The Same Ol’ Afghan War Fallacies

Unless President Trump can pull off a peace deal with the Taliban, his Afghan War policy is following the same bloody and futile path that his predecessors took, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar describes.

By Paul R. Pillar

President Trump’s statement on Afghanistan has numerous shortcomings. It portrays as a “new strategy” what is instead a familiar kicking of a can down the road. It combines Trump’s habit of heaping blame on his predecessors with a warmed-over version of what those predecessors did in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump describing his policy toward the Afghan War, at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia, on Aug. 21, 2017. (Screenshot from Whitehouse.gov)

It declares a determination to “win” while leaving one guessing as to exactly what a win would mean in Afghanistan. It fails to address underlying problems of governance in that country. It gives no basis for expecting or even hoping that the U.S. military expedition there will not go on forever.

Added to these features is a further notion that Trump shares with many others, including observers who in other respects are critical of his policy. This is the idea that there is a direct connection between extremists having a physical presence in a distant land and the United States facing a terrorist threat at home.

Trump used the term safe haven four times in his speech. He declared that the basic purpose of the military expedition in Afghanistan was, “We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America.”

One hears this same idea over and over. The current U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General John W. Nicholson, Jr., says, “The requirement to keep pressure on these terror groups to prevent another attack on our homeland .?.?. fundamentally, that is why we are here.” Such statements — and not only about Afghanistan — are minor rephrasing of the old notion of “fight them over there or else we’ll have to fight them at home.”

That notion is not valid, and never has been. The very physical distance involved works against the relevance of foreign havens to terrorist threats against the homeland. One cannot drive a truck bomb, or even the ingredients for one, across the Atlantic Ocean. To the extent any physical space is required to prepare a terrorist attack, a house or apartment in or near the city being targeted is — as a long history of terrorist incidents has demonstrated — much more useful to terrorists than a piece of real estate on another continent.

Very little safe space of any sort is required for high-impact terrorism. After the recently discovered terrorist cell in Spain suffered the mishap of accidentally blowing up the house they were using in a Catalonian village to prepare explosives, they turned to the no-space-required technique of renting vehicles and using them to run down people in the street — the most popular terrorist modus operandi in the West in recent months. As for the terrorist-related functions of recruitment and operational coordination, most of that occurs not in any physical space but in cyberspace.

The ‘Safe Haven’ Myth

Even if the idea of a foreign safe haven being critical to international terrorist operations were valid, it could not be a sound basis for justifying a military expedition in any one country. Havens are fungible, and extremists driven from one place can set up shop somewhere else. The focus on Afghanistan is a historical legacy of one group’s operations in the past, which in turn were a legacy of an anti-Soviet insurgency in the even more distant past.

President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney receive an Oval Office briefing from CIA Director George Tenet. Also present is Chief of Staff Andy Card (on right). (White House photo)

The current prime foes in Afghanistan, the Taliban, are not an international terrorist group and never have been one. The Taliban are instead narrowly focused on political power and the nature of the social order within Afghanistan.

It is true that a patch of foreign real estate may be required for more ambitious operations such as organizing and training a militia. But the world is full of militias that do not threaten the United States, and they certainly should not be equated with terrorist threats to the U.S. homeland.

The establishment of a mini-state on Iraqi and Syria territory by the so-called Islamic State or ISIS raises the further issue of how such a seizure of territory might inspire radicalized individuals elsewhere. But the inspiration depends more on ideology and grievances than on a territorial presence, as has been demonstrated by ISIS-inspired terrorism in the West that has continued and even increased while the mini-state has been getting crushed.

The persistence, especially in the minds of Americans, of the erroneous notion about safe havens and terrorism has much to do with 9/11, its searing effect on the American consciousness, and Al-Qaeda’s past residency in Afghanistan. But the notion is a misreading of that piece of history, even without getting into overlooked details about phases of the Afghan civil war and the nature of the relationship between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Most of the preparations for the 9/11 operation did not take place in Afghanistan; most took place in the West, including in apartments in Hamburg, hotels in Spain, and flight schools in the United States.

The safe haven notion also has become a convenient mantra to cite as a rationale for continuing U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan for other reasons. Those reasons may include fear that if a pullout from Afghanistan were followed by a major anti-U.S. terrorist attack, domestic political opponents would make a rhetorical connection between the two whether the connection were valid or not. And the more the mantra is recited, the more believable such alleged connections sound to the public.

Fearing a Backlash

More general habits of thought, especially American habits, are also in play. One is a tendency toward spatial thinking that associates good guys and bad guys with different places on a map. There is a tendency to imagine a Mordor whether one exists or not. A further American tendency is to equate solving a security problem with an overseas use of military force. Related to that is the American view of terrorism as primarily a foreign threat, notwithstanding the nature of most terrorist attacks within the United States since 9/11.

President Barack Obama concludes a National Security Council meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, April 19, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

An unfortunate effect of the persistent notion about terrorist safe havens is not only costly and unnecessary military expeditions; the notion also worsens the terrorist threat itself. The overseas deployment of U.S. military forces provides a major motivation for anti-U.S. terrorism. The collateral casualties and damage that inevitably result from operations by those forces accentuate the grievances that underlie such terrorism.

A relevant reminder about this comes from an incomplete and misleading passage in Trump’s speech about Afghanistan. He referred to Iraq and asserted that “the vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit, and launch attacks.” What he did not mention was that ISIS did not exist before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The group arose, under a different name, as a direct result of the invasion and of the warfare within Iraq that the invasion ignited.

And lest we forget, a major part of the campaign to sell the invasion to the American public involved the fear of terrorism, the specter of dictators giving weapons of mass destruction to terrorists, and the idea that if we don’t fight the bad guys over there they will attack us at home.

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.)

52 comments for “The Same Ol’ Afghan War Fallacies

  1. George Hoffman
    September 3, 2017 at 10:19

    Thank you, Mr. Pillar, for your cogent and sober analysis of an escalation, once again, in Afghansistan. Safety is an illusion, a form of magical thinking,which muddles the water. I gave up on trying to fell safe when I came back to world after a tour of duty in Vietnam. I’ve never felt “safe” ever since then. But Marine Lt. General John H. Nicholson even admitted in his testimony before Congress that the war in Afghanistan was esssntially “a stalemate,” which for me harkened back to Walter Chonkrite’s assessment of the Vietnam War after the Tet Offensive of 1968.

  2. mike k
    August 31, 2017 at 13:56

    War is capitalism by other means. Or is it that capitalism is war by other means? Or is it that war and capitalism are the same thing?

    • Sam F
      August 31, 2017 at 18:20

      Very funny! And indeed economic power has long been a soft or delayed form of direct force, and the power of economic concentrations has become a form of warfare. So unregulated economic power is economic war.

  3. August 31, 2017 at 11:11

    Very true. Terrorists do not need Afghanistan or any other failed state as a ” safe haven “.
    In fact, the EU is importing potential terrorists into their midst and paying them to stay.
    All they need then is the use of a truck.
    Of course, the western governments know this perfectly well. The terrorist thing is a hook to obscure their real motives in these countries. There is always a hook.

  4. Michael Kenny
    August 31, 2017 at 11:07

    Trump’s Afghanistan surge will undoubtedly fizzle out. Guerilla wars are unwinnable. The interesting question is where Trump goes next. He needs a war and a victory. The only war that Trump can win and that will do him any good is the “war on Putin”. If he gets Putin out of Ukraine, he kills Russiagate stone dead before it expands into a general investigation of his business links to Russia, his taxes and how much taxpayers’ money he’s pouring into his own pocket by staying, weekend after weekend, at resorts which he himself owns. Better yet, if he launches a guerilla war in Syria, he doesn’t even have to enagage US troops. Syrian guerillas “run” by private contractors with no open US government involvement. How to win a war without losing a single American soldier!

  5. Herman
    August 31, 2017 at 09:16

    We have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here. As Mr. Pillar says, it is the opposite, and everyone including those “policy” makers know it. We went to Afghanistan after 911 to root out Al Qaeda. Without missing a beat Al Qaeda became the Taliban. Meanwhile, the one thing that might justify our presence, the drug trade goes on unabated and is seldom mentioned by our presidents and generals. We wrecked a country to get at Russia and we don’t seem to have a clue how to put it back together again. Why did we do it, because we are good at it. That’s what our representatives and generals do.

  6. August 31, 2017 at 05:54

    In discussing the fallacy of the ‘external threat to the US’, it is essential to mention the the demonstrably false narrative of 9/11. Until this matter has been addressed in a transparent manner, we Americans are living in an occupied country, paying taxes to fund an entity openly hostile to our interests.

    Have you made plans for this year’s 9/11 protest? Monday after next.

  7. Brent
    August 30, 2017 at 23:34

    A much needed rebuke to the stupidity of logic presented to Americans to keep up the warmongering.

    • ScottB
      August 31, 2017 at 04:15

      While China is busy building infrastructure and factories throughout geographies such as Africa and Latin America, the American Shadow Government has grown accustomed to regime change (“warmongering”) for political means and appeasing the Zionists.

      Afghanistan is well covered here. In the case of Libya, the American Zionist empire violently took out the one man who brought much needed stability to a very prosperous country over the creation of a new proposed currency (the dinar) which would have undermined the western world fiat banking cartel. All this nonsense only ends with the abomination of the FED and adoption of sound monetary principles.

      Americans have a choice to make: indifference to evil is the gravest danger faced. The consequences of turning a blind eye to the warmongering and soft coup of a duly elected government by a corrupt corporate media and the established Deep State could lead to the collective suicide of the human race.

    • ScottB
      August 31, 2017 at 04:30

      I received a database connection error when attempted to post this …

      While China is busy investing, establishing relationships with, and building infrastructure and factories throughout geographies such as Africa and Latin America, the American Shadow Government has grown accustomed to regime change (“warmongering”) for political means and appeasing the Zionists.

      Afghanistan is well covered here. In the case of Libya, the American Zionist empire violently likely took out the one man who brought much needed stability to a very prosperous country over the creation of a new proposed currency (the dinar) which would have undermined the western world fiat banking cartel. All this nonsense only ends with the abomination of the FED and adoption of sound monetary principles. Lincoln and JFK’s assignations were due in part to their support of alternative currencies. For JFK, this was the silver certificate.

      Americans have a choice to make: indifference to evil is the gravest danger faced. The consequences of turning a blind eye to the warmongering and soft coup of a duly elected POTUS by a corrupt corporate media and the established Deep State could lead to the collective suicide of the human race.

    • mike k
      August 31, 2017 at 10:01

      Right on Scott.

  8. CitizenOne
    August 30, 2017 at 23:28

    The article states, “As for the terrorist-related functions of recruitment and operational coordination, most of that occurs not in any physical space but in cyberspace”. The article also states, “Very little safe space of any sort is required for high-impact terrorism.”

    It is not a huge leap to imagine that recruitment and operational coordination in cyberspace can also be utilized to condense the very little safe physical space required for terrorist attacks into the zero physical space of cyberspace.

    No doubt the holy grail of terrorists is to use the internet to launch attacks. The US has paved the way with Suxtnet. Clearly our infrastructure which is vulnerable to monetary theft and other internet attacks can be used to infiltrate sensitive targets and take over operational control. This may be the reason for the recent spate of accidents involving Navy ships.

    We can hope that the terrorists don’t get too savvy and learn how to access critical infrastructure from afar and wreak mayhem but I think it is only a matter of time. Unfortunately it is always possible to use the automation controls we employ to operate our security systems to subvert the controls for nefarious purposes just as is done for financial cyber attacks which subvert banking automation to steal money. When the terrorists get as smart as the crooks watch out. Just like we seem unable to stop cyber crime we may also not be able to stop cyber terrorism.

    We already see that cyber crime can be launched from across the ocean and it is only logical that terrorists wishing to leave no footprint will seek out ways to manipulate the internet to conduct attacks which only require some advanced knowledge of internet vulnerabilities which can be exploited. Needless to say, the ways and means are quite easily accomplished.

    If Trump thinks a physical wall will stop immigration which it won’t then he is already ill equipped to defend against cyber threats. We need to be more concerned with an effective firewall rather than a Great Wall. There is no doubt we have only seen the first inkling of what is possible. What is possible is probable and what is probable is a certainty given motive opportunity and time.

    Given this inherent vulnerability and our doubtful ability to predict how the technology might be exploited let alone place effective countermeasures in place to deal with what we cannot imagine it seems reasonable that conducting conventional warfare as a means to stop our enemies has become effectively obsolete.

    We need to have some forward thinking people in the defense efforts who will focus on zero space terrorist threats in cyber space and not rely on our ability to utilize conventional military measures to effectively deal with future threats. In fact, conventional means might only serve to steer the efforts of terrorists to turn to cyber space to launch an attack since no nation can long withstand the military might of the USA.

    The inability of commercial internet service providers , social media and large firms to provide protection from financial cyber attacks should serve as fair warning that our conventional methods of dealing with the enemy may be rendered useless when the terrorists turn to using the same vulnerabilities to conduct terrorist attacks, Recent initiatives such as IoT compound the threat.

    Bombing our enemies may turn out to be completely useless.

    • mike k
      August 31, 2017 at 10:08

      In a world like ours where hatred and violence rule, your enemies will find some ways to hurt you. The only real safety and peace comes from a world based on love, where everyone is friends with everyone else. If you say such a world is impossible, then you have ruled out the possibility of a peaceful world, and provided an excuse for endless hostilities, and the eventual extinction of a species intent on destroying each other and their environment.

  9. Joe Tedesky
    August 30, 2017 at 23:18

    The U.S. Army War College recently released a report, where the report stated that the ‘American Empire’ was in decline, in fact the report used the word ‘collapsing’.

    “In brief, the sta­tus quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal ‘beat’ for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.”

    That quote comes from the USArmy War College report itself. Yet, what does it mean? Well, the report goes on to further declare to not withdraw from current policy, as much as the report stresses the importance of beefed up surveillance, and security, is what is required to be elaborated on. The report doesn’t feel the U.S. has used all its tools in the security tool box to their greatest advantage, so expect a deeper plunge into the realms of personal data sweeps, as the lid must be sealed.

    “That strength, however, is only as durable as the United States’ willingness to see and employ it to its advantage. To the extent that the United States and its defense enterprise are seen to lead, others will follow…”

    The document prepared by the War College does reference rogue nations who adhere to much to their own national interest, as these self minded country’s ignore U.S. demands that these independent nations fall in line to U.S. Hegemonic Dominance.

    “The document is particularly candid in setting out why the U.S. sees these countries as threats?—?not so much because of tangible military or security issues, but mainly because their pursuit of their own legitimate national interests is, in itself, seen as undermining American dominance.”

    There is a lot more to learn, read this article first…

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/pentagon-study-declares-american-empire-is-collapsing-746754cdaebf

    I will post another comment where I will give you my two cents worth on the Afghanistan reboot.

  10. mark
    August 30, 2017 at 22:24

    Shame to see Trump backtracking and flip flopping so soon about the only part of his programme that made any sense – getting out of Afghanistan and avoiding more crazy wars.

    Instead he’s expanding the 7 wars America is currently fighting, and threatening to attack Venezuela, Iran, Syria, North Korea, China and Russia, and probably a few others I can’t remember.

    Nothing good will come out of Afghanistan. Britain invaded the country 3 times and got its butt kicked on each occasion. Russia gave it up as a bad job. Alexander The Great went into Afghanistan around 330BC. He was a military genius and conquered the known world by the time he was 30. He went through Afghanistan on his way to conquer India. He was a little bit more culturally sensitive than most Americans and did everything he could to win over the locals. He even married an Afghan woman. But he still had endless trouble and avoided Afghanistan on the way back, going the long way round after he had conquered India.

    If Alexander The Great didn’t have much luck in Afghanistan, I doubt that Trumpenstein and Mad Dog and his assorted superannuated generals will do much better.

  11. SteveK9
    August 30, 2017 at 22:03

    ‘Those reasons may include fear that if a pullout from Afghanistan were followed by a major anti-U.S. terrorist attack, domestic political opponents would make a rhetorical connection between the two whether the connection were valid or not. ‘

    Since lying has become standard fare for politicians and the media, this is probably a justified fear, if only a political one.

  12. backwardsevolution
    August 30, 2017 at 21:10

    George posted this article on how Trump took the advice of Mike Pompeo re his bombing of the Syrian airstrip.

    I quote Pompeo:

    “I got a call from the President one afternoon back in April. He wanted to talk about some disturbing images that were coming in from Syria. I’m sure you saw many of them yourselves—scenes of innocent civilians writhing in agony, the apparent victims of a chemical weapons attack.

    “The President had a very direct message for me: Find out what happened. So we immediately assembled a crack team of Agency experts. They began piecing together the evidence, working closely with some outstanding partners from across the Intelligence Community.

    “The next day the President called his cabinet together. As we sat down, he turned to me and asked what we had learned. I told him that the IC had concluded that a chemical weapon had indeed been used in the attack, and that it had been launched by the Syrian regime.

    “The President paused a moment and said: Pompeo, are you sure? I’ll admit that the question took my breath away. But I knew how solid the evidence was, and I was able to look him in the eye and say, Mr. President, we have high confidence in our assessment.”

    https://www.cia.gov/news-information/speeches-testimony/2017-speeches-testimony/director-pompeo-delivers-remarks-at-insa.html

    And yet the MSM lied in all of their stories that said President Trump didn’t wait for the proper intelligence, or that he acted alone solely because Ivanka was crying.

    Joseph Kennedy (JFK’s father), when he was U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain and stationed at the U.S. Embassy in London, always said that after having met Churchill, he was quite convinced that: “That man is capable of doing absolutely anything.” Kennedy fully expected that Churchill, if he had to, would bomb the embassy in London just to make it look like Hitler did it. I guess he would stop at nothing to succeed and frame someone else.

    I feel the same way about the media. They will stop at nothing in order to get what they want, get someone impeached. Thank goodness President Trump has thick skin and has been around the block a time or two. That kind of stuff comes in handy when you’re dealing with people like this.

    Of course, I hope that Trump will have learned something from this, if in fact he even knows the truth: that he needs to pause, listen to his intelligence agencies, and then pause some more. But he at least did do the right thing by giving the Syrians and Russians advance warning and only bombed them around their airstrip. He at least acted prudently in that regard.

    • mark
      August 30, 2017 at 22:31

      Only killed four Syrian children in the process.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 30, 2017 at 23:05

      mark – yes, that is unfortunate. But what was Trump supposed to do? At this time he was being hounded re Russiagate, people were saying he wasn’t going to listen to his military advisers, etc. He asked them to find out what happened, they did, he asked if they were sure, they were, and so he acted, but in what I think was a prudent manner. He’s not Superman. He couldn’t just fly over and see for himself. It is the intelligence community that is not doing their job. They are lying, or at least not giving the whole truth.

    • mark
      August 31, 2017 at 19:15

      No, they tried to tell him that Assad didn’t do this, but what does it matter if you’ve got alternative facts. You can be as cynical as you like, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Otherwise you could just as easily justify everything Hitler did, or justify slavery or colonial exploitation – hey, that’s how the world works, get used to it. We now have thousands more young Americans being sent down the Afghan rabbit hole for reasons of expediency – hey, go with the flow, the generals want to do it and anyway it’s good for Raytheon’s share price. Those who aren’t killed or maimed will come back and commit suicide at the rate of 20 a day.

    • backwardsevolution
      September 3, 2017 at 15:45

      mark – “No, they tried to tell him that Assad didn’t do this, but what does it matter if you’ve got alternative facts.”

      What I quoted was right from the horse’s mouth – from Mike Pompeo – from the speech that he gave. So Pompeo is lying now? He wasn’t pointedly asked by the President who did it and whether he was sure of his findings?

      What more was Trump to do?

      Yeah, I’ll just bet they tried to tell him that Assad didn’t do it.

  13. August 30, 2017 at 20:20

    Bill Maher pointed out on his show that troops in Afghanistan are actually there to be near Pakistan. Pakistan has nukes and ISIS and the US does not want to completely leave that region.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 30, 2017 at 21:34

      That’s like the Bush Administration changing their story about the why of Iraq..from WMD to “democracy promotion”.
      Anything beyond the superficial is not Maher’s forte. Of course he thinks there must be “some good reason” (as he might put it). The “does not want to completely leave that region” is a hoot. Okay Bill, Eyes and ears on the ground for the bad guys.

  14. Gregory Herr
    August 30, 2017 at 18:40

    Direct acts of state or actions of state-sponsored militias or state-sponsored covert groups accounts for the vast majority of “terrorism”.
    Mr. Pillar is right to disabuse the safe haven notion and also in his insight that the way in which “terrorism” has been “fought” simply exacerbates or accentuates grievances that could underlie acts of revenge or political desperation.
    It also couldn’t be more true that 9/11 is completely misread and misunderstood by many…for various reasons. Too bad Trump can’t seem to put his finger on the real issues. But then again, no one else in government or the military does either. Same old song, same old tap dance…who fiddles while Rome burns?

    • backwardsevolution
      August 30, 2017 at 19:38

      Louise and Gregory Herr – Joe Tedesky provided a good Thierry Meyssan article yesterday:

      “Continuing his analysis of Donald Trump’s policy in the Greater Middle East, Thierry Meyssan demonstrates that, contrary to current opinion, the US President has not changed his strategy. Breaking with his predecessors, he is attempting to cut off Pakistani support for the jihadists in Afghanistan, just as he did with the role of Saudi Arabia for the jihadists in the Levant. Here, the author explains that although some of Trump’s electors may be worried when they see him deploying more troops, they should logically approve his decision. […]

      This brief overview of the facts enables us to conclude that President Trump has not changed his strategy and adopted the policy of Bush Jr. and Obama. He pursues his own plan against the jihadists without deviation, in obvious concertation with Moscow and Beijing.”

      http://www.voltairenet.org/article197618.html

      It’s a good read.

    • Sam F
      August 30, 2017 at 21:02

      If Thierry Meyssan’s hypothesis of the Trump surge rationale is correct, it might be a sensible course on AfPak. But it is difficult to believe that the US had no prior thought or policy of cutting Pushtun/Pak support of the Taliban. And Pakistan appears to be very annoyed with the proposed surge and with the involvement of India in Afghanistan, and has proposed blocking US transport to Afghanistan again. Russia regards it as another US quagmire. So the policy does not appear to have been worked out with the regional powers.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 30, 2017 at 21:31

      Sam F – have you got a link?

      “But it is difficult to believe that the US had no prior thought or policy of cutting Pushtun/Pak support of the Taliban.”

      I’m sure the U.S. has known all along what the solution was. Perhaps there’s too much money in pretending they don’t know?

    • Brad Owen
      August 31, 2017 at 05:03

      BE I have been reading for years on EIR how the Russians have been pleading with USA for a joint mission to shut down the opium trade originating from Helmand Province in Af (where Brit soldiers were stationed, curiously enough, since The City have been the owners of the opium trade since the 1790s). They have a heroin problem too, probably strengthens their oligarchs. It may also be an actual attack from “The Empire” upon the societies of the two greatest Republics who are its natural enemies (China being the 3rd Republic of the natural triad against Empire). The Russians now have a Prez who is willing to work with them.

    • Sam F
      August 31, 2017 at 10:24

      I’m referring to the Voltaire dot net article of Thierry Meyssan for which the link is in Joe’s comment. He seems to think that the AfPak surge could work in denying support for the Taliban.

      A Cartalucci article’s citation suggests that the US via NED seeks independence of Baluchistan province from Pak to interfere with the Gwadar port and China’s road project, at http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2017/08/trump-afghanistan-first.html#more

      On the Pak objections, I recall that this was voiced in their assembly but not voted. Juan Cole has many articles on this region at InformedComment dot com.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 31, 2017 at 15:42

      Sam F – thanks for the Cartalucci link. Wow, as soon as you read about NED and other NGO’s and vested interests being in Pakistan, you just know something stinks. In the name of democracy, they are helping that particular province in Pakistan gain its independence, an area that just so happens to be rich in resources? It is all so predictable. Thanks, Sam. I’ll keep my eyes open a little wider now.

    • Sam F
      August 31, 2017 at 18:50

      An article today 8/31/17 on AntiWar dot com:
      “After massive nationwide protests against the US yesterday, Pakistan’s National Assembly today unanimously passed a resolution rejecting US allegations that Pakistan is providing “safe haven” for the Taliban, accusing the US of trying to blame Pakistan for its own failures.

      “India has been extremely close with the US-backed Afghan government, and President Trump’s encouragement of more Indian involvement in Afghan reconstruction efforts only adds to Pakistan’s concerns on that front.”
      http://news.antiwar.com/2017/08/30/pakistan-parliament-unanimously-adopts-resolution-condemning-us-allegations/

    • Gregory Herr
      August 30, 2017 at 21:05

      It is a good read backwardsevolution. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that Trump in actuality thinks putting the kibosh on proxy “jihadism” is a needed step towards making the world safe for development. He may harbor a decent set of motives and may even spend a good deal of private time shaking his head in disbelief, aghast in the throes of what must be a helluva learning curve. But does he really have the skill or understanding to make the means match the ends? Do his Pentagon handlers blow just the right amount of smoke for him to think it is his goals they have in mind? Will the Wall Street/CIA web that has intracacies with Pakistani and Saudi intelligence drop desire of dominance for a more cooperative approach?

      The President may be holding his cards close to chest for good reason, but the little policy formulation we get from him just doesn’t inspire much confidence for me. Although I’m far from a Trump basher, and have from the beginning wanted for him the opportunity to put his best foot forward, he is so blatantly wrong about some really important things that I can’t get with the idea that he will be effectual in the long run. (I know this isn’t germane to the geopolitics you are thinking of, but a “for instance” would be his stance on Chelsea Manning).

      Anyway, I appreciate Thierry Meyssan…but I would like it to be a little more fleshed out how exactly all this is “in obvious concertation with Moscow and Beijing.” Thanks as always for your thoughts.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 30, 2017 at 21:28

      Gregory – I can only assume from your post that President Trump has said bad things about Chelsea Manning. I know he has about Edward Snowden as well. In this case, I totally disagree with Trump and think he’s an idiot if he believes this way. But I just always wonder in the back of my mind whether he actually believes this or whether he feels he has to say this for some reason.

      The reason I say this is because he could have bombed the crap out of Syria, but he didn’t. He could have not met with Putin, but he did. From the sounds of Thierry Meyssan’s article (and I’ve heard it elsewhere, but never in the MSM), Trump did lay down the law with Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia ARE following through. Let’s hope the same thing happens in Pakistan. It also sounds like Trump is working in coordination with Moscow and Beijing, but I agree it would be nice if Meyssan went into more detail. Let’s keep watching for his articles. Maybe he’ll spell it out.

      When a reporter said that Putin was evil, Trump said, “So, you think we’re so innocent?” He also was able to call both sides out at Charlottesville and did not cave to blaming it all on the Right, as the MSM did. I have known people like this in my life. I thought they were stupid because they sounded stupid, but to my astonishment, I found them to be the opposite. You can never tell.

      “Do his Pentagon handlers blow just the right amount of smoke for him to think it is his goals they have in mind?”

      Maybe, but maybe not too. Trump has dealt with a lot of people and trades in his career. You do not survive that without a very good understanding of when someone is trying to bullshit you. For him to say “we’re not so innocent” leads me to believe he may know more than he is letting on. As I cross my fingers!

      Thanks, Gregory.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 30, 2017 at 21:45

      Yep, the “not so innocent” remark was a perfect rejoinder. And I love his well-earned animosity towards CNN. And I appreciate that he has as yet to quite fill the warmongers-in-chief shoes laid out for him. I got them all crossed…toes too.

    • Brad Owen
      August 31, 2017 at 05:08

      The Pentagon is NOT monolithic. This military is the same organization that created generals that supplied BOTH sides in a Civil War. It’s capable of supporting differing sides of an issue.

  15. August 30, 2017 at 18:14

    There is also the old story working here:
    No President wants to be the one “who lost Afghanistan”.

  16. mike k
    August 30, 2017 at 16:20
  17. mike k
    August 30, 2017 at 15:58

    Excellent insights in this article. How do we shoot ourselves in the foot? – let me count the ways……

    • Sam F
      August 30, 2017 at 20:32

      The article argues well against the known-false public rationales for a US “surge” in AfPak. But likely secret policy rationales include a US intent to assemble terror groups and bases there to harass Russia, install missiles, block China’s road project, conspire with India to harass Pakistan, harass Iran, or get opium revenue for other projects and gangs of corruption. Such DoD/intel projects are genocidal, unconstitutional, expensive, and damaging to US security, business, and honor. Our oligarchy shooting us in the foot for the profit in ammo sales.

      The ruined “American Century” can be saved only by a humanitarian vision, and if the people cannot depose US oligarchy so as to rise to that vision, the US must hide in shame from the enemies its selfishness has made, or suffer ruin by isolation and embargo.

    • Gregory Herr
      August 30, 2017 at 21:10

      “But likely secret policy rationales include a US intent to assemble terror groups and bases there to harass Russia, install missiles, block China’s road project, conspire with India to harass Pakistan, harass Iran, or get opium revenue for other projects and gangs of corruption”

      Sam, I think you got it right.

  18. Brad Owen
    August 30, 2017 at 14:31

    Well we can say what a win REALLY means: Taliban promises not to interfere with the opium crop which is the main “liquid asset” for the Western Financier Empire.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 30, 2017 at 19:52

      jo6pac – read that Thierry Meyssan article I linked to (below). President Trump is trying to cut off Pakistani support for the Afghan jihadists, just as he stopped the Saudi support of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 30, 2017 at 20:01

      Brad Owen – I recently read a good article about the Taliban and the drug trade, how they were getting drugs out through the corner of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran using heavily-armed trucks. They would put steel I-beams across open ditches and were getting drugs into Iran that way. The Iranians were even afraid to stop them; that’s how heavily armed they were. Of course, this was just a small amount. The bulk of the drugs were going out through Pakistan and northern Afghanistan.

      Brad, read the Thierry Meyssan article I linked to below. Sounds like Trump is putting pressure on Pakistan. When you read the article, you will see where the temporary president of Pakistan was on the next available plane to Saudi Arabia (right after Trump’s Afghanistan speech). Saudi Arabia has now been stopped from further aiding ISIS. Pakistan has now been given orders too.

      Maybe it’s a good thing that President Trump doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. He will have no sympathy for these guys.

    • ADL
      August 30, 2017 at 23:28

      “Saudi Arabia has now been stopped from further aiding ISIS. Pakistan has now been given orders too.”

      That might be the funniest thing I have read this year. Yep – the man with a plan has given his orders – to the Saudis and Pakis, and they obediently hail to the chief. According to expert Meyssan, and you.

      Now for a reality check: Thierry Meyssan is a conspiracy nut – total whack job.
      “he published a book on the September 11 terrorist attacks—9/11: The Big Lie—in which Meyssan argues that such attacks were organized by a faction of the US military industrial complex in order to impose a military regime.”

      “his following book was Le Pentagate, a book arguing that the attack against the Pentagon was not carried out by a commercial airliner but a missile. The central thesis of the book is that a Boeing 757 did not hit The Pentagon.”

      I know I know – this kind of delusional stuff warrants no reply – but I couldn’t help.

    • backwardsevolution
      August 31, 2017 at 00:26

      ADL – maybe if we had actual thorough and exhaustive investigations, questions wouldn’t still remain. But nice try, ADL.

    • ADL
      August 31, 2017 at 13:08

      Sir,

      Your source of info is a nut. Full stop. No investigation needed on him. There is NO QUESTION about him or his ‘info’.

      You make my case for me when you pass along, and believe, in such obvious lies and propaganda.
      Exactly how birtherism and climate denial flourishes.

    • Zachary Smith
      August 31, 2017 at 15:53

      ADL, on a whim I made a search for “Thierry Meyssan” and those two topics. Would you believe the gentleman is a GW Denier AND a Birther?

      Total Whack Job, indeed.

      Losers identify themselves pretty quickly. I hadn’t been to Voltaire.net for years, and took down my Daily Kos and AmericaBlog and TalkingPointsMemo bookmarks for the same reason. Idiots and hacks with a bullhorn – all of them.

    • JWalters
      August 30, 2017 at 20:47

      Bingo on the opium crop. Drugs and guns are such huge profit centers they allow these guys to buy up all the major news outlets. But there may be a significant new crack in their information dam, which CN readers will appreciate:

      “American Legion calls on Congress to finally investigate ‘USS Liberty’ attack, 50 years after”
      http://mondoweiss.net/2017/08/american-congress-investigate

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 30, 2017 at 21:14

      This is terrific news you bring us JWalters. Finally Admiral Moorer may he Rest In Peace a little more peacefully the day this investigation starts. I personally don’t get my hopes up with these congressional investigations, like tell me how while when congress investigated Benghazi without hardly ever a mention of the CIA Director General Dave? Although hope is always the crunch for the naive, but maybe this investigation will at least help me with my limp.

      If the investigation is to be real, then the investigation should result in a conclusion of just what in the hell went wrong with LBJ & McNamara. Don’t just stop with Israel, find out why the rescue U.S. Navy jets were recalled. Also I hope the congress doesn’t paste over this with a big huge regrettable mistake was made that day, and sell us on the Israel only Middle East democracy talking point.

      Plus, this support which the American Legion is giving, added to what the VFW has already done, changes my mind about these two veteran organizations. I could never get into joining these two societies mostly, because of their blind patriotism mindset. Everything in life isn’t a military drill.

      Thanks again JWalters good link. Joe

    • August 31, 2017 at 01:10

      It is unbelievable that people in the US actually believe the heroin does not come to the US from Afghanistan. We are simply a poorly informed society.

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