Indeed, I have seen this movie before. Only it was helicopters lifting off the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon, after a war which didn’t drag on for nearly as long as the hamfisted, ill-advised and ultimately disastrous attempt by an assortment of venial careerists in the DOD and State Department to make a functional country out of an Islamist-ridden tribal hellhole like Afghanistan. Now, it’s grossly overloaded airplanes and mobs in Kabul, Afghanistan. The suspicion now is that those high-ranking idiots, exemplified by General Milley and his boss at the head of the DOD, former General Austin didn’t really believe in that stated mission, they just wanted to ensure that the gravy-train went humming along; pots and pots of boodle for their pet projects, a nice pension, and a profitable post-retirement gig as a member of the board of whatever, or a nice gig as a media commenter. Oh, and instead of dealing realistically and honestly with Afghanistan – a 7th century quarrel with borders, a fact which has been freely acknowledged for decades, if not centuries – these shoulder-starred geniuses were off on a mad quest to hunt down and eliminate the Great White Supremacist Whale from the military services.
Frankly, it was always rather a bad bet that Afghanistan could have been made into a semi-functioning country. I was of the opinion early on that once we had thumped the Talibunnies for good and all, we should have left it to be a playground for Special Forces and drone operators, after warning the locals that we’d thump them again and even more vigorously if they got obstreperous. We had a better chance of success in Iraq, but former President Obama, or whoever was pulling his strings during his terms wanted to bail on Iraq and still look tough on the war front, and so here we are, watching helicopters lifting off from the roof of an American embassy … again, and frantic crowds of locals mobbing American aircraft at the airfield in Kabul.
This after American troops were pulled out so fast that warehouses full of usable equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, everything but the kitchen sink – left to looters. The Daughter Unit, especially, was horrified at pictures of the sheer quantities of equipment left behind, as if no thought had been given to transporting it all out or destroying it in place. An argument might be made that those supplies were left to the so-called official Afghan military forces … who mostly folded like a cheap patio chair.
Responsibility for this debacle lies all on the starred-rank commanders like “Vanilli” Milley. Who, if he is lucky, might be relived of rank and reassigned, as the commanders at Pearl Harbor were, after December 7th, 1941. At best, these weasels and their associates might just escape having rotten fruit thrown at them by members of the public and outraged veterans. Milley and DOD chief Austin are responsible for this disaster – as they were in charge, and the local Pearl Harbor commanders were only regional, and not in the intelligence loop which would have told them that a Japanese attack was inbound on their command. Milley and Austin had to have known about the frailties of the military position in Afghanistan. It was their job. And instead, they were pursuing wokism. And the coffins of dead Marines and GIs have stacked up, and also the numbers of wounded, and veterans with PTSD, from tours in Afghanistan.
My daughter and I are almost incandescent with rage and sorrow. I have seen this movie before, and my daughter has friends and comrades who did tours in that benighted hell-hole and are likely wracked with anger. What was it all for, that they should enlist and serve, when all it comes to is this? Inquiring minds want to know.
A note – I wrote this, in a post about the firing of General McCrystal, some years ago:
What if he could already see the writing on the wall – or the helicopters taking off from the roof of the American Embassy and came to the conclusion that the military was going to take the blame for ‘losing’ Afghanistan?
42 thoughts on “I Seen This Movie Before”
Sgt Mom: “This after American troops were pulled out so fast that warehouses full of usable equipment, vehicles, weapons, ammunition, everything but the kitchen sink – left to looters.
We will be lucky if they are merely looters. Russia & China have not high-tailed out of Kabul. Dollars to donuts — Russians & Chinese are now in negotiations with the Taliban to acquire representative samples of everything that the US military abandoned or supplied to the Afghan (now Taliban) army. That equipment & weapons will get reverse engineered. Any good ideas will get copied — any weaknesses will get identified and counter-measures developed.
Russia & China will also want to debrief Afghans who were trained by the US and are now “cooperating” with the Taliban. Know your enemy, as Sun Tzu would have advised.
Biden, his handlers, out worthless Congress, our venal Flag Officers, and what jokingly calls itself our “intelligence” services have just lost World War III.
Really, this is the time for US leaders (if there were any of President Trump’s caliber) to pull back from “foreign entanglements”, greatly shrink the military, investigate every senior officer, serving & retired, and prosecute liberally. Switch to a sensible defense policy — we won’t mess with anyone; and if anyone messes with us, there will be a guaranteed high-velocity nuclear response.
“Milley and DOD chief Austin are responsible for this disaster”
IC and Foggy Bottom get their equal shares of blame, methinks.
McCrystal seems to have shown himself to be a bad egg the past couple years, so I have no remaining sympathy for him.
Remember who it is who gets credit for pointing out the fiasco in Afghanistan more than a decade ago–one General Michael Flynn. And the CIA and overall defense establishment absolutely never forgave him for it.
I’m not too worried about the hardware left behind, pretty much anything above the level of small arms will be inoperable in days to weeks at worst without the contractors that kept it working. This goes double for any aircraft. The humvees and tanks that ISS captured had a very short life.
It’s far too late to do anything except regret the cost in lives. The money wasn’t all wasted, I understand a lot of it has purchased expensive real estate in places like the Emirates and on the Red Sea. More is probably secreted in various banks known for knowing how to keep quiet.
“Responsibility for this debacle lies all on the starred-rank commanders like “Vanilli” Milley. Who, if he is lucky, might be relived of rank and reassigned, as the commanders at Pearl Harbor were, after December 7th, 1941. At best, these weasels and their associates might just escape having rotten fruit thrown at them by members of the public and outraged veterans.”
They will not be reassigned. They will be left in command, because they can be controlled with the threat that they will be left to the tender mercies of Americans if they step out of line.
There a lot of Foggy Bottom types that will not enjoy the afterlife. They have caused to many deaths.
Another thought: does anyone check backgrounds of all those Afghans loaded into our military planes and getting unleashed on TX and WI?
Like they did with Somalis – and hey, we got 7th century sharia right in our backyard. If not worse – look at Ilhan Omar and Tlaib.
@MCS I feel the same way – the funniest thing out of all of the footage of this debacle that has come out (at least that I saw) was some local Afghan guy and his buddy looking in wonder up the ass end of a chopper of some sort that was left behind. I laughed out loud. Without mechanics and supply of parts, lubricant, fuel, etc. that thing is just a bunch of scrap within weeks.
Dan and MCS: sure – but that’s what “Russian advisers” are there for. There is a long history of such “advisers”, from Spanish Civil War and on, everywhere, from Mozambique and N. Korea to Cuba.
Russian engineering diplomas are still very much respected in the world.
And now Chinese play same role, too – after we’ve educated them in our universities.
Gavin is right.
Returning to Sgt’ post: the latest from Prof:
People do realize that the Taliban now has China and Russia on its side, and massive amounts of cash that they’ve gotten from us, both from the past 20 years and who can imagine how much we’re paying them right now to “protect” our withdrawal. Cash resources to maintain a few helicopters, which they have zero need for, are not going to be a problem…
Anyone seen a single GOPe puke calling for investigations, mass resignations, etc.? No? Me neither. What a bunch of worthless cretins.
I wish I could be confident that the scrutinizing and culling of the starred sorts will be based on performance and not politics.
Brian: one would think, even if they (GOPPukes – I like that!) unable to think it up themselves, the recent lesson given by the Drems on “don’t let a crisis go to waste” should be educational and a chance to make the Dems eat their own medicine, no?
I guess it’s too much to ask. They prefer to huff and puff and give righteous speeches, at best – and then vote with the Dems.
MCS: “pretty much anything above the level of small arms will be inoperable in days to weeks at worst without the contractors that kept it working.”
You are right about that — but you are also missing the key point. The risk is not whether the Taliban is going to use US helicopters, communications gear, etc. The risk (certainty?) is that China & Russia are going to acquire samples of that equipment from the Taliban, take it back to the motherlands, and reverse engineer it — looking particularly for weaknesses they can exploit in any future conflict versus the US.
China is on the move
Tatyana: That’s the most infuriating thing–the Dem establishment throws rhetorical bones to their crazies all the time, it’s just the price of doing business. The GOP establishment hates their base and can’t even bother to pretend to cater to them. It’s amazing. Their contempt is justified, since “we” just keep taking it…
Gavin: I highly doubt there’s anything there of any interest to China or Russia tech-wise. They’re both quite expert in stealing anything they need from our defense industry…
I think Brian is right about the probable redundancy of any info the Russ and Chin get from the hardware. They have penetrated (especially the Chinese) every level of our corporate and government R&D programs (with the possible exception of Area 51) and no doubt already had agents in place years ago among the contractors and other parasites here and in country.
FWIW, I predict that The Organs will investigate themselves and conclude they did nothing wrong.
Brian: “They’re both quite expert in stealing anything they need from our defense industry…”
You may well be right about that — although it is always nice to have a physical sample to disassemble and perform tests on. Still, if we start with the reasonable hypothesis that the US has no technological edge over possible peer competitors, what does the US have to counter the four times larger population of China and its consequent larger military?
It is certainly not in our manufacturing capacity — since we depend on China for key parts of that. It is not in our better training, as shown by naval officers running warships into island-sized freighters. It is not in our higher morale, when the US Flag Officers are accusing their own troops of being white supremacist terrorists and practicing industrial-strength wokeness.
A serious look at the situation says that the US can no longer expect to prevail militarily in any conflict, whether with Russian Spetsnaz or Afghan goat herders. A smart country would look at the facts and change direction.
“Still, if we start with the reasonable hypothesis that the US has no technological edge over possible peer competitors”
How is that a reasonable hypothesis?
Check out this fat piece of trash with two stars and enough medals on his chest to shame a Central American dictator:
And according to his bio he has an MS in Exercise Physiology! Wow!
At this point I say we should basically eliminate the military altogether. It’s not yet an actively malignant force, but it will be at the current rate things are going.
Oh no, what if someone attacks us, you say? Well, in that case, then we can reconstruct things again, and we’ll at least have public support to do it.
I am a believer in the theory that the entire Afghan adventure has been a hoax for 18 or 19 years,. The troops were sincere in fighting for what they were told was a valid cause. The officers above O-6 and the contractors mostly knew better. The D of S and the D of D are full of left wing activists who earned billions trying to make Afghans into social justice warriors. I agree with MCS that a trillion or so has vanished into real estate and banks where it will be well used although not in any fashion we would approve. Arafat sequestered a billion dollars in Swiss accounts. That was chicken feed. I’m sure Obama’s estate has a few millions invested. Kabul U did manage to graduate one Master of Gender and Women’s Studies before the roof fell in.
just read NYPost (in itself a mixed bag) page on Eric Adams’ fundraiser at Hamptons:
“The candidate attended a Water Mill fundraiser — wearing a bright red blazer that would’ve made The Weeknd jealous — on Sunday at a private home. The bash was hosted by a group including Democratic backer businessman Dennis Mehiel and Republican billionaire John Catsimatidis .”
A Uniparty, at best.
Gavin is right.
Banned, Penny. (Sgt Mom)
The photos on the plane are interesting. Women and children — the most vulnerable — first? Hardly.
Any man on that flight who left women/children behind should be returned.
Still banned, Penny. I mean it. (Sgt. Mom)
How helpful were the bases in Afghanistan to continuing observation, intelligence, and backup to covert? Perhaps not at all – after seeing the straw men at the intelligence agencies, it is hard to see them as competent. After listening to the general’s priorities, it is hard to trust their judgements either. People who do seem competent seem to see this, however, as more likely to lead the always simmering jihadists to a boil that is more than likely to splash on us. I suspect many on here have a good sense of those tradeoffs (ones I’d trust more than Biden’s or any of his team).
I suspect few Americans have head how long it has been since the last American force casualty in Afghanistan, though people like Shapiro lean on it heavily. I doubt those forces will get through this week unscathed. Still, that does seem to make Biden’s hurry (though God knows the 9/11 deadline always seemed planed by some sympathizer to Al Quaeda in itself) less plausible.
One of the points that moved me besides that old gut American fighting one at the beginning (right after 9/11) was the power of writers like Bruce Bawer describing Sharia law – I’m not much on empathy but have three daughters and my closest friends, other than my husband, for most of my life have been gay. The thought of that pre-everything-that-makes-sense value system was terrifying. Ideas toward Sharia law separate the faux from real human rights groups.. And already girls are hiding their diplomas and the Taliban is going door to door to round up the resistant and wrong think people – wherever they were in power they have shown themselves to be medieval forms of Stalin and Hitler.
Sure we needed to get out, but its like the masks – grown ups occasionally think about consequences and not just bumper stickers. They are more nuanced but not wishy washy. Joe Biden has been able to spend a lot of years on this planet without growing up – perhaps that’s true of a lot of us. But those of us sinking into dementia noticed we were getting close to doing an inadequate job – or at least to do one required all that we had and more than we had. Humility has never been my strength but sometimes we need to face the truth. Unfortunately for the rest of us that truth includes a succession from the horse laugh barely buried anger of Harris to the vicious, narrow-minded, Pelosi. And honor resignations (more appropriate – more a sign of leadership and personal responsibility – than honor killings) aren’t likely, Would that elections were sooner and were ensured to be clean.
I doubt there are very many Russians very anxious to help the successors of those that sent them packing 30 years ago or much enthusiasm to provide them with more weapons than they have already. The Taliban is a lot closer to Russia than to us.
The Chinese interest is strictly what can be dug from the ground and any Afghan that gets in the way can expect a very short and tragic life. China is even closer and I doubt they’re stupid enough to believe the Taliban promises of friendship beyond rifle range. They won’t be supplying anything lethal.
If we were stupid enough to supply any sensitive equipment to the Afghans, it would have been compromised as soon as the first piece was sold to a Chinese or Russian agent, think days if not hours after issue. At one point, we were supplying Russian helicopters but I think that stopped because of the Ukraine sanctions. All in all, pretty much off the shelf tech.
It will be interesting to see if the Chinese have better luck exploiting Afghanistan than we did saving it. I don’t expect them to win many hearts and minds but they’ll probably fill a lot of graves in the attempt. The only variable will be how many of the occupants will be Chinese.
Indeed – the one small crumb of comfort I get from all of this, is wishing the Chinese all joy and success with their new unhouse-trained Afghan pets.
the Russians ended up with a similar tar pit in chechnya, they found a more ruthless proxy in chechnya with kadyrov, and in time, they shipped not a few of the jihadists to syria, the success of chinese efforts can be seen in xinjiang, but also in their proxy fight against the rakhine in burma, dostum’s departure was specially disconcerting, since he’s the uncouth strongman, maybe he’s regrouped with the northern alliance 2.0 in panshir north of kabul
“Still, if we start with the reasonable hypothesis that the US has no technological edge over possible peer competitors”
Brian asked: “How is that a reasonable hypothesis?”
It is a reasonable hypothesis since Brian earlier stated: “I highly doubt there’s anything there of any interest to China or Russia tech-wise. They’re both quite expert in stealing anything they need from our defense industry…”
If later Brian is disagreeing with earlier Brian, it might be useful for the two of them to talk to each other. If China & Russia have already stolen everything they need from the US defense industry (which is indeed plausible, as earlier Brian suggests), then by definition the US has no technological edge.
In conflicts among peers with similar technology, the edge might come from quality of leadership, from morale and elan of military forces, of from manufacturing capacity. Not a happy picture for the US.
Having even detailed information does not equal the ability to produce same. We may have told them everything they know but haven’t yet told them everything we know.
China has managed to produce a handful of examples of a fighter that looks remarkably like an F-22. This has been called a “stealth” fighter by all and sundry based on nothing but the resemblance and a few vague claims by the manufacturer with no evidence that the resemblance goes beyond what they could achieve by carefully copying the plastic model kit. More troublesome for the Chinese is that they have so far been unsuccessful building an engine capable of powering it. Their intentions have so far overreached their capability.
The Russians have yet to repair the hole in their supply chain by cutting themselves off from everything produced in Ukraine in terms of engines especially. The planes they have produced to answer Western competition have for the most part existed only on paper with the few examples built being fairly complete failures and far too expensive for the feeble Russian economy to afford in any event.
Neither of the examples above are permanent. There has been a long running effort to move the Mil Spec standards from being under control of the DOD to international standard bodies like SAE that I find questionable. The standard themselves have always been freely available but were developed to answer particular requirements of the military.
There is something in what you say, MCS. However, we would be foolish to assume that a country which can make an iPhone (China) will always trail behind a country which can not make an iPhone (US). For example, China’s careful progress on the C919 jet should be a warning to Airbus & Boeing. Even if the US has an advantage today (Doubtful!), remember that the same China in a remarkably few years has gone from a near standing start to being the world’s largest automobile manufacturer and the largest ship-builder.
Militarily, what matters is actual performance, not specifications. Look at the USS Fitzgerald powering into a huge freighter in 2017. Per the specs, that warship had radar sufficiently advanced to detect something as small as a swimmer in the water, let alone a freighter the size of an island. In reality, the radar was malfunctioning because of a lack of trained technicians to keep it fully operational. That is the kind of “Know Your Enemy” information which China & Russia may acquire as a result of Biden’s Debacle.
“If China & Russia have already stolen everything they need from the US defense industry (which is indeed plausible, as earlier Brian suggests), then by definition the US has no technological edge.”
Not at all. Basically MCS said it all. No one else can build aircraft carriers, stealth planes, etc., even if they have the plans. Our technological capability is far beyond any other nation.
The problem is that the gap between where WE WERE a few decades ago, and where WE ARE now, is widening. Our procurement and development processes are completely broken, because the post-Cold War defense industry consolidation, and the post-9/11 spending buildup, eliminated competition, innovation, quality control, etc. Which produces trash like the Zumwalts, that were a fiasco from top to bottom. There’s an obsession with “new” tech, a lack of concern with costs until things become so obscene they can’t be ignored, and very little care with end-performance or utility for “the warfighter”, because by the time it gets to that point, the guys who approve the early steps have long since moved on to bigger and better things thanks to their “success” in just getting the contracts signed.
Fortunately the defense industry is not our only industry and some are doing things no one else is even close to. Exhibit A: “Boca Chica, Tx”. Exhibit B Development of Fracking.
A minor point. China doesn’t “Make an iPhone”, it assembles an iPhone from mostly imported parts.
No one else can build what we can, but almost anyone else can destroy it. IMO.
That’s the tech gap that matters.
Our procurement and development processes are completely broken, because the post-Cold War defense industry consolidation, and the post-9/11 spending buildup, eliminated competition, innovation, quality control, etc. Which produces trash like the Zumwalts, that were a fiasco from top to bottom.
Someone today noted that the US military has been concerned with insurgency and nation building since 2001, if not 1993. Doctrines are not created in months or even a few years. WWII began in the Pacific with Japan far ahead of us in aircraft carrier doctrine. In Europe, France had more and better tanks than Germany but no doctrine of how to use them.
“Frankly, it was always rather a bad bet that Afghanistan could have been made into a semi-functioning country. I was of the opinion early on that once we had thumped the Talibunnies for good and all, we should have left it to be a playground for Special Forces and drone operators, after warning the locals that we’d thump them again and even more vigorously if they got obstreperous.”
Spot on, Sarge! I couldn’t agree more. We had this one in the bag; a brilliant operation ended in the defeat of the Taliban. All we had to do was hand over power to their enemies, let them know if they did return to power, serving as a safe haven for our enemies again would have a similar outcome, and leave, basking in the glory of victory. Instead, we stayed there for 20 years, squandered $2.5 trillion, and made those who predicted that Afghanistan would become our next Vietnam two decades ago look like brilliant prophets. The silver lining is that this debacle exposed our political, and especially or military leadership, as incompetent fools.
I am somewhat surprised that all of our heroic Afghan allies folded like wet noodles. Hopelessly outnumbered, six Mexican cadets chose to fight to the death rather than surrender in the Mexican War, the last of them leaping from a precipice wrapped in the Mexican flag so the Americans couldn’t capture it. With all that fine equipment and all those years of training, apparently not a single Afghan was capable of such heroism.
You have to hand it to the Taliban, they know how to hit our leftist rulers where it hurts. At a news conference a reporter asked their position on freedom of speech. He suggested the people at Facebook be consulted about that. In other words, he told us to look in the mirror. How appropriate! Of course, Facebook and the rest of the establishment media have been canceling and censoring anyone who dares to seriously disagree with the approved narrative for years, now. That, and suppression of many of the other rights our founding fathers hoped to guarantee to future generations in the Constitution, is what has become of the “American Way,” once so artlessly and naively held out as the summum bonum, in the old “Superman” TV series.
Hilariously, yesterday I was banned by both you and RT. ;)
Well, yes, Penny – one need only be a malicious, commie-symp gloating a-hole with nothing much to bring to the conversation. Bye, now.
Pen, what does one have to post to be banned by RT? Can you offer it here?
Helian/DD: “At a [Taliban] news conference a reporter asked their position on freedom of speech. He suggested the people at Facebook be consulted about that.”
It is pure Sun Tzu. Know your enemy, know yourself — you will prevail in a hundred battles.
Why can the Taliban, with limited resources, understand the US Ruling Class better than the US Ruling Class, with effectively unlimited resources, understand the Taliban?
If our Ruling Class had the integrity of ancient Japan, the corridors of power would be clogged with the bodies of those who committed sepuku in their shame. But the Taliban understand where & how the US Ruling Class falls short.
“If our Ruling Class had the integrity of ancient Japan, the corridors of power would be clogged with the bodies of those who committed sepuku in their shame.”
A consummation devoutly to be wished for. Alas, I fear we are going to be disappointed in that.
It seems that various contractors and British paras are going about rescuing stranded Westerners and Afghan employees and their families … over the objections of our commanders on the ground, such as it is, in Kabul. Thanks, DoD.
I still cannot get over H R McMasters after reading his book., “Dereliction of Duty” How he could turn on Trump and keep silent during this debacle.
StanW: “A minor point. China doesn’t “Make an iPhone”, it assembles an iPhone from mostly imported parts.”
Well, one would reasonably think then that Apple with its huge margins could make an iPhone in the US — but Apple’s Cook says he can’t. Maybe we should be a little more circumspect about casually assuming that the US of today is the same US that built nuclear power plants and put a Man on the Moon.
We have to start by Knowing Ourselves — being realistic about where we are, about our strengths and weaknesses; and then defining realistic aims. What we can each do as individuals is to stop kidding ourselves about our place in the world; sadly, history has moved on from those glory days.
Spengler (David Goldman) had an interesting article recently which stimulated a lot of negative comments from people who are living in the past.
Goldman responded to the complaints in frustration: Folks, I appreciate that you don’t like being told that we’re getting our head handed to us, but those are the facts, and I’m shouting about it because I want to do something about it.”
Let’s all start shouting!
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