The resolution was proposed by the UK and France; it's not yet clear whether Russia and China are entirely on board yet, though. [CNN]
Escapes from Afghanistan by land may be difficult; Uzbekistan has now closed its border with Afghanistan, and the country is only allowing planes from Afghanistan to land there if they're in transit to somewhere else. Uzbekistan is not accepting any Afghan refugees. [CNN]
Pakistan's interior minister said in a news conference today that his country hasn't "given refugee status to a single person since Kabul fell," and also says that while "500 to 600" people flown out of Afghanistan are at the Islamabad airport on "special 21 day transit visas," they're all expected to be flown elsewhere by sponsoring nations and organizations. [CNN]
The US and 97 other countries — a bit over half the countries in the world — have issued a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to take in Afghan refugees, and that they will continue issuing travel permission to people trying to leave Afghanistan after tomorrow. Whether the Taliban will allow them to leave remains the question, although the joint statement cited a "clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban" of safe passage. For everything that's worth. [NYT]
The Flights Are Winding Down
American troops performed a "controlled detonation" Friday of the last CIA base left in Afghanistan, near the Kabul airport. [NYT]
Since last week's suicide bombing outside the airport, which killed at least 170 Afghan civilians and 13 US service members, very few Afghans have been allowed through the airport gates as the military prepares to leave, although the Washington Post notes that "A U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said there had been no policy decision to exclusively admit American citizens." So it appears to be just an unofficial policy of leaving Afghans to fend for themselves.
The WaPo comments are full of people explaining this is all fine, because if people really had wanted to get out they could have, it's not our job to take care of everyone in the world, if Afghans want a better place to live they should take up arms and fight the Taliban (including, presumably, the children who have been separated from their parents in the chaos), and besides, if Biden had started evacuating Afghans who helped the US any earlier, like right after he announced the US withdrawal, the Afghan military would just have collapsed earlier and it would have been just as bad.
At least the actual reporting includes non-monstrous people like Sunil Varghese, policy director for the International Refugee Assistance Project, who told the Post,
"We're leaving allied Afghans and potentially Americans behind." [...] He praised members of the military and civil society groups for their efforts to help Afghans vulnerable to Taliban reprisal depart the country but said the Biden administration should have begun its evacuation effort far earlier.
"I'm just disappointed that it was so late and so dangerous and so difficult," Varghese said. "We could've done better."
Some of the Afghans still trying to get onto US planes include holders of green cards, and dependents or close relatives of American citizens. Others have visas to go to European countries.
One of the Afghan military's elite commandos, who have worked closely with the United States, said he had been trying to get the attention of U.S. officials for days to appeal for assistance getting out.
"We cannot reach our U.S. mentors in order to help us," he said in an email, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid drawing Taliban attention. "We need an emergency evacuation like the other Afghan soldiers, but we cannot get inside the Kabul airport unless we have some supporting documents or recommendations directly from inside the airport."
The Taliban has been calling him, he said.
"I don't know how long I can continue this."
We don't know whether a more orderly advance evacuation could have been planned, but at a gut level, it sure feels like it should have. [WaPo]
To be sure, during the Trump administration, much of the delay in processing visas for Afghans who worked with the US was allegedly the work of Stephen Miller, who may have fucked up the system beyond repair, despite Biden administration efforts to speed up the process since taking it over. [MSNBC]
In a Fox News interview Sunday, Miller himself offered a bizarre defense of the glacial pace of processing visas for Afghan allies:
"Have we forgotten so quickly the 9/11 terrorists were granted visas by our State Department?" he shouted. "Have we forgotten so quickly that all that blood was shed because we weren't able to secure our own immigration system? Now we're going to repeat these mistakes again?"
Yes, all those 9/11 hijackers who had been cleared to assist US troops by military intelligence, that was a thing that happened and a good analogy.
In response to a call by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that the US should admit all the roughly 200,000 Afghans thought to have connections to the American military and government, Miller very calmly lost his shit and went straight to hyperbole, claiming that if Biden had his way, he'd admit "40 million" Muslims from around the world because Biden is "clinically insane."
This open-ended obligation to take up every one of the 40 million people who would prefer to live here than under Sharia law is clinically insane! And we will rue the day that we made that decision.
And then a literal straw man fell on Miller, causing him to tumble down a slippery slope into a vat of red herring, the end. [Salon]
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Mike Pompeo Wants YOU To ... Look Over There!
He's never gonna be president.
Mike Pompeo is what happens when you have the warmongering of Henry Kissinger with one-fourth the evil competence. But his heat-seeking to be the next Trump-wannabe in 2024 might be derailed by his monstrous incompetence.
As detailed by William Saletan of Slate, Pompeo has been trying to see if he can lie like a common Nikki Haley about how safe Afghanistan was when he was the one negotiating with the Taliban despite the disastrous consequences we are currently experiencing.
Appearing on Maria Bartiromo's Fox News show "Sunday Morning Futures," Mike Pompeo lied about it on Sunday for the
second week in a row.
Pompeo played all his hits:
There were the dogwhistles:
POMPEO: [Biden] is more focused on spending three and half trillion dollars on creating 'diversity' inside of our military ...
He waxed about the marvelous deal he made:
POMPEO: Remember this Maria: From the time we began our "peace and reconciliation," our conversations ... from the time we signed that deal in February 2020 ... not a single American was attacked by the Taliban in a serious way and there wasn't a single American killed.
Yeah, well, once we told them we'd leave immediately if they just stopped attacking us (mostly), we guess they were OK with that.
Pompeo also attempted to say our allies don't trust us, as if to imply they'd like it better if Trump was still the sheriff. You bet.
POMPEO: You need [...] only to go to the British Parliament or listen to Macron or Merkel. [...] All of them are concerned that they no longer can trust America as a partner and ally.
Of course, one only has to look at news articles from Trump's four years to see how our allies actually felt while Trump was being pen-pals with Kim Jong-un or defending Vladimir Putin or defending Prince Bonesaw of Saudi Arabia. Pompeo's sudden concern for Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel or the British Parliament might not be authentic!
But as, MSNBC's Medhi Hansan tweeted, the receipts are all archived and wont be easily forgotten:
I know it's from my own show, and I know it's inspired by @saletan's excellent Slate piece and research, but this i… https://t.co/4Qg9SDRDV4— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan) 1630024680.0
As Afghanistan falls further into chaos, the many decision by Pompeo that led here become starker. Slate detailed numerous articles, interviews, and statements showing Pompeo's hypocrisy like the video above. They also highlighted moments like one on March 5, 2020, when Pompeo responded to criticism by making excuses for the Taliban:
We have seen the senior Taliban leadership working diligently to reduce violence from previous levels [...]
Or when he told Fox News's Pete Hegseth on March 6, 2020, he was willing let Kabul fall:
HEGSETH: I mean, we're not going to intervene ultimately two, three years from now if the Afghan Government can't defend itself. This is an Afghan issue.
POMPEO: That's right. [...]
When in the same “Fox & Friends" interview it was pointed out that the Taliban was not meeting its agreement, as similar violence to what's being seen now was already occurring then, Pompeo minimized it by calling it "common" in Afghanistan.
POMPEO: And your point about violence, violence is actually significantly down. The American people don't think – spend much time thinking about the fact that on an average day over the last years there have been between 80 and a hundred violent incidents across Afghanistan. This is common. This is recurring. It is a difficult place.
Pompeo's Dunning-Krueger inspired narcissism and disdain for anyone questioning his moves could be seen back when the House Foreign Affairs Committee was asking very relevant questions about this whole "negotiating with the Taliban as if they are part of the Afghan government thus undermining the actual government there."
I agreed w/ the Trump Admin that there was no military solution to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, my concerns with the… https://t.co/rI5WRBrjYw— Rep. Colin Allred (@Rep. Colin Allred) 1629560127.0
Pompeo clearly stated then that they were "appraising" the Afghan government instead of including them as active participants. Watching Pompeo's smug arrogance in the face of legitimate concerns that were proven correct now is nauseating. It shows how little understanding Pompeo had as he opened the door of legitimacy for the Taliban as a co-equal part of Afghanistan's future.
It also reveals a simple truth of military occupations: The locals live there, the occupiers don't. They'll always be there after the occupiers are gone. It's why soon after our assistance and support was pulled, per the Pompeo-negotiated agreement, the Afghan military dissolved. Dying for a US-created government that no longer had US backing is like being a minimum wage mall cop dying to protect Mark Zuckerberg's barber.
As Slate concluded in their analysis:
The return of authoritarianism in Afghanistan is tragic. So are the latest atrocities: retributive executions, brutality against civilians, and the subjugation of women. The Biden administration misjudged how quickly the government would fall, and Biden misled Americans about what could happen. But nobody has lied more about the Afghan collapse than Pompeo. At every stage, he aided the Taliban and sabotaged the Kabul government. And now he dares to blame others.
The current whitewashing by Pompeo and others is actually very cynically straightforward. It's a bunch of self-interested scumbags trying to attain and hold on to power and relevance at the expense of real people's lives. So: Republicans.
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GOP Pretty Sure 20-Year Afghanistan Clusterf*ck Is Joe Biden's Fault, For Ending It
It's your Sunday show rundown.
Starting wars is easy. Ending wars, on the other hand, is a much trickier proposition. Especially ones with no clear objectives or clearly defined adversaries to declare an official end of conflict with. This is the position President Joe Biden and his administration find themselves in.
Despite the US occupying Afghanistan for 20 years and propping up a new government, it finally came time to bring our troops home. But, after spending billons to train the Afghan forces, it became immediately clear what a sunk cost fallacy it was, as they melted away within days. (Hit that link for a good explanation of the how and why of the collapse of the Afghan military.)
It's a tough decision that Biden will be held responsible for, as commander-in-chief.
But some of the people who are criticizing Biden now should take some fucking seats and responsibility for THEIR hand in this. Remember Donald Trump's peace agreement with the Taliban?
Here's a thing about it that used to be on the RNC's website but suddenly isn't anymore, huh, wonder what that's all about!
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney appeared on ABC's "This Week" to give her take on this. Now, we don't need to tell you the mitigated gall it takes to be the literal scion of the Dick who actually initiated this Afghanistan conflict and think you have the moral credibility to now question how it ends.
For a second, it actually seemed the younger Cheney was gonna give a sobering summation, but then it didn't seem that way anymore:
CHENEY: Well, I think if you look at where we were, if you look at what it would have taken in terms of maintaining the status quo, 2,500 to 3,500 forces on the ground, conducting counterterrorism, counterintelligence operations, this disaster, the catastrophe that we're watching unfold right now across Afghanistan did not have to happen. And it's not just that people predicted that this would happen, everyone was warned that this would happen.
Cheney was focused on when those predictions were made. The Taliban was not murky about its intentions, but many people opposed going into Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place during the Bush/Cheney administration, because they had studied Russian history in that region or at least had seen Charlie Wilson's War. And here we are.
Initially our goals were clear: Capture/kill Osama Bin Laden and stop Al-Qaeda by deposing the Taliban that harbored it in Afghanistan. That's it. But those objectives became blurred as years went by, and also Obama finished one of them when he murdered Bin Laden. But we guess Liz Cheney, like a true Cheney, would rather just indefinitely occupy Afghanistan.
Cheney, though, had no compunctions calling out others who had a hand on this outcome.
JONATHAN KARL: I mean, it was President Trump that negotiated the agreement with the Taliban to have a complete withdrawal that was supposed to actually happen by May 1st. So who bears responsibility?
CHENEY: Look, I think absolutely President Biden bears responsibility for making this decision. But there is no question that President Trump, his administration, Secretary Pompeo, they also bear very significant responsibility for this. They walked down this path of legitimizing the Taliban, of perpetuating this fantasy, telling the American people that the Taliban were a partner for peace. President Trump told us that the Taliban was going to fight terror. Secretary Pompeo told us that the Taliban was going to renounce al Qaeda. None of that has happened. None of it has happened. […] I mean, they -- this disaster certainly began -- and, look, the notion of we're going to end endless war, that campaign slogan, what we're watching right now in Afghanistan is what happens when America withdraws from the world.
Maybe that's why you don't start forever wars. But who cares, if opportunists can shamelessly say we "cut and run" after 20 years instead?
Speaking of heat-seeking missile of scumbaggery Mike Pompeo, He appeared on "Fox News Sunday," where Chris Wallace asked him about his role in the current situation, after playing tape of Trump saying we needed to leave Afghanistan:
WALLACE: Critics say that for the U.S. to cut a deal with the Taliban without the Afghan government even in the room was hugely demoralizing and led inevitably to where we are today.
Pompeo seemed to try to argue that the Trump agreement to withdraw was fine, but it's Biden's fault for going with it instead of ignoring it like they did Obama's many international agreements. So that was interesting!
Wallace pressed him more on this and played video of Pompeo legitimizing and praising the Taliban for their "peaceful" agreement.
WALLACE: You were the first American secretary of State to ever meet with the Taliban and you talked about how they had agreed to join us in the fight against terrorism. […] Do you regret giving the Taliban that legitimacy? Do you regret pressing the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners, which they did, some of whom are now back on the battlefield fighting with the Taliban?
POMPEO: Chris, you make peace with your enemies, the statement that I made that day was absolutely true.
Hey, remember that time the Trump administration invited the Taliban to Camp David for 9/11? Just curious.
Here is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meeting with Mullah Abdul Ghanu Baradar - the co-founder of the Taliban who… https://t.co/IQWjgFblTE— Amee Vanderpool (@Amee Vanderpool) 1629073075.0
The person who was the Afghan president has fled the nation, and we're trying to stabilize a withdrawal before the folks Trump and Pompeo made "peace" with kill everyone. Who's gonna be the president now? That guy with Pompeo, looks like.
In 2018, the Trump administration requested that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar be released from prison:… https://t.co/GIlBKp5FYL— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen) 1629061280.0
But sure, it's all Biden's fault. Also it is critical race theory's fault, somehow, according to Pompeo:
POMPEO: I think weak American leadership always harms American security. So this is in the context of the Biden administration that has basically abandoned the global stage in favor of climate change. They've been focused on critical race theory while the embassy is at risk.
The military that served and sacrificed in these wars -- myself included -- did their duty as they always do. All they ever ask is not to send them to endless or pointless wars.
A promise broken too easily and too often by the chicken
So shut the fuck up and take your end of responsibility in this, GOP.
Have a week.
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Mike Pompeo Brings Super A-Hole Stepdad Energy To 'Fox News Sunday'
It's your Sunday show rundown!
Former Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo, was on "Fox News Sunday" this weekend.
Surprise, he was an asshole!
Chris Wallace had just interviewed current, competent Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We guess Pompeo thought it was his job to "rebut" whatever Blinken had just said. (It's Fox News, after all.)
POMPEO: Well, generically, when I hear the administration talking about taking America back, they're talking about back to what President Obama did for eight years where America was weak.
The alternate timeline where Barack Obama was "weak" on the world stage is always fascinating. President Obama, by most accounts, had a good working relationship with allies like Canada, the UK, Germany and France. Under his presidency, SEAL Team 6 took out Osama Bin Laden (while interrupting an episode of NBC's "The Celebrity Apprentice"). Fox News would still be lauding this if it had been Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush or even Donald Trump who did it. Obama did that.
But perpetuating the myth of "soft/weak liberals" is much more important to Republicans. This is further illustrated by Pompeo's salty, thinly veiled jealousy of the international reaction to President Biden at the G7, and also all the SO FUN pictures that have come out.
POMPEO: We might have been like, they seem -- a lot of people talk about how they're having this really fun time over at the G7, everybody likes President Biden. What's important is not that they like America but that they respect us, that we deliver good outcomes for the American people.
Hahahaha, how far up Trump's ass does one's heat-seeking missile have to be lodged to actually think the world respected America when Trump was president? (They did not.)
Of course, "You don't have to like me but you WILL respect me" has never truly worked. It's an excuse assholes and bullies use to justify their actions. In reality, our allies talked about not being able to rely on America anymore while our geopolitical adversaries laughed it up in the Oval Office, and laughed at Trump behind his back.
Pompeo tried to trot out the whole alternate-universe lie about Trump being tougher on Russia than anybody else, in advance of the real American president's upcoming meeting with Vladimir Putin. Chris Wallace helpfully corrected him on a number of points.
WALLACE: Mr. Secretary, let's look back at the Trump record of -- under President Trump, the administration didn't stop Russia from completing -- and they continued during the Trump administration to build the Nord Stream pipeline. By the end of the administration, it was 90 percent completed. And President Trump never condemned Russia for the poisoning of Alexey Navalny or his arrest. And both of those happened on his watch.
Pompeo's response was laughably absurd.
POMPEO: Well, Chris, you said it yourself, they didn't complete the pipeline. […] We made clear that that pipeline was not going to be completed. It would not have been completed had we had four more years, I'm very, very confident of that.
Way to play the technicality, Pompeo. So because Russia only completed 90 percent under Trump's presidency, it counts as Biden's fault? We are not mathletes, but if Russia completed 90 percent in four years, we bet that last 10 percent would have been achievable had Trump won four more.
But if you thought that answer about Russia was dumb, check this quote:
POMPEO: And with respect to human rights, I -- we take a backseat to no one. […] We were tough there too, Chris. I'm proud of the work we did there. It was good work. It was serious work and it made a difference.
Former Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is unavailable for comment.
The interview concluded with Wallace confronting Pompeo over the lack of hard evidence provided by the Trump administration to prove that COVID-19 originated from a Chinese lab.
WALLACE: You also criticized President Biden for not pushing hard enough on China to learn the origins of the coronavirus. But I want to again go back to your administration and the record there. President Trump and his team, including you, had almost a year after COVID- 19 first came on the scene, to really press Beijing on what the origins were, when the evidence was much fresher. […] But what did President Trump and his administration […] do to press China harder to get the evidence on where the COVID-19 virus came from? Because we still don't know.
Pompeo's seemingly tried to "confirm" the lab leak theory, but left a small caveat if he's proven incorrect once the Biden Administration and the World Health Organization are able to complete thorough investigations.
POMPEO: Chris, the predicate of your question is all wrong. We have a really good idea of what happened here. There's an enormous amount of evidence that there was a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. There's a -- there's a pile of evidence hundred feet high. I have -- I have high confidence that that's the case.
He has "high confidence." Sure thing, you bet.
We'll just wait for the real grownups to let us know what happened, thanks.
Have a week!
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