Opium poppy. Photo: DEA.
“I decided I could live with that.”
– Stansfield Turner, Jimmy Carter’s CIA director, on the extreme level of civilian casualties in the CIA’s covert war in Afghanistan.
The first indelible image of the war in Afghanistan for many Americans was probably that of CBS anchorman Dan Rather, wrapped in the voluminous drapery of a mujahedin fighter, looking like a healthy relative of Lawrence of Arabia (albeit with hair that seemed freshly blow-dried, as some viewers were quick to point out). From his secret mountainside “somewhere in the Hindu Kush,” Rather unloaded on his audience a barrowload of nonsense about the conflict. The Soviets, Rather confided portentously, had put a bounty on his head “of many thousands of dollars.” He went on, “It was the best compliment they could have given me. And having a price put on my head was a small price to pay for the truths we told about Afghanistan.”
Every one of these observations turned out to be entirely false. Rather described the government of Hafizullah Amin as a “Moscow-installed puppet regime in Kabul.” But Amin had closer ties to the CIA than he did to the KGB. Rather called the mujahedin the “Afghan freedom fighters … who were engaged in a deeply patriotic fight to the death for home and hearth.” The mujahedin were scarcely fighting for freedom, in any sense Rather would have been comfortable with, but instead to impose one of the most repressive brands of Islamic fundamentalism known to the world, barbarous, ignorant and notably cruel to women.
It was a “fact,” Rather announced, that the Soviets had used chemical weapons against Afghan villagers. This was a claim promoted by the Reagan administration, which charged that the extraordinarily precise number of 3,042 Afghans had been killed by this yellow chemical rain, a substance that had won glorious propaganda victories in its manifestation in Laos a few years earlier, when the yellow rain turned out to be bee feces heavily loaded with pollen. As Frank Brodhead put it in the London Guardian, “Its composition: one part bee feces, plus many parts State Department disinformation mixed with media gullibility.”
Rather claimed that the mujahedin were severely underequipped, doing their best with Kalashnikov rifles taken from dead Soviet soldiers.
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On July 1st the House Armed Services Committee voted to hinder Donald Trump’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. House Democrats on the committee teamed up with Republicans, including Liz Cheney (daughter of war-architect Dick Cheney), to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act “that prohibits Congress from spending money to pull US troops out of Afghanistan without first meeting a series of vague conditions that critics said appeared to prevent withdrawal.” Without any public debate the US will now continue its occupation after the CIA claimed that Russia payed Taliban-linked groups to kill American soldiers.
What’s the evidence? General John Nicholson speculated that Russia was arming the Taliban in 2017. In April 2019, three marines were killed in an attack that the Taliban claimed responsibility for. Unnamed intelligence officials believed that the Russians may have payed militants to attack US troops. In March 2020, The CIA concluded that the Russians were paying the bounties. They cited testimony from captured militants and pointed to a Seal Team Six raid of a Taliban outpost that resulted in the recovery of a half a million in cash.
That’s it. That’s all the information that the American public is allowed to know. It’s hardly even mentioned that the NSA disagreed with the CIA’s assessment, stating “the information wasn’t verified and that intelligence officials didn’t agree on it.” Furthermore, the Department of Defense (DOD) claimed that “to date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports.” Americans are taking the CIA’s word as gospel.
How exactly did the CIA conclude that the half a million in cash came from Russia and not from Taliban opium trafficking operations? The US military claimed that 60% of the Taliban’s funding comes from the opium trade. Is $500,000 in cash unheard of in opium sales? Who are these captured militants that claimed that Russia payed bounties for dead American soldiers? Were these militants tortured by the CIA? The CIA has the largest torture program in the world. Is the information reliable or was the information obtained under dubious circumstances? How do we even know these militants actually made these claims?
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With overwhelming bipartisan support, the House Armed Services Committee has added a Liz Cheney-spearheaded amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which throws severe roadblocks in the Trump administration’s proposed scale-down of US military presence in Afghanistan and Germany.
As The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald notes, both parties advancing the amendment cited in their arguments the completely unsubstantiated intelligence leak that was recently published by credulous mass media reporters alleging that Russia has paid bounties to Taliban fighters for killing the occupying forces in Afghanistan. Yet another western imperialist agenda once again facilitated by unforgivably egregious journalistic malpractice in the mass media.
House Democrats, working with Liz Cheney, restrict Trump’s planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Germany https://t.co/WZEjALgJHH
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 2, 2020
Every aspect of this development is enraging.
The mass media have continued to add to their mountain of Gish gallop fallacies promoting this narrative with a new Daily Beast report citing former senior Taliban figure Mullah Manan Niazi who asserts that “The Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on U.S. forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present.” The Beast’s own article admits that its source has severe conflicts of interest and is believed to be a CIA asset by Taliban leadership, and that Niazi provided no evidence of any kind for his claim or any further details whatsoever.
These flimsy, poorly-sourced allegations are being hammered into mainstream liberal consciousness on a daily basis now in the exact same way the discredited Russiagate psyop was, and just like with Russiagate the narrative they are being used to shape helps advance military expansionism and new cold war escalations which just so happen to fit perfectly into pre-existing geostrategic agendas of planetary domination.
The way mainstream news outlets consistently refuse to account for a fact so obvious and indisputable as intelligence agencies being known liars should by itself be enough to discredit the entire institution of mass news reporting. Yet here we are with these reports being treated as established fact throughout the entire political/media class and down through the entire population of propagandized rank-and-file citizenry.
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By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the UN General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. The UN General Assembly is committed to developing awareness regarding the Illicit trafficking of narcotics.
Excerpted from Cruel Harvest: US Intervention in the Afghan Drug Trade (Pluto Press, 2013), by Julien Mercille.
As Obama proclaims that the US adventure in Afghanistan will draw to a close over the next couple years, we may look at the balance sheet with respect to one of the occupation’s alleged justifications: the fight against Afghan heroin. The outcome has been a total failure. In fact, whereas Afghanistan is sometimes referred to as the “graveyard of empires” because throughout history, big powers have attempted, unsuccessfully, to invade and control it, the country can already be labeled as the “garden of empire” because the US/NATO occupation has resulted in a drastic increase in drug production.
Opium production in Afghanistan skyrocketed from 185 tons to 8,200 tons between 2001 and 2007 (today it is down to 3,700 tons). Most commentary glosses over Washington’s large share of responsibility for this dramatic expansion while magnifying the Taliban’s role, which available data indicates is relatively minor. Also, identifying drugs as a main cause behind the growth of the insurgency absolves the United States and NATO of their own role in fomenting it: the very presence of foreign troops in the country as well as their destructive attacks on civilians are significant factors behind increases in popular support for, or tolerance of, the Taliban. In fact, as a recent UNODC report notes, reducing drug production would have only a “minimal impact on the insurgency’s strategic threat,” because the Taliban receive “significant funding from private donors all over the world,” a contribution that “dwarfs” drug money.
A UNODC report entitled Addiction, Crime and Insurgency: The Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium provides a good example of the conventional view of the Taliban’s role in drug trafficking.
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In der afghanischen Hauptstadt Kabul ließen sich vor wenigen Tagen zwei Männer zeitgleich zum Präsidenten vereidigen. Neben diesen zwei „Regierungen“ gibt es noch jene der Taliban, das sogenannte Islamische Emirat. Hauptverantwortlich für die Misere sind nicht nur die Afghanen selbst, sondern auch jene, die sich seit Jahrzehnten in der Region aufgrund ihrer eigenen Machtspielchen einmischen. Von Emran Feroz.
Am vergangenen Montag ließ sich Afghanistans Präsident Ashraf Ghani im Arg – dem afghanischen Präsidentenpalast – ein zweites Mal zum Präsidenten küren. Zwei Wochen zuvor hatte ihn die Unabhängige Wahlkommission (ICE) zum Sieger der vergangenen Präsidentschaftswahlen erklärt. Diese hatten im Oktober stattgefunden und merkwürdigerweise hatte es ganze fünf Monate gedauert, bis alle Stimmen ausgezählt waren, während weniger als zwanzig Prozent der Wahlberechtigten überhaupt zur Urne geschritten waren. Ähnlich wie bei vorherigen Wahlen stand der Vorwurf der Wahlfälschung im Raum. Doch diesmal wollte Hauptkontrahent Abdullah Abdullah, der in der Vergangenheit dann doch stets eingeknickt ist, das Wahlergebnis nicht akzeptieren und sorgte für eine Zäsur, indem er sich ebenfalls zum Präsidenten vereidigen ließ – und zwar zeitgleich zu Ghani.
Richtig gelesen. In Afghanistan gibt es nun zwei Präsidenten. Dies sorgt nicht nur unter Afghanen für viele Scherze, sondern auch im Ausland. Kurz nach der Doppelvereidigung schlug Trevor Noah in seiner Daily Show etwa vor, dass die beiden Präsidenten doch in Tag- und Nachtschichten arbeiten könnten.
Doch so amüsant die gegenwärtigen Entwicklungen in Kabul zu sein scheinen: Die Lage ist todernst und kann zu einer weiteren Eskalation beitragen. Vor zwei Wochen unterzeichneten die USA ein Abzugsabkommen mit den afghanischen Taliban in Katar. Zu den Bedingungen des Deals gehörten inner-afghanische Gespräche, die nach dem Abzug der NATO-Truppen einen längerfristigen Frieden im Land garantieren sollen. Diese Gespräche sollten in diesem Moment stattfinden, doch das tun sie nicht, da die politischen Eliten in Kabul gespaltener sind denn je zuvor. Ironischerweise waren es ebenjene Eliten, die in der Vergangenheit immer wieder darauf hinwiesen, dass die Taliban keine geeinte Gruppierung seien. Doch nun ist das genaue Gegenteil der Fall.
Ein Land, drei Regierungen
Demnach existieren in Afghanistan gegenwärtig insgesamt drei verschiedene Regierungen: Jene von Ghani und Abdullah sowie das sogenannte Islamische Emirat der Taliban, die aktuell womöglich mehr Gebiete kontrollieren als die beiden Präsidenten. Warum es zur aktuellen Krise gekommen ist,
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