Second Part of Above Post
As time went on, American interest in reports from the Afghan war seemed to dwindle dramatically. “I didn’t sense a great, strong interest in the Afghanistan story,” Kirby pointed out, until the withdrawal announcement led to a “spike” in journalists eager to rush back to Kabul. Within two years of the invasion, the nation’s magazines and newspapers had started referring to Afghanistan as a “forgotten war.” Soon the phrase “war weary” became a staple in writing about Afghanistan.
If it is, indeed, a forgotten war, perhaps it’s because nobody wants to dwell on the inglorious exploits and depraved alliances that have punctuated it. To single out any one of them is to undersell the others, but to list them all you’d need a book. In Afghanistan, the U.S. and its proxies rounded people up and shipped them off to Guantánamo. It was the country that came under more fire than any other through the controversial program of U.S. drone strikes. In Afghanistan, through a tangle of enemy-of-my-enemy pacts and dubious compromises, the United States found itself backing vicious warlords, including the former military commander Abdul Rashid Dostum, who, early in the war, tortured and then packed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Taliban prisoners into transport containers. In their dying hours, Dostum’s captives licked the sweat off their neighbors’ skin in a desperate attempt to slake their thirst. Dostum now controls a heavily fortified hilltop base in Kabul and a feared militia in his northern birthplace of Jowzjan Province; he is a close ally of Turkey, whose troops are now expected to defend the Kabul airport from Taliban onslaught.
So the interest of US public dwindled rapidly and within two years it became forgotten war and the reporting became war weary.
I remember just a few years ago Muadh Khan warning us not listen to even G!h@d Nasheeds because of the dire possibilities.
But depleted public interest and weariness are good adjectives to appear before the inglorious exploits and depraved alliances.
And may Abdur Rasheed Dostum meet his inglorious end soon.
Perhaps no single site better symbolized the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, from beginning to end, than Bagram Airfield. Built by the Soviet Union and occupied by Soviet troops during an earlier, similarly ill-fated intervention, it was lavishly refurbished and expanded by the U.S. as the war dragged along.
Last month, however, when it came time to leave, the military simply turned off the electricity and spirited the last troops away in the dead of night. Looters from surrounding villages, realizing that the Americans had left, climbed over the walls and laid waste to the abandoned stocks of Gatorade and Pop-Tarts. The following morning, the Afghan commander caught on that his allies had vanished. Hearing rumors that the last U.S. troops had pulled out of Bagram without informing local officials, the Associated Press reporter Kathy Gannon repeatedly called Colonel Sonny Leggett, then a Kabul-based U.S. military spokesman. According to Gannon, Leggett at first declined her calls. (Leggett, who has left Kabul and is in the process of retiring, said he was no longer authorized to comment and referred questions to the U.S. Central Command; a spokesman, Bill Urban, said that he didn’t know what had happened with Gannon’s calls but that he was sure Leggett was committed to “maximum disclosure with minimum delay.”) The military later said that it had discussed the departure from Bagram with higher-ranking Afghan officials, blaming the confusion on a misunderstanding.
We Muslims are interested in your inglorious exploits including Bagram ( and Abu Gharaib and Guantanamo Bay).
And leaving in the dead of night and avoiding press calls is certainly inglorious end of a mission.
A few days later, Gannon, who has covered Afghanistan since 1986, visited Bagram and spoke with an Afghan commander and his soldiers as they took stock of the abandoned airfield. “These soldiers were just sort of wandering around inside this massive compound. It was their first time there,” she said. “A lot of them were a little bit angry and had a bad taste in their mouth about how it had happened, the fact that the electricity had gone out like that. . . . They felt they were veterans of this war and here they were being left with a skeleton of what was there.”
As I listened to Gannon’s story, I realized that I, too, have pawed through the leavings at a base in Afghanistan. I still have the Pashto-English dictionary I lifted from a hastily abandoned Al Qaeda compound in Jalalabad in 2001. The terrorists had taken their wives and children and fled to the mountains, leaving behind a jumble of baby shoes and bomb-mixing chemicals, fake passport stamps, and a French cookbook. Teen-aged Afghan soldiers wandered the rooms with roses from the garden tucked behind their ears, shooting left-behind chickens for food and shoving plastic toys into their pockets. The neighbors grumbled that the vanished families, whom they called “the Arabs,” were rich and haughty; they had resented the foreigners’ power over local officials and feared angering them.
For a Muslim the word terrorists stands out in this narrative.
The narrator would think that every body will have a negative connotation about these people.
May be the Afghan soldiers mentioned in this paragraph would.
No other Muslim would.
I recall rooting through the papers like a greedy child shredding Christmas wrappings, and having the sense of not finding what I’d somehow expected. I’d go into rooms, portentous rooms that had been occupied by killers, looking for evidence of violent minds but finding, every time, the dull possessions of human beings.
Yes, the Afghan soldiers will have exactly the same feelings.
Now it all loops back on itself. Now the Americans are the ones who came in, walled themselves off, and then vanished in the night.
This is not an inglorious end of a war but and inglorious end of US innings at the world stage.
Between these two withdrawals, there was a stretch when the military thought it could salvage the Afghan story. As it prepared for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon had announced a large-scale program to embed hundreds of journalists with the troops advancing toward Baghdad; the strategy of embedding rotations of reporters to embed with military units soon spread to Afghanistan, puncturing some of the secrecy that had characterized the early days of the war.
American century might have been glorious, I doubt it, but the end looks shameful.
The US killed about two hundred thousand Afghans because they would not hand over Osama bin Laden to the US.
Embedded journalists would see things from the perspective of the troops, or so the military planners believed. They’d photograph and write about brave young soldiers. And, of course, reporters tagging along on foot patrols or hanging around on bases would have less time to poke around in the bigger questions of the war, about the money and lives spent, the abuses unfolding in places they would not be escorted to visit.
Thanks for reporting this.
In the latter Bush and early Obama years, embeds were easy to get and wildly popular for all concerned. Fashion and sports writers came to find their combat angles; local TV crews caught free rides to war zones on military planes; press officers called up their favorite photographers and told them to block off their calendars. You won’t want to miss this.
We had already surmised that the US has lost the ability to mount a similar aggression but these revelations are even more telling.
But, eventually, all of that mutual benefit went sour. The embed program never formally or completely ended, but slowly, during the Obama years, interest from journalists and opportunities from the military dwindled away in tandem. Obama was breaking his promise to withdraw all U.S. troops. Afghan poverty and corruption were getting worse, and the Taliban were resurgent. Trust was so eroded that U.S. trainers wouldn’t step onto a firing range to work with Afghan sharpshooters unless the Afghans’ guns were loaded with blanks.
One possible way to summarize this would be to say that the US lost to the Taliban.
There wasn’t much to showcase, and the U.S. public was amenable to ignoring it. If it’s true that the military kept the war shrouded when it was convenient, it’s also true that very few Americans went looking for it.
The least that has to be concluded from this is that the US was worn out.
Not the Taliban.
“One of the guiding principles is to keep the American people on our side at all costs,” Warren told me. “Controlling the imagery, controlling the message, controlling the sentiment is always geared toward that singular goal—don’t let the American people think we failed. Don’t let them think that, no matter what.”
And what about the rest of the world, including the NATO allies of the US. And the Saffron bigots in my country? And the Lib-dem retards?
So maybe it all worked out: they didn’t have to show us, and we didn’t have to look.