The Taliban Surrendered in 2001

Richard W. Began says it is perverse to chastise Biden for a messy ending of the war in Afghanistan and fail to indict George Bush for its illegal beginning.

Sept. 17, 2001: President George W. Bush holds press conference at the Pentagon. Seated on right is National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. (White House)

By Richard W. Behan
Common Dreams

At a U.S. Special Forces camp near Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Dec. 5, 2001, the Taliban offered an unconditional surrender. Furthermore, they would disband and disarm: a military force would no longer exist. 

Then President George W. Bush ignored the offer and continued attacking the Taliban until the end of his term. If only in self-defense the Taliban fought back, eventually regaining the battlefield initiative.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama fought the Taliban for eight years more. Former President Donald Trump did so for the next four.  

Twenty years later, after the squandering of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, President Joe Biden withdrew American troops from Afghanistan —and drew angry criticism for the chaotic exit that followed. 

How perverse to chastise Biden for a messy ending of the war in Afghanistan and fail to indict George Bush for its illegal beginning.

George Bush launched a war for oil and empire, invading two sovereign nations without provocation. He violated international law.  

Within 10 days of taking office the Bush administration formalized a decision to invade Iraq. Long before 9/11 the attack on Afghanistan was scheduled.

Neither proposed incursion had the slightest thing to do with terrorism: the objectives were preemptive access to Iraqi oil and a pipeline right-of-way across Afghanistan for the Unocal Corporation. 9/11 offered a spectacular and fortuitous covering alibi; President Bush declared a “war on terrorism” and launched his premeditated wars.

Osama bin Laden was portrayed as an iconic terrorist, to be apprehended for his orchestration of 9/11. But George Bush from his first day in office, Jan. 20, 2001, could have negotiated with the Taliban to assassinate Osama bin Laden or to surrender him into U.S. custody.

Standing Offer in Late 2000

Oct 29, 2000: The USS Cole is towed from the port city of Aden, Yemen, after a suspected terrorist attack that killed 17 crew members and injured 39 others. (DoD, Don L. Maes)

That was the standing offer the Taliban tendered in late 2000, seeking to retain U.S. favor after bin Laden bombed the U.S.S. Cole. The Bush administration refused the offer, four times prior to 9/11 and once more five days later.

Saddam Hussein was said to be an intolerable terrorist threat, too. “Regime change” was necessary to remove him from power. In February of 2003, Saddam Hussein offered to enter voluntary exile in Turkey, Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

Here was “regime change” handed on a platter to George Bush, but a peaceful one. The offer was brushed aside.

George Bush needed terrorists, alive, at large, and in residence in Afghanistan and Iraq, to make his “war on terrorism” credible. 

The pipeline project was the first order of business. On Oct. 7, 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan was underway, but the billions of barrels of Iraqi oil were never far from mind. Seven weeks later, on Nov. 27, 2001, the president ordered his Defense Department to plan the invasion of Iraq. (That was 11 months before Congress would authorize it.) 

The aggressions were titanic failures. Yes, a few American oil companies operate in Iraq today, but they are barely visible among scores of other firms from Egypt, Italy, Japan, France, Austria, the U.K., Canada, Hungary, India, Norway, and the holders of the largest contracts by far, Russia and China.

Afghanistan lies in a state of seething chaos. There will be no American pipeline across the country: 20 years of staggering costs in lives and treasure for nothing.

Those costs might have been avoided: violence in Afghanistan could have ended two months after George Bush turned it loose.

Anand Gopal, an American journalist, tells the story with unusual authority. He moved to Afghanistan in 2008, learned the language, and for four years he traveled the country freely.  

His book appeared in 2014: No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes.  

It relates the Taliban’s surrender:  

“His back to the wall, Mullah Omar [leader of the Taliban] drew up a letter to Hamid Karzai, acknowledging his selection as interim president. The letter also granted Omar’s ministers, deputies, and aides the right to surrender. 

On December 5 [2001] a Taliban delegation arrived at the US special forces camp north of  Kandahar city to officially relinquish power…[The Taliban]…pledged to retire from politics and return to their home villages. Crucially, they also agreed that their movement would surrender arms, effectively ensuring the Taliban could no longer function as a military entity. There would be no jihad, no resistance from the Taliban to the new order.”

Another description of the surrender, differing little, appeared seven years later: 

“It took barely two months after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 for the United States mission to point itself toward defeat. 

‘Tomorrow the Taliban will start surrendering their weapons,’ the Taliban’s spokesman Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef announced on Dec. 7, 2001. “I think we should go home.” But the United States refused the group’s surrender, vowing to fight on to shatter the Taliban’s influence in every corner of the country.’

Accepting the surrender would have denoted a great victory in the “war on terrorism.” But George Bush was fighting a war for oil and empire, and victory would pose a huge tactical difficulty: with no enemy to fight he would have to demobilize his forces in the Mideast and bring them home.

That he could not tolerate: the great prize, the Iraqi oil, had yet to be won, so the fighting in the Mideast would have to be sustained — as a “war on terrorism” — until the invasion of Iraq could be planned, authorized by Congress, and sold to the American people. The Taliban’s offer was simply dismissed, and the fighting continued — for 20 years. 

And now Biden has called a halt in Afghanistan, in humiliating defeat. The Taliban, who once offered to disarm and disband, have taken control of Afghanistan. The national media acknowledge the defeat, but trumpet “the end of America’s longest war” as recompense.

That is grossly misleading: American military violence rages on in the “war on terrorism.” U.S. combat troops remain stationed in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Djibouti, Qatar, the UAE, Turkey, the Philippines and Cyprus, and we conduct counterterrorism operations in 61 additional countries around the world.

This madness is the legacy of the Bush Administration, and successive presidents have done nothing to end it. Withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is a no-brainer tactical retreat, but George Bush’s bogus war plunges mindlessly ahead. 

President Biden, carpe diem. Call the “war on terrorism” for the fraud it is and end it. Bring all the troops home, from everywhere. 

Richard W. Behan is a retired professor of natural resource policy at the University of Montana. Through 2009 he contributed 40-some essays to various internet websites, critical of the the Bush administration’s criminality. The nature of George Bush’s wars has become a political issue once more, prompting him to take to the keyboard again.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

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


18 comments for “The Taliban Surrendered in 2001

  1. Anonymot
    August 23, 2021 at 09:26

    Well said, at last. When we really grow up someone with an academic or journalistic clout will be permitted to say in the NYT that Afghanistan was invaded for the re-introduction of its stopped poppy growing. Now that the Taliban have reached adulthood they will admit to owning the growth and processing that eventually is worth several hundred billion dollars annually. They stopped the poppy production, reduced it to zero, but we taught them better. Now they have kicked the teacher out of school – as we so rightly deserve.

    I don’t think Unocal will ever get its pipeline – or ever even thought they would, but the Mafia certainly has arrangements that their pipeline which we took about 3 days to restore, will probably see its product continue with only a bump, perhaps, in the switch over.

  2. Gene Beaulieu
    August 22, 2021 at 09:09

    Everyone is focused on the USA government , military and somehow left out the industrial weapons corporations and last but not least the United Nations.
    Five permanent members of the Security Council; US, Russia, China, France and United Kingdom. I’m not going to list the complete failure these five are in world affairs. There is a common denominator in their actions. I suspect it has to do with international banks and corporations with one world government outcome.
    The article of hate Bush then give the Hope and Change Administration a pass is disingenuous at best more of a hack job. Obama had eight years with Biden and made it worse in Middle East.
    Trump was making inroads to pull out leaving a working/effective government and military. Would it actually of worked? Given the history of the region???
    Biden’s pull out leaving US civilians stranded with Thugs like himself taking over speaks volumes you will never hear from the UN or the DNC, maybe a whimper from the RNC.

  3. August 21, 2021 at 17:59

    The Taliban offered Bush unconditional surrender on 5 separate occasions and included an offer to either capture Bin Laden and turn him over to us or to kill him. Bush was not interested. Four of those offers came before 9/11 because Bin Laden had attacked the USS Cole and killed Americans. 5 days after 9/11 the Taliban once again offered to turn bin Laden over and also to disarm their military and to go home to their separate villages. Bush wasn’t interested. He wanted a war, so he could win a second 4 years. Basically he wanted a war with Iraq and the Afghan war was the route to war with Iraq.
    Bush, Obama and Trump continued the wars without stop. Our Joint Chiefs through three separate administrations, along with all the people these presidents appointed to powerful jobs at the state department and homeland security etc., knew about the fact that the Taliban had offered unconditional surrender 5 times, yet NOT ONE general or admiral or even a colonel bothered to tell the truth to the American public! Not one person in any of the administrations did either! For twenty years we continued to kill and destroy the lives of millions of innocent people for no real reason!
    Personally, I am thoroughly disgusted with both political parties and the Joint Chiefs. It is time the American public chose to support a party that actually cares about the people who have supported them. Certainly the Republican party doesn’t, and it is becoming clear that the Democratic party doesn’t either.

    • Kevin
      August 22, 2021 at 21:52

      If 9/11 hadn’t happened, Bushco would have had to invent it.

    • Linda Furr
      August 23, 2021 at 08:51

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, Ranney!!!

  4. Yezdyar Kaoosji
    August 21, 2021 at 16:20

    I hope this receives equal time exposure in the US corporate media!
    President Biden, don’t apologize for your actions. Admit the military did not have an exit strategy, that you assumed the “strongest military power in the world” possessed! It may be time to shake up the tip command at the Prntagon, the NSA and its spider web of so-called “intelligence, ” and, all Military-Industrial-Complex- fed hawks in the US civil service!

  5. Em
    August 21, 2021 at 16:18

    It’s very curious: Why hasn’t it been noted at all by the American media that both Ashraf Ghani and Zalmay Khalilzad are, and have been more American than Afghani, at least for most of their adult lives?

    And today RT reports that Ghani’s daughter has been living a cozy life in America for years.

    There’s always more than meets the eye, especially when it comes to American foreign policy objectives.
    A key ingredient has always been destabilization!

  6. coupe63
    August 21, 2021 at 14:37

    Thank you Mr R.W.Behan,for bringing clarity to the MADNESS this country has been in, for to long!

  7. Jonny James
    August 21, 2021 at 12:36

    The GWOT wars (planned well in advance) based on a pack of lies, were supported by both of the two right-wing, imperialist warmonger parties. The blame goes to the Bush Jr./Cheney regime as well as the so-called Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Biden never met a war he didn’t love, just like the rest of his ilk.

    (No one has been held accountable for the numerous high-crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes of the Bush Jr. regime, Tony Bliar et al. Instead these people are lauded as great men and have become even more fabulously wealthy. How perverse is that? Meanwhile, they lecture the world on “the rule of law” and “democracy”)

    The Military/Security/Surveillance/Imperial Complex has Congress bought-and-paid-for. Let’s not be naive: the late Prof. Sheldon Wolin called the US system “inverted totalitarianism” and a “public relations democracy”. Jimmy Carter (after Citizens United) called the US “an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery”.

    If the “rule of law” were applied equally, many people in high places would be in prison for life. Biden would certainly be guilty of crimes as well.

  8. Vera Gottlieb
    August 21, 2021 at 10:37

    It is the entire US political system that is rotten down to the core – this arrogance of knowing it better, of sacrificing lives for absolutely nothing.

  9. August 21, 2021 at 10:04

    Que la plebe Global es su propio “talón de Aquiles” para resolver lo que los manos políticos Globales realizan con ella (la plebe) es verdadero, también son inconexos y desordenados. Razones suficientes para entender que unas veces actúen en su conjunto contra las acciones políticas, paro, también es cierto que la plebe actúa por que otros poderes, como la prensa, influida por poderes económicos u otros facticos, contribuyen para que la propia plebe se movilice. La plebe por si solo se moviliza cuando las protestas son de presencia publica en las calles y también, porque los partidos políticos u ONG’s intervienen. Biden, también es culpable por hacer un pacto erróneo y perverso con los talibanes y Bush hijo fue apoladlo también por el capital, y es ahí, donde radica la diferencia. Vfg.faranduleromarxista

    That the Global plebs are their own “Achilles heel” to resolve what the Global political hands do with them (the plebs) is true, they are also disjointed and disorderly. Reasons enough to understand that sometimes they act as a whole against political actions, but it is also true that the plebs act because other powers, such as the press, influenced by economic or other factual powers, contribute to the mobilization of the plebs themselves . The mob itself mobilizes when the protests are publicly present in the streets and also, because political parties or NGOs intervene. Biden is also guilty of making an erroneous and perverse pact with the Taliban and Bush Jr. was also abused by capital, and that is where the difference lies. Vfg.faranduleromarxista
    Via Google Translate

  10. Ian Robert Stevenson
    August 21, 2021 at 09:32

    I checked out the statement that Saddam offered to go into exile.
    I didn’t find positive evidence one way or the the other.
    this post suggests it was the US doing the offering, well some of them

  11. Nathan Mulcahy
    August 21, 2021 at 08:31

    “It is perverse to chastise Biden for a messy ending of the war in Afghanistan and fail to indict George Bush for its illegal beginning”, says the author.

    Agreed. But the author stops too short and too early. Because it is perverse NOT to indict Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Pelosi, Biden, Obama, the entire Republican Party leadership back then, the entire Democratic Party leadership back then, the entire US Congress back then, the corporate media (including NPR), the think tanks, public influencers, the 90+% Americans who had supported the illegal invasion (because they had considered it to be a just war), those who have been voting for the Republican Party ever since, those who have been voting for the Democratic Party ever since, in fact the majority of Americans …. and that both for the start and the 20 year long continuation of this illegal and criminal war.

    Some may find my words too provocative and harsh. That’s intended. Then, nothing will change unless we face up to our own complicity. Especially in a “free and democratic” society, and especially for a crime that has continued for 20 years, the buck has to stop with the citizens. We cannot have it both ways. Either we are a free and democratic country where the government we elect represents our wishes, or we are unfree citizens ruled by a dictatorial regime.

    PS: The invasion was illegal. Not a single Afghan was involved in 9/11. Yes Bin Laden was residing in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban. But the Taliban had offered to expel Bin Laden to a third, Muslim country if USA provided credible evidence of Bin Laden’s complicity in 9/11 to the then Afghan government led by the Taliban. That is a perfectly logical demand. Therefore, the invasion of Afghanistan was illegal, criminal and an act of aggression.

    • J Greenawalt
      August 22, 2021 at 09:15

      I am 64. Over the last 10 years, I have realized that my party and many in the Democratic party were complicit in this crime on a colossal scale. It has been painful to realize that every candidate I supported for the past 20 years has been complicit in this war on terror and that I was a willing participant by not educating myself about it and speaking against it. We used these war to enrich a small number of companies at the expense (blood and treasure) of many.

      If you look at our track record in Guatemala 1953, Iran 1952, too many other countries to count, when our CIA does regime changes, the world becomes less peaceful and just.

  12. August 21, 2021 at 05:00

    This is a gross situation where entire South East Asia has come under the threat of growing extremism due to the mistake of US of leaving Afghanistan.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      August 21, 2021 at 10:40

      The mistake was in the US not listening to the Russians when they cleared out of Afghanistan. The ‘know it all’ Yanx…who don’t know one end from the other.

    • Nathan Mulcahy
      August 21, 2021 at 20:40

      It is a real mistake to call a crime a mistake.

    • Em
      August 22, 2021 at 11:30

      Update: The US has been the leading example setter of extremism in South East Asia; focusing solely on South East Asia alone!
      Like all else, the phrase “a gross situation” is in the eye of the beholder.
      If, in this example it is being equated to ‘gross violation’ – as in one country, the United States’ international extrajudicial violation and infringement of another sovereign country’s human rights, then its application is legitimate, otherwise it is inverted.
      What is being inferred then is that the US, the exceptionalist “shining city on a hill” is the savior of humanities rights, rather than the destroyer.
      History dates back somewhat further than twenty years of a mistake, compounded by the US presence, though apparently, not in the eyes of John Marlena.
      Surely the comment is jest?!

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