Twenty years it’s been, as of yesterday. Twenty years and Afghanistan is down the drain, the Taliban back in charge. At least a comprehensive malignant menace like Bin Laden is dead, with his corpse – supposedly – dropped into the deep ocean, although I suppose that his organization staggers on, zombie-like, and possibly subsidized by Pakistan’s secret service. The dust of the fallen towers is settled, and the American troops are home, more or less. Still under a cone of silence as far as the US media is concerned, as are tales of hairbreadth escapes by American citizens, employees, and American-employed Afghan nationals … perhaps they were all made to sign a binding non-disclosure-agreement, as a condition of getting on that big Freedom Bird. Or our national establishment media is doing their bidding, as obedient handmaidens of the Dem party, and doing their best to disappear this latest disaster. Well, good luck with that. There are too many of us out there, and we have a voice, for at least a little bit longer.
It looks as if with the official departure of the US military from Kabul, a media cone of silence perpetuated by the National Establishment Media has descended over the whole ghastly mess, leaving a good many of us who have been following the chaotic and bloody disaster that it was with unanswered questions. Like – exactly how many Americans were left behind in Afghanistan? American citizens and employees of international and US-sponsored NGOs, or dual nationals home visiting relatives in the “Old Country” over the summer vay-cay? A couple of hundred? Or thousands? Independent military reporter Michael Yon and others across the indy blogosphere reported that American citizens – with their passports in hand – were turned away from entering the Kabul Airport by the US Army, and it is those people who are stranded in Afghanistan now. Well, maybe. Between the proverbial fog of war and the cone of silence – a great many questions remain.
Seriously, I never expected much from American adventuring in Afghanistan, and that was even well-before 9-11. Everything that I had read about the place – starting with Kipling, and even pop novels like MM Kaye’s The Far Pavilions, and G.M. Fraser’s Flashman series – especially the first Flashman adventure, which covered the First Afghan War in rollicking (and considering current events) depressing detail. All that I ever read about the place signaled “handle with extreme care, equipped with asbestos gloves and long tongs” to one uninitiated into the mysteries of international relations. Considering how those considered to be credentialed experts in that region have karked up the American withdrawal from Kabul and Afghanistan proper … one might very well conclude that a survey of popular historical novels dealing with the place and people therein might afford a better grasp of realities.
The career field in which I served for twenty years was a small one, and one with some inherent peculiarities, one of which was possession at radio detachments of a library of pop music intended for broadcast on AFRTS channels. One of those things which was instilled in broadcast field recruits early on in our training was that no one of any higher rank (or degree of inebriation, often the case) was permitted to remove recordings from our library for personal amusement. Many were the tales of duty E-2s or E-3s refusing such orders from senior officers, who were operating under the (often alcohol-inspired) delusion that the AFRS library operated on the same basis as the local base library. This often happened late at night when the most junior staffers were on duty. That was an order that we had to and would refuse, no matter the rank, and degree of inebriation of the commander demanding it. In that, we could count on the complete backing of our broadcast command, especially when they were informed of it, sometime the following morning. No one, not even (according to some legends, the base or wing commander) was allowed access to the AFRTS library, much less to remove elements of it from the custody of the AFRTS outlet, even if that only custodian was a lowly first-hitch enlisted.
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.