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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/11/19

Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can't Be Trusted

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Trump canceled secret Camp David meeting with Taliban leaders.
Trump canceled secret Camp David meeting with Taliban leaders.
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The first draft of this column came not to bury but to praise Donald Trump. I planned to applaud the president's peace initiative with the Taliban, his strategy of ignoring the corrupt and discredited puppet regime Bush installed in Kabul and his desire to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. This was a move I have been almost alone in promoting since the U.S. idiotically invaded the country in 2001 and I congratulate Trump for having the courage to unwind Bush and Obama's mistakes. The Afghan people should be allowed to shape their future free of imperialist interference.

But then, hours before representatives of the Taliban which controls about half of Afghanistan were set to board a plane to Washington where they were scheduled to meet with Trump at Camp David, the president canceled their visit and scuttled years of progress toward ending America's longest war, which has killed more than 2,300 U.S. servicemen and at least 30,000 Afghans. "He claimed that it was because the Taliban had been behind a recent attack that killed an American soldier," reported Politico.

There is, of course, no requirement that combatants observe a ceasefire during peace negotiations. Richard Nixon's "Christmas bombing" campaign in 1972, which killed 1,600 Vietnamese civilians, was a U.S. attempt to soften up North Vietnam at the upcoming Paris peace talks. The United States has killed numerous Taliban soldiers throughout 2019.

"This [decision to scuttle peace talks] will lead to more losses to the U.S.," said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman. "Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase." He is right.

Few Americans pay attention to Afghanistan. Fewer still are aware of America's history of proving itself an untrustworthy diplomatic partner in that war-torn country -- a tradition that Trump's fickleness continues. "The Taliban have never trusted American promises; [Trump's] volte-face will only deepen that mistrust," observes The Economist.

In the late 1990s Afghanistan was the world's leading producer of opium. The U.S. and its European allies were seeking to mitigate a heroin epidemic and the Clinton Administration was negotiating terms for a pipeline to carry oil and natural gas from Central Asia via Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. So, even though the U.S. had imposed sanctions on the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and denied them diplomatic recognition, Clinton paid the Taliban $114 million in 2000 to encourage them to ban the farming of opium poppies. Bush followed up with $43 million in 2001.

For the most part the Taliban held up their side of the bargain. Their ban on poppy cultivation reduced production of exported heroin by about 65%. Considering Afghanistan's primitive infrastructure, poor communications and fractious political culture during an ongoing civil war, that was as much as the U.S. could have hoped for.

But tensions grew between the Taliban and the U.S. over the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project. The U.S. tried to low-ball the Taliban with below-market transit fees, the Taliban refused and American negotiators became angry. "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs," a U.S. negotiator snapped at her Taliban counterparts at a meeting in Islamabad. It was August 2001, three months after Secretary of State Colin Powell paid the Taliban $43 million and weeks before 9/11.

It's impossible to know for certain why the U.S. chose to invade Afghanistan, which had nothing to do with the attacks. The hijackers were recruited from and funded by Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden lived in Pakistan, where the terrorists were trained. Central Asia watchers speculated that the U.S. was more interested in controlling the then-only pipeline carrying the world's largest untapped energy reserves than catching bin Laden.

We do know what the Taliban took away from the experience. They cut a deal, did their part and got bombed, invaded and occupied in return.

Both sides say they are open to resuming talks. If and when they do, the Taliban -- who, after all, didn't invade anyone and are defending their territory from foreign aggression -- hold the moral high ground over the United States.

Heckuva job, Donnie.

 

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Ted Rall, a political cartoonist, is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto." He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1963, raised in Kettering, Ohio and graduated from Fairmont West High School in 1981. His first cartoons were published (more...)
 

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2 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments  Post Comment


Dennis Kaiser

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Can't leave Afghanistan because the CIA is making too much in drug smuggling (drug production has increased more than four-fold since we entered 18 years ago), it keeps them will the funds needs to support terrorist groups and other assets in creating these illegal wars of regime change, where there is no actual change in regime, countries are just allowed to fail freely.


Meanwhile, taxpayer dollars are paying $4,000,000,000/MONTH to keep the drugs running and troops dying along with innocent Afghans.

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 12, 2019 at 4:54:37 PM

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Richard Pietrasz

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Good point. The drive to war has many (at least temporary) allies, many with goals that are different piles of plunder.

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 12, 2019 at 7:37:23 PM

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Good point about the Trans-Afghan pipeline project. While 9/11/2001 had obviously been set up for years, the US go ahead order for the attack may have been issued primarily to re-escalate the Afghan wars to the level of the USSR war (in which USA was a covert instigator and overt combatant). It is obvious that al-Qaida was not the primary target of the US coalition, as observed US war strategy was not to destroy aQ (although USA dropped bombs for show) but to drive aQ into Pakistan (so as to threaten to topple that government, and put Pakistan's nuclear weapons into more radical hands, and in particular increasing the odds of a nuclear 9/11 event).

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 12, 2019 at 7:35:21 PM

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Also, I object to the phrase "America's longest war" in this context. Most of America is not involved in it; America is an arrogant an inaccurate term for USA.

America's longest war is the over 400 year war of the European invaders against the Native American people. It is fair to say it is actually over 500 years, given the war on drugs, sanctions against Afghanistan, land and mineral grabs by European corporations. (I note USA is not the only spinoff European empire operating here; I use the term European because the only thing really American about USA is most of its location.)

This is a common oversight, part of the meme that real Americans are subhumans and do not deserve any consideration related to the Bill of Rights.

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 12, 2019 at 8:06:57 PM

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We have an opioid problem here with addictions rising. It is interesting to know the 90% of the World's opium poppy comes from Afghanistan which the CIA is profiting from to support their various terrorist activities.I wouldn't doubt that the CIA had a hand in the reason killing of an American troop just prior to the planned peace talks with Trump. I ask, "Why would the Taliban do this? I'm certain they would like us our of their country." Our lying media propagandists want us to believe the Taliban did this to gain leverage in those talks. Just like Assad gassing people after Trump announced he wanted to withdraw our troops. I guess because people believed the fairy tale told us about 9/11 it is surmised we will believe anything. People, we need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Submitted on Thursday, Sep 12, 2019 at 7:56:01 PM

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