WELL BLESS MY SOUL…

The Washington Post, about sixteen years late, is shocked, shocked I say, that corruption has been going on in Afghanistan:

The documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting.

If you want all the details, find H.R. McMaster’s book Dereliction of Duty. (Yes, the same guy who forgot everything he knew while serving as Donald Trump’s chief of staff and got fired for precisely that reason). Dry read about the Viet Nam debacle, but if you change the names and dates it will all be there.

Meanwhile, if Trump wants to become a truly transformational President, he should listen to Freda and do what his base has begged him to do from day one.

Tell ’em Freda. One more time:

FROM WHICH WE DO NOT LEARN (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #146)

Vietnam 1907:

Patriots took to the streets and lanes with scissors, giving haircuts to all who wanted them, and to many who did not. The French were rightly suspicious of the political implications of this activity. They were also exasperated at being put in a position where they either had to ignore revolutionary agitation or appear ridiculous by objecting to haircuts exactly like their own. Finally, despite the snickers it aroused, an official investigation was launched into what was called “Le Mouvement de la Tonsure.”…

Although the possession of opium was a criminal offense in France, the French administration purchased raw opium in India and Yunnan, brought it to Saigon for processing, and then sold it at official outlets at a profit of 400 to 500 percent. With sardonic humor, Vietnamese observed that the French at least granted them freedom to poison themselves, a liberty denied the inhabitants of the mother country. But indirect taxation through state monopolies took other and even more invidious forms. The state alcohol monopoly was bitterly resented. Rice whiskey was an essential part of the many feast days celebrated by each family and each village during the course of the year. Not only did the Vietnamese have to pay more money for an inferior product, they were also forced to purchase it in carefully stamped official bottles, which raised the actual cost by about 900 percent.

Predictably, the opium monopoly was threatened by extensive smuggling activity, and the alcohol monopoly resulted in much illicit distilling. The French response was direct, brutal, and effective in the short run. Networks of secret agents and informers were organized, and the law was changed to permit unregulated entry, search, and seizure in private homes in a manner never before tolerated under either French or Vietnamese law. While the use of opium was only encouraged, the purchase of alcohol was made compulsory. Quota systems were established whereby a province was obliged to purchase a certain amount of whiskey each month, based on “normal usage.” Then within each province every village had to buy a certain quantity of whiskey or face harsh punishment on the charge that illicit distilling was being condoned. The evils produced by these techniques of enforcement generated even more resentment than the indirect taxes themselves.

Although the French opium policies were racist and exploitive, and the alcohol monopoly forced the Vietnamese to purchase a beverage they did not like in bottles they did not need at a price they could not afford, the salt monopoly was even worse.

(Neil L. Jamieson, Understanding Vietnam, 1993)

Within fifty years the French had been chased from Vietnam, leaving we who had learned nothing except the astounding profits to be made from the drug trade (especially if you brought it home, where the real money was) to take their place.

They’ve been spiraling downward ever since. Thus to empires.

Ours will go the same way. The massive, across-the-board elite resistance to Donald Trump’s attempt to draw down in Syria and (horrors!) Afghanistan, is more proof that nothing changes in imperial capitals, except possibly the tactics deployed to meet any threat to the status quo.

Hey Freda, tell ’em what the first step on the road to freedom is…

PAST NOT PAST (Burma, 1945 Edition)

While watching the Swamp Creatures (Liberal and Conservative, as usual it makes no difference) twist themselves into knots trying to come to grips with Donald Trump’s latest attempt to curtail the Empire by withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan, I’ve taken up George MacDonald Fraser’s WWII memoir Quartered Safe Out Here again, this time with a mind to finish it.

Fraser served in the Burmese theater, which was mostly a British show from the Allied side and, though, the book doesn’t have the easy flow of his great novels (read the Flashman series, people, by all means do) or the sweep of his fine book of film criticism–there’s a reason I’ve attended it in fits and starts–there are still useful insights on nearly every page. There’s more than a little prescience in the following passage, composed as the familiar television faces of that day were celebrating our eminent “victory” in the First Gulf War, of which, more than a quarter-century later, the Syrian and Afghan campaigns constitute the latest phase–the latest opportunity for Victory, which Trump, a relentless “warmonger” as recently as last Spring, is now poised to “throw away.”

Perhaps you have to be an old soldier, watching the T.V. news telling you that the Iraqis are on the run and another couple of days will do it and hip-hip-hooray it’ll be a glorious victory and the boys will be home before you know it, to feel mounting anger as you watch pictures of the tanks rolling and staff officers looking confident at press conferences and studio pundits pontificating–because you know, even if the complacent commentators don’t, that some poor sod is still at the sharp end hoping to God that that bunker is empty and that the ground before it isn’t mined.

(George MacDonald Fraser, Quartered Safe Out Here, 1992)

Tell ’em one more time Freda…

AFGHAN MISSION UPDATE REDUX….

A mere fourteen days after he was lucky to escape an assassination attempt that killed at least one of the high-ranking Afghan officials he was meeting with, the top US Commander in Afghanistan says what?

Oh, there is no military solution to our seventeen-year war in the Graveyard of Empires.

And we’ll’ have to negotiate with the Taliban, which means we will lose and leave no footprint.

Funny how clarifying a little personal experience can be.

Hey, Freda.

Tell ’em again:

 

TO THE AFGHAN MISSION (Late Night Dedication: 10/19/18)

It’s the little things that tell the tale….

We have been in Afghanistan for nearly seventeen years. A small item in the news today (I’m guessing CNN gave it no more than an hour or two total throughout the first twenty-four hours, plus a few hundred words on their website….and that there will be little or no followup) tells us what we have won.

Two Americans also were wounded in the shooting attack at Kandahar Palace, said Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan. US Army Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was present but uninjured in the attack, a statement from US forces said.

To wit: To win a war, you must take the enemy’s ground and hold it until he gives up. Today we learned that what we are constantly told is the mightiest military force in the history of the world, having occupied, for seventeen years, a country which barely qualifies for the term Third World, cannot guarantee the safety of our top commander in the region inside a prominent government facility.

This means we have taken and held not a single inch of Afghan territory.

Our defeat could hardly be more thorough. Donald Trump should dump his military advisers and fulfill his campaign promise to listen to Freda: