What Really Happened in Afghanistan: Marianne Williamson in conversation with author Sarah Chayes

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REFLECTIONS ON AFGHANISTAN: Williamson and Chayes discuss Chayes’ article “The Ides of August,” about her experiences working as a reporter and special counsellor to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war in Afghanistan.

Learn more about Sarah: https://www.sarahchayes.org/

Read “The Ides of August”: https://www.sarahchayes.org/post/the-…

Read Sarah’s books: On Corruption in America: And What Is at Stake: https://bookshop.org/books/on-corrupt…

Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security https://bookshop.org/books/thieves-of…

 

The Afghan people hated the Taliban but they were thankful for ridding the country of the war lords.

President Karzia is responsible for bringing the taliban to Afghanistan.

The CIA allied itself with the war lords that the Afghan people hated.

The war lords took over the provincial governments and corruption was rampant.

The US allowed Karzai’s corruption.  When one of his staff was caught accepting bribes, it turned out to be the bag man transporting money from the CIA to Karzai.

We trained guerilla fighters to fight a conventional war dependent on our military equipment rather than a guerilla war.

The corruption and failure of Afghanistan is a mirror of American corruption.

Why is Pakistan considered an ally, given that we didn’t trust them not to tip off Osama bin Ladie and  they armed the Taliban with military aid that the US provided them.

Sen. Rand Paul: It’s time to rethink America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia — It is not our friend

The fate of Khashoggi might come as a shock to many Americans, but it’s nothing new. A U.N. report reveals that over “3,000 allegations of torture were formally recorded” against Saudi Arabia between 2009 to 2015, according to The Guardian, with the report also noting a lack of a single prosecution of an official for the conduct.

I have been attempting to expose this for many years. Others in the U.S. government know it, but either won’t admit it or attempt to brush it aside. It’s a fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest sponsor of radical Islam on the planet, and no other nation is even close.

.. Since the 1980s, over $100 billion has “been spent on exporting” Wahhabism (the brand of Islam that controls Saudi Arabia and is most prevalent in madrassas). According to Foreign Policy Magazine, an “estimated 10 to 15 percent of madrassas are affiliated with extremist religious or political groups,” while the number of madrassas in places like Pakistan and India has increased exponentially – from barely 200 to over 40,000 just in Pakistan.

Even the State Department noted during the Obama administration that Saudi Arabia was the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” and said Qatar and Saudi Arabia were “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups.”

.. Of course, this isn’t new, as the previously classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report can also tell you.

The Saudis have exported this radical ideology worldwide. They have also committed war crimes in their Yemen war – a war for which American taxpayers are being used as unwitting accomplices.

The Yemen war, fought with American weapons and logistical support, has killed tens of thousands and, according to The Washington Post, left 8 million more “on the brink of famine,” in what it calls “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

.. There is ample evidence of mass incarceration, indefinite detention, torture, and a complete lack of the rule of law and due process within Saudi Arabia. As a matter of understatement, this is antithetical to American ideals.

China is Losing the New Cold War

In contrast to the Soviet Union, China’s leaders recognize that strong economic performance is essential to political legitimacy. Like the Soviet Union, however, they are paying through the nose for a few friends, gaining only limited benefits while becoming increasingly entrenched in an unsustainable arms race with the US.

When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the Communist Party of China (CPC) became obsessed with understanding why. The government think tanks entrusted with this task heaped plenty of blame on Mikhail Gorbachev, the reformist leader who was simply not ruthless enough to hold the Soviet Union together. But Chinese leaders also highlighted other important factors, not all of which China’s leaders seem to be heeding today.
.. But overseeing a faltering economy was hardly the only mistake Soviet leaders made. They were also drawn into a costly and unwinnable arms race with the United States, and fell victim to imperial overreach, throwing money and resources at regimes with little strategic value and long track records of chronic economic mismanagement. As China enters a new “cold war” with the US, the CPC seems to be at risk of repeating the same catastrophic blunders.
.. China spent some $228 billion on its military last year, roughly 150% of the official figure of $151 billion.
.. the issue is not the amount of money China spends on guns per se, but rather the consistent rise in military expenditure, which implies that the country is prepared to engage in a long-term war of attrition with the US. Yet China’s economy is not equipped to generate sufficient resources to support the level of spending that victory on this front would require.
If China had a sustainable growth model underpinning a highly efficient economy, it might be able to afford a moderate arms race with the US. But it has neither.
.. China’s growth is likely to continue to decelerate, owing to rapid population aging, high debt levels, maturity mismatches, and the escalating trade war that the US has initiated. All of this will drain the CPC’s limited resources. For example, as the old-age dependency ratio rises, so will health-care and pension costs.
.. while the Chinese economy may be far more efficient than the Soviet economy was, it is nowhere near as efficient as that of the US. The main reason for this is the enduring clout of China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs), which consume half of the country’s total bank credit, but contribute only 20% of value-added and employment.
.. the CPC is that SOEs play a vital role in sustaining one-party rule, as they are used both to reward loyalists and to facilitate government intervention on behalf of official macroeconomic targets.
.. Dismantling these bloated and inefficient firms would thus amount to political suicide. Yet protecting them may merely delay the inevitable, because the longer they are allowed to suck scarce resources out of the economy, the more unaffordable an arms race with the US will become – and the greater the challenge to the CPC’s authority will become.
.. The second lesson that China’s leaders have failed to appreciate adequately is the need to avoid imperial overreach. About a decade ago, with massive trade surpluses bringing in a surfeit of hard currency, the Chinese government began to take on costly overseas commitments and subsidize deadbeat “allies.”
.. Exhibit A is the much-touted Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a $1 trillion program focused on the debt-financed construction of infrastructure in developing countries.
.. An even more egregious example of imperial overreach is China’s generous aid to countries – from Cambodia to Venezuela to Russia – that offer little in return.
.. from 2000 to 2014, Cambodia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe together received $24.4 billion in Chinese grants or heavily subsidized loans. Over the same period, Angola, Laos, Pakistan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Venezuela received $98.2 billion.
.. Like the Soviet Union, China is paying through the nose for a few friends, gaining only limited benefits while becoming increasingly entrenched in an unsustainable arms race. The Sino-American Cold War has barely started, yet China is already on track to lose.

Feds Debunk Right-Wing Conspiracy Theory ‘Pakistani Mystery Man’ Leaked DNC Emails

Fox News hosts and Trump pushed the idea that an IT staffer for House Democrats took data from Democrats. Trump’s Justice Department says it’s not true.

Awan’s guilty plea is a letdown for conservatives, who had become convinced that Awan was involved in something much more nefarious than bank fraud.

.. Led by reporting from the Daily Caller News Foundation, Republicans suspected that Awan was somehow involved in data leaks to either Russia or Pakistan. In July 2017, Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity speculated that Awan had used his access to Democratic servers to leak the emails from Democratic National Committee leader Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that were published by WikiLeaks in 2016.

..  Far from spying, the Washington Post reported investigators “instead found that the workers were using one congressional server as if it were their home computer, storing personal information such as children’s homework and family photos,” according to an official.

.. Nevertheless, Daily Caller News Foundation reporter Luke Rosiak said that the Awan story was proof that “Congress was hacked.”

“It basically destroys that Russian narrative just because it shows that they [Democrats] didn’t actually care about cyber-security and they haven’t responded to this,” Rosiak said in April on Fox Business.

.. That conspiracy appeals to President Trump’s supporters because, like the rival conspiracy that the emails were leaked by murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich, it would theoretically mean that Russian hackers weren’t behind the email hacks after all.

.. after interviews with 40 witnesses and reviews of the House Democratic Caucus’s server they came up empty.

Trump has drawn three red lines. They’re all likely to be crossed.

The Trump administration has in fact, either accidentally or by design, laid out aggressive markers in three parts of the world — three red lines — without any serious strategy as to what happens when they are crossed.

.. The president has specifically promised that North Korea would never be able to develop a nuclear weapon that could reach the United States. Meanwhile, CIA Director Mike Pompeo says Pyongyang is “a handful of months” away from having this capability.

.. So what happens when that red line is crossed? What would be the American response? Victor Cha, a seasoned expert who was expected to be the nominee for ambassador to South Korea, told the administration that there really is no limited military option, not even a small strike that would “bloody” the nose of the North Korean regime. For this frank analysis, he was promptly droppedfrom consideration for the ambassadorship.

.. But being right is not the same as being smart. Most experts predicted that Pakistan would respond to the U.S. action in two ways: First, by pursuing closer relations with China, which can easily replace the aid. Second, the Pakistani military would ratchet up the violence in Afghanistan, demonstrating that it has the capacity to destabilize the pro-American government in Kabul, throw the country into chaos and tie down the U.S. forces that are now in their 17th year of war.
.. Thomas Schelling, the Nobel Prize-winning scholar of strategy, once remarked that two things are very expensive in international affairs: threats when they fail, and promises when they succeed. So, he implied, be very careful about making either one.
.. Trump seemed to understand this when his predecessor made a threat toward Syria in 2013, and Trump tweeted: “Red line statement was a disaster for President Obama.” Well, he has just drawn three red lines of his own, and each of them is likely to be crossed.

CDC to Scale Back Work in Dozens of Foreign Countries Amid Funding Worries

Efforts to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats were funded mostly through a five-year supplemental package

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to scale back or discontinue its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries because it expects funding for the work to end, the agency told employees.

.. The CDC currently works in 49 countries as part of an initiative called the global health security agenda, to prevent, detect and respond to dangerous infectious disease threats. It helps expand surveillance for new viruses and​ ​drug-resistant bacteria, modernize laboratories to detect dangerous pathogens​and train workers who respond to epidemics... The package included $582 million in funds to work with countries around the world after the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2015. But that funding runs out at the end of fiscal 2019.
.. Public health leaders had said they hoped dollars for the work would eventually be added into the CDC’s core budget, after the epidemic delivered a wake-up call about the world’s lack of preparedness for deadly epidemics.
.. if its funding situation remains the same, it will have to narrow activities to 10 “priority countries” starting in October 2019
.. The 10 countries where global health security activities will remain are India, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Jordan and Guatemala
.. Other countries where the agency currently conducts global health security agenda activities include Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the world’s main hot spots for emerging infectious diseases and the site of the first Ebola outbreak in history; Pakistan; Indonesia; Haiti; and China
.. Those countries next on the priority list, after the top 10, are China, the DRC, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Sierra Leone

On Afghanistan, There’s No Way Out

When it comes to Afghanistan, we’ve tried everything. The lesson is: Nothing works.

.. We’ve tried “light footprint.”

.. We’ve tried big footprint.

.. We’ve tried nation building.

.. the United States had spent $104 billion on Afghan relief and reconstruction funds, most of it for security but also nearly $30 billion for “governance and development” and $7.5 billion on counternarcotics.

.. Result: As of 2015, more than three in five Afghans remained illiterate. Afghan security forces lost 4,000 members a month

.. The country ranks 169th out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, ahead of only Somalia, South Sudan, North Korea, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Libya. Opium

.. We’ve tried killing terrorists. Lots and lots of them. As many as 42,000 Taliban and other insurgents have been killed and another 19,000 wounded

.. Result: The Taliban’s numbers in 2005 were estimated at anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters. Within a decade, those numbers had grown to an estimated 60,000 fighters.

.. We’ve tried carrots and sticks with Pakistan. In 2011, Washington gave $3.5 billion in aid to Islamabad.

.. American leverage with Pakistan has declined as Chinese investment in the country has surged, reaching $62 billion this year.

.. The group’s insistence that all foreign troops withdraw before it enters talks gives away its game, which isn’t to share power with the elected government, but to seize power from it.
.. What about two supposedly “untried” options: another surge, exceeding what Obama did in troop numbers but not limited by deadlines or restrictive rules of engagement; or, alternatively, a complete withdrawal of our troops?

But that’s been tried, too. Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s practiced a “bomb-the-stuff-out-of-them” approach to warfare, likely including the use of chemical weapons.

.. Between 1990 and 2000, tens of thousands of Afghans — as many as a million people, according to one estimate — died in three waves of civil war.

.. President Trump may think he’s trying something new with his Afghan policy. He isn’t. Obama killed a lot of terrorists. George W. Bush pursued what amounted to a “conditions-based” approach, without target dates for withdrawal. Both were often stern with Pakistan. Both conducted intensive policy reviews.

.. Even if we could kill every insurgent tomorrow, they would return, as long as they can draw on the religious fanaticism of the madrasas, the ethnic ambitions of the Pashtun, and the profits of the heroin trade.