Translate

Showing posts with label The War Is Over. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The War Is Over. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The War Is Over...Finally. Adding Joe Biden's Address With Commentary By Juan Cole - Refugee Problemas Down Here Tambien - Biden Fighting Judges Ruling On 'Remain In Mexico'

Did Rupert Murdoch or his son buy out CNN? I ask due to the scathing review (called "analysis") by Steven Collinson, another one who I used to admire. But this one made me feel better:

 

 ~ From The Atlantic :

 Biden Deserves Credit, Not Blame For Afghanistan 

Americans should feel proud of what the U.S. government and military have accomplished in these past two weeks.

By David Rothkopf - August 30, 2021
 

"America’s longest war has been by any measure a costly failure, and the errors in managing the conflict deserve scrutiny in the years to come. But Joe Biden doesn’t “own” the mayhem on the ground right now. What we’re seeing is the culmination of 20 years of bad decisions by U.S. political and military leaders. If anything, Americans should feel proud of what the U.S. government and military have accomplished in these past two weeks. President Biden deserves credit, not blame.

Unlike his three immediate predecessors in the Oval Office, all of whom also came to see the futility of the Afghan operation, Biden alone had the political courage to fully end America’s involvement. Although Donald Trump made a plan to end the war, he set a departure date that fell after the end of his first term and created conditions that made the situation Biden inherited more precarious. And despite significant pressure and obstacles, Biden has overseen a military and government that have managed, since the announcement of America’s withdrawal, one of the most extraordinary logistical feats in their recent history. By the time the last American plane lifts off from Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 31, the total number of Americans and Afghan allies extricated from the country may exceed 120,000.

 In the days following the fall of Kabul earlier this month—an event that triggered a period of chaos, fear, and grief—critics castigated the Biden administration for its failure to properly coordinate the departure of the last Americans and allies from the country. The White House was indeed surprised by how quickly the Taliban took control, and those early days could have been handled better. But the critics argued that more planning both would have been able to stop the Taliban victory and might have made America’s departure somehow tidier, more like a win or perhaps even a draw. The chaos, many said, was symptomatic of a bigger error. They argued that the United States should stay in Afghanistan, that the cost of remaining was worth the benefits a small force might bring.

Former military officers and intelligence operatives, as well as commentators who had long been advocates of extending America’s presence in Afghanistan, railed against Biden’s artificial deadline. Some critics were former Bush-administration officials or supporters who had gotten the U.S. into the mess in the first place, setting us on the impossible path toward nation building and, effectively, a mission without a clear exit or metric for success. Some were Obama-administration officials or supporters who had doubled down on the investment of personnel in the country and later, when the futility of the war was clear, lacked the political courage to withdraw. Some were Trump-administration officials or supporters who had negotiated with and helped strengthen the Taliban with their concessions in the peace deal and then had punted the ultimate exit from the country to the next administration.

They all conveniently forgot that they were responsible for some of America’s biggest errors in this war and instead were incandescently self-righteous in their invective against the Biden administration. Never mind the fact that the Taliban had been gaining ground since it resumed its military campaign in 2004 and, according to U.S. estimates even four years ago, controlled or contested about a third of Afghanistan. Never mind that the previous administration’s deal with the Taliban included the release of 5,000 fighters from prison and favored an even earlier departure date than the one that Biden embraced. Never mind that Trump had drawn down U.S. troop levels from about 13,000 to 2,500 during his last year in office and had failed to repatriate America’s equipment on the ground. Never mind the delay caused by Trump and his adviser Stephen Miller’s active obstruction of special visas for Afghans who helped us.

Never mind the facts. Never mind the losses. Never mind the lessons. Biden, they felt, was in the wrong.

 Despite the criticism, Biden, who had argued unsuccessfully when he was Barack Obama’s vice president to seriously reduce America’s presence in Afghanistan, remained resolute. Rather than view the heartbreaking scenes in Afghanistan in a political light as his opponents did, Biden effectively said, “Politics be damned—we’re going to do what’s right” and ordered his team to stick with the deadline and find a way to make the best of the difficult situation in Kabul.

The Biden administration nimbly adapted its plans, ramping up the airlift and sending additional troops into the country to aid crisis teams and to enhance security. Around-the-clock flights came into and went out of Afghanistan. Giant cargo planes departed, a number of them packed with as many as 600 occupants. Senior administration officials convened regular meetings with U.S. allies to find destinations for those planes to land and places for the refugees to stay. The State Department tracked down Americans in the country, as well as Afghans who had worked with the U.S., to arrange their passage to the airport. The Special Immigrant Visa program that the Trump administration had slowed down was kicked into high gear. Despite years of fighting, the administration and the military spoke with the Taliban many times to coordinate passage of those seeking to depart to the airport, to mitigate risks as best as possible, to discuss their shared interest in meeting the August 31 deadline.

The process was relentless and imperfect and, as we all have seen in the most horrific way, not without huge risks for those staying behind to help. On August 26, a suicide bomber associated with ISIS-K killed more than 150 Afghans and 13 American service members who were gathered outside the airport. However, even that heinous act didn’t deter the military. In a 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday, 12,500 people were airlifted out of the country and the president recommitted to meeting the August 31 deadline. And he did so even as his critics again sought to capitalize on tragedy for their own political gain: Republicans called for the impeachment of Biden and of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

 Within hours of the attack at the airport, America struck back, killing two terrorists and injuring another with a missile launched from a drone. A separate drone strike targeted a vehicle full of explosives on Sunday. In doing so, Biden countered the argument that America might lack the intelligence or military resources we would need to defend ourselves against violent extremists now that our troops are leaving.

 The very last chapter of America’s benighted stay in Afghanistan should be seen as one of accomplishment on the part of the military and its civilian leadership. Once again the courage and unique capabilities of the U.S. armed services have been made clear.  And, in a stark change from recent years, an American leader has done the hard thing, the right thing: set aside politics and put both America’s interests and values first."

David Rothkopf is an author, a commentator, a former senior government official, and the host of the Deep State Radio podcast.

 ~~~~~

 Update/edit: Adding Joe Biden's address to the nation, with commentary by Juan Cole.

 ~ From Informed Comment :

The address is on the link: 

 

 Biden: Afghanistan Withdrawal is "About Ending an Era of Major Military Operations to Remake Other Countries"

 

 "Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the end of the war in Afghanistan.

I saw the Neoconservative Bill Kristol on CNN deploring Biden’s speech for not assessing the sweep of the war. Kristol was the biggest warmonger of all the pundits in the early zeroes, arguing for invading and occupying Iraq, Iran and North Korea with 400,000 troops each. He has never explained what national interest of the US that rampaging Bonapartism would serve. The US lost the Iraq War, lost the Afghanistan War, and has for forty years failed to undo the 1979 revolution in Iran despite strenuous efforts. No one has been more wrong and more detached from reality than Kristol, but CNN still brings on him and his like to criticize a normal person like Joe Biden.

Biden wanted to get out of Afghanistan in 2009, but lost that battle inside the Obama White House. He finally has his way, and unlike smarmy pundits or the former guy he actually has reasoned arguments for what he does.

Biden told the nation, “Last night in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan — the longest war in American history.”

He pointed to the airlift of more than 120,000 people, the biggest airlift in American history, which far exceeded estimates of what would be possible. Unlike Trump, who appears to have viewed soldiers who put their lives in harm’s way as losers, Biden gave the credit for the evacuation to US service personnel, 13 of whom lost their lives doing good. He also praised State Department diplomats and intelligence field officers, also government employees for whom Trump had ill-disguised contempt.

Biden admitted that he and his team were thrown for a loop when the 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan government abruptly melted away.

Some Republicans in Congress are blaming Biden for this fiasco because he pulled out US troops and the air and logistical support that allowed the Afghan army to function.

This argument assumes that the entire Afghanistan government was unable to fly the helicopters we supplied them with and unable to figure out the delivery schedule. In fact, many in the Afghanistan government were corrupt and mainly using their office to embezzle the billions coming in from the United States taxpayer. Many officers in the security forces were stealing the salaries of their troops, who understandably deserted. The officers did not report the desertions and went on collecting the salaries they stole from their men.

In short, there weren’t 300,000 Afghan security forces. Many were ghost troops. The ones who had not yet deserted saw no reason to risk their lives for officers who were stealing from them.

So the thesis that throwing more US money and lives at this problem would have allowed the ponzi scheme to go on was incorrect. The whole structure was rotten and had been collapsing for years as the Taliban advanced. The US couldn’t have kept it from collapsing, only slightly delayed the collapse. The cost of that delay would have been high– since it would have involved breaking Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban, which required the US military to be out by May 1, which Biden renegotiated to August 31.

Biden tried to make up for his earlier unfairness to the Afghanistan troops, admitting that they “did not hold on as long as anyone expected” “after two decades of fighting for their country and losing thousands of their own.” It was not the grunts in the Afghanistan National Army who bore the blame but their corrupt and incompetent leaders.

Biden said,

    “As a result, to safely extract American citizens before August 31st — as well as embassy personnel, Allies and partners, and those Afghans who had worked with us and fought alongside of us for 20 years — I had authorized 6,000 troops — American troops — to Kabul to help secure the airport.

    As General McKenzie said, this is the way the mission was designed. It was designed to operate under severe stress and attack. And that’s what it did.”

He defended his record in getting Americans out of Afghanistan, saying that of thousands who wanted to leave and were airlifted, “100 to 200” remained. Most of them are dual citizens who had earlier decided to stay and then changed their minds.

Biden’s Republican critics can’t make up their minds whether they don’t want any more brown people coming to America or whether they are shocked that a couple hundred Afghan-Americans, out of thousands, couldn’t manage to get to the airport.

For his part, Biden said,

    “And for those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out. Secretary of State Blinken is leading the continued diplomatic efforts to ensure a safe passage for any American, Afghan partner, or foreign national who wants to leave Afghanistan.

    In fact, just yesterday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that sent a clear message about what the international community expects the Taliban to deliver on moving forward, notably freedom of travel, freedom to leave. And together, we are joined by over 100 countries that are determined to make sure the Taliban upholds those commitments.

    It will include ongoing efforts in Afghanistan to reopen the airport, as well as overland routes, allowing for continued departure to those who want to leave and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.”

Biden pointed out that if the Taliban renege, the U.S. has options. These include $9 billion in frozen Afghanistan National Bank funds.

Biden tried to explain once again that the alternative to leaving, once Trump had made a deal with the Taliban to depart, was to go to war all over again:

    “My predecessor, the former President, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May the 1st, just months after I was inaugurated. It included no requirement that the Taliban work out a cooperative governing arrangement with the Afghan government, but it did authorize the release of 5,000 prisoners last year, including some of the Taliban’s top war commanders, among those who just took control of Afghanistan.

    And by the time I came to office, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country.

    The previous administration’s agreement said that if we stuck to the May 1st deadline that they had signed on to leave by, the Taliban wouldn’t attack any American forces, but if we stayed, all bets were off.

    So we were left with a simple decision: Either follow through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan, or say we weren’t leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war.

    That was the choice — the real choice — between leaving or escalating.”

Biden was clear: “I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit.”

With those words, Biden ended the post-9/11 era of George W. Bush’s “war on terror” (as though you could make war on a tactic).

That was the take-away of Biden’s speech. This is a pivotal turning point in American foreign policy. The “empire” imagined by Bush’s campaign manager Karl Rove and by Kristol and the warmongers of the New American Century has been brought to a close.

It wasn’t much of an empire. It wasn’t even done right. A proper empire loots other people. The French Empire even collected 10% of the GDP of desperately poor African colonies like Dahomey and sent them to Paris to pay for ostrich feathers for the mistresses of Third Republic politicians.

The US “empire” consisted of ramshackle countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq, on which we actually had to be the ones spending the money. Our national debt is some $28 trillion, outstripping our annual GDP and threatening the soundness of our economy. If you add up the expenses of the “empire” and add in the interest we paid and will pay on the money we borrowed to create and perpetuate it, my guess is that it accounts for the bulk of the national debt. The interest on the borrowed Afghanistan war costs alone is $6.5 trillion.

Biden threw down a challenge:

    “To those asking for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I ask: What is the vital national interest? In my view, we only have one: to make sure Afghanistan can never be used again to launch an attack on our homeland.

    Remember why we went to Afghanistan in the first place? Because we were attacked by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda on September 11th, 2001, and they were based in Afghanistan.

    We delivered justice to bin Laden on May 2nd, 2011 — over a decade ago. Al Qaeda was decimated.”

He pointed out that nowadays terrorist and cyber threats don’t have to base themselves in Afghanistan. They can be anywhere. I would point out that even in 2001, the Hamburg cell of al-Qaeda in Germany was likely more important, given its knowledge of airplane engineering, than the Afghanistan cells.

Biden also crystallized the post-GWOT (global war on terror) paradigm:

    “And here’s a critical thing to understand: The world is changing. We’re engaged in a serious competition with China. We’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts with Russia. We’re confronted with cyberattacks and nuclear proliferation.

    We have to shore up America’s competitive[ness] to meet these new challenges in the competition for the 21st century. And we can do both: fight terrorism and take on new threats that are here now and will continue to be here in the future.

    And there’s nothing China or Russia would rather have, would want more in this competition than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan.”

This point is one I regret. Washington seems always to want an enemy. China is our biggest single trading partner and Cold War rhetoric about it is therefore inappropriate. I lived in the Cold War and don’t remember buying Russian goods at a big box store.

Biden concluded,

    “As we turn the page on the foreign policy that has guided our nat- — our nation the last two decades, we’ve got to learn from our mistakes.

    To me, there are two that are paramount. First, we must set missions with clear, achievable goals — not ones we’ll never reach. And second, we must stay clearly focused on the fundamental national security interest of the United States of America.

    This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries.”

Despite the conviction of a lot of Republicans that Afghanistan will be Biden’s Achilles’ heel, I actually suspect that once the images of chaos fade, and assuming there isn’t a big attack from Afghanistan, the American public will be happy enough with Biden’s withdrawal. Trump had been convinced that his own base hated those forever wars and that he could run on ending them. People lost jobs in 2008 and then in the pandemic and they don’t want their government pursuing foreign adventurism with money that could be spent domestically.

What I can’t for the life of me understand is why Biden and the Democrats don’t cut the Pentagon budget if they really aren’t going to fight any more Bush-style wars. If that over $700 billion (and it is really closer to $1 trillion) is corporate welfare, there are more efficient ways to create jobs, and more useful jobs to create. Back after the fall of the Soviet Union there was a peace dividend and a reduction in the war budget. We need to take about $300 billion a year and put it into fighting climate change instead."

——

Bonus Video:

PBS NewsHour: ” Biden addresses nation about end of Afghanistan war” 

 

end edit.

 

~~~~~

 

 Problems With Refugees Down In Mexico

 

Courtesy Reuters

 

 Meanwhile....after we witnessed the Mexican Government rolling out the red carpet for hundreds of Afghan refugees which was applaudable (especially since many of them were journalists...) we see the other side of the coin. I think many people who are aware of this obvious dichotomy will be asking why?  They will be thinking I am sure, is this differential treatment due to the fact that many of these refugees hailing from Chiapas were of color ?

 

So far, Zeta has not reported anything on this situation:

  ~ From Democracy Now! 

Mexican Authorities Attack Caravan of U.S.-Bound Asylum Seekers 

Headline Aug 30, 2021
 

"In Mexico, a caravan of some 500 asylum seekers, including young children, was assaulted by Mexican authorities Saturday as the group made its way to Mexico City to demand expedited asylum proceedings. The caravan was mostly made up of people from Haiti, Central America, Cuba and Colombia, who’ve been blocked from leaving the southern state of Chiapas while their cases are processed. This is an asylum seeker from Nicaragua.

Cristian Galeano: “If we could live in our countries, we would not have come. If we were not oppressed, we would not have come from our countries. As you can see, most are young, poor people, people in need. We only want to work.”

 

~~~~~ 


 ~ From Reuters: With Pictures

 

Migrants Depart Southern Mexico In Caravan To Protest Slow Asylum Process

 

 By

 

"TAPACHULA, Mexico, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed hundreds of security forces to head off a caravan of migrants and asylum seekers who departed the southern Mexican city of Tapachula en masse on Saturday in efforts to reach the Mexican capital, where they hoped to seek expedited asylum proceedings.

Videos posted to social media showed confrontations between members of Mexico's heavily militarized National Guard and the migrants, many of whom were accompanied by young children or carrying babies in their arms.

The majority of the approximately 500 people in the caravan hailed from Haiti, Cuba, Central America and Colombia. As of Saturday evening, they had advanced about 20 miles north of Tapachula in the lashing rain.

For days, migrants in Tapachula have been staging protests to demand their cases be expedited so they could leave the southern state and relocate to other parts of Mexico or head to the U.S. border without risking deportation, according to local news reports.

"We can't survive in Tapachula," said Colombian migrant Carlos Correa, 31, who said he joined the caravan on Saturday after waiting for three months without receiving a response to his asylum application.

"We are asking the government of Mexico to please create a humanitarian corridor for us so we can travel to the (U.S.)border," he said.

Under Mexican law, migrants must remain in the state where they sought asylum until their cases are resolved, a process that can take months or years.

Mexico is facing mounting pressure from Washington to take steps to curtail U.S.-bound immigration. In recent weeks, the Mexican government has sent thousands of migrants to southern Mexico by plane, where they are transported by bus to the Guatemalan border." read more

Reporting by Jose Torres in Tapachula and Laura Gottesdiener in Monterrey, Writing by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Daniel Wallis
 
~~~~~ 
 

 

 ~ From WORLDAKKAM: Taken from Milenio, El Pais, Reforma & El Universal
Not the greatest translation, but worth the read:
 
National Guard and Immigration Agents Clash With Chiapas Immigrants