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    There Is Likely No Withdrawal From Afghanistan

    The Gulf War occurred after then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. George H.W. Bush took Kuwait back from a dictator who had only a few years before been a tool of the West in a proxy war against Iran. Bush famously uttered “this aggression will not stand” and made a show of refraining from invading Iraq wholesale.


    When his son George W. Bush became president, he came in continuing his father’s rhetoric - he talked of “the ugly American” and “a humble foreign policy.” When the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occurred, however, this was clearly ejected from the program and an invasion of Afghanistan and then an invasion of Iraq was launched in 2003. Popular mythology in movies like Oliver Stone’s W. posited that George W. Bush invaded Iraq in order to somehow best his father, but it’s more than likely that the policy goal was to exercise restraint until the moment was ripe to invade.


    That conflict did not end until 2011. The conflict ended up spilling over in to Syria and the rise of ISIS in both countries and around the world caused the West to continue intervention in that region, culminating with high profile ISIS assassinations and a withdrawal of American military from Syria under President Donald Trump in 2019.




    President Donald Trump pushed for a withdrawal from Afghanistan, and was in talks with the Taliban to do so, but that does not account entirely for what has occurred during President Joe Biden’s term. Despite speeches in which Biden emphasized how he had inherited these conflicts and that the U.S. needed to recline from the role of global police officer, very different things were occurring in Afghanistan.


    One horrendous shot showed bodies literally falling from an American military plane as Afghans rushed to get away from a country that was about to see an ascendant Taliban.  Subsequently, a suicide bombing was carried out by ISIS-K, a division of the terrorist group whose acronym means Islamic State in Khorasan Province.” ISIS-K is reportedly comprised of various former Taliban fighters and therefore has links with the entity the United States has apparently handed Afghanistan to.


    On August 27, 2020, a suicide bombing killed 13 American troops. Flags were put at half mast, right wing talk radio was enraged and the media was filled with human interest stories about the soldiers’ families. With an August 31 deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan, suddenly a whole lot of action was being put forth by the United States. As Joe Biden proclaimed “we do not forgive, we do not forget,” it sounded like the U.S. wasn’t leaving Afghanistan at all but instead fighting a new front of a war there.


    American drone strikes hit Afghan civilians while rockets and gunfire reigned on Kabul. Was this a withdrawal or an escalation?




    That question is still to be foreseen. However, as we have seen from past American administrations, it is not uncommon to see the sitting U.S. president arise to power proclaiming the need for restraint in global affairs, only to escalate American forces later on. This “playing weak’ strategy works in warfare to make one’s actions seem less predictable to the opponent, and thus make the opponent more cautious in their actions.


    It also makes the United States look like its hands are tied - wanting restraint but acting militarily when pushed to do so. There are multiple players in Afghanistan, a country that is as vital to the interests of neighboring Central Asian states as it is to us, and keeping actors like China or Russia on their toes is a priority of policymakers.


    Afghanistan is called “the graveyard of empires,” having bested multiple countries that attempted to conquer it. The purpose of empire, however, is not simply dominion over others but dominion over truly difficult parts of the world in which exorbitant wealth and resources are available. 


    The conservative rhetoric of the blood and toil spent in Afghanistan could easily expand to the blood and toil shed by Afghans themselves - 240,000 killed by the war, along with 2.5 million left as refugees. The world cannot by any standard of reason just leave Afghanistan be, no matter how much it may want to.


    Afghanistan reportedly “has over 1,400 mineral fields, containing barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, precious and semi-precious stones, salt, sulfur, talc, and zinc.” It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the United States or any global superpower would just let that go.


    I question the connection you have made between the interests that lead to starting a war and what compels the end of it.

    The proxy war with Iran did shape what the Bushes promoted and/or condemned in Iraq. The energy resources of those countries were not being directly contested but the shape of the market where they get exchanged was. And if one is going to weld together national and economic interests of groups whose wealth has been generated by manipulating said environment, the next shot in the movie zooms in on Cheney and Bush thinking they can bust the game wide open by invading Iraq.

    Whether they suceeded in their objective cannot be measured by the shit show we paid for in treasure and blood. I am not able to separate what other motivations might have driven these people to seduce the country to invade another. It is clear, however, that they have not suffered finacially as a price for the failure.

    Saying as much is not to say all security issues by our massive apparatus are based upon financial gain. Having the Taliban take over actually brings new problems to all who are neighbors the nation.

    I don't think we are on the brink of a new escalation. As we have learned since Vietnam, proxy wars are started by millionaires and paid for by peons. It is not a sustainable system. The bill has come due.

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