Afghanistan

Taliban, Russia Want U.S. to Withdraw From Afghanistan

If it's what they really want they're going about it in the wrongest way.

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defense.gov

The Taliban released an open letter urging President Trump to end the war in Afghanistan at the same time Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov suggested that if the U.S. is "unable to do anything serious" in Afghanistan, it should leave.

Oh, boy.

Neither Kabulov nor the unidentified Taliban author are wrong in principle—16 years of war in Afghanistan have produced almost nothing. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to eliminate one of the few safe havens for terrorists in the world. Safe havens have proliferated since then.

But their statements could have the opposite effect, toughening the resolve of forces within the Trump administration who want to extend the Afghan war.

"Despite the fact that the former administration officials created a large coalition to attack our country, your 16 year military presence in Afghanistan has resulted in Afghanistan becoming the most unstable country security wise, the most corrupt administrative wise and the poorest country economically," the Taliban letter reads.

Most recently, the terror group ISIS entered Afghanistan—a group that did not exist in 2001 and has benefited from U.S.-induced instability in Iraq to metastasize into what it is today. Trump told reporters last month that ISIS was "falling fast" in Afghanistan—he has been relatively skeptical of continued U.S. presence in Afghanistan despite surrounding himself largely with military advisors committed to continuing the conflict.

Kabulov insisted Afghanistan has become a "global incubator of international terrorism." It's an odd claim for a country embroiled in Syria, a veritable melting pot of terror groups, and reportedly opposed to the U.S. leaving the Afghanistan war to private contractors.

The U.S. should leave Afghanistan. As I noted last week, neither privatizing nor prosecuting the war in some other way better articulates precisely why the U.S. is in Afghanistan in the first place. This has been missing almost from the beginning. The core of Al-Qaeda was disposed of relatively quickly and the mastermind of 9/11 (the raison d'etre for the Afghanistan war) was killed in 2011 in Pakistan.

Any honest effort to define U.S. security goals in Afghanistan would reveal none worth continuing the war. If Afghan government agencies or mineral companies or anyone else require security, they are free to contract with private companies.

The Taliban and Russian comments raise the question of whether they would actually prefer to see the U.S. continue to waste blood and treasure in Afghanistan. The U.S. presence there is a powerful recruitment tool for the Taliban while weakening the U.S. position as a global power.

Vladimir Putin is not so politically tone-deaf to think his envoy's opinion that the U.S. has lost in Afghanistan will benefit opponents of the war in the Trump administration. Trump may oppose the war, but he's been very sensitive about being seen as a Russian puppet. This sensitivity has contributed to a string of stupid mistakes, including the firing of FBI Director James Comey, which led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign's alleged Russia connections.

It's not hard to imagine Trump doubling down in Afghanistan to demonstrate he isn't following Russia's lead. And that would be a shame.

Nearly 40 years ago, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Publicly, President Carter condemned the invasion and called on the Soviet Union to withdraw. Privately, Carter and his advisors were excited about the prospect of a protracted Soviet war in Afghanistan weakening the USSR. Afghanistan, after all, was the graveyard of empires.

Afghanistan may not be a "Soviet Vietnam" on its own, Zbigniew Brzerzinski, Carter's national security advisor, wrote in a memo, but U.S. support for rebel groups could get it there. Those rebel groups, the mujahedeen, eventually became the Taliban as well as parts of Al-Qaeda.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the two American troops most recently killed in Afghanistan.

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37 responses to “Taliban, Russia Want U.S. to Withdraw From Afghanistan

  1. But their statements could have the opposite effect, toughening the resolve of forces within the Trump administration who want to extend the Afghan war.

    Why assume they’re so stupid?

    War is health of the Taliban, just as much as it is the health of any deep state.

    1. It may be healthy for the Taliban (I bet they’d differ) but it is undeniable ‘wealthy’ or wealth-producing for the ‘deep state’.

      If ‘the deep state’ (ie the Americans who count) were losing either their health or their wealth fighting in Afghanistan, we wouldn’t be fighting in Afghanistan.

  2. It’s not hard to imagine Trump doubling down in Afghanistan to demonstrate he isn’t following Russia’s lead. And that would be a shame.

    Nearly 40 years ago, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Publicly, President Carter condemned the invasion and called on the Soviet Union to withdraw. Privately, Carter and his advisors were excited about the prospect of a protracted Soviet war in Afghanistan weakening the USSR. Afghanistan, after all, was the graveyard of empires.

    Just because Trump’s not Putin’s puppet doesn’t mean Putin doesn’t know how to yank Trump’s chain. If you know somebody’s going to always do the exact opposite of whatever you tell them to do, it’s pretty easy to get them to do just what you want them to do.

    1. Yeah man, I think ya got it! Russkies want to see USA get bled dry in this stupid, stupid,STUPID (did I sat stupid enough times?) war! A little bit of reverse psychology is JUST the thing to turn The Donald even stupider!

  3. But their statements could have the opposite effect…

    Blowback is real.

    1. *unzips

  4. Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov suggested that if the U.S. is “unable to do anything serious” in Afghanistan, it should leave.

    If you want Trump to back down, definitely imply that he’s either chicken or a loser.

  5. “Now youz can’t leave.”

    1. They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast.

      1. “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”

  6. Our government does not make mistakes. It is perfect. To pull out of Afghanistan is to admit fault. It will never happen. Ever.

  7. I also urge the US government to withdraw the military from Afghanistan.

    And Syria and Africa Command and NATO and Western Pacific etc.

  8. I’ve been seeing this all over tweeter.. we have to do anything, no matter how breathtakingly stupid, just to spite Russia.. I’m worried Russia will be making a joking comment about it makes no sense to invade new Zealand and we’ll feel compelled to do it bc, fuck Russia.

    1. Twitter* also related. This book was released today
      https://tinyurl.com/y87zcnpz

  9. “Taliban tells President Trump, ‘You shouldn’t punch yourself in the dick over and over.'”

    1. These guys are geniuses. If there is one thing Trump is know for is doing what his opponents say.

    2. You just don’t understand, because you’re not a winner like Trump. He’ll do anything to win, and he doesn’t even care what it is he’s winning. If it’s a “Punch yourself in the dick” competition, he will punch himself right in his yuge, beautiful dick harder than anyone. Winning!

      Of course, as President, he basically gets to punch all of us in the dick. (Or grab us by the pussy, as the case may be.) He was right, I am sick of winning.

  10. So Obama did NOT destroy the Taliban?

    1. I think he did. I remember her personally strangled Osama Bin Laden.

      1. Good one. I wonder if Hillary dropped the body into Davey Jones Locker.

  11. Obama ended the Afghan war, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    1. And the Iraq war. Obama ended that too. The fact that there are US troops fighting there is irrelevant.

  12. After 17 years, anyone fighting in Afghanistan is doing so with full disclosure of the futility. Am I allowed to stop caring now?

    1. Anyone who has not seen Princess Bride and learned something about land wars in Asia, take note. Land wars in Asia are not know for being anything but quagmires.

      For USA: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria….
      For USSR: Iran, Korea, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Syria….
      For Nazi Germany: USSR
      For Britain: India, Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, ME….
      For Japan: Korea, Manchuria, China, SE Asia, Malaysia….

      1. This time will be different!

      2. The USSR never fought a war with Iran, or Korea, or Mongolia, or Syria. It liberated two of those from the Empire of Japan. Russia has supported the Islamic Revolution in Iran and assisted Syria in fighting-off a dose of western-supported Islamic terrorism. Britain never fought a war in or with Iran, either.

        The rest you’ve got right – except for omitting the CIA ‘quagmire’ (or regime change) in Iran that led to the Islamic revolution there.

    2. Paying for it? No. The caring is optional.

  13. The Taliban released an open letter urging President Trump to end the war in Afghanistan

    if not a tweet, total waste of time.

  14. If you wanted Trump’s attention you’d say something like, “I hear the Taliban claims to run one of the finest wineries in all the world, Mr President.”

    1. They do pretty well ‘growing flowers’, or so we’ve been told. The most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen.

  15. After Syria, Trump knows the best way to get the media momentarily on his side is to bomb the third world because they’re all bloodthirsty psychopaths. I wonder if we don’t see him double down somewhere to shed some of the heat regarding this weekend. The only thing that would get him worse publicity than what he’s getting now would be ending a war

    1. Clarification: the media are the bloodthirsty psychopaths

    2. I thought the bombardment was humanitarian?

  16. I used to work with a lady that grew up under the Taliban regime and was grateful to the point of tears for the US intervention that ousted them. She would collect old textbooks and clothes from coworkers to send to the kids there who were now allowed to go to school and needed material to read. We continue to keep the Taliban at bay despite the region’s numerous other problems. Claiming that our presence has created more havens for terrorism is an untenable claim that assumes these same terrorists wouldn’t have gone there under the Taliban regime (consider that both ISIS and Taliban are Sunni and certainly would have aided one another). Now one could make an argument that intervention in Afghanistan is not our responsibility but to claim our presence has achieved “almost nothing” is entirely divorced from reality.

    1. Well we seem to have made one lady happy. But the schools are still police outposts in most places.

  17. While we may think the Russians want us out of Afghanistan, they may be of the opinion that us staying there might be even better. They haven’t actually said much about that, after shutting down the ‘trans-Russia’ supply route.

    While it’s a virtual certainty that Taliban want us out (they say they won’t stop – or talk peace with Kabul – until we are) it’s a toss-up that other Afghans don’t feel the same way. If the US coalition is putting ghee on your naan it’s pretty obvious which way they’re going, but to the population living in the refugee camps around Kabul because the USMC destroyed their homes in Helmand, the vote, if anybody asked them, might go the other way.

    Say there’s thought, how about some real democracy – ask the Afghans. Do it honestly and accept the results with an offer to keep on sending reconstruction money. It could be making the best of an increasingly worse situation. There will be no victory parade.

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