Author Topic: Picking Cain's Brains  (Read 59111 times)

Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #255 on: August 19, 2021, 11:30:52 am »
I'm honestly not surprised.
 
As far back as 2016, about half of the districts of Afghanistan were under the de facto control of the Taliban when night fell. There was also a priority of overlooking the Taliban (to the point of practically supporting them) in order to contain ISIS in Afghanistan - who were and continue to be a very minor threat by comparison.

Beyond that, the Afghanistan Army only had one capable combat unit, it's counterterrorism forces that had been trained by the US - beyond that it was graft and corruption all the way down. Not to say these guys aren't fighting, because they are - Afghan forces have taken more casualties in some years than the US has had for the entire invasion - but when your commander is stealing the pay and will have you beaten to death for complaining, there's not going to be a whole lot of loyalty.

Of course the problem is more entrenched then that, in that the US never had a plan on how to integrate the Taliban back into power on any level. How best to put this...? In any kind of war, you have two options. Either you're going to kill absolutely everyone who belongs to the enemy team, precipitate a massacre. Or, at some point, you need to sit down and talk with them. Most historical war tends closer to the second, war is a continuation of politics by other means, military force is used to gain the most advantageous position in the negotiations to follow. We see this with regard to things like Nazi Germany - while the hardcore were (rightfully) hanged for their crimes, former Nazis with relatively minor blood on their hands were put in charge of Germany while the Occupation forces set about establishing ground rules. No-one liked it, but you needed these people to convince the ones behind them to lay down arms and agree to the new way of doing things.

And then you have the "no people, no problem" approach. However, and importantly, this does rely on you actually being able to kill all of them, which in Afghanistan was always going to be tricky.

Now the US had the chance to do the former. In 2001, the Taliban offered to put Mullah Omar under house arrest, enter negotiations to lay down arms and act as a political party in the new Afghan government system. Rumsfeld told them to piss up a rope, because the US policy at the time is "we do not negotiate with terrorists" and "we do not differentiate between terrorists and those who support them". That's the message they wanted to send, and as rhetoric goes it's not bad. But turning down the deal allowed the Taliban to disperse physically, build up support among the Pashto clans and tribes and put us in the situation that exists today. Between having no end-game for the conflict and not being willing to supply the forces necessary to achieve the outcome they had decided to pursue (again, logistical difficulties played a role here - supporting that many troops in Afghanistan would be hell on public finances) they always put themselves in a position where they'd be propping up a government with only partial legitimacy.

And this is without going into the very real clustefuck that is competing agencies in Afghanistan. The political types were cut out by the Pentagon. The Pentagon and the spies played at loggerheads. Different branches of the Pentagon pursued their own policies. There's whole books that focus just on that and that there wasn't a single person who ultimately controlled Afghanistan policy is part of the reason why it turned into a clusterfuck, other than the more theoretical problems of war termination presented above.

And so the moment they moved to leave, it was always going to come tumbling down. That it tumbled down this fast is mostly because the Taliban are very organised and already had an advantageous position due to previous decades of war minsmanagement.

Faust

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #256 on: August 19, 2021, 11:52:36 am »
So, what you are describing there, that has me very worried, is that the Taliban are now more organized, war hardened, know the US playbook and are back in charge, in short, Afghanistan is in a much worse place then where the US found it.
Would I be right in thinking that unless they decide of their own accord to soften some of their stances on civilian side (Religious fundamentalism, homosexuality and women's rights) as to legitimise themselves in the eyes of the world as the rightful government of the country, the citizens are under a more oppressive, efficient and methodical regime then prior to 2001?
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #257 on: August 19, 2021, 01:31:37 pm »
It's actually not entirely clear. The Taliban do know that their attitudes on women, religious minorities etc have given them bad PR, and they do want investment coming into Afghanistan, because they are acutely aware that their inability to provide basic goods is part of what sealed their fate last time around. So they've definitely signalled rhetorically that they might be a bit softer on such things this time around.

Of course, it's easy to make a sales pitch when you're out of power, only to then go back on it once you're in control.

The thing is, the Taliban leadership is quite opaque. Haibatullah Akhundzada allegedly sits at the head of their leadership council, but he only makes statements a few times a year and wasn't very well known before the 2001 invasion. Whether he's actually in control, a figurehead or even still alive are all up for debate. Akhunzada was also a compromise candidate, back in 2016. Among the other more notable members of the Quetta Shura are Abdul Ghani Baradar, who heads the Taliban "political office" in Doha, Mohammad Yaqoob (son of Mullah Omar), who has spearheaded the current military campaign, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of the infamous Jalaluddin Haqqani and current head of the Haqqani network. He has close ties to Al-Qaeda and the ISI and oversees their financial and military assets in Pakistan. His relative, Abdul Hakim Haqqani, heads up the Taliban's negotiation team, at the personal request of Akhundzada, and is considered a hardliner - compared with the more moderate Baradar anyway.

Faust

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #258 on: August 24, 2021, 11:35:04 am »
There was an article about the afghan army capturing a couple of rural cities, but considering they all wandered off, and these cities were traditionally not Taliban cities, is it more likely that these are the rival warlords re-emerging?
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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #259 on: August 24, 2021, 04:39:24 pm »
So, what you are describing there, that has me very worried, is that the Taliban are now more organized, war hardened, know the US playbook and are back in charge, in short, Afghanistan is in a much worse place then where the US found it.


We're known for doing that sort of thing.
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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #260 on: August 26, 2021, 05:46:08 pm »
So, what's the current expectation on going back? I was guessing 5 years or so, but with a couple of bombs today in kabul I'm cutting that to under 3. One successful bombing on us/associates soil and its prime fodder for a particular kind of electioneering.
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #261 on: August 27, 2021, 05:23:05 pm »
Which cities are you referring to, Faust? I've tried looking but obviously there's a lot of Afghanistan news lately.

As for going back in...depends. I can't see Biden doing a U-turn, even in light of current events. I can see him launching drone strikes at whomever is deemed the responsible party...but in the longer term it will depend how much the Taliban pivot between their "responsible members of the international community with extreme views" and "actually supporting international terrorism and genocide" wings.

Faust

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #262 on: August 27, 2021, 07:31:16 pm »
I'm having trouble finding the original link and all I can find is India today but it was the same gist

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/afghanistan-taliban-latest-news-developments-kabul-airlift-biden-resistance-forces-recapture-districts-1843523-2021-08-21

Not sure if cities was the right word, or if its substatiated
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #263 on: August 27, 2021, 08:35:47 pm »
Ahah. Looks like Northern Alliance remnants. Or, well, younger siblings and sons and daughters of Northern Alliance remnants, since all of that was 20+ years ago.

I suspect Atta Mohammad Noor and Rashid Dostum, two of the most notorious Afghan warlords, are currently in Uzbekistan as well, though there's nothing to confirm this other than their last reported location ("north of Mazar-i-Sharif") and what they did in the previous conflicts and whenever they got into legal trouble.

Junkenstein

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #264 on: August 29, 2021, 07:28:38 pm »
Which cities are you referring to, Faust? I've tried looking but obviously there's a lot of Afghanistan news lately.

As for going back in...depends. I can't see Biden doing a U-turn, even in light of current events. I can see him launching drone strikes at whomever is deemed the responsible party...but in the longer term it will depend how much the Taliban pivot between their "responsible members of the international community with extreme views" and "actually supporting international terrorism and genocide" wings.

From the reports  of various arms, biometric data, aircraft etc. That got abandoned, it feels like 1 wing got a bit of bonus.

Is it just me that finds it incredible that not only has a 20 odd year conflict been totally lost, the fleeing nations have chosen to arm the erstwhile for to fuck on the way out? Realistically, if its a logistics problem and you just can't shift all your shit in time, moving it into a big pile and throwing a match is surely both the spiteful and sensible option. This is shit that is designed to explode. The problem can literally solve itself.

So, with more than a few states probably willing to supply training, parts etc. I'm cutting my guess down to 2 and a half. Bidens not got the balls to launch what I assume would be needed to be several hundred drone strikes in a leaving blitzkrieg and doing so would make the US into a bit of a pariah state. Easier to wait for an atrocity or two and start again. Probably better for the war economy too.
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #265 on: September 02, 2021, 03:21:15 pm »
I suspect the Pentagon was counting on a last minute change of heart from the White House, even though their hands were tied by Trump.

And besides, do they really care? The top brass will be going on to defence contractor jobs, which is notoriously unconcerned with the military having to replace stuff and indeed is rather keen on the idea, and the accountants probably ran a cost/benefit analysis and figured that dumping the stuff was probably the cheaper option than maintaining, securing and disposing of it. The Taliban won't exactly be able to order replacement parts, so they're probably not too concerned in the long run.

And basically the agreement Trump made with the Taliban was a peace deal. While the US could violate it, in theory US troops aren't allowed to attack the Taliban except in self-defence, and the Taliban have ordered their people to steer clear of remaining American forces. So unless someone does something stupid and there's an obvious fingerprint on it, like the suicide bombing the other week but with intel linking it to the Taliban, nothing will happen.

Junkenstein

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #266 on: September 02, 2021, 09:21:52 pm »
Would parts really be a problem? I would heavily assume the arms manufacturer creed of "if I don't sell it to them, someone else will" would apply. A bit of lobbying and trade deal/sanctions and sooner or later its all operational enough.

And that's without random idiot acts, just corporate logic.

Hells, the way reality currently works there was probably never a war to begin with.
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #267 on: September 02, 2021, 09:41:32 pm »
Parts are pretty major, most modern weapons systems are pretty complex and keeping the parts in-company only is a good way to ensure an ongoing revenue stream for arms contractors. No doubt you can finagle something to tide a system over, if you have enough engineers look at the problem, but since it's a way to ensure revenue for companies, they tend to be rather creative in making that difficult to achieve.

Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #268 on: September 08, 2021, 01:30:11 am »
Haqqani is assigned as the minister of the interior and Yacoob as minister of war.

It's pretty clear the hardliners are in charge of the Taliban regime, with appointments like this.