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15 December 2019


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I cannot speak of Shapiro but a well known Soviet Film that I can speak of - Afghanskiy Izlom....

Some Elements is not so 'real', but for a Film made and with Cooperation of Soviet Armed Forces it is very uncompromising that would put most any Film Today (and those made East-West) to shame....

Prisoners of both sides are murdered, Civilians killed, Towns Raised....

It is quite a dark Film, for some of us even more somber than others...

There is not English Subtitles available that I am aware of but I made some for a Friend, if there is way to do so in Private I may be able to share them....

Keith Harbaugh

Reply to comment #69:
First, I agree we should get out of Afghanistan and deal with terrorism OUTSIDE of Afg., not in it.
However, I am all too aware of the argument that
our presence in Afg. has been, while expensive in dollars and manpower, a success,
in that another major (9/11-like) terrorist attack on America has not happened.
So the problem is:
How do we prove that our presence in Afg. was not a necessary condition for preventing such attacks?
The only way to prove that is to get out of Afg. and see what happens.
The problem is that if we do get out of Afg.,
then if another such attack does occur,
all those favoring our staying there, which includes many in the media, certainly the WaPo editorial page, will then say "I told you so."
They will say: "See, we got out and look what happened.
It's all the fault of those who made the decision to get out."

Yes, I (KH) know very well that is not a valid argument.
But that won't stop it from being made,
and convincing many people.

Andrew Exum explains the problem in a recent article (emphasis added):

"Is the top general in Afghanistan in too deep?"
By WESLEY MORGAN, Politico, 2018-03-05

“I think the reason we’re in Afghanistan after 17 years is because
policymakers look at the risks of leaving
and those are easier to conceptualize
than the risks of staying,"

[Exum] said.
And just what are those "risks of leaving"?
Exum does not say, but I believe that what those policymakers are afraid of
is the scenario I raised above.



I would love to see this film. Feel free to email me at jamestreleaven2000@yahoo.com and we can discuss it. Cheers.


I don't want to discuss the reasons why USSR entered Afghanistan, or the reasons that USA did. I just want to say that after 9 years USSR recognized that it made no sense to stay any longer, and went home. But USA has been there for 17 years, and Afghanistan is no better for USA presence. Yet USA refuses to recognize that it is senseless, and stays on indefinitely.
Both political parties in USA have had their turn at the helm, and also control of both houses of Congress. Yet the result remains the same.
It is a mystery to me how/why this continues.

Bill Herschel

The risks of leaving are very, very simple to understand. Very simple.

From Afghanistan, the U.S. can export terrorism into the former Soviet Union and ultimately into Russia itself.

Why is Russia in Syria? They have explicitly stated that they are there to kill jihadists who will ultimately end up in Russia. They speak explicitly of Chechnya terrorists that they have eliminated in Syria.

Why is the U.S. in Ukraine. See 2nd paragraph. Why are U.S. "boots on the ground" all around the world?

The real question is who and why is the U.S. so fixated on Russia? I don't even begin to know the answer to that question, but I suspect it goes back to the very beginning of the cold war, the days when Bush Senior was doing business with the Nazi's and intelligent people in the U.S. understood that the Soviet Union was the real thing. I simply don't know.

Keith Harbaugh

Response to comment #79 (and others):
I am sure different people have different reasons for keeping the U.S. in Afg.,
but at least one leading American politician made the reason for her commitment to Afg. quite clear:

I make the same pledge to the women of Afghanistan.
We will not abandon you.
We will stand with you always.
Hillary made that pledge while speaking in her official capacity of Secretary of State.
I have always wondered why the media and Congress did not make an issue of that pledge.
Who is the "we"? If it is the U.S.,
how can the SecState get away with unilaterally committing the U.S. to a commitment of open cost?
In any case, I think her comment is but a sample of the commitment many American feminists have to promoting feminism in Afg.

Note: The original Dept. of State webpage has been archived at
but the download from there takes about a minute.

Keith Harbaugh

Looking at the instant replay given to my comment above,
it looks like that URL, with two "http"s, confused typepad.
Rather than trying to outguess typepad's automatic algorithms,
let me just mention that there is a clickable link to the webarchive URL in my blog post linked to above.

Philippe T.

"WHy not control the foreign affairs of Afghanistan and leave the local governance to the Afghans? MAintain a single military base in a key area, work with whatever leadership the Afghans themselves select, and drop this stupid wasteful idiotic occupation?"
Why not? Because maintaining a military base in a foreign country is called "occupation". And because no Afghan leader could be elected (or whatever processus of selection) while accepting à foreign base on Afghan soil.
What you propose was the Brit strategy in Afghanistan during XIXth century, and it failed.
Afghanistan "destiny" is to be a buffer state (or a buffer territory, if you don't believe in the possibility of an "Afghan State"). Le reste est littérature.


Philippe T

Idealist fantasy. pl


Regarding the stability - legitimacy question.

-How did the Taliban establish control over the areas of Afghanistan they controlled before 2001?

Where they also struggling to suppress local revolts or were they just better at cutting deals with local tribes?



The Taliban had been nurtured during the mujahid war against the Soviets in schools in Pakistan funded by Abu Sayaf and the Pakistani Deobandi. Civil war broke out after Soviet withdrawal and US disengagement and the Taliban entered the civil war as a fresh force committed only to their wahhabi ideology. they defeated all the mujahid groups and too over. They suppressed the Mujahid leaders who we often call war lords. pl

Sarah B

As I have understood, the Taliban are not of Wahabi ideology...


sarah B

Ok They are mainly Deobandi with heavy Pashtun influences but Sayyaf had so much to do with them that I have to believe that there is some wahhabi influence. pl

Babak Makkinejad

It is a difference without merit - if your are not one of them.

Sid Finster

Now for the funny.

The Communist Najibullah government held out for two years after the last Soviet troops left, and its soldiers fought reasonably well during that time.

The Najibullah government fell not because it was defeated (although it certainly was helped by the disunity among its opponents) so much because it no longer had access to arms or fuel after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, in retrospect, it is now clear that the proper state policy for Iran would have been to support the Najib government.

The Islamic state supporting the Communist state - like the Secular state supporting the Jewish state.

Sarah B

More than on Taliban´s ideology, I think we must focus on the origins of the Taliban movement itself....
Taliban comes from "Talib" who means, "that who learn Quran"...These were madrassa´s students who with time radicalized from US interventionism in Afghanistan. They then found a leader in Mullah Omar after he and his followers made their own justice on a case of raping of teenage girls by mujahideen warlords who, at that time, were instrumentalized by the US against the USSR. This event brought quite popularity to Mullah Omar, not only amongst the Talibs, but also around the country, in spite of his and his followers´ retrograde rhetoric for women and society in general...

But it was not only certain misintepretations of Islam what leaded to the current state of affairs, but it was the US, through its means of propaganda and espurious use of radicals around the globe by CIA´s Cyclone Operation, which played a determinant role in the radicalization of Afghan population and not only but also in the genesis of so called international "islamic terrorism":


United States edited and funded jihad manuals for children

The so-called "Islamic terrorism" did not exist before the CIA launched Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan.

On March 23, 2002, the Washington Post (1) reported that between 1984 and 1994, the United States spent $51 million on a school program to train jihadists for Operation Cyclone. When social networks did not exist, the CIA devoted itself to eliminating traditional Islamic books to replace them with others.

Those books continued to be used by the Taliban after 1994. They contained anti-Soviet propaganda and claimed that the Afghans were "natural warriors", called by God to arms. The children learned to count on tanks, missiles and mines.

The textbooks were edited by the Afghanistan Center at the University of Nebraska. They taught the Koran with profuse references to weapons, bombs and tanks, populating the psyche of young people in these countries of a landscape of violence and terror.

Ahmad Fahim Hakim, a teacher who worked in the non-profit organization Cooperation for Peace and Unity in Pakistan in 2002, said that "the images were horrendous, but the texts were much worse". Of 100 pages, 43 contained passages or violent images.

A US official from the Asia Task Force told the Washington Post that "we were very happy to see that these books destroyed the Soviets." When asked at the time National Security Adviser Brzezinski, he replied that although they formed terrorists, the plan was a success since they stopped the expansion of communism.

In 2011, journalist Syed Nadir of the Express Tribune of Pakistan pointed out (2) that textbooks created "a generation that celebrates death and not life" and in which "violence is accepted as something natural and everyday". The propaganda, he wrote, "transformed the region in the last 25 years. Not surprisingly, after the acceptance and proliferation of violence in classrooms and on television screens, children are recreating suicide attacks as a game".


The question about 'winning' implies the use of a success criteria. Here's one, framed as a question:
What is the extent and durability of Chinese penetration into Afghanistan's centers of power that control their not insignificant natural resources ?

Terence Gore

Thanks for relink

In the circle of people I know I doubt not more than one or two is aware of the Washingtoon Post series. Of those who might know of it I doubt they gave it a second thought besides their initial reaction.

You may have defined the true enemy to the ongoing counterinsurgency the American public. As long as we are not engaged nothing will change.

I don't get the same feel on popular issues such as climate change, gender equality, racial equality, me too, black lives matter. These provoke stridency on both sides.


terence Gore

Fall told my class of incipient COINists that in a democracy waging a COIN war we would be lucky if the plebs did not rebel against the costs before we could work our will.


Let Iran pull the heavy load of protecting their co-religionist Hazaras and the smaller Shia groups in western Herat and Farah province. They could pull the Hazara brigade, the Liwa Fatemiyoun, out of Syria now and send all ten or twenty thousand to protect Kabul and the Hazara villages in the central mountains. But Iran won't do that as long as US and NATO troops are there doing their work for them. So get out of Dodge.

Russia learned their lessons 40 years ago, and are no longer what the Pashtos would consider godless communists. They could do like they have done in Syria and send Muslim MPs from Kazan, Chechnya, & Dagestan.

If that doesn't work then we could still leave and yet support the Tajiki and Uzbeki Afghans with weapons and air support. Re-invigorate the Northern Alliance.

India has investment in Afghanistan, they should also have to pull some weight instead of depending on us.


"a success, in that another major (9/11-like) terrorist attack on America has not happened."

I can't believe anyone gives that notion any credence.

40,000 people died and 4.5 million people were injured in car crashes in 2018. Should all automaker plants have been shut down to prevent a repeat in 2019?

--> 45 000 servicemen have committed suicide in past 6 years -- 15 X the number of US deaths 9/11

--> is Afghanistan the only place on the entire planet where an attack on USA can be hatched?

--> What are the opportunity costs of staying? How many homeless on the streets in major cities across USA-- more or less than the number of Americans killed 9/11? How many of them are veterans?


Read a book published in the 1970s claiming there were pass-through countries and cul de sac countries. Afghanistan was a pass through country, and has been for eons which would always make it a strategic prize to conquer. Yet, no one could subjugate it. The British tried. The Russians tried. Alexander the Great tried.

These scrappy, fierce, and tribal warriors defended their God forsaken chunks of real estate against all comers. Forever, and always won. At the time when I read that book, in the 1990's, getting ready for a trip to Pakistan, I laughed at the idea Afghanistan could matter to anyone, ever again.

Guess who still gets the last laugh on that one. Then came 9-11.

However, nothing reads as a better yarn than the history of the Great Game - Britain vs Russia for centuries of cat and mouse, seeking the strategic advantage yet again of this God-forsaken pass-through country. Makes me want to re-read Michner's Caravans, when it was a again pass-through country for the western hippies seeking eastern enlightenment... and easy drugs.

Babak Makkinejad

Iran Iran will expend nothing substantial in Afghanistan.
She is in the process of negotiating a settlement with Taliban.
India has no leverage there. Northern Alliance is dead. It did not have to be this way. US had the goodwill of Russia, China, and Iran at 2001. She destroyed them grotesquely, in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

Those issues are akin to the circus games of the ancient Romans, keeps the Plebs huffing and puffing over insubstantive ideas.

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