What Biden Didn’t Say About US in Afghanistan

Troops on the ground aren’t the only measure of horrific warfare, writes Norman Solomon.  

A U.S. Army soldier watching U.S. Air Force fighter jets attack positions in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, Aug. 13, 2009. (U.S. Army, Matthew Moeller)

ByNorman Solomon

When I met a 7-year-old girl named Guljumma at a refugee camp in Kabul a dozen years ago, she told me that bombs fell early one morning while she slept at home in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley. With a soft, matter-of-fact voice, Guljumma described what happened. Some people in her family died. She lost an arm.

Troops on the ground didn’t kill Guljumma’s relatives and leave her to live with only one arm. The U.S. air war did.

There’s no good reason to assume the air war in Afghanistan will be over when — according to President Joe Biden’s announcement on Wednesday — all U.S. forces will be withdrawn from that country.

What Biden didn’t say was as significant as what he did say. He declared that “U.S. troops, as well as forces deployed by our NATO allies and operational partners, will be out of Afghanistan” before Sept. 11. And “we will not stay involved in Afghanistan militarily.”

But Biden did not say that the United States will stop bombing Afghanistan. What’s more, he pledged that “we will keep providing assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces,” a declaration that actually indicates a tacit intention to “stay involved in Afghanistan militarily.”

And, while the big-type headlines and prominent themes of media coverage are filled with flat-out statements that the U.S. war in Afghanistan will end come September, the fine print of coverage says otherwise.

The banner headline across the top of The New York Times homepage during much of Wednesday proclaimed: “Withdrawal of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Will End Longest American War.”

Buried in Coverage

But, buried in the 32nd paragraph of a story headed “Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11,” the Times reported: “Instead of declared troops in Afghanistan, the United States will most likely rely on a shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives to find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic State threats, current and former American officials said.”

President Joe Biden announcing U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, April 14. (C-Span still)

Matthew Hoh, a Marine combat veteran who in 2009 became the highest-ranking U.S. official to resign from the State Department in protest of the Afghanistan war, told my colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy on Wednesday:

“Regardless of whether the 3,500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.”

We scarcely hear about it, but the U.S. air war on Afghanistan has been a major part of Pentagon operations there. And for more than a year, the U.S. government hasn’t even gone through the motions of disclosing how much of that bombing has occurred.

“We don’t know, because our government doesn’t want us to,” diligent researchers Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies wrote last month.

“From January 2004 until February 2020, the U.S. military kept track of how many bombs and missiles it dropped on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and published those figures in regular, monthly Airpower Summaries, which were readily available to journalists and the public. But in March 2020, the Trump administration abruptly stopped publishing U.S. Airpower Summaries, and the Biden administration has so far not published any either.”

The U.S. war in Afghanistan won’t end just because Biden and U.S. news media tell us so. As Guljumma and countless other Afghan people have experienced, troops on the ground aren’t the only measure of horrific warfare.

No matter what the White House and the headlines say, U.S. taxpayers won’t stop subsidizing the killing in Afghanistan until there is an end to the bombing and “special operations” that remain shrouded in secrecy.

Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of many books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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10 comments for “What Biden Didn’t Say About US in Afghanistan

  1. Zhu
    April 17, 2021 at 19:59

    It’s quite possible, even easy, to despise and reject both parties. Why do you think so many Americans don’t vote? Elections in the USA are a meaningless ritual.

  2. April 17, 2021 at 19:58

    there will be war between locals and taliban if the US take their force from afganistan. we can wait and see what will happen and future of the afgan people.

  3. zhu
    April 17, 2021 at 19:54

    Why are we Americans so determined to wage constant warfare, anyway? It’s not j ust for profit. There must be some kind of societal blood lust. First we killed all the Indians. Now we’ve been killing gooks, beaners, ragheads, etc., for most of my lifetime, since about 1950. I want it to stop, but I have no hope that voting for Team D or Team R will stop anything. :-(

    • John R
      April 18, 2021 at 08:09

      Agreed. D or R voting ends up not working for us at all. Thanks for noticing.

  4. Drew Hunkins
    April 17, 2021 at 00:50

    Norman, you were a fairly hardcore Biden supporter last fall.

  5. Sky
    April 16, 2021 at 19:01

    Mr. SOLOMON, thank you for helping us understand the part of the story we ordinarily wouldn’t realize.
    Also, for pointing out how our military is increasingly privatized and/or held unaccountable.

  6. Anne
    April 16, 2021 at 13:20

    And I do not doubt, Mr Solomon, that many of those bombings will be by Drones…When I heard the news, I knew that just because “legit” troops will be pulled out, that doesn’t mean the CIA and the private “troops” wouldn’t remain. Then there was Biden’s follow that we’d be in a nearby country …. oh yeah: drones and bombers. Gotta keep the MIC well remunerated, fattened by taxpayer $$$$.

  7. Carolyn L Zaremba
    April 16, 2021 at 12:17

    Thank you for this reminder. The so-called “progressives” who thought the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was the equivalent of the second coming of Christ need to be directed to the truth. They, however, will kick and scream to avoid looking at it.

    • robert e williamson jr
      April 16, 2021 at 19:52

      “They, however, will kick and scream to avoid looking at it.”

      Your comment seams to reveal you are somewhat biased and were / are a supporter of the liar in Chief, POTUS reject Trump. I am very puzzled by your comment about progressives needing to be directed to the truth. Where just exactly do you suppose we can find it? You fail to provide any directions.

      I have been consistent with my comments I here at CN. And I will try this one more time.

      Truth is one one party is as worthless as the other when it comes to finding ANY truth coming form D.C.

      I left a comment on the “How American Official Secrets Act Ensnared Julian Assange”. In that comment to “anti_republicrat”, someone who clearly seems less that enthused by either party, I included a link


      I’m including this because “Buffalo Ken” seems puzzled by a comment from “folksathome”, you can return there and read for yourself if you are so inclined. “Buffalo Ken” 4-15-2021 @ 12:48

      To Buffalo Ken I say this. I’m with you BK , that post you commented on might be a response by the writer to what he read at the DNI link I provided because much of what the report Global Trends 2040 report deals with can and will affect economics, global warming, and war and peace. I do have to vet the contributors to the Global Trends report to determine if the Rand Corp. played any role in advising on the report. Truth is if they did it likely will be classified so we can tell.

      Truth is, I then missed the comment deadline for the story on the U.S. desiring a close military relationship with Vietnam. If you didn’t read it you should. Your guys were in office when this insanity occurred. Something that rises to a level of self delusion seldom witnessed anywhere, full stop!

      The truth is the Rand Corporations think tank is about as worthless as either party it turns out. Over half of what they do is classified, no challenging the truth there, right, because we don’t know enough to even question what they are engaged in. The Vietnam US love affair the Rand rep threw to the White House seems to have been greatly exaggerated though. RAND seems to me to have had some problems being truthful in this case.

      If you wish to check my statement below do the Rand wiki, RAND seems to be way ahead of schedule but they have surely lost their way. When you do go down to the list of “Accomplishments”, I think they have four since WWII (1944) the time period Rand came into being by way of the Ford Foundation.

      Listed there is a comment on the time period from 1974-1982 addressing an insurance corporation created by RAND that apparently sold insurance to individuals to gather data, in an attempt to determine what needs of the insured were and what those services cost in the coming future. Truth is I admit to not having read the report they generated, assuming they did one.

      This was supposed to have been an accomplishment, truth is, I’m having all sorts of problems trying to understand how.

      Now for the truth you claim “progressives” need to directed to.

      Truth is I have written several times here at CN that unless Biden wises up he is doomed. I never did like him a democratic choice knowing he would continue to ply his wares to forging ahead with the agenda of the Deep State. The institution the faux two party system serves by running the slow – con on all of us.

      But the truth is I did see a great display of kicking and screaming by racist, fascists who disrupted the work of the House and Senate a few weeks ago, because they dared not look at the truth for what is. It appears that many who participated are still being arrested.

      Truth is Trump lost Biden didn’t. Like it or not. Truth is Trump threw a house warming party and then didn’t show up. Typical of the lying boorish bully.

      Truth is I’m with Buffalo Ken, I’m plenty pissed also because the “Ship of State” is floundering and Biden seems as clueless as Trump.

      Truth is the ruling members of both dysfunctional political parties in this country are worthless and driving us down the road of perdition. Truth is you might want to see that Global Trends 2040 report, it sure doesn’t seem far from the truth about the events we are currently engaged in. Lets hope someone finds the brakes on this run-away train THAT BOTH PARTIES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR .

      Truth is the truth is not something you are wishing were true that would be “American pie in the sky”.

      Thanks CN

    • John R
      April 17, 2021 at 11:12

      BINGO ! I’ve about had it with “faux-gressives” = most of the people I know – are not interested in “being directed to the truth.”. Wondering how many years I have left on this earth to observe the shit show of insanity that rules us.

Comments are closed.