There's plenty of blame to go around here. No need to start with Joe Biden. He's a relatively minor player in this Blame-Fest currently sucking all of the air out of newsrooms everywhere.
“How could we have known that the Afghan army would collapse so quickly?”
Well, as easy questions go, this one is way up on the list. Anyone who was interested could have read all about the Afghan army's prospects for putting up an actual fight. The facts have been on display for fifteen years. The Afghan army's chances were slim to none. I have a hunch that they looked like some dangerous, hard-fighting tough guys in reports written for use within the U.S. Government, because those reports were written by people who were justifying their own efforts, and their own never ending need for more money. Pallets of money; cash money. Money that disappeared faster than one of Siegfried and Roy's tigers.
All of the necessary information has been available in very serious and trustworthy articles in publications like the Atlantic; the New York Review of Books; Harper's Magazine; the New Yorker; Vanity Fair; and several others. If our intelligence agencies have chosen not to share this information with our government officials, or if our government officials have chosen to ignore those warnings, well, either way, we have a problem.
Oh, how I laughed whenever I read about the fabulous (think, “fable”) Afghan army! 300,000 soldiers! Highly trained, powerfully equipped, and well led! I laughed, only wishing that it were funny.
First of all, about half of those soldiers never existed. They were names added to the rolls of army units whose salaries were being paid by America. More names, more money. The money going to those “empty names” went directly into the pockets of some general, or more likely, to a cabal of generals and government officials who were all in on it.
Secondly, all of those non-existent soldiers needed to be fitted out with weapons and uniforms. They needed vehicles. All of the extra stuff was sold forward. A lot of it went to the Taliban, either for profit or as good will down payments. A lot was sold to Iran, with the ultimate destination being Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Thirdly, all of that training was mostly for show. Lots of time AWOL visiting mom; lots of time playing games on the free computers; lots of naps; and lots of photo-ops when CNN comes around. Lots of “training” requires lots of gasoline, and lots of bullets, etc., with the bills being sent to the benefactors, you and me.
A large number of the remaining soldiers had simply walked away in the meantime. Their salaries were added to the cash-flow of the generals.
Forgive me if I excuse myself from giving you all a close lesson in how sixty or seventy percent of the world collects and divides this kind of corruption money. The sources vary from the proceeds of street beggars to the vast amounts of foreign aid money that flow like rivers through the world. The recipients vary from flip-flop wearing deadender gangsters who live from day to day, smoking ice, all the way up to big-time gangsters masquerading as heads of state, getting off on champagne, cocaine, and hookers.
So only the very naïve among us will be surprised that the Afghan army simply said, “no thanks,” when the Taliban showed up. At least the ARVN put up some kind of a fight. These guys disappeared faster than the aforementioned Las Vegas tigers.
So no, there was no titanic struggle between the Afghan army and the “vastly outnumbered” Taliban, riding into town on their cute 125cc Honda motorcycles, two-up, with extra belts of machine gun ammo around their necks, and the passenger holding up an RPG. No armed struggle that would allow time for America to help their many loyal friends and employees to escape with their families. No orderly exit, except in the minds of deluded fools who believed intelligence reports.
All of the people now in high places, and most of those who have held high positions over the last ten years, are racing to the news shows to spread weird lies of exculpation and try desperately to shift the blame to someone else, preferably someone from the other party. It's shameful.
It shames all of us. We allow it to go on.
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