Terror and rumors of terror

Although news out of Afghanistan was less last week, the subject of terrorism was still in news feeds,  with media elites and politicians seemingly wanting to shift focus a little. President Biden’s proclamation that domestic terror was the most “lethal threat” to the USA earlier this year, was echoed by former President Bush’s statements at a 9/11 commemoration ceremony. But Twitter NPCs went one better, with a professor claiming that September 11 was actually an attack on the “heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems” that “many white people fight to protect.” Really. So, we’re not in Kansas any more. Or, at least our elites aren’t.

Former President Trump said during an interview with Fox that he would not be surprised if China and Russia already have American Apache helicopters that were left behind in Afghanistan in their possession. He speculated that taking the machines apart would give them the opportunity to reverse engineer them, in order to copy the design.

Those following the Brief History of Power podcast will have heard Dr. Koontz speak of the importance of opium poppy production to Afghanistan and America’s strange relationship with the trade. An insightful article from Unherd outlines the politics around the drug’s production, noting “those who control Kabul do not control the periphery.” While the Taliban have previously outlawed poppy farming, they must now win over regional tribes, who depend on the crop for their livelihood and resist anyone who tries to take it away.

General Confusion

It was been reported this week that General Mark Milley, who currently serves as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went rogue earlier this year. In a soon-to-be-released book critical of the Trump administration, journalist Bob Woodward claims that General Milley made an unsanctioned call to Chinese military officials, assuring them that he would warn them if America decided to attack. It is alleged that General Milley was setting out to assure everyone that things were peachy in Washington during the “turbulent” final weeks of Trump’s presidency. 

However, we’re a bit confused: If you think your Commander-in-chief is unhinged, why would you tell foreign allies about it, let alone your enemies? In addition, Woodward claims that General Milley assured Speaker Pelosi he would prevent then President Trump from retaining power using nuclear weapons following his election loss in 2020. General Milley maintains he did what was reasonable, but the gravity of the situation was not lost on othersNot the Bee went so far as to compare him to the Revolutionary War defector, Benedict Arnold. 

With the military facing mandated vaccination, top brass stepping down in protest over the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and loss of confidence in leadership, it is a good time to pray for those who serve.

Throwing things under the bus

Above and beyond: The National Guard have been deployed in Massachusetts to drive school buses in the face of a shortage of drivers. Yes, you read that right…

Amazon has said it will pay $18 hour for newly hired delivery drivers and warehouse workers. The tech giant said it will also pay tuition and text book costs for employees. That’s if they have time and energy to study after working their long shifts

Visual Capitalist reckons its got insight into the fastest growing jobs over next 20 years

The Democrat’s $3.5TR spending bill hit another snag this week, with Sen. Joe Manchin saying he would not support it. The government is also looking for ways to fund the spending bill, including a draft proposal for $2.9TR in tax hikes over the next ten years. Axios broke down where the money would come from

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez drew fire last week after attending the swanky Met Gala in a dress emblazoned with the message “Tax the rich.” AOC used the attention to plug her Green New Deal policies, but many pointed out that the $30K+ a ticket gala is a tax deduction for the well-heeled attendees. If AOC wants to go to the ball with masked servants and all, that is fine. But, it is hard to reconcile her Socialist words with her extravagant actions. The Congresswoman insisted it is part of her political duties to attend, overseeing “cultural institutions that serve the public,” but has been accused of receiving prohibited gifts by accepting free tickets.

Diverse and inclusive

Four terrorists traded for the safe return of US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, are now part of the Afghan government. Journalists pointed out at a White House press conference that there are more terrorists in the new Afghan government than women. That would seem a useless thing to highlight, except that the Biden administration had insisted that the Taliban install a diverse and “inclusive” government. Women in Kabul have protested the new government, but according to CNN, the Taliban is not taking kindly to protests of any sort.

The effort to evacuate Americans and allies from Kabul continues, but the Taliban have stopped planes from leaving, with the US government saying there is little they can do to prevent them from blocking the flights. Fox News reported that the State Department had also hindered rescue efforts, by refusing to grant approval for charter flights to leave, even for third countries.

The New York Times is reporting that the US drone strike following bombings at the Kabul airport did not take out a terrorist with a car full of explosives as claimed by the government. NYT says the strike actually killed an Afghan aid worker, as well as other civilians. The President was called out for his behavior during a 9/11 memorial, showing that emotion is still pretty raw following the withdrawal from Afghanistan.  

Exit wounds

four soldiers carrying rifles near helicopter under blue sky
Last week saw the final American soldier leave Afghanistan and the Taliban were glad to see him go. The future there is uncertain but with its troubled history of serial regime change, it would seem that for many Afghans, it’s business as usual. Lots of questions remain unanswered, including the claim that the US military knew of one of the airport bombers: A drone was locked on the man, but permission to fire was denied, for fear of Taliban reprisals.

The spin to mitigate the fallout from the tragic events surrounding the US exit has begun. In a strangely familiar scene, news outlets are reporting that President Biden made a phone call to Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani in July. In a leaked transcript of the call, President Biden told Ghani that the “perception” that the Taliban was winning needed to change. President Biden offered conditional air support for Ghani’s cooperation. It would seem we can remember another President who made a similar deal and was impeached for it

Visual Capitalist made a map of Afghanistan, with heaps of information about the country and its people.

Afghanistan

Anyone would be hard-pressed to avoid the news about Afghanistan last week, even those of us who have unplugged from bluescreens. The tragic images of young women pleading with soldiers to save them from the Taliban, are only slightly less harrowing than the footage of mothers passing their babies over razor wire to US troops at the Kabul airport. 

While it seems that British and French troops are managing to evacuate their own nationals, thousands of American citizens and allies are waiting to be rescued. Although the Taliban said they would allow safe passage out of the country for foreigners, reports that they have placed blockades around the airport would suggest otherwise. Daily Wire is reporting that Americans have been beaten up by Taliban soldiers in recent days. President Biden has said troops deployed to complete the evacuation of Americans will stay put until the job is done.

Axios says that the military is considering airstrikes to destroy American equipment which has been seized by the Taliban. The move could be risky, though, with foreign nationals still waiting to leave the country. The abandoned munitions, weapons and vehicles, including Black Hawk helicopters were given to the Afghan military. The concern that the Taliban making mischief with them is not as worrying as them being given to other terrorist groups.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country not long before the Taliban took control of Kabul and has reportedly surfaced in the United Arab Emirates, loaded with cash, defrauded from foreign aid programs. However former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh has vowed to fight the Taliban, although he is in hiding. Resistance fighters are creating hold-outs, expelling the Taliban from some regional towns. 

The work of dissecting “what went wrong” has been the job of every news outlet, apparently, and it appears there is plenty of blame to go round. While President Biden’s handling of the drawdown has been widely criticized, much ink has been spilled on the implications of the collapse of the Afghan state. Some commentators suggest that Western powers repeatedly failed the Afghan military, who appeared to have capitulated under Taliban insurgence. JD Vance and others suggested that America should learn that “nation building” begins at home (Matt Taibbi and Unherd) and they make a good point. Writing at Spiked, Brendan O’Neill pointed out the strength of a group like Taliban is that they know what they’re fighting for. He writes: “America and its Western allies are too consumed by wokeness to be able to pursue a moral or military struggle for their values.”

Taliban fighters enjoyed amusement park rides before they burned down the park.

Pray for the situation, for the government and those making huge decisions. Pray especially for veterans of the conflict who are wondering if all that they suffered and sacrificed in the hope of ending this branch of terrorism was worth it.

National Geographic has summarized the centuries of struggle for Afghanistan.