Here, jezail.org presents you with a congressional hearing into Afghanistan after the “Afghanistan Papers” release that allegedly exposed that the US government has been lying about Afghanistan for decades. It is mercifully short and is only the introduction to the hearings which are not likely to be any more interesting. At about the same time, General Milley and SECDEF Mark Esper held a presser that basically condemned the “Afghanistan Papers” and declared that the policy will remain unchanged. Basically, official Washington has thrown up a middle finger at America and said we are going to continue on in the same way as we have making only small adjustments for our benefit and not yours America. Chairman Stephen Lynch opens up this hearing with the same gobbledygook we so often hear about the American mission in Afghanistan. In about six and a half minutes he blows through some deeply troubling territory. The cost of the war is acknowledged to be at perhaps one trillion dollars, (who knew?), the “Afghanistan Papers” reveal that the government has been lying about the war for decades and STATE and DOD refuse to send witnesses to the committee for this important hearing by some really really well informed politicians in official Washington.
Chairman Lynch then riffs into an attempt to blame Afghan policy on Donald Trump stating that he “fears that policy is now driven by the impulses of the Commander in Chief”. (Isn’t the president supposed to be steering foreign policy?) He then cites Trump’s decision to initially abandon the Doha talks with the Taliban. Lynch claims that this move undermined diplomats’ position by taking away “leverage” which they never had and never will have. The Doha talks are a joke. Jezail.org has written about this before. The Taliban has never changed its’ position and American diplomats have never had any leverage from the day the Doha talks began as a prisoner swap. It’s a failure owned by the two biggest con artists of South Asia, Zalmay Khalilzad and former Ambassador Robin Raphel. The chairman says nothing about Mark Espers’ comment that deal or no deal, we will lower our force presence in Afghanistan. As always, it’s all about Trump. Never mind that the real picture is that the US is trading boots on the ground with tons of bombs. In 2019, the US dropped more bombs on Afghanistan than it ever did before. It might be bad for Afghan civilians but is sure is great for defense heavy stock portfolios. Funny how that works.
If they couldn’t get the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or SECSTATE Mike Pompeo or SECDEF Mark Esper to appear before the committee, they could get John Sopko who could deliver for them the exact tortured thinking that the committee was looking for. They simultaneously wash their hands of policy while trying to steer it in ever more idiotic and ideologic direction characterized by claims of fighting terror and crusading for women’s rights. The upshot is that we will bomb and murder Afghans to help them. All we have to do is stop the corruption…or something. Sopko’s comments bear some examination:
“We must plan not just for the day after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan but for the months and years to follow.”
How do you plan for the future when your own report indicates that you have no idea what is going on in the present or the past? Then he says:
“Only by doing so we can insure for the gains we have made for democracy and women’s rights in particular in Afghanistan are not lost. “
What “gains” is he talking about? We have rigged the last 3 national elections and totally alienated Afghans from the very idea of democracy. The last election went off worse than the Iowa Caucus! The only “gains” made for Afghan women exist inside the defensive perimeters of major Afghan cities and even there, stoning and burning women to death does still happen. Does Mr. Sopko seriously mean to suggest that America should go to war around the world over women’s rights? Then Sopko drops this:
“It is… all the more urgent for Congress to exercise its’ constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of the Trump administration’s strategy in Afghanistan and for the administration to come here before congress and explain its conduct and its strategies before the American people.”
Fact: the Trump administration has no more idea of what it is doing in Afghanistan than any other White House since George Bush first rushed in. One can hardly blame them as the entire foreign policy apparatus and all of its apparatchiks obviously hate Donald Trump. One can also credibly assert that they really don’t have a firm grip on the realities of Afghanistan as they don’t deal with much of Afghanistan outside of the range of US machine guns in any case. At first, Trump’s instinct was to just get out. He was and is right. But his own cabinet will not let him. Neither will his agencies, CIA, STATE or DOD. If things go wrong, they can blame it on Trump. If things go “right” they take the credit. So Trump punted policy to his cabinet and they have been using it as a springboard for any number of other “anti terror” ideas they can cook up. It’s the same way they play Iran policy. If the Solimeini assassination goes wrong, it’s on Trump. If it is looking good, Esper and Pompeo step up to the microphones and basque in the camera lights. They are almost certainly laying more traps for Trump in Afghanistan as well.
It would be interesting to see the Congress actually begin to look into what is going on in Afghanistan. Jezail.org thinks that there are loads of kickbacks coming out of Afghanistan and Pakistan that come back to the Congress and K street. There is certainly more than a little precedent for that. Too bad Congressman Charlie Wilson isn’t still around. The hearing is meant to make it seem as if there are members of Congress who want to know what is going on in Afghanistan. In reality, they don’t want to know any more of the truth than the agencies the chairman allegedly wants to testify before them. A congressional investigation into Afghan policy would simply be more theater. Is there anyone who would doubt that?
The simple overpowering truth is that money is the music of foreign policy, not the well being of Americans. Official Washington is K street, not the White House or the Congress. That’s why, when you look at the proceedings of foreign policy hearings, it is all so weird and distorted. All the words contained in them are cover stories and virtue signaling, not intentions or real objectives.
For more than two decades, jezail.org has been reporting the absolutely execrable Afghan and other foreign policies and stated objectives that the US government has foisted on Americans. We have been watching from well before any American ever cared about Afghanistan. We were there in the 1980’s before and during the policy stewardship of Congressman Charlie Wilson. “Good Times Charlie” didn’t invent American corruption in the region but he certainly expanded it. What jezail.org learned was that US policy was never about Afghanistan. It was always about Pakistan regardless of what any president had to say. This has been true about the Reagan Administration and every subsequent White House. Foreign Policy is not made in the White House. It has always been cut in the bowels of Foggy Bottom and it has never been based on principle or what is best for for the American people. It is based on the stock portfolios, career paths and and lines of patronage of the bureaucrats at STATE and CIA who do the cutting. So, for example, when the Dulles brothers who were attorneys for United Fruit Co. were the stewards of STATE, the CIA and US foreign policy, America was busy regime changing in South and Central America where bananas and banana republics were grown. It was never about defeating communism. What has been confusing is that the real policy makers have wrapped their policy decisions and directives in phony moral rhetoric and wide open expensive objectives like “fighting terror”. “Fighting terror” is a tactic, not a well defined enemy. It’s an even better open ended excuse for war than allegedly fighting than communism was.
The real South Asian objectives have always been the same: spend as much money as possible to purchase influence, get kickbacks and retirement jobs while encouraging as many suckers as possible to “invest” in the region to create what are called “American interests”. At a think tank conferences in DC, jezail.org has actually seen a very senior US diplomat openly pitching for US investors to put their money into Pakistan. Real or imagined, enough “American interests” almost invariably commit US policy to deploy or threaten to deploy our military to defend those interests. Once that happens, you create a synergy that is unstoppable. Once the US makes a foreign military expedition, American diplomats get very excited, anticipating another boondoggle. What is different about South Asia is that the military interests preceded any other commercial “interests”. Long before regime change was an objective, there was a brisk arms sales history that defined US Pakistani relations. American foreign policy in the region has been characterized by a brisk weapons trade with Pakistan since it was created in 1947. However, the arms trade is hardly a casus beli that might trigger putting US troops on the ground even if bananas are. Nobody will go to war if Pakistan refuses to buy US weapons… (Have a good laugh over that!)
Things began to change in the mid 90’s when Ambassador Robin Raphel was moonlighting as a lobbyist for a proposed pipeline, TAPI (Tukmanistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India). Her revolving door career bought her a sizable townhouse some 3 blocks from the Pakistani embassy. This is where the fig leaf of “American Interests” in South Asia was born. No sooner did the anti Soviet resistance seat itself in Kabul, than Raphel showed up in the region, trying to get them to sign a pipeline agreement with her lobbying clients, UNOCAL. Even though the new Kabul regime had been able to capture the capitol from the Communist regime with help from the US, they did not have a warm relationship with the US as a direct result of dealing with the usual American foreign policy “professionals” during the Cold War. From the start, both STATE and CIA were actively screwing the Afghan resistance by dragging the war out for years longer than necessary. In spite of the fact that the Reagan administration was avowedly pro Afghan resistance, the weapon supply to the resistance was always allowed to be a choke point controlled by Pakistan. It was so corrupt that Afghan commanders in the field often had to pay for weapons that had already been paid for by US tax payers. Predictably, Afghan leaders were not too keen on signing any contracts for development with the US especially with a character like Raphel who they knew well. Madame Raphel responded by investing some seed money from her clients at UNOCAL into an obscure Pashtun chauvinist fanatic, Mullah Omar and his band of merry men. So, at the same time as the then SECSTATE Madeline Albright was condemning the Taliban for their despicable treatment of women, her immediate subordinate, Robin Raphel, was propping them up and pitching them to the Congress. The upshot is that by the mid 90’s and the Clinton administration, you have 2 important characteristics developing that still define American-Afghan policy. The first is the invention of “American Interests” beginning with a dubious pipeline project whose real feasibility was and is questionable. Second, policy was hijacked from senior STATE and White House officials without any consultation or permission by a mid level, unelected, revolving door bureaucrat. Madeline Albright could say what she wanted; she was not at the helm of policy and never was. It’s a problem that persists to this day.
In fact, as SECSTATE Madeline Albright was being shaped as a champion of women’s rights, that cause was already being ramped up as a theme for why America might roam the globe bombing and murdering people. If they happen to be Muslims and even more especially if they happened to be living on land that had energy underground or was on a pipeline path from energy resources to market, their treatment of women would be subject to scrutiny. So would their religious beliefs and governance. All of these criteria were subject to some moral judgement by pundits and politicians. As a moral basis for a foreign policy, it was obviously a moral fig leaf and still is by American officials handing out death and chaos as if they were doing their victims a favor. As an excuse for going to war, the morality stories are meant for American consumption. Let’s call that the third leg of American foreign policy or the middle finger they put in the faces of Americans who question all the wars we are currently waging. The 3 legs of US foreign policy have been and still are arms sales, American “interests” and the moral cover stories our diplomats foist on the world with ever diminishing credibility.
This sets up a situation that students of real history will recognize. There are real causes for war and ostensible ones. The real reasons for the war in Afghanistan are similar to the ones that drove the Vietnam War. It was about the Military Industrial Complex in Vietnam. The American interest in those days was ideological in that it was a crusade against communism. Today the TAPI pipeline goes on but there is no guarantee that it will not be a victim of attacks in Afghanistan by some warring party. After 30 years, it is still not complete. It may not yet exist in reality, but from the standpoint of being an “American interest”, it already does exist. It is already delivering what it was always meant to, another excuse to throw more money and death at South Asia. By staying on in Afghanistan, we go on feeding the appetites and ambitions of US foreign policy and military “professionals”. The hearing linked is just another cover story.
Regards to All,
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