Bombing Kills 15 in Kabul, 6 Americans: Is this What Winning Looks Like? (+ VICE video)

Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s Hizb-i Islami [the Islamic Party] guerrilla group bombed a military convoy in Kabul this morning, killing 15, including 6 Americans.

The Reagan administration gave Hikmatyar billions in the 1980s because he was effective in fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, but in 2001 the old guerrilla switched sides and allied with the Taliban in an effort to get the US back out of his country.

For background, look at Ben Anderson’s documentary:

“This is What Winning Looks Like”, p. 1: VICE documentary on America’s last days of failure in Afghanistan.

Ben Anderson writes:

“with each year that followed, casualties and deaths rose as steadily as the local opium crop. Thousands more British troops were deployed, then tens of thousands of US troops, at the request of General Stanley McChrystal, following a six-month review of the war after President Obama took office. Still, the carnage and confusion continued unabated. Suicide bombings increased sevenfold. Every step you took might reveal yet another IED.

In February 2013, on his last day at the helm of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen described what he thought the war’s legacy will be: ‘‘Afghan forces defending Afghan people and enabling the government of this country to serve its citizens. This is victory, this is what winning looks like, and we should not shrink from using these words.’’

The US and British forces are preparing to leave Afghanistan for good (officially, by the end of 2014), and my time in the country over the last six years has convinced me that our legacy will be the exact opposite of what Allen posits—not a stable Afghanistan, but one at war with itself yet again. Here are a few encapsulated snapshots of what I’ve seen and what we’re leaving behind. “

11 Responses

  1. We have been predicting that there could be no safe retreat from the black hole.Our concern, for years been about the mainland.We were ridiculed and the people cheated. Arrogance and impunity reigned supreme.

  2. when the new Commander of NATO forces was nominated, Dunford, many Afghan vets complained that he had never served there and didn’t understand the situation.

    In fact, that’s WHY he was selected. He didn’t have the huge personal investment in “winning” that Allen and others had.
    This was so we could conduct a clean, efficient retrograde, without worrying about legacy.

    I almost wanna cry when I read posts from Afghan vets who say that, if we leave, the sacrifices of their KIA brothers will have been in vain.

    • “the sacrifices of their KIA [and MIA and WIA and mentally trashed] brothers will have been in vain.”

      Sorry that was once again inevitable.

      Sorrow for all of us who “served” in Wars of Futility: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (all versions), the War on Drugs, the GWOT. And maybe a little bad on us too, for thinking that “going to war” on “wogs,” with all our weapons and tactics and inevitable idiocy and corruption, was doing anything to “protect the American way of life” or was “providing security for the Homeland.” And a curse on our leaders, political and military, for so cynically putting us in harm’s way, counting on our courage and unit cohesion to keep the Game running long past the obvious point of what you call “efficient retrograde,” because as we were told in Basic by one cynical Korean War lifer whose head bobbed and hands trembled thanks to getting blown up in a tank battle, the US Military NEVER RETREATS — it “advances rearward to previously prepared positions.” Myth and futility for the troops and the taxpayers, and profits for a very few.

    • I for one couldn’t finish watching, experiencing, the whole video, which is just one tiny part of what is happening every day Over There.

      Oh, the horror! the BS that the lying Geopoliticists sold us! Sshhh, we’re not really doing ‘nationbuilding,’ or ‘counterinsurgency,’ it’s The women and little girls! THAT’s the reason for Our Boys “taking time away from their families to help you dudes out,” last week at least, so that Afghan officer can kidnap and screw little boys and those Afghan Army dudes can kidnap and ransom four other dudes so some local warlord can supposedly get his brother out of hock to “the Taliban,” which is just other dudes screwing little boys and doing all the crap they did before “NATO Forces” got there and will do long after “we” are long gone and nothing but another set of jokes and battle tales for those dudes to tell each other around their fire pits and meals.

      Same sh_t, same careerists, same contractors, new subcontinent. Once again, who will be the last GI to get killed over there? So HIS family can get a nice flag to put up in that made-in-China triangular Flag Display Case from Walmart? link to walmart.com And he can get HIS or HER name added to the Wikipedia article on the “War in Afghanistan,” link to en.wikipedia.org, for dismissive jerks to dismiss and scholars to argue over who the LAST REAL DEAD ONE actually was. link to vietvet.org

      Of course right here on this page is the Cafepress ad for the new national symbol, running away altogether from that Stars and Stripes thing we used to display so proudly, a symbol that is not “America the Beautiful” but “the US” (and yes, copyrighted but you can buy a license to use it “as a design wrapper for your logo or message!”

      C’mon, you Apologists, tell us it was all for good purposes, all in the “national interest,” or at least carry forward the Big Lie that “our intentions were good.” Call it an “honorable effort,” all that crap, excuse yourselves with “I didn’t agree with all of it,” and “Bad stuff happens in war,” all that too. When what it was, is and will be is nothing but a shabby thin faded peeling coat of “petroliotic redwhiteandblue paint” over that rotting Juggernaut labeled The Great American Exceptional Manifest Destiny Usual Milo Minderbinder Everyone Has A Share Idiocy.

  3. Gulbuddin Hekmyatar was supplied and trained by the U.S. and Israel during the Operation Cyclone CIA attempt to subvert the Marxist pro-Soviet government in Afghanistan in the 1980s and into to early 1990s. There were reports members of his group were involved in the opium trade and that his group had only very limited support among the Afghan people.

    Persident Reagan invited the Afghan rebel leadership into the Oval Office for a photo op in the 1980s and lauded them as freedom fighters.

    He was a key rebel leader during that period and eventually became Afghan prime minister in 1994 after the Marxist president, Dr. Najibullah, was overthrown.

    In 2002, the Central Intelligence Agency attempted to kill Hekmyatar in a drone strike; the missile missed him. He later placed a bounty on U.S. serviceman and announced his support for Al-Qaeda.

    It is so ironic he was a key American ally during the Cold War and yet someone in the U.S. government later authorized killing him in a drone strike.

    Someone should interview Hekmyatar so it can be substantiated how close he was to America’s leadership during the Cold War and how that relationship soured.

  4. I have commented on several previous occasions and do so again here, our effort at counter-insurgency and “nation building” in Afghanistan is a fool’s errand. We were justified and correct in invading Afghanistan and defeating the Taliban and rooting out Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda had declared war against the US, and the Taliban had provided Al-Qaeda with a safe-haven from which to operate and plan its attacks against the US. After we accomplished that goal, however, we should have left Afghanistan to function as the half-made nation it always has been, with various warlords in charge. But with one proviso, that we would continue our counter-terrorism efforts as necessary.

    While counter-insurgency and “nation-building” was bound to fail in Afghanistan, as it has in every country except the British effort in the 1948-1960 “Emergency” in Malaya (and that success was due to the very special circumstances of the British effort in Malaya), there is no reason for us to let up on our counter-terrorism effort, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If intelligence were to indicate Al-Qaeda or affiliated forces re-forming in Afghanistan, and the Afghan government appeared unable or unwilling to resist, we would be perfectly justified in using drones or Special Ops teams to neutralize them. And we should put the Afghan government on notice.

    There will be a lot of hand-wringing in the US over our 2014 departure from Afghanistan. But the fact is there is no US national interest in remaining in a country that basically doesn’t want us (except for our cash), and that will be no more a “nation” than when we first attempted to make it one. That our troops who paid the ultimate sacrifice will have done so in vain is sad, but it is no reason to continue having our troops die in vain. That Afghan girls may not be allowed to attend school is a shame, but it is none of our business to make it right. That Afghan women may be forced to revert back to being medieval chattel, again, is none of our concern. That is for Afghans either to live with or sort out among themselves. Our main concern should be the US national interest, not Afghanistan’s national interest. That is a problem for the Afghans to address.

  5. I hope everybody here reads the above comment at 6:26 PM very carefully. Very, very carefully. With a historian’s eye. Consistency is taken as credibility, sometimes.

    And speaking of that infinitely elastic, marvelously mutable “national interest,” what ever happened to that This Week’s Reason to Stay The Course, which got so much play not so very long ago? “Afghan mineral wealth could top $1 trillion: Pentagon”

    link to reuters.com

    Respectfully and totally disagree, as usual, with the insistence that Taliban-tagging and alQuaedaandbystanders-killing are any kind of justification for a MICmonster ‘military solution’ for “us,” that is, another generation of enthusiastic young testosterone-loaded patriots, to do a doofus do-over, again.

    Time for a new Mall Monument, alongside the Wall: The Tombs of the Last Ones To Die For Their Country In Wherever.

    • “Consistency is taken as credibility….”

      And if you have been reading all of my posts on this issue, as you state, “Very, very carefully. With a historian’s eye,” you will note that I have been consistent from the beginning about our national interest being best served by scrapping counter-insurgency and “nation-building” but continuing counter-terrorism. I suppose I should be flattered by your suggestion that that might indicate “credibility.” And if the suggestion had been made by someone with a greater understanding of geopolitics and national interest, I would.

  6. Watching this video made me feel very uncomfortable for the US troops there – as though they’re the butt of a bad joke. They think they’re there serving our nation, but really they’re only serving the war hawks in Congress, the MIC and the opportunists in Afghanistan. This is not a patriotic deed, though our politicians try to paint it that way to cover up the truth.

    Plus, regrettably our “advice” rings hollow. When the Marine tries to explain that you can’t arrest people who are not party to a crime …. what about Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram? Who are we to talk? We’re there to help them? Help who? At this point we’re only helping the Taliban gain more recruits.

    We don’t belong in Afghanistan and ought to leave asap. Though I’m horrified by the backwards attitudes that have taken hold there, I do believe that there are many smart Afghanis that have vision for a productive, modern and vibrant Afghanistan. Afghanis will do it on their own terms and at their own pace. It is not for the U.S. to do.

    • There’s a lot more video that ought to “make us uncomfortable.” Complete with lots of “excuses” from the Brass.

      link to youtube.com

      And how we saved Marjah: “What happens over the next five days will be a cornerstone of your memory for the rest of your life.” At about 3:35, and away the Brass flies, setting it up so he “won’t sleep uneasy for not doing the right thing.” “All right, gents, that’s all I’ve got.”

      link to youtube.com

      This is what victory looks like?

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