America Digs Its Own Afghan Grave

Afghanistan has long been called the “graveyard of empires,” the site of failed invasions. But the U.S. – in its 15-plus-year endeavor – seems determined to dig its own grave there, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

By Paul R. Pillar

Fifteen years and counting. America’s longest war keeps getting longer. The very duration of the expedition, with an end no more in sight now than it had been at any of several points one could have chosen over the last several years, ought to indicate the need for a fundamental redirection of policy. And yet there continue to be calls, including from influential members of Congress, to sustain and even enlarge the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marines patrol street in Shah Karez in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 10. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Robert Storm)

That campaign has now continued under three U.S. presidents, two Afghan presidents, too many U.S. military commanders to count, and a variety of operational strategies associated with the different generals. Different levels of U.S. troops also have been tried, with the peak of just over 100,000 American troops reached in 2011.

Something approaching peace and stability will come to Afghanistan the only way it ever has come to Afghanistan in the past: through deals reached among the different factions, power centers, and ethnic groups within Afghanistan. External military intervention does not negate or obviate that process, and instead becomes the object of Afghan resistance to outside interference. It is not for nothing that the place is called the graveyard of empires.

The shape of any deals reached among Afghan factions matters relatively little to the United States. One need make no apologies for borrowing from old speeches in describing the current conflict in Afghanistan as a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing. Unlike the circumstances in which that phrase was first used, there is no hostile and threatening power poised to exploit passivity on our part.

The U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 was, at that time, a just response to an attack on the U.S. homeland by a group that was enjoying the hospitality of the Afghan Taliban, which constituted the de facto regime ruling most of Afghanistan. One of the fundamental mistakes in how Americans have viewed Afghanistan ever since — in addition to the mistake of treating as an investment the sunk costs, including 2,400 American dead — is to think that the circumstances of 2001 still prevail.  They don’t.

The Afghan Taliban never have been interested in international terrorism. Their focus always has been on the social and political structure of Afghanistan. The past alliance with al-Qa’ida was one of convenience, in which the payoff for the Taliban was assistance in prosecuting their civil war against Afghan opponents.

U.S. Marines leaving a compound at night in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. (Defense Department photo)

There is nothing special about Afghanistan, distinguishing it from many other strife-ridden places such as Yemen or Somalia, that connects it today with a terrorist threat against U.S. interests. 9/11 itself was the work of Arabs, not Afghans. And with the gloves having been taken off after 9/11, the Taliban know, as everyone else does, that if anything at all like the 2001 al-Qa’ida presence were to begin being re-established in Afghanistan, the United States would promptly bomb the heck out of it.

Breeding Terrorism   

The United States had an earlier experience injecting armed force into Afghanistan, with its provision of lethal aid — most notably Stinger anti-aircraft missiles — to mujahedin fighting against the Soviets in the 1980s. During that effort, U.S. policymakers showed little or no concern with the political nature and direction of the forces they were aiding, which included what we would today quickly label as violent Islamists. Those forces were used as a tool to bleed the Soviets, who got themselves stuck in a military expedition that reached a strength just slightly bigger (about 115,000 troops) than the later U.S. expedition.

Russians noticed what the United States was doing, and they remember it today. And maybe roles are reversing and the bleeding is coming full circle. U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti, who is the top NATO commander in Europe, told a Congressional committee this week that Russia appears to be increasing its role in Afghanistan and may be providing material support to the Taliban. The situation is unclear; a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry strongly denied the accusation, and a careful tally of other relevant Russian interests would not argue in favor of aiding the Taliban.

Nonetheless, it would not be surprising if Moscow — with irony and with what many Russians probably would consider just deserts — took a page from the U.S. playbook of the 1980s. The underlying idea would be that Afghanistan has become for America today what it was for the USSR back then.

The Soviets did get out of the graveyard of empires, even with no more claim to victory than the United States would have today. The last Soviet soldier to leave Afghanistan was the commander, Lieutenant General Boris Gromov, who walked across a bridge spanning the Amu Darya River into Soviet Uzbekistan on Feb. 16, 1989. His departure marked nine years and 50 days since the initial Soviet intervention. The United States exceeded that mark years ago.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.) 

50 comments for “America Digs Its Own Afghan Grave

  1. April 4, 2017 at 00:44

    well paul
    i read to your point that afghanistan was rightly invaded x usa because…..
    that will do me mate! clearly u still work for cia

  2. Chris Cosmos
    March 27, 2017 at 15:15

    The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan had little to do with 9/11 or national security and everything to do with creating a state of permanent War while the pile in NYC was still burning. The CIA’s own Arab legion in cooperation with the Saudi government (which created with ISIS and the CIA the famous Madrasas in Pakistan that fueled the Taliban movement was allegedly responsible for 9/11–I’m afraid it was not that simple–but let’s skip that. The fact of the matter than eliminating 500 al-Qaeda fighters would have been no problem without an invasion should be so obvious I’m not going to go into it–still the military-industrial-“security”-complex needed money and an invasion lasting decades made a lot of sense from a policy perspective as did subsequent wars. There never was and isn’t now any interest on the part of top policy makers in the security of the American people only an interest in maintaining an international Empire of confidence men/women that we see in operation today that moves money from ordinary people into the hands of international oligarchs. I’ve known CIA guys like Pillar and they are part of the CIA cult that believes they are the main agents keeping Western Civilization going and that sustains them in their Machiavellian intrigues–many of these men and women are true-believers since the CIA and “serving” their country provides meaning at a time when meaning is absent in most people’s lives as our civilization crumbles and opens the door to a new one gradually emerging.

  3. GeorgyOrwell
    March 27, 2017 at 08:16

    With all due respect, we went into Afghanistan (based upon the monsterios lie which is the official 9/11 mythology), never intending to leave, because Afghanistan is, in the words of Zbignew Brezinshi, a geo-strategic pivot’. If you want to understand what these bastards are really up to you should read what they have written! Duh!

    They claim we have honestly been fighting the Taliban for fifteen years now, and somehow are still unable to defeat them? really? If we cannot defeat the Taliban in fifteen years, what would happen if we had to fight Iran or North Korea? If this is indeed true (and I have a bridge I want you to look at), then just forget about Russia and China should we have to fight them. The Taliban is living in the seventh century, and we can’t defeat them??


    And let’s not even talk about all the dope coming out of there that we appear to be feckless to stop, assuming that is indeed out intention (I have another bridge I want you to look at).

  4. March 26, 2017 at 20:41

    Afghans fought three wars against the Imperial British, who were attempting to block Russian expansion. Afghans lost the last war thus being forced to accept the Durant line border with Pakistan purposely splitting and weakening the fierce Pastu opponents of Britain. The Afghans parliment declared the Durant line illegitment.Afghans carry the bloodline of Alexander the Greats troops to a lesser extent Ghengis Khan troops.

  5. March 26, 2017 at 19:59

    BS CIA article. TAPI contract was why USA invaded Afghanistan, three weeks after Taliban signed TAPI contract with Argentina snubbing Rumsfeld’ s former corporation CalCo which coveted the contract , which would allow the USA to control and profit from the Turkmenistan oil and gas fields. Earlier the USA armed Landlords and Foundamentalists rebelling against Land and Gender rights reforming government, initiating Soviet Intervention after Soviets assasinated Amin. Karzai and Mullah Omar wished to create peace, always blocked by USA. USA weakening of Taliban has allowed incursion by Daesh. The noble Afghans have been subjected to 45 mostly USA caused war ( not to say the Soviets did not practice monstrosity on USA levels in their attempt to protect a socialist government). No Afghan was ever found to be involved in 9/11.

  6. angryspittle
    March 26, 2017 at 16:48

    Absolute folly.

  7. Bob In Portland
    March 26, 2017 at 14:14

    “My Parents went into Afghanistan to catch bin Laden and all I got was tons of heroin.”

    • jo6pac
      March 26, 2017 at 15:31

      Thanks for the LOL.

  8. Heman
    March 26, 2017 at 07:05

    Pillar’s article:

    “The United States had an earlier experience injecting armed force into Afghanistan, with its provision of lethal aid — most notably Stinger anti-aircraft missiles — to mujahedin fighting against the Soviets in the 1980s. During that effort, U.S. policymakers showed little or no concern with the political nature and direction of the forces they were aiding, which included what we would today quickly label as violent Islamists.”

    Who doesn’t accept that the “game” we play allows us to support anyone who is the enemy of our enemy? The tragic costs of our policy in death and destruction. The defender’ of our policies say we do this because not to do anything would be worse. Really?

    What was Afghanistan like before we decided to bleed Russia? Syria before regime change? Libya before Hillary? Iraq before the Bushes and Clinton? What was it like to ordinary people, schools, churches, synagogues and mosques, day by day life? What is it like for ordinary people now?

    • March 26, 2017 at 20:09

      When I was in Afghanistan 46 years ago riding horse out Kunduz and Bamiyan, sitting on the standing Buddha’s head and camping on the shore of Bandi Mere it was a cleansing from USA culture. Any village would feed you and your horse in the evening and morning and a place to sleep all for free. Reserved but friendly, self reliant, of few possesions but generous. Liberty and honesty in high regard, the golden midnight of the Shah.

  9. Bill Distler
    March 26, 2017 at 02:44

    The New York Times published an article in August, 2008, when John McCain was running against Barack Obama, titled, “Response to 9-11 shows outline of ‘McCain Doctrine’ ” The article explained that on Sept. 11, 2001, John McCain had his staff book him onto every TV and radio interview he could get. McCain “invariably”, according to the Times, repeated the same message: We had to attack Afghanistan, but after that we had to go after the other “terrorism supporting states”. His list included Iraq and Iran. The next day he added Syria and Libya to his list. All of these countries had three things in common. They had nothing to do with 9-11, their leaders did not support Sunni extremism, and their oil and gas was under their own control, not international corporations.

    On Sept. 11, the main supporters of the Taliban were Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates. The main supporters of the Northern Alliance (also called the United Front), the anti-Taliban group, were India, Russia, and Iran. McCain, in his self-serving dishonesty, named potential allies as our enemies while ignoring the actual facilitators of the 9-11 attacks. This lie has been upheld and repeated by every administration since George Bush. Republican or Democratic, they all work for the oil companies.
    The gas pipeline through Afghanistan is part of the story. If you search the internet, you will find a few interesting stories from the Economic Times of India and other South Asian news sources. A few headlines from the Economic Times:
    “US welcomes establishment of TAPI gas pipeline project”, Nov. 20, 2014 (TAPI stands for Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India; the four countries that the pipeline will benefit, not to mention whoever installs and runs the pipeline.)
    “TAPI gas pipeline construction to take 5 years: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani”, Apr. 29, 2015
    “US welcomes ground-breaking of TAPI pipeline”, Dec. 16, 2015.
    “Work on TAPI pipeline to begin in Pakistan tomorrow: Official”, March 2, 2017.

    When anti-war people first mentioned this pipeline as a possible cause for the war, they were scoffed at, or tsk-tsked, or both. There seems to be nothing these days in the US media about the pipeline, but South Asian media is following it closely. So tsk-tsk yourselves. Apparently you forgot the main lesson from Vietnam: don’t ask generals and admirals and politicians about war. They can’t help themselves; they lie about it. I believed all their lies when I went to Vietnam, and now I don’t.
    Keep working for Peace.

  10. March 25, 2017 at 20:37

    I do remember that, Miranda, but didn’t focus on that point. The pipeline issue was exposed by Michael Ruppert, former LAPD detective, in his newsletter, “From the Wilderness”. Saw it in Nexus magazine from Australia. No doubt behind all these bloody regime change operations are exploitation and seizure of resources.

  11. Miranda Keefe
    March 25, 2017 at 20:07

    Pillar wrote, “The U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 was, at that time, a just response to an attack on the U.S. homeland by a group that was enjoying the hospitality of the Afghan Taliban, which constituted the de facto regime ruling most of Afghanistan. ”

    No, it wasn’t a just response. It was a hubristic, evil, unnecessary response made not in order to get Bin Laden but to secure Afghanistan for gas pipelines.

    Maybe most of Pillar’s readers didn’t pay attention in 2001 or have short memories. But I remember that the Taliban offered to capture and turn over Bin Laden after 9-11 for an international trial and Bush said “No, we want to invade instead.” After all, the American Imperial Project needed the authorization to ‘legitimize’ a non-stop war on terror.

    A few years ago I posted about this in some comments section of some article and was accused of being a delusional nut- until I linked to 2001 mainstream media accounts of this offer and the rejection of it. I may just have to do the same research again now.

    And so it goes. Oh well.

  12. March 25, 2017 at 17:11

    Well, that’s really only a detail, RG, I’m afraid the real truth is what Realist just said. It’s not a pretty picture, these people (are they, really?) are psychopaths. We have been led by psychopaths nearly from day one, the “leaders” who decided to take over from the wise stewards of the land, the Native Americans, believed they were blessed and must overcome the savages!

    • March 26, 2017 at 20:11

      some Natives believe they are still at war with the USA.

  13. RGaylor
    March 25, 2017 at 16:59

    The War in Afghanistan is NOT the longest US war!
    We signed an armistice with North Korea … not a treaty to end the war. Since the ‘Korean Conflict’ can at least be traced to 1948, does that not mean we are still technically at war?
    I know, it has only been 68 years, but it makes the Afghanistan imbroglio something less than the longest ‘current war.’

  14. Realist
    March 25, 2017 at 16:52

    The folks behind the scenes actually running the U.S. government have such a psychopathic will to power (they want to eventually rule every square inch of the planet) that they will never give up on a military campaign that they start. They may bleed the civilian population dry, and maybe even substantially damage the financial interests of the oligarchs who prop them up, but they will absolutely never pull out of a country they invade.

    The only time during my life when that ever happened was in Vietnam, and that was because the government essentially collapsed with the resignation (in lieu of impeachment) of Richard Nixon. That’s what it would take for such a thing to happen again–for America to get out of Korea, Ukraine, Afghanistan, the Middle East or North Africa. The powers within the Deep State would fight the Russians and Chinese in a nuclear war to the extinction of the human race before standing down. Impeaching, assassinating or driving Trump to resignation will NOT bring about the collapse of the Deep State. He will be replaced by Mike Pence who is not an outsider like Trump and knows who he serves as his real master.

    The faction that needs to be overthrown is the claque that supports the Clintons, the boomer olig-orks who run Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Silicon Valley and would pitch Main Street into Mt. Doom to achieve Ray Kurzweil’s prophesized “singularity” and immortality for themselves. They want to be gods and no country of a mere 330 million people, or a planet of over 7 billion, are going to get in their way. Wealth is the key to power and they have it all. One can only hope that they destroy themselves, before destroying the entire planet, in the inevitable in-fighting that is sure to ensue.

    • Sam F
      March 25, 2017 at 17:41

      Yes, oligarchy is the problem, although most boomers are retired now, with high pacifism per capita due to Vietnam.

      The tyrant is an eternal problem, to which we are subject due to a poorly regulated economy, and no constitutional protection of our elections and mass media and democratic institutions from economic power, and non-functioning checks and balances.

      Tyrants usually create specific foreign enemies according to opportunity and oligarchy funding.

    • mike k
      March 25, 2017 at 17:53

      You have it right Realist. Power corrupts and in the hubristic process drives it’s perpetrator/victims insane. Mad with power is a real, deadly syndrome.

  15. March 25, 2017 at 16:49

    Unfortunately, with Clinton things would not have been any better. Her choice for Defense Secretary was Michele Flournoy, a definite hawk, and she would have picked a warhawk for State, even if female.

    • Rob Roy
      March 28, 2017 at 20:41

      Victoria Nuland of the infamous Cohen family. We dodged that bullet.

  16. March 25, 2017 at 16:26

    I’m referring to the Trump administration and Tillerson’s threats as counter provocative toward North Korea, instead of their considering negotiation. Trump has played right into the military buildup idea despite his earlier statements about not wanting war, and Tillerson has no experience in negotiation. CN is warning about that danger, and we keep hearing saber rattling from Trump, now Tillerson doing it. What with this Russia insanity, it adds up to a potential for very bad decisions all around.

    • mike k
      March 25, 2017 at 17:50

      Thanks for the clarification Jessica.

  17. March 25, 2017 at 15:44

    Probably is another accusation thrown at Russia as NATO’s ongoing ratcheting up the demonization narrative. The arms industry and tech industries are about all the US has left (well, don’t forget banking), besides the flagging service and health industries, so why not sell the folks on war, war, and more war? The other CN article on North Korea supports war, too.

    • mike k
      March 25, 2017 at 15:51

      Why do you feel the recent article on North Korea supports war Jessica? I did not read it that way.

  18. mike k
    March 25, 2017 at 15:24

    This debacle is just one more way to color our “leaders” stupid.

  19. Sam F
    March 25, 2017 at 15:08

    The accusation of Russia supporting a proxy to “give the US its Afghanistan” as the US sought to “give the USSR its own Vietnam” there seems quite unlikely as the US does not need anyone to lead us into the trap. We know our way into the graveyard of empires without any help, thank you.

    It seems unlikely that Russia would mimic the US destabilization efforts just beyond their border states, and they may well prefer a moderating Taliban; past conflicts would have to be resolved. Russia has not been in the war-provocations game of the US, and a provocateur would chose a US border state like Mexico.

    But certainly the warmongers for Israel are back on duty and would love to have another excuse to attack GWB’s “axis of evil” or “Shiite crescent” to disrupt support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, so almost certainly this new Russia demonization is one of their usual treasonous scams for war.

    • jo6pac
      March 26, 2017 at 15:28

      Thanks, just another general lying to keep the merchants of death busy making money.

      PRP please bring some proof with you next time

    • March 26, 2017 at 20:18

      I believe Afghanistan is mostly Sunni, a portion Sufi, but a fairly tolerant Sunni. USA has blocked Talban /Karzai peace. Weakening Taliban gives territory in Afghanistan to Dash.

      • Evangelista
        March 27, 2017 at 20:33

        The “Sunni” “Shiite” “Divide” of Islam is a Western Propaganda conjuration. The Sunni and Shiite factions division was the earliest succeeding factional divisioning in Islam and, since the end of Mohammed’s direct line has been a division of preferences and customs, today mostly hereditary, those of each adherency holding to what is familiar. The correct term for the division that makes Da’esh adherents different is that used by Assad “Salafist”. “Salafist” means “Puritan”, and Islamic Puritans are as varied, and as irrational, in their Puritanisms as any other religion’s Puritans (who all think others whose visions are not tunnel in the same ways their own are are off the path, “UnHoly”, “Apostate” and all the rest).

        To illustrate how ‘important’ Sunni-Shiite differences are (at least to non-salafi Moslems), while Assad’s Islam is of Shiite descent, his wife’s is of Sunni descent, and Iran was Islamized it was Islamized Sunni, but was then forcibly converted by Salafi Shiite religious rulers to Shiite (the holidays and associated ‘saints’ were changed), and, when the salafists went out of power (compare to Oliver Cromwell’s English Christian Salafist, Puritan, reign in Britain) did not bother to revert, and so remains predominantly Shiite today. Saudi Arabia is dominated by Wahabi, Sunni, Salafi (Puritans) today. The Da’eshi seem a little (at least) beyond Wahabi in their Salafi.

  20. Jay
    March 25, 2017 at 14:08

    “The U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 was, at that time, a just response to an attack on the U.S. homeland by a group that was enjoying the hospitality of the Afghan Taliban,”

    That’s a bit of a stretch.

    In some ways more importantly, once the US started the fiasco things were mostly peaceful in Afghanistan by the summer of 2002, then the US military decided to leave its bases and provoke fights with “the Taliban”.

  21. Tom Welsh
    March 25, 2017 at 13:19

    At the battle of Cannae, members of the Roman Senate were more heavily represented in the army (proportionately) than Roman citizens as a whole.

    Perhaps the time has come for members of Congress to show the same civic spirit, and lead by example.

    • evelync
      March 25, 2017 at 13:39

      hah hah hah…..yes indeed!

  22. March 25, 2017 at 13:17

    Well from the Russian perspective, the US being tied up in wars all over the Middle East and Asia assures it that their country cannot be attacked by the USA. Spreading your military over 800 bases in more than 70 countries is not a strategy to use if you are going to attack another super power who has all of it´s military in it´s own country or adjoing countries where they can be coordinated against any attacker.
    If I were Putin I would certainly consider bleeding the USA in Afghanistan. They could supply the Taliban with US manufactured weapons just by buying them up on the open market. They are right accross the border from Afghanistan and so there is no logistics problem in moving them to site. The idea would be to supply just enough weapons to keep the US in the battle and not enough to make them quit. In the writers words. BLEED them white.

    • Tom Welsh
      March 25, 2017 at 13:23

      If only that were true! Sadly, in this thermonuclear era, any war between the USA and Russia would either end with a cataclysmic exchange of missiles, or would be determined by some sneaky subterfuge – such as biological warfare, undermining the national morale through drugs (the USA is pretty well done in that respect), or of course the good old “colour revolution”.

      Moving soldiers, armoured vehicles, artillery, aircraft and ships around the worlds is a purely diversionary tactic. Indeed, winning a conventional war is something to be avoided at all costs, since it would very probably force the enemy to resort to thermonuclear escalation.

    • Lisa
      March 25, 2017 at 16:00

      “They are right across the border from Afghanistan and so there is no logistics problem in moving them to site.”

      A small geographical correction: Russia has no common border with Afghanistan. Soviet Union did have it. The northern neighbours of Afghanistan are Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Whether they would allow such transportations through their countries is not quite clear. These border areas are also very mountainous.

    • Brad Owen
      March 26, 2017 at 07:49

      Russia, along with China and India, have already moved into the next Era, that is still just around the corner for USA: the Era of cooperation on industrial and infrastructure development for the mutual benefit of all involved. THAT is where Russia’s head is at, China too, and “The Stans” too, and India. They’re patiently and guardedly waiting out Europe’s (Trans-Alantic Community ruled by The City and The Street) last Imperial gasp at playing the geopolitical “Great Game”, before we finally wake up and grow up too, and join them in the New Era. Russia’s not trying to “take advantage” and bleed us here-n-there in some “death by a thousand cuts” geopolitical game-playing. They are through with those games, and focused on all the Silk Road-type policies flowing all around us like a river flowing around a stuck rock. Meanwhile, we’re still playing the hoary old Roman Empire, engaged in dozens of “holding actions” (miniwars) all along the outposts, stuck in the same old mindset that all the rest of the World is rapidly ejecting for the New Era of development, progress and peace.

  23. Bill Bodden
    March 25, 2017 at 13:15

    The U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 was, at that time, a just response to an attack on the U.S. homeland by a group that was enjoying the hospitality of the Afghan Taliban, which constituted the de facto regime ruling most of Afghanistan.


    The Afghan Taliban never have been interested in international terrorism. Their focus always has been on the social and political structure of Afghanistan. The past alliance with al-Qa’ida was one of convenience, in which the payoff for the Taliban was assistance in prosecuting their civil war against Afghan opponents.

    There were reports at the time stating that if the U.S. had evidence that al-Qa’ida was responsible for 9/11 and thus abusing the hospitality of the Taliban then the Taliban would have turned al-Qa’ida out of Afghanistan. The hubris-laden Bush/Cheney administration considered this unacceptable and did what most American administrations are prone to do – wage war.

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 25, 2017 at 21:29

      I thought it was a missed opportunity that the U.S. did not take advantage of the Taliban offer, that if the Americans would provide proof of Osama bin Laden’s involvement inside the 911 Attack that the Taliban would hand bin Laden over to the Americans. Sounds fairly simple to me, so why didn’t the Bush Adminstration produce the evidence? Well look it up even the FBI never charged Osama bin Laden for the crime of 911 due to the lack of evidence. Oh, and tell me again just why we are still in Afghanistan since I thought the original mission was to catch Osama in the first place. Once again the swindlers in DC got over on us the American people, and the rest of the world while they were at it…we have been played, but what else is new since that seems to be the American way,

      • Anon
        March 26, 2017 at 06:25

        Yes, the perpetrators of the Afghanistan-Iraq-Syria wars should not only be prosecuted as war criminals, they must be executed because that is the only language that the tyrant understands. There is no cause for mercy after their murders of millions. Jefferson said that “the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants” in every generation, and it has been far too long now. They, the PNAC, and all of their accomplices are Israeli agents, traitors to the US and all humanity. The best method would be rendition: turn thousands of them over to Iran, Isis, the Taliban, and other victims for prosecution for murder.

        Only then can we begin to set right the damage they have done to America and the world.

        • Joe Tedesky
          March 26, 2017 at 09:47

          A modern day Nuremberg trail.

          • March 26, 2017 at 12:08

            Or just more lucrative business deals for the military industrial corporations. Hypocrite Nation.

      • Eddie
        March 26, 2017 at 14:57

        “I thought it was a missed opportunity that the U.S. did not take advantage of the Taliban offer, that if the Americans would provide proof of Osama bin Laden’s involvement inside the 911 Attack that the Taliban would hand bin Laden over to the Americans. Sounds fairly simple to me, so why didn’t the Bush Administration produce the evidence? ”

        I agree JT. Of course that’s working under the assumption that the W administration (as well as all the administrations since at least ‘St Reagan’) was even secondarily interested in international law and diplomacy, which I for one have come to believe is unsupportable by the evidence. Because our domestic politics have become increasingly corrupt (ie; using the definition for ‘corruption’ I saw in Zephyr Teachout’s excellent book “Corruption in America” — as ‘placing private interests over the public good in public office’) and the US public’s interest in international politics is by-and-large a “I don’t want to hear about it” stance (except for maybe 10-15% of us), US POTUS administrations need only give lip-service to international law and diplomacy and then continue with the hubristic bullyism supported by the proverbial MIC (of which Mr Pillar shows the proper obeisance by stating our war in Afghanistan was “…a just response to an attack on the U.S.”). The general public is easily fear-mongered because they don’t pay any attention until the MSM/MIC presents them with a slanted situation. And of course in W’s case — where his administration screwed-up bad by not following-on with the Clinton’s anti-terrorism work/warnings about OBN (because the Republicans were against anything ‘Clinton-esque’ at the time) which resulted in 9/11 — he had to ‘slam the barn-door shut after the horses were out’ to try to distract everyone from his fuck-up. Sadly, it worked very well, because much of a shocked public was open to a visceral, emotional ‘revenge’ response rather than diplomacy, and the militaristic response has virtually ALWAYS been the Republican’s preferred response to international incidents, at least since 1980, so it dove-tailed nicely with their inclinations.

        All-in-all, it worked-out well for ‘W’ since he got re-elected because he was a ‘war-time president’ (which he had told a biographer he wanted to be so that his legacy would be burnished), people more or less overlooked his ‘deer-in-the-headlight’s’ response on 9/11 (ie; when he continued reading “My Pet Goat” to an elementary class and then fled to Nebraska, after being told “the US is under attack”), even though his subsequent Iraq War has become unpopular with many…

        • Joe Tedesky
          March 26, 2017 at 15:15

          I have been of the opinion that after August 6th of 2001 when George W told Rice to quit bringing him these intelligence briefs on Osama bin Laden that he was attempting to be efficient knowing the attack was going to happen regardless of any Intel on bin Laden. Well yes that makes me a 911 conspiracy theorist, and there I go again, but if anyone buys what the 911 Commission reported then you tell me which of us buys into flimsy theories? 911 makes the Nazi Reichstag fire arsonists look like bumbling amateurs.

      • Evangelista
        March 27, 2017 at 19:54

        The “Osama Did It” assertion was a predecessor to the “The Syrians Did It” and “The Russians Did It” assertions that differ only in being not so far back in history.

        The Taliban in Afghanistan had only just got control of their nation, with U.S. supply assistance, and perceived the U.S. as friends, and potential partners. They eradicated opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, reducing it to zero, using Islamic admonition against both narcotics and participating in pushing evil on others. Doing so put a big hole in Afghanistan’s foreign exchange economy, and the Taliban government anticipated aid from a grateful U.S. and grateful European nations, whose drugs-produced problems the drug-drought would help against, to help them through the lean times of their nation’s transition to a less lucrative crops economy. With these expectations in mind, of friendship, gratitude, aid, normal national relations and integration for their government into the world economy, the Taliban government of Afghanistan bent over backward to maintain what seemed to them a positive and potentially continuing positive relationship with the West. They also sought to stay within the laws of Islam in their doing this. Thus, when the West went aggressive with its “Osama Did It” asserting, and asserting Osama to be in Afghanistan (which, with the CIA’s record for intelligence and accuracy cannot be assumed of their assertion), the Taliban government offered to, if Osama was in Afghanistan, and the U.S. provided probable cause, capture him and try him first, then, as the U.S. became more shrill and demanding, and threatening, to, if the U.S. provided proof Osama was involved in the 9/11 attack, capture Osama and cooperate in extradition. When the U.S. would provide neither probable cause nor proof, the Taliban convened a pan-Islamic conference to advise them what they could, legally, under Islamic law, do. This was necessary because Islamic law, like U.S. law, when it is respected, prohibits sacrifices of innocents, prohibiting giving accused persons into certain punishment where no proving has been undertaken, or appears likely to be, such giving up a person to a witch-hunt being, in both legal cultures, effectively joining in the witch-hunting.

        The only legitimately assignable error the Taliban made in their efforts to deal within law with the U.S. to avoid being attacked, was, because two cultures, Islamic and Judeo-Christian, were involved, not including Judeo-Christian representatives in their Conference, to obtain a verdict in regard to applicable ethics that could not be assigned to be “Islamic”. While the ethics under consideration were Judeo-Christian and Humanistic, and so universal, by the time of the Pan-Islamic conference convention the pitch of U.S. led Western political-mob hysteria had reached such a pitch the Taliban, and the rest of the Islamic world, suspected Judeo-Christian and Humanistic values to be ‘not independent’, to be subservient, worthless for being under political control.

        Had this one base not covered been covered, even if the Western guardians of ethics had proved themselves to have been politically subservient, so that events could have unfolded as they did with no formal attempts to check from respected Western ethical sources, the history of the U.S.’s nakedly irresponsible illegal aggression would be as perfect as ever can be in history, with no “might have been” component in the mix at all. As it is, there is only the one, that had the Taliban included Western Keepers of Western Ethics in their Conference to review the ethics that underpinned the Taliban position, ‘things might have gone differently’, as Apologists are ever wont to say…

        Of course, Mr. Pillar, in his article, writing in apparent full CIA-History harness, including blinders, plows a straight CIA-USA political furrow. Apparently attempting to turn the facts of the events of 15 years ago under, with another layer of mold-board lifted dirt thrown up over.

  24. Bill Bodden
    March 25, 2017 at 13:06

    That campaign has now continued under three U.S. presidents, two Afghan presidents, too many U.S. military commanders to count, and a variety of operational strategies associated with the different generals. Different levels of U.S. troops also have been tried, with the peak of just over 100,000 American troops reached in 2011.

    It would be interesting to compare how much this war on Afghanistan has cost the United States and NATO with the various forces in resistance.

    • chuck b
      March 27, 2017 at 16:11

      “9/11 itself was the work of Arabs, not Afghans.”

      as long as this lie is being perpetuated, your rulers will have an easy time to use you.

      9/11 was the work of americans and their friends. i expect an enlightened site like parry’s to know that by now.

      • Mary in Las Vegas
        March 30, 2017 at 15:04

        Most of us know that 9/11/01 was an inside job…probably carried out by the Mossad — but that will never be talked about publicly (in the media)…it would show the world what an Evil Empire the US truly is.

    • Evangelista
      March 27, 2017 at 18:47

      The Afghan ‘war’ being, supposedly, a NATO operation, the “peak of just over 100,000 American troops” assertion is disingenuous, especially when used, further along, as a comparative to the US troops number in Viet Nam, where there were not German, British, etc. troops in coordinating operation.

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