By Cynthia Chung
Afghanistan has become the United States’ longest military engagement in history, lasting 20 years.
Similar to the Vietnam War (which lasted 19.5 years), there has never been a positive military objective for “winning” in Afghanistan such that American troops could finally leave.
As Col. Prouty has stated in his book, not one of the six U.S. administrations who oversaw the Vietnam War ever stated a positive American military objective for that war. The generals sent to Saigon were told not to let the “communists” take over, period. As Prouty makes the point repeatedly in his book, this does not constitute as a military objective. (For more on this refer to my paper.)
46 years later, it would appear the United States has not learned from this hard bled lesson. Today, the U.S. is repeating the same foolish “strategy” in Afghanistan against the Taliban.
On August 15th the capital of Afghanistan fell to the Taliban forcing President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country, ending the rule of the Afghan government.
The Taliban take-over has been spurred by the Biden Administration’s handling of American troops exit from Afghanistan, which was pre-planned over a year ago.
However, there is something not quite right about all this.
On Feb 29th 2020, the Trump Administration signed a peace agreement with the Taliban titled “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan,” with provisions including the withdrawal of all regular American and NATO troops from Afghanistan, a Taliban pledge that they would oppose al-Qaeda in their zones of influence and open up talks with the Afghan government. This peace agreement was also supported by Russia, China, Pakistan and unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.
Under this peace agreement there was to be an initial reduction from 13, 000 to 8, 600 troops in July 2020, followed by a full withdrawal by May 1st 2021 if the Taliban kept its commitments during this downscaling of U.S. military presence.
This agreement looked promising under the Trump Administration, and it was thought that it would be possible to work with the Taliban in securing peace and stability in Afghanistan, to counter al-Qaeda, and to allow for American troops to finally leave a country they had been occupying for two decades. And again, this was a proposal that was supported by Russia, China, Pakistan and the UN Security Council.
Even Gen. Nick Carter, the UK chief of the General Staff stated in an interview:
“I think that the Taliban is not the organization it once was, it is an organization that has evolved significantly in the 20 years that we have been there…They recognize that they need some political legitimacy and I would not be surprised if a scenario plays out that actually sees it not being quite as bad as perhaps some of the naysayers at the moment are predicting.”
However, things have gone very wrong, very fast. Why?
The American military action in Afghanistan over these past weeks does not show any seriousness in withdrawing smoothly from the country. Rather, it is doing it in the most bombastic way possible.
It is at this point, that I would like to remind the reader of the sort of tactics that were used in Vietnam and that for starters, we would be very foolish to assume that there isn’t any sort of clandestine operation at play here. In fact, Col. Prouty discussed how during the Vietnam War, mock battles were staged by paramilitary units, called “Fun and Games” by the CIA.
Using this tactic they were able to not only fool dignitaries who were given the helicopter tour of the situation but made it virtually impossible for accurate news reporting to occur (if there was ever the intention in the first place). Fun and Games allowed for a situation to go from either extreme; full containment to full blow out, depending on what the situation called for in terms of shaping public and political opinion.
Think we don’t do things that way anymore? Then refer to Dilyana Gaytandzhieva’s article “U.S. fuels Syrian war with new arms supplies to Al Qaeda terrorists” which goes through the contractual details of how the Biden Administration is presently sending new arms to al-Qaeda terrorists, mainly to the Idlib province in Syria, which they completely control presently. I will speak more on this later but one should ask themselves for now, why is the U.S. encouraging the growth and influence of al-Qaeda and adamantly opposed to that of the Taliban?
And then there is the matter with the British…
UK Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, has been actively trying to call on NATO allies to join a British-led military coalition to re-enter Afghanistan upon the U.S. departure! Wallace states in an interview with Daily Mail:
“I did try talking to NATO nations, but they were not interested, nearly all of them…We tried a number of like-minded nations. Some said they were keen, but their parliaments weren’t. It became apparent pretty quickly that without the U.S. as the framework nation it had been, these options were closed off…All of us were saddened, from the prime minister (Boris Johnson) down, about all the blood and treasure that had been spent, that this was how it was ending.”
All the blood and treasure spent, yes that is a tragedy, but not because of how it is ending, but rather how the War on Terror was started.
That is, that the Iraq and Libya wars were both based off of cooked British intelligence, which resulted in the attempt by the British people to prosecute Tony Blair as a war criminal for his direct role in causing British and U.S. troops to enter an illegal war with Iraq. This prosecution was later blocked by the British High Court claiming that there is no crime of aggression in English law under which the former PM could be charged.
It seems there is no law against being a war criminal in Britain.
And it was none other than MI6 chief (1999-2004) Sir Richard Dearlove who oversaw and stood by the fraudulent intelligence on Iraq stating they bought uranium from Niger to build a nuclear weapon, the very same Sir Richard Dearlove who promoted the Christopher Steele dossier as something “credible” to American intelligence.
In addition, the Libyan invasion of 2011 was found to be unlawfully instigated by Britain. In a report published by the British Foreign Affairs Committee in September 2016, it was concluded that it was “the UK and France in March 2011 which led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians from forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi”. The report concluded that the Libyan intervention was based on false pretence provided by British Intelligence and recklessly promoted by the British government. This is the real reason why David Cameron stepped down.
This is what caused the United States to enter both wars, due to, what has now been officially acknowledged as fraudulent or deliberately misleading evidence that was supplied by British intelligence.
So if we are going to talk about all of the blood and treasure spent, by all means please do, since there are a lot of people who should have gone to jail by now. Suffice to say, the British have pretty much never had anything honest or constructive to say on the situation in the Middle East and the Americans would do well not to get pulled into any more of their melodrama.
A Call for Sanity in a Post-Imperial Age
The Russian government has already met with Taliban representatives who were invited to Moscow on July 8-9th, for a discussion with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, President Putin’s envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, has stated on Rossiya 24, that there were hopes for constructive relations now that the American-backed president Ashraf Ghani has gone into exile, “If we compare how easy it is to negotiate as colleagues and partners, then the Taliban have seemed to me for a long time much more prepared for negotiations than the puppet Kabul government,” he said.
According to Kabulov, Ghani, who the local Russian embassy claimed attempted to take large quantities of cash out of the country, was “doubtfully elected, ruled badly and ended shamefully.” Kabulov said that “he deserves to be brought to justice and held accountable by the Afghan people.” Adding, “We are in no hurry to grant recognition [to the Taliban]… We will see how the new regime behaves.”
Russia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), committed to a political, economic and security alliance amongst its member nations and beyond. The SCO is widely regarded as the “alliance of the East.” With the fate of Afghanistan standing on rather shaky ground, it should not be a source of wonderment as to why Russia wishes to engage in prompt strategic talks, since security in the region is of upmost importance for the entirety of Asia.
The Chinese government has also lost no time in establishing important ties. Beijing has been engaged with Kabul in constructing the Peshawar-Kabul motorway, which would connect Pakistan to Afghanistan and make Kabul a participant in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This project had been long delayed due to the former Kabul government fearing scorn from Washington. Beijing is also building a major road through the Wakhan Corridor, which would connect China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang to Afghanistan.
For these economic linkages to be successful, Afghanistan must first become stable and secure. In fact, China has been undergoing negotiations with the Taliban since 2019.
The Wakhan Corridor is regarded as a rather risky endeavour having the potential to act as a corridor for terrorism rather than development.
Just a few weeks ago, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in an interview that “China is a friendly country and we welcome it for reconstruction and developing Afghanistan…if [the Chinese] have investments, of course we will ensure their safety.”
On the issue of whether the Taliban might support alleged Uyghur militants against China in neighboring Xinjiang, Shaheen responded, “We care about the oppression of Muslims, be it in Palestine, in Myanmar, or in China, and we care about the oppression of non-Muslims anywhere in the world. But what we are not going to do is interfere in China’s internal affairs.”
This may seem like empty talk meant to impress Beijing and earn more brownie points, but the Wakhan Corridor is narrow and will not be difficult to monitor. Thus Beijing is offering this in good faith but it is also an easy test to see how much substance is indeed behind such words, and the Taliban know this.
On July 28th, Taliban representatives met with Chinese officials in Tianjin. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated:
“The Taliban in Afghanistan is a pivotal military and political force in the country, and will play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction there.”
This is sending a clear message, that so long as the Taliban agrees to defend Afghanistan against terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and serves to increase stability in the region, it will continue to have a seat at the negotiation table.
Thus, the question that should be asked is, if the Taliban are going to cooperate with Russian and Chinese initiatives in the region, is this a good or a bad thing for the rest of Asia, let alone the rest of the world?
America’s Bizarre Romance with al-Qaeda
“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”
– Marc Anthony in Act III scene i
Before we can answer this question, we must go over the American relationship to al-Qaeda today, to get a better understanding of the situation.
Al-Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden (among several others) in 1988, and has been recognised by the United States government as solely responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
This was the premise for the War on Terror, and almost 20 years later, we do not seem to be any better off in terms of global security, despite countless bombings of cities with a death toll of innocents much higher than any terrorist group could hope to achieve.
The term “moderate rebel” is no longer used by Washington, however, the reader should be reminded that the reason why is because it became undeniable that “moderate rebels” were just a PR rebranding of extremist groups, such as the al-Nusra Front which was one of the re-brandings of al-Qaeda. Not only did all U.S. trained moderate rebels defect from the U.S. as soon as they were let out “into the wild” with U.S. arms and equipment in hand, under the Obama Administration, but there was also the very troubling human heart eating episode that was committed by an al-Nusra member and caught on film with him stating “We will eat your hearts and your livers you soldiers of Bashar the dog.”
Even though this was committed against a supposed “enemy Syrian soldier” according to the western narrative, it was still too unsavoury for most that these were the apparent people the U.S. was training and arming to attack the “barbaric” Assad government.
Then there was the disturbing interview by former CIA Deputy Director (2010-2013) Michael Morell, who was supporting Hilary Clinton during the presidential election and branding Trump as a “Russian stooge,” who said in a 2016 interview with Charlie Rose that Russians and Iranians in Syria should be killed covertly to “pay the price.”
That is, the Russians and Iranians who were invited by the Assad government to combat the real terrorists in the region.
With these sorts of troubling developments, it was rightfully called into question, what exactly were the priorities of the Obama Administration and the CIA in their actions within Syria, and the Middle East/North Africa in general (such as the disturbing Benghazi scene in 2012)?
Many in the American military became troubled with this blasé attitude, that it did not matter who replaced Assad, so long as Assad was gone.
Then al-Qaeda was rebranded yet again, to the Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), otherwise known as Organization for the Liberation of the Levant. This was acknowledged as far back as 2017, however, since the transfer over to the Biden Administration, according to the Washington DC based think tank, Middle East Institute, the HTS is not al-Qaeda. And so the ruse under the Biden Administration continues where Obama left off.
Today, al-Qaeda is in complete control of the Idlib Province in Syria, which shares a border with Turkey. And it should be no secret that Turkey is helping to arm al-Qaeda with U.S. backing, for more on this refer here and here.
Idlib Province (colored red) as part of Syria (colored yellow). The entire northern border of Syria is shared with Turkey.
And amazingly, al-Qaeda is presently going through yet another rebranding, as seen with the tragically comical PBS fluff piece published on April 2, 2021 with the absurd title “Syrian Militant and Former al-Qaeda Leader Seeks Wider Acceptance in First Interview with U.S. Journalist.”
PBS has direct ties with the American government, so that can be seen as being given a clear green light from the Biden Administration.
And it gets worst.
Ambassador James Jeffrey who has served as the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey (2008-2010) and Iraq (2010-2012) and was the United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy to the International military intervention against ISIL (2019-2020), has publicly admitted that he “routinely” lied to Trump on what were the American troop levels in Syria, while Trump was in the midst of attempting to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
In addition, Ambassador James Jeffrey told PBS News in March, 2021 that the HTS is the
“least bad option of the various options on Idlib, and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria, which is one of the most important places right now in the Middle East.”
This is in support of the above mentioned fluff piece on Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, the al-Qaeda linked leader that is now considered an “asset” to U.S. strategy in Syria.
It is no coincidence Jeffrey was last stationed in Turkey as U.S. Ambassador to help facilitate this “special relationship.”
In 2017, even the BBC news could not avoid reporting “Trump ends CIA arms programme for rebels.” A clandestine operation to arm rebel groups that have to this day, never proved themselves anything other than extremists committing terrorist activities against the people of Syria.
Trump thought he had ended such a programme, but as Kennedy learned the hard way with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, there has been a very blurred line between the CIA and Pentagon in terms of clandestine operations since the days of Allen Dulles, and as I have gone over in previous papers here, here, and here, there is virtually no longer any official record of these sorts of black ops activities. It is strictly on a need to know basis, and as we have seen here, presidents such as Kennedy and Trump, are rarely considered part of the grouping “that needs to know.”
So, if the U.S., under the Biden Administration has returned to its former ways and once again is openly funding and arming al-Qaeda, why is there all this panicky commotion in the western news (who have been complicit in spreading the reformed al-Qaeda narrative), over the rise of the Taliban?
If Russia, China, Turkey and even Iran (who was one of the greatest enemies of the Taliban) are able to see the Taliban as something that can be potentially worked with to be a positive force for peace and stability in the region, I think we would do well do leave it to Russia and China to decide how that course should go at this point.
Britain and the U.S. have done nothing but instigate and inflame situations during their 20 year-long so-called “War on Terror,” but rather more aptly named “War of Terror.” It is absurd at this point if we are going to continue to think that they should be the leaders in reforming anything, not only due to their questionable competency but more so due to the troubling fact that they do not want to see an end to the terror, rather they are its greatest promoters and benefactors.
How to Exit the Ever Revolving Great Game
As I laid out in a previous piece titled “The Curse of Game Theory: Why It’s in Your Self-Interest to Exit the Rules of the Game,” the divide and conquer philosophy, contrary to what is being taught in most western universities today, is NOT a reflection of the true nature of humankind.
Game theory does not represent the motivations behind human nature, but rather imposes such limitations since, as they acknowledge themselves, it is easier to predict and control your chosen selfish behaviours which are encouraged and rewarded with “incentives.”
It is a system of enslavement that encourages its slaves to fight each other for “table scraps” and never question the hand that withholds, the system that creates false scarcity and promotes antagonism over artificial stressors.
We are taught never to question the rules given to us in these game theory scenarios, but to react accordingly to what has been defined to us as a limited set of options in an artificial scenario.
That is, the most effective and powerful tool of geopolitics, is the very dogmatic belief in the ideology of geopolitics itself as a necessity.
However, what we are increasingly seeing in the greater part of the globe is the very opposite. Multiple alliances are rapidly forming across South America, Africa and Asia against the Anglo-American imperialist worldview.
This intervention in ideology is most notably seen with China’s win-win philosophy as a counter to game theory. It is for this reason that institutions, such as the notorious Council on Foreign Relations, have branded the BRI as a direct threat to U.S. security.
However, the BRI is not a threat to the security of the American people, but rather the security of America’s Deep State agenda.
This philosophy of win-win puts forward that to facilitate peace, a nation must first be economically uplifted, before it can be uplifted politically, socially, culturally etc. Peace through cooperative development comes first, and the blossoming of civilizations will follow. This is based on what was observed with the ancient Silk Road, and the remarkable ecumenical alliances that were formed as a result.
And despite the wishful fantasies of western oligarchs, Russia is entirely committed to its partnership with China and vice versa.
As long as nations abide by the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence, uninvited outside intervention into a country’s internal politics is forbidden. This allows for mutual-trust and more importantly the freedom to focus on mutually beneficial development projects which will continue to raise the standard of living for all and increasingly influence the development of these countries in education and cultural reform.
It is clear that to keep nations isolated, impoverished, starved and kept in constant terror is not a true means to solving anything but rather is a continuation of the doctrine of empire, the unleashing of the dogs of war to sow distrust and carve division where alliances and sustainable peace could occur in its stead.
If we truly want peace in the Middle East and throughout the world, it is time we decide that we are no longer going to be used as pawns in the Empire’s Great Game.
Cynthia Chung is the President of the Rising Tide Foundation and a writer at Strategic Culture Foundation, consider supporting her work by making a donation and subscribing to her substack page for free.
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