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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan

The skills of ordinary men

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I recently read two articles that actually cover some of the same ground, even though their topics could not be more different.

The first is from 2003, Electric Heroes, and it’s written by a lawyer looking back at one of his early cases where a woman sued an American power company over the death of her husband, who was a linemen.

They clambered up narrow steel ladders and then inched across four-inch-wide “angle-iron” girders made slippery with rain or morning dew, and when they reached out, they touched either the open sky or heavy steel cables whose purpose was to carry enough electricity to power the nation’s fourth largest city.

Because they were so well trained, they were able to work safely, routinely, under conditions that would terrify you or me.

The writer points out that these men (in those days they were all men) were also very careful, which made the case a little strange since this particular linemen had fallen 120 feet to his death or possibly had jumped. Not even his workmates could figure out what had gone wrong.

As the young workhorse lawyer gathering two years of information for the trial, he got to know these men very well.

They had a strong sense of duty, and they had a natural dignity that was boundless.  They were modest men, but they had quiet pride by the mile.  Amongst each other, they were very, very funny.  They cussed a lot, and after work they’d go out together for a beer, or to hunt or play poker or catch an Astros game.  And they stuck up for one another.  You’d think twice about crossing any one of them.

They took the case seriously from the beginning because one of their own had died in their midst, for reasons they couldn’t quite explain or grasp, and they were being accused of having caused his death by their indifference. 

In the end the case was settled out of court and the jury dismissed. The young lawyer had become so bonded with these men that he was incandescent with rage at what he felt his senior lawyers had done to them: as much as admitting that they had been indifferent to their workmate, their friend. But the young partner took him to lunch and, as he saw in hindsight, helped him grow up a bit:

“In the greater scheme of life, are you really furious that Mrs X is getting the fairly modest amount of money that will be left to her after her lawyers’ fees and expenses are extracted?  She’s not getting a huge windfall.  Our client can afford it.  It all goes into the rate-base, and ultimately it will be paid in tiny, tiny increments by all the families for whom Mr X helped keep the lights on during his twelve years with the company. Can you not see the justice in that result, even if it wasn’t the harsh and total victory you were gunning for?”

The second article is very recent and is written by a Captain Charlie Anderson of the Minnesota National Guard, describing their recent expedition to Kabul to extract American and Afghan civilians before the Taliban took over: A few good ‘Bastards’.

It’s a fascinating look at those events from a soldier’s view, but it’s also a good look at a component of the US military that’s often overlooked or disparaged, The National Guard. They’re part-time soldiers although equipped with the same stuff as the regular forces including, in this case, Bradley’s and Abrams tanks. Having said that I was surprised a few years ago to find out from a mate in the NZDF that the Hawaiian Air National Guard flies F-22’s!

But what shows here is that the training is also right up with the regular forces:

We’d practiced and trained for the past two years. The task force did a combat training rotation exercise at Fort Hood, Texas in 2019 and executed a successful rotation (the first post-Covid) at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California in 2020. While drilling at Camp Ripley, Minnesota we completed numerous tabletop exercises and worked the Military Decision Making Process repeatedly until it became muscle memory.

We had executed multiple iterations of gunnery tables and were continuing ongoing missions in Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. We were confident that as the CENTCOM Regional Response Force we’d be poised and prepared to project military power wherever it was needed to accomplish tactical and strategic goals.

When the time came to move out they were ready to go and got to Kabul promptly. Even so such units still endure scepticism from the regulars:

One captain I met from their brigade intelligence section told me he was under the impression that a senator had pulled some strings and got us deployed from Minnesota. When I told him about our task force and that we were already in the Middle East, postured for such a crisis event, he was speechless. Initially, there was an air of distrust, but we proved ourselves worthy partners, dispelling the myth about the perceived capability gap between the active duty and guard/reserve components. 

It was this paragraph that caught my attention in relation to the first article, as the commander of the unit, Lt. Col. Jake Helgestad, described:

He underscored the life skills the National Guard brought to the 82nd Airborne. “We provided capabilities to the fight beyond trigger-pullers that 1/82 never would’ve been able to — engineers, plumbers, electricians, welders, mechanics, heavy machinery operators – we enabled advanced operations that directly impacted the military’s ability to get people out.” 

No need to call up the US Army Corp of Engineers to build barricades and reinforce walls when you’ve got a bunch of people who do that in their everyday lives.

The article is lengthy but well written and packed with a lot of coal-face detail about what they dealt with in a horrific and rapidly deteriorating situation. Well worth your reading time.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 18, 2021 at 9:54 am

The Falling Man

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I guess many of us have been wondering what the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks would be like? How it would be remembered? What feelings might exist?

Also the thought of looking back and comparing what the future looked like from that point forward to what has actually transpired, as well as looking forward from today in terms of the future of terrorism and how Western societies, especially America, might deal with that going forward.

But those are for other posts.

One of the things I never imagined for the 20th anniversary was that the circle would be so perfectly completed by two images taken twenty years apart.

The current US government has given us that perfect circle. We are almost right back where we started.

There are so many stories associated with this day. But for me there are two. First is the one published in Esquire in 2003, The Falling Man. It concerns the efforts made to identify the man in that photo on the left, and it contains some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read on that terrible subject.

In the picture, he departs from this earth like an arrow. Although he has not chosen his fate, he appears to have, in his last instants of life, embraced it. If he were not falling, he might very well be flying.

Some people who look at the picture see stoicism, willpower, a portrait of resignation; others see something else—something discordant and therefore terrible: freedom. There is something almost rebellious in the man’s posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it; as though he were a missile, a spear, bent on attaining his own end. He is, fifteen seconds past 9:41 a.m. EST, the moment the picture is taken, in the clutches of pure physics, 

The next morning, that photo appeared on page seven of The New York Times, but it also appeared in hundreds of newspapers around the USA and the world. Of course it did; it was too perfect a photo not to. But then it vanished, and the essay tries to explain why. The chapters of the essay are split by the other photos of the same man and they tell a different truth:

Photographs lie. Even great photographs. Especially great photographs. The Falling Man in Richard Drew’s picture fell in the manner suggested by the photograph for only a fraction of a second, and then kept falling. The photograph functioned as a study of doomed verticality, a fantasia of straight lines, with a human being slivered at the center, like a spike. In truth, however, the Falling Man fell with neither the precision of an arrow nor the grace of an Olympic diver. He fell like everyone else, like all the other jumpers—trying to hold on to the life he was leaving, which is to say that he fell desperately, inelegantly.

One reporter approached, carefully, a number of families that the man might have belonged too. From his clothes it is certain that he worked in the Windows of The World restaurant. One family split on the agreement, some thinking it was him, Norberto Hernandez, who had jumped out of a window. But his wife – they had been together since she was 15 – denied it was him.

The Norberto Hernandez Eulogia knew would not have been deterred by smoke or by fire in his effort to come home to her. The Norberto Hernandez she knew would have endured any pain before he jumped out of a window. When the Norberto Hernandez she knew died, his eyes were fixed on what he saw in his heart—the faces of his wife and his daughters—and not on the terrible beauty of an empty sky.

Will any article ever appear in Esquire that attempts to track down the men who fell from that plane in Kabul? I doubt it. We humans can only extend our compassion so far beyond our closest loves; the tribe, perhaps even a nation.

To that end I may as well tell my story of that day. Two weeks earlier I had put my wife and little boy on to a plane bound for Europe, where they would travel to Poland with her sister and father to see other relatives. As is often the case with parents I felt a bit down after seeing them off and this was observed by a close friend that I had a beer with afterwards before heading home to relieve the baby sitter taking care of our baby daughter.

He pressed me on the fact that I seemed more down than could be explained by such a parting and it was then that I told him that I was depressed because I thought that a terrorist attack might occur in Europe while they were there. I told him that Al-Qaeda seemed to hit about every 12 to 18 months, and that since almost a year had passed since the USS Cole bombing we were probably due for another one. He laughed it off and eventually so did I. In hindsight it was stupid thinking, since they had made it quite clear that America was always their target.

On the Wednesday morning (NZ time) I only slowly woke up after the radio alarm went off at 6am. As usual I’d been up in the night taking care of my baby and now, having climbed out of the crib in the dark, she was asleep on our bed beside me. In those days I still listened to Morning Report but I was so groggy that I missed the opening news. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I heard them talking about how Wall Street had been closed and that buildings had been heavily damaged.

What the hell? I got up, turned on the TV, and stared, like everybody else, mesmerised by the images. Like more than a few people my initial thoughts were that this was just like a movie, Independence Day or Deep Impact perhaps.

The jumpers are what changed that. The networks would soon pull the coverage, but on morning TV here they were still showing them. Esquire again:

And it was, at last, the sight of the jumpers that provided the corrective to those who insisted on saying that what they were witnessing was “like a movie,” for this was an ending as unimaginable as it was unbearable: Americans responding to the worst terrorist attack in the history of the world with acts of heroism, with acts of sacrifice, with acts of generosity, with acts of martyrdom, and, by terrible necessity, with one prolonged act of—if these words can be applied to mass murder—mass suicide.

But what I also felt was a feeling of terrible, guilty relief. The attack had not been in Europe but in the US. My wife and child might find the voyage home tough, but they would get home. It would probably be safer than ever.

In the meantime I had to reach them. I had phone numbers in Poland but my language would not be up to par. In desperation I decided to call a friend of ours in Chicago, Kinga, born and raised in Poland before she had come to the USA as a baby. She could call the numbers and find out what was happening. It was then, for the first and only time in my life of calling the USA that I encountered the following voice message:

We’re sorry. Your call cannot be completed at this time.
All circuits are busy now. Please wait and try again.

After many attempts I got through. She was okay, having evacuated downtown Chicago along with a million other people (everybody felt the John Hancock Centre and Sears Tower would be targets) and her husband, a friend of mine, was also safe, although he was trapped in Boston, from which he was supposed to have flown out that morning, an hour or more after one of the hijacked flights left that airport. It would take him a week to get home. I gave her the Polish phone numbers and a couple where I could be reached.

I had to head to the Waikato with my daughter on a pre-arranged trip that I saw no reason to cancel, so it was not until late that evening that Kinga called me back to tell me that everybody was okay. In fact they’d been on a train and did not even find out about the attacks until they got off at their destination. My wife and son arrived home a week later.

The second story is about one of two cops, Will Jimeno, who were dug out of the rubble of the WTC collapse. The story was made into a movie, World Trade Centre, by Oliver Stone who – amazingly considering his history – played it straight and not as a conspiracy theory. I was impressed at how accurately the movie stuck to the facts and the moments. It is a superb movie.

The oddest thing about being trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center was that Will Jimeno didn’t break any bones. The Port Authority police officer had 220 stories of the World Trade Center fall on top of him — all of both towers, first the south, then the north — a violence of unimaginable scale, velocity and intensity, one that killed three of the other officers he’d been standing with moments earlier, and entombing him and his surviving sergeant amid concrete and rock for hours on Sept. 11, 2001.

But what’s different about this article is that it deals with an aftermath the movie understandably left alone, the mental shock of the day that grew even as he physically healed. What is called PTSD:

When he returned home, he went into his older daughter’s room. “Bianca,” he asked, “does daddy yell a lot?”

“Yeah, Daddy, you scare me sometimes,” she replied, truthfully.

Jimeno was devastated. As he describes the moment in his book, “That’s when I realized if I’m not a good husband, a good dad, a good example, then the terrorists win.”

The story of his recovery from PTSD is as great as the first half of the article.

When I look at the reactions of the USA in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, with things like the Patriot Act, the ongoing TSA security theatre that was imposed at airports, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the recent, shameful bungling of the final withdrawal from Afghanistan, I can’t help thinking that perhaps that great nation is suffering from a form of PTSD, and that unlike Mr Jimeno, they have not yet learned how to handle it.

To that end though, ultimately the fate of all this lies in the hands of the people, and to me, aside from the heroism at the WTC and the Pentagon, the bright shining light of that day was the actions of the people on board the fourth hijacked plane, United 93. Unlike the other hero’s of that day they were not trained for such a thing:

Think of it this way. In less than 30 minutes, regular people who have been informed of horrific news on a plane are told that their plane is going to most likely suffer a similar fate. In less than a half-hour, they devise a plan to not wait for someone to save them, but to act to make sure they are not part of mass murder. Even if that means they will die anyway, they are not going to sit by and let evil win easily.

They fought back, and they saved lives — knowing that their lives would probably end as a result.

By attempting to take back control of the plane – after a vote it should be noted, democratic to the death – they prevented the Islamic Jihadist hijackers from completing their terrible mission.

Americans are better people than their leaders. I’ll take that into the future.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 12, 2021 at 6:10 pm

Jobs for the boys

That satirical movie poster was from 2014 when Obama traded five Taliban terrorists locked up in Guantanamo for a US soldier who had deserted from his unit, then did a hideous press conference where it became obvious where Private Bergdahl’s “patriotism” had come from. His father was invited by Obama and in addition to looking and sounding like he had decided to join the Taliban himself, he used the opportunity to shit all over the US.

It’s interesting to walk down this particular memory lane and realise that despite being much smarter and not senile, Obama and his team had more than a few cluster fucks of their own that seem little different from those that Biden is having. Obama’s clowns never shifted off their backsides to look into the details of Bergdahl, his capture, his dingbat father or much else before they decided to go for the dog and pony show at the Whitehouse seven years ago.

The full details of the men released can be found here. The following is my quick synopsis of three of them:

Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites in 1998.

Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is wanted by the United Nations for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.

Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide crucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation.

Under the traditional rules of war all five of them should have been shot at dawn on the Afghan battlefields, but I guess this way some future US President might at least drone their ass at some point in time.

Alternatively they could have been processed through a military tribunal but for Obama’s delusional desire to put them through US civil courts. Yet another failure of competence as his own party rose up against him when he tried to bring Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to New York.

Well guess what sports fans? They’re back in power. As in real power. As in being part of the Cabinet of the new Taliban government of Afghanistan.

  • Mullah Norullah Nori (Acting Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs)
  • Mohammed Fazl (Defense Deputy Minister)
  • Khairullah Khairkhwa (Acting Minister of Information and Culture)
  • Abdul Haq Wasiq (Acting Director of Intelligence)

So the last guy got his old job back. Pretty typical of a politician who knows where all the bodies are buried.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 9, 2021 at 1:00 pm

The Smartest Guy in the Room

There was a documentary movie made some years ago about an infamous US company: Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room. It was how they actually referred to themselves and it did not end well for them in the early 2000’s when they went bankrupt as their fraudulent and corrupt practices finally caught up with them.

Fortune named them “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six consecutive years.

I was reminded of this today as I read the following article by Peggy Noonan, who is quite the traditional journalist plugged into all the Washington D.C. networks. She’s of The Ruling Class, with all that that implies. Initially famous as the primary speechwriter and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, she later supported Obama, and her comments about the sort of GOP voters attracted to Sarah Palin have lived long in the memories of other Republicans. Needless to say she hated Trump.

The WSJ has put her article up outside the paywall for once, but in case they change their mind I’m putting up the full text.

August changed things; it wasn’t just a bad month. It left a lingering, still head-shaking sense of “This isn’t how we do things.”

We don’t make up withdrawal dates that will have symbolism for photo-ops with the flinty, determined president looking flinty and determined on the 20th anniversary of 9/11; we don’t time epic strategic decisions around showbiz exigencies. We wait for the summer fighting season to pass; we withdraw in the winter when Taliban warriors are shivering in their caves. We don’t leave our major air base in the middle of the night—in the middle of the night—without even telling the Afghan military. We don’t leave our weapons behind so 20-year-old enemies can don them for military playacting and drive up and down with the guns and helmets. We don’t fail to tell our allies exactly what we’re doing and how we’re doing it—they followed us there and paid a price for it. We don’t see signs of an overwhelming enemy advance and treat it merely as a perception problem, as opposed to a reality problem. You don’t get the U.S. military out before the U.S. citizens and our friends. Who will protect them if you do that?

The president’s people think this will all just go away and are understandably trying to change the subject. But the essence of the story will linger. Its reverberations will play out for years. There are Americans and American friends behind Taliban lines. The stories will roll out in infuriating, sometimes heartbreaking ways.

The damage to the president is different and deeper than his people think, because it hit at his reputational core, at how people understand him. His supporters have long seen him as soft-natured, moderate—a sentimental man famous for feeling and showing empathy. But nothing about this fiasco suggested kindliness or an interest in the feelings of others. It feels less like a blunder than the exposure of a seamy side.

Does he listen to anyone? Does he have any people of independent weight and stature around him, or are they merely staffers who approach him with gratitude and deference?

His reputational core was only built and enabled by decades of the likes of Noonan bolstering it and refusing to call him out as the Piece-Of-Shit dullard he is.

If he’d had the decency to die a few years ago like Ted Kennedy there would have been – eventually, once it was safe politically for Democrats – some truths leaked out, although Biden’s Kennedy-style behaviour with woman would not have risen to the level of a movie like Chappaquiddick. There’s certainly no shortage of factual, historical stories that paint an opposite picture to someone who is capable of “feeling and showing empathy.

But Noonan points to other stuff that lessor people have also noticed: that there is more than one incompetent in the room.

What happened with U.S. military leadership? There’s been a stature shift there, too. Did they warn the president not to leave Bagram Air Base? Did they warn that the whole exit strategy was flawed, unrealistic? If the president was warned and rejected the advice why didn’t a general care enough to step down—either in advance to stop the debacle, or afterward to protest it?

Did they just go with the flow? Did they think the president’s mind couldn’t be changed so what the heck, implement the plan on schedule and hope for the best? President Biden’s relations with the Pentagon have been cool at best for a long time; maybe some generals were thinking: I can improve future relations by giving the president more than he asks for. He wants out by 9/11, I’ll give him out by the Fourth of July. It is important to find out what dynamics were in play. Because it’s pretty obvious something went wrong there.

The enlisted men and women of the U.S. military are the most respected professionals in America. They can break your heart with their greatness, as they did at Hamid Karzai International Airport when 13 of them gave their lives to help desperate people escape. But the top brass? Something’s wrong there, something that August revealed. They are all so media-savvy, so smooth and sound-bitey after a generation at war, and in some new way they too seem obsessed with perceptions and how things play, as opposed to reality and how things are.

Well at least they’ve fired somebody, unfortunately he’s only a Lt. Colonel, and his sin was asking his bosses to take responsibility for their fuckups.

There has been a lot of talk about Mr. Biden and what drove his single-minded insistence on leaving on his timetable. Axios recently mentioned the 2010 Rolling Stone article in which Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff made brutal fun of Biden. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in his 2014 memoir that President Obama told him, “Joe is over the top about this.” Mr. Obama himself, in his presidential memoir, wrote of Mr. Biden warning him the military was trying to “jam” him, “trying to box in a new president.”

People have been rereading George Packer’s great 2019 book on the diplomat Richard Holbrooke, “Our Man” (great not only as history but as literature). Holbrooke met with Vice President Biden one day during the first Obama term and they argued about Afghanistan. Mr. Biden dismissed Holbrooke’s arguments for protecting Afghan women’s rights as “bullshit.” Their discussion was, according to Holbrooke’s diary, “quite extraordinary.” Mr. Biden said Holbrooke didn’t understand politics, that the Democrats could lose the presidency in 2012 in part because of Afghanistan, that we have to get out as we did from Vietnam.

There was politics in President Biden’s decision, and frustration. Mr. Biden had spent years in Afghanistan meetings, in the Senate during the Bush years, and later in the White House as vice president. He would have seen up close more than his share of military spin—contradictory information, no one with a sustainable strategic plan, and plenty of that old military tradition, CYA.

Afghanistan was emotional for him, for personal reasons. This would be connected to his son’s service in Iraq, and the worry a parent feels and the questions a parent asks. And maybe the things Beau Biden told him about his tour.

For those people who thought that Biden was going to be better for foreign relations and US alliances there is no excuse for their stupidity and ignorance, given that both the Holbrooke material was out, as well the decade-old memoir of former Bush-Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates where he gently pointed out that Biden had been wrong on almost every major foreign policy and national security issue for forty years.

Soon it will be fifty years. But it’s the next bit that made me laugh.

And I suspect there was plenty of ego in it, of sheer vanity. A longtime friend of his once told me Mr. Biden’s weakness is that he always thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room. I asked if the rooms are usually small, and the friend didn’t bristle, he laughed.

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣


Of course. There’s more than a few politicians like that, both active and retired.

I suspect Mr. Biden was thinking he was going to be the guy who finally cut through, who stopped the nonsense, admitted reality, who wasn’t like the others driven by fear of looking weak or incompetent. He was going to look with eyes made cool by experience and do what needed doing—cut this cord, end this thing, not another American dead.

History would see what he’d done. It would be his legacy. And for once he’d get his due—he’s not some ice-cream-eating mediocrity, not a mere palate-cleanser after the heavy meal of Trump, not a placeholder while America got its act together. He would finally be seen as what he is—a serious man. Un homme sérieux, as diplomats used to say.

And then, when it turned so bad so quick, his pride and anger shifted in, and the defiant, defensive, self-referential speeches. Do they not see my wisdom?

When you want it bad you get it bad.

This won’t happen, but it would be better for his White House not to scramble away from the subject—Let’s go to the hurricane!—but to inhabit it fully. Concentrate on the new reality of the new Afghanistan, the immediate and larger diplomatic demands, the security needs. Get the Americans out, our friends out, figure out—plan—what you would do and say if, say, next November there is a terror event on U.S. soil, and a group calling itself al Qaeda 2.0 claims responsibility, and within a few days it turns out they launched their adventure from a haven in Afghanistan.

Don’t fix on “perception.” Focus on that ignored thing, reality.

Reality? Screw that. There’s plenty more Democrat and Lefty fantasies to be implemented before January 20, 2025.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 7, 2021 at 6:00 am

Art for Afghanistan’s sake

Despite a love of books I endured English only as far as I had to take it in high school, which was up to the end of 6th Form (Year 12 it is now called). Funnily enough that last year was the one I enjoyed the most as various books and essays had to be analysed.

Earlier English courses were broader, covering things like art and poetry.

I hated poetry.

Despite hating it (or perhaps because of that) there were certain types of poetry and art that stuck in the mind although the details are long lost. One of them was “Concrete Poetry”. The other was Dadaism:

… the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works.[4][5][6] The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture.

Ah yes. The boy who loved science, logic, reason, and rationality was really going to fall for this stuff. It was crap. Our entire class thought it was crap, including those who would go on to do university degrees in English. Luckily we had an English teacher (huge, ginger afro and beard) who was more than happy to hear such blunt critiques and be amused by them.

So it has been with a sense of amusement and despair that I have watched a video going viral around the Interwebby that shows Afghan women being taught about Dadaism in 2015. The key view is at 31 seconds:

Incredible is it not? American taxpayers paid for this, as well as many, many other such things, as Cockburn explains at the Spectator:

So, alongside the billions for bombs went hundreds of millions for gender studies in Afghanistan. According to US government reports, $787 million was spent on gender programs in Afghanistan, but that substantially understates the actual total, since gender goals were folded into practically every undertaking America made in the country.

A recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) broke down the difficulties of the project. For starters, in both Dari and Pastho there are no words for ‘gender’. That makes sense, since the distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ was only invented by a sexually-abusive child psychiatrist in the 1960s, but evidently Americans were caught off-guard.

The initiatives piled up one after another. Do-gooders established a ‘National Masculinity Alliance’, so a few hundred Afghan men could talk about their ‘gender roles’ and ‘examine male attitudes that are harmful to women’.

Challenging. In every sense of the word.

Under the US’s guidance, Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution set a 27 percent quota for women in the lower house — higher than the actual figure in America! A strategy that sometimes required having women represent provinces they had never actually been to. Remarkably, this experiment in ‘democracy’ created a government few were willing to fight for, let alone die for.

Probably the exact opposite, as Never Yet Melted suggests:

Western elites let Afghans see what Western elite culture is like. Naturally, and inevitably, they took down their AK-47s from the wall and fought tooth and nail to prevent being assimilated into that!

It should also be noted that Dadism arose in Germany after WWI in reaction to the waste, horror and futility of that war and was driven by the radical Left, who used it to attack everything they hated about the West. It was one of the centrepieces of the early German Wiemar period of government and fit perfectly with the uselessness and decadence of Weimar culture.

Perhaps that means we’ll see Dadism soon reborn in the USA, using MRE’s, PortaPotties, MRAPS and HumVees as the objects of art. The whole ethos would be a perfect fit for the American now. I’m also reminded of the famous final scene from the movie Cabaret.

As Law Professor Glenn Reynolds noted on his Instapundit blog:

“The American political/academic/managerial class is made up largely of buffoons. It’s hilarious, except for it being so toxic and deadly.”

Written by Tom Hunter

September 5, 2021 at 12:00 pm

I’m thinking that they’re related

The terrorist attack in Auckland yesterday and the recent defeat of the USA in Afghanistan, that is.

The latter is a defeat by the way. Not in the sense of overwhelming defeat but a defeat non the less. Symbolic perhaps, but symbolism matters.

As such I wonder if our local “Mr S” was triggered by all this recent Islamic Jihadist triumphalism that’s been thundering across the Social Media accounts of the Taliban and their many associates around the world? Perhaps he thought it was time to finally act on his fantasies?

To that end, I thought that this passage from a letter written twenty years ago should be brought to people’s attention. The full text of the letter can be found in many places but this is from The Guardian:

If the Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware that you will lose this Crusade Bush began, just like the other previous Crusades in which you were humiliated by the hands of the Mujahideen, fleeing to your home in great silence and disgrace. If the Americans do not respond, then their fate will be that of the Soviets who fled from Afghanistan to deal with their military defeat, political breakup, ideological downfall, and economic bankruptcy.

Osama Bin Laden, November, 2002

Written by Tom Hunter

September 4, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Your Graphics friend who’s fun to be with.

I know that broadcast TV has been falling away as its Boomer audience ages and dies but it’s not until you see a fact like this that you can grasp the scale of it:

Fifty million Americans tuned in to Johnny Carson’s last appearance on The Tonight Show. Today, his Tonight Show successor, along with the egregious Stephen Colbert on The Late Show on CBS, barely have 2 million viewers on a good night…

Carson’s farewell was in 1992. The following is always the sign of a maturing industry, and often a dying one.

Of course there are still growth industries (graphic courtesy of The Times). The last US flight out of Kabul departed a few hours ago.

So I guess it’s back to focusing on Chinese Lung Rot, with a seeming increase in social and media pressure to vaccinate kids now.

I wonder what we’re doing to the usual building of immune systems in children?

Written by Tom Hunter

August 31, 2021 at 9:30 am

Quartered Safe Out Here (updated)

With all the brickbats being thrown at President Biden in recent days over the Afghanistan catastrophe I’d been meaning to write something about the other guilty parties in this gigantic FUBAR.

The Pentagon and Intelligence agencies, or more precisely the people who lead them.

There is obviously a bit of a meltdown going on within the Biden Administration as members of his government, in this case the State Department and the Pentagon, openly contradicted the President over claims he had made in recent press conferences, sometimes just hours after he made them. It’s extraordinary and I cannot recall seeing anything like it.

They’ve also found themselves on the back foot with their previously friendly MSM, with even the likes of the NYT, CNN and MSNBC going at them hard for once (it won’t last). But in this war of words have been sources from the military and intelligence agencies contradicting the claims that Biden was just telling people what they had told him. These sources have made it quite clear that Biden has been lying over the last couple of months about the situation in Afghanistan.

But I’m not so sure that we should believe them any more than we should believe Biden and his team. In a situation like this everybody is covering their backsides, and it’s hard to reconcile some of these arguments with what the military and intelligence people were saying themselves in public not long ago.

“On Bagram, Bagram is not necessary tactically operationally for what we’re gonna try to do here with Afghanistan – consolidate on Kabul, in support of their government.” – General Mark Milley

Now there is evidence that it’s not just outside critics of the Pentagon that have issues with the leadership but also the rank and file.

In an extraordinary video that has gone viral, a US Marine with multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan over a period of 17 years, Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller, decided to openly risk the loss of his career, pension and who knows what else, by demanding that his own chain of command take responsibility for their failures.

It did not take long for the entirely expected hammer to fall. By 2:30pm that same day, he had been “relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence”. He himself states that that is entirely right and proper.

This is what a hero looks like. This is what Speaking Truth To Power actually is. What courage that took, knowing what it would cost him. He accepted what he knew was coming.

But the followup also shows the deep anger and upset among the Marine Corps and I would bet across the entire US military.

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UPDATE: I completely forgot how this is backed up by a post I made a few days ago, that time quoting an anonymous US Army General Officer known to the Law professor who put his comments up, Afghan Veterans: one American view. His attitude is far harsher than Scheller’s:

DoD must be halved. There are too many flag officers, too many agencies, departments, and directorates.

Let us not forget the intelligence agencies... And when its reorganization is done, if the overall size of the nation’s intelligence apparatus is a quarter of what it is now, that still is too large.

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So Scheller is not alone. They can cashier him, but if they don’t listen to what he is saying, there will be more speaking out and/or they will lose more good people.

Instead it is people like this that need to go. Now.

Back in July I wrote on General Milley’s absurd, ignorant and damaging comments about his own military with the focus that he and his political master, Secretary of Defense Austin, were bringing on uncovering “extremists” and “White Rage” in the ranks. Perhaps if they’d been focusing more on actual military things like planning an orderly withdrawal, this disaster could have been avoided.

At a minimum, if they disagreed with the political decisions they should have resigned. But the US military leadership is now stuffed to the gills with people like this; politicians in all but name who play politics in public.

At the same time the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has informed active duty and retired service members that they weren’t allowed to criticise Joe Biden or any of the senior government leadership, as The Daily Wire reported.

I don’t recall this happening during Trump’s time, when the air was filled with (safely) retired officers criticising him in very strong, one would say, abusive terms. Even recently the DOD itself acted politically in going after Tucker Carlson on their own website.

As another former combat veteran said, even as he agreed that when he served he would have also relieved Scheller of command for this:

But the standard has changed. The leadership changed it. The rule is now uniformed military can do politics. So I would give him a medal.

I found a partial transcript of what Scheller said:

“People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘we messed this up.’

If an O-5 battalion commander has the simplest live fire incident, EO complaint. Boom. Fired. But we have a secretary of defense that testified to Congress in May that the Afghan National Security Forces could withstand the Taliban advance. We have Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs — who the commandant is a member of that — who’s supposed to advise on military policy. We have a Marine combatant commander. All of these people are supposed to advise.

And I’m not saying we’ve got to be in Afghanistan forever, but I am saying: Did any of you throw your rank on the table and say, “Hey, it’s a bad idea to evacuate Bagram Airfield, a strategic airbase, before we evacuate everyone.” Did anyone do that? And when you didn’t think to do that, did anyone raise their hand and say, “We completely messed this up?” [….]

But what I’ll say is, from my position, potentially all those people did die in vain if we don’t have senior leaders that own up and raise their hand and say ‘we did not do this well in the end,’” he said. “Without that we just keep repeating the same mistakes. This amalgamation of the economic/corporate/political/higher-military-ranks are not holding up their end of the bargain.

I want to say this very strongly: I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders ‘I demand accountability.’”

Written by Tom Hunter

August 29, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Military, US Politics, USA

Tagged with ,

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT COULDN’T GET ANY WORSE … IT DID

with the revelation that when the United States abandoned Bagram Air Base on 5 July they released from the jail there an unknown number of ISIS-K detainees now estimated by the Pentagon to be in the order of a couple of thousand.

Words fail me. Is it just possible that the ISIS-K suicide bomber at Kabul airport was one of those released?

Biden’s accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan, working to a self imposed deadline, was/is a clusterf**k of epic proportions that has tarnished (perhaps forever) America’s standing in the eyes of the world.

Written by The Veteran

August 28, 2021 at 10:24 am

Posted in USA

Tagged with , ,

UN FEEKIN BELIEVABLE

For Clown-in-Chief Biden to admit that under his watch ‘they’ may have (since confirmed) passed to the Taliban the names of Afghan nationals they wanted to see afforded safe passage to Kabul airport. FFS, what were they thinking? The Taliban had already labelled those who worked for the US and foreign governments as traitors. In doing so Biden effectively signed their death warrants.

Some less charitable than I might point to a certain synergy between that action and that of the Petain (Vichy) Puppet Collaborationist French government who, in WW2, willingly passed to the Nazis lists of French Jews to be sent to meet their maker in Auschwitz and Treblinka.

I said in an earlier post that Jacinda has blood on her hands given her government’s refusal to grant entry permits for Afghani nationals who worked for us as LECs. Biden has corpses on his.

Written by The Veteran

August 27, 2021 at 7:25 pm

Posted in US Politics

Tagged with ,