US’s Afghan venture – surreal realities


More than 600 evacuees were packed onto the aircraft. PHOTO/Defense One/Sky News

Brzezinski gave USSR its Vietnam war

On July 3, 1979, the first order to secretly aid the opponents of the pro-Soviet government of Afghanistan was issued by the then US president, Jimmy Carter. His national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, in a note to Carter, gloated that “this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.”

Almost six months later, on 24 December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Brzezinski was overjoyed and rushed to inform Carter: “We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” Brzezinski’s memo was devoid of any logic: the US war against the Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians was United States own criminal venture; the Soviet Union hadn’t enticed them into entering those Southeast Asian countries.

In the wake of the Soviet invasion, Afghan Mujahideen were created with US arms and Saudi money on Pakistani soil. One such mujahid was Osama bin Laden, a rich Saudi national who came to fight on the Afghan side.

The Soviet Union called it quits after a decade of this futile war.

The US mission now accomplished, it left Afghanistan without an iota of concern as to what would happen to an undeveloped country torn by the US war and now littered with Muslim fanatics.

The Afghans fought amongst themselves, and eventually, the Taliban emerged as Afghanistan’s rulers. The foreign jihadis went back to their countries and created more trouble there.

Brzezinski had no regret for creating the Taliban:

“What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?”

William Blum, “How the US provoked the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and starting the whole mess.”

This has always been the case in history: a bigger monster (in this case, the biggest monster) creates small monsters and cites only their gains not the devastation that will result from their actions.

In 2010, Australian/British journalist/filmmaker John Pilger questioned Brzezinski who was adamant in his unconscionable thinking: “Regrets! Regrets! What regrets?”

Who cares that the small monsters have wrecked so much havoc in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The foreign monsters like Al Qaeda and ISIS created further mayhem elsewhere.

It is surreal now that Russia’s embassy in Kabul has remained opened but the US embassy has been shut down and the ambassador and the staff has fled.

Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan Dmitry Zhernov said they have increased security and so the premises and staff are facing no imminent danger. “We will keep working here calmly and as usual.”

It would have provided many of us some kind of solace to witness torturous agony on Brzezinski’s face in the wake of a humiliating US exit, but alas, he died over four years ago.

Did Russia give US its Afghanistan war?


But then no one has to give anything to the US — the US is very clever and self-dependent; it gave itself its Afghanistan war in October 2001, because the then US president George W. Bush was boiling to avenge the 9/11 attacks.

I’m having difficulty controlling my bloodlust,”

Bush told religious leaders who didn’t stop him from creating death, devastation, psychological trauma, misery, and so much more. Many will not find this surprising since most religious leaders seem to have an appetite for blood-lust.

The US declared war on Afghanistan even though out of the 19 men involved in the attack, none of them were Afghans. It was purely a vengeful war initiated without indulging in any kind of reasonable thought. The Taliban were ousted from power and the US installed Afghans who would carry out US-dictated policies.

After two decades of bloodshed and trillions of dollars pocketed by Pentagon and defense contractors, the “war on terror” officially ended on August 30, 2021.

Unofficially it has no expiry date as of now — the US will bribe different tribal leaders, ethnic groups and warlords to weaken the Taliban.

The surreal thing about the US exit is that it handed back Afghanistan, on a platter in 2021 to the same Taliban whom they had ousted through war in 2001, after 20 long expensive years!

The great escape

It is Joseph Biden’s great escape from Afghanistan; not Steve McQueen’s 1963 movie. One can never not like the United States exiting a country which was under its occupation, directly or indirectly. So the Biden administration’s decision to quit Afghanistan was a great thing to happen in a long, long time.*

The problem was with the way it was executed. It was surreal to see scenes of chaos, fear and terror at Kabul airport where people were trying to find a seat on departing planes to flee the incoming reign of Taliban.

The particularly tragic scenes were the ones where people, who couldn’t get a seat, decided, out of despair, to hang on outside to different parts of planes in order to escape the heinous regime they had witnessed over two decades ago- and dropped to their death.

As if this was not enough, ISIS-K, a terrorist outfit associated with the Islamic State carried out an attack in which 170 people died, including 13 US military personnel. Biden became bloodlusty too and, without second thought, ordered bombing of the ISIS-K. The victim of the US attack was a Afghan family whose 10 members were killed, including children. This ISIS-K attack brought the US and Taliban closer.

Biden’s election victory was grudgingly accepted by Trump on January 7, 2021. Biden should have, right away, asked his advisors to draw up a plan of a safe exit for US Citizens, residents and the Afghans who had helped them during their occupation. The strategy should have been to instruct relevant departments to start issuing US visa to Afghans and start evacuating them and US personnel who were not critically needed there anymore.

*(Pakistani newspaper Dawn’s columnist Rafia Zakaria thinks COVID-19 “helped deliver what appeared to be impossible even two or three years ago — the end of the ‘war on terror.’” She’s off the mark. Biden, not a pacifist, who had wholeheartedly supported US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had in 2009 opposed the increase of US troops. Donald Trumps’ administration met Taliban and the date for US exit was set for May 1, 2021. One of the reasons for the current exit from Afghanistan is that Biden is itching for a confrontation with China and Russia. Besides, something once started rarely disappears. The US economic embargo imposed decades ago on a tiny island country of Cuba was intensified by Trump. In June of this year, the Biden government voted against the United Nations resolution to end the inhumane embargo — the only other country in favor of continuing the embargo was Israel. A month later, the Biden administration announced more sanctions on Cuba! Trump unilaterally exited from the nuclear deal with Iran because he wanted to introduce more restrictions but Iran refused to comply. Biden has continued with what the Trump demanded. Recently Secretary of State Anthony Blinken threatened Iran to comply or the US would give up on the nuclear deal, meaning continuation of US economic sanctions on Iran. Zakaria is right though that the post 9/11 warfare are to be conducted by droning and hacking, i.e., of water plants etc. and US influence is being peddled by Facebook, Twitter, and other giants.)

A Nobel Peace Prize for Ghani?

Afghanistan’s former President Ashraf Ghani defended his decision to abandon his people and escape as a “hard choice” between “armed Taliban” or “leaving the dear country that I dedicated my life to protecting the past 20 years.” He was also proud of himself for preventing a flood of bloodshed and destruction by agreeing to leave Afghanistan.

Did Ghani ever think about leaving the “dear country” in the wake of the bloodshed and devastation which took place during his Master’s presence in Afghanistan?

Afghan women

Women in Afghanistan in the 1960s PHOTO/Daily Mail/Duck Duck Go

In an unnecessarily tedious interview, Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker was interviewed by NPR’s Terry Gross who never asked how women were faring prior to direct US involvement or how much Russia helped Afghanistan develop. Filkins told Gross:

“.. The empowerment of half the population there in Afghanistan, women, is probably the single greatest achievement of the [United States] war. I mean, women weren’t allowed to go to school before 2001.”

This is pure fiction.

Afghanistan was never a paradise for women but then again Afghanistan has not been this suffocating for women-the way it has been since the US intervened in 1979.

I went to Afghanistan in 1970 and atmosphere then was relaxed. The hippies were all over. You could find Hindus and Sikhs. The Afghan girls and women could be seen in dresses, even mini dresses and mini skirts. It doesn’t mean there were no women in burkas; of course, they were there. But Afghanistan was not at all as bad for women as it has now become.

Soraya Tarzi, Princess consort of Afghanistan (1919-1926).. She married Prince Amanullah Khan who became king in 1919. PHOTO/Wikipedia

An Afghan female surgeon Saira Noorani described Afghanistan, which she fled in 2001, thus:

“Every girl could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked … We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian films on a Friday … it all started to go wrong when the mujahedin started winning … these were the people the West supported.”

Former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman puts it clearly:

“Although the U.S. press praises our benighted efforts at nation building, the Soviet Union actually built more hydroelectric dams, tunnels, and bridges in Afghanistan than the United States has.  This includes the Friendship Bridge that provided an exit ramp for the Afghan military.  Moscow also educated about 200,000 Afghan engineers, military officers, and administrators, which allowed the Najibullah government to hang on for several years in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.  The Ghani government didn’t last for 24 hours after our withdrawal.”

The Taliban rule between 1994 to 2001 shut down women totally. Now, where did the Taliban come from?

As explained above, they are the product of the US-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia war against the Soviet Union. In the early 1990s Pakistan helped them to come to power.

So then women were pushed behind the veil and four walls of the house. Then the US took over in 2001 and created situation for women to grow, educate, and work. But then, the sudden unplanned US exit enabled power to go back to the Taliban.

So how much did the US contribute to women’s upliftment in Afghanistan?


The women had freedom prior to 1979 but they lost it after the US involvement and the subsequent power grab by the Taliban in the mid 1990s.

In 2001, Afghanistan came under US occupation and its puppet government restored women’s rights. But the sudden US exit now has left the Afghan women with 0/zero rights.

Let us not forget that now the Afghan women will have to start from scratch by putting their lives on the line because the religious zealots will never want to part with their power: they always want absolute power.

The media pundits in the US are shedding fake tears for the Afghan women’s loss of rights. The Afghan women had decent amount of rights before 1979 which would have been enhanced much more, but for the US interference and war.


VIDEO/Channel 4/Youtube

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was the first head of government to warmly welcome the Taliban on August 15, 2021 after they entered Kabul. The next day, Khan said Afghans have “broken the shackles of slavery.” He’s right that Afghans are now free from US imperialism.

But then he stopped there. Aren’t Afghans now under the Taliban shackles? They are, if you read about the prevailing fear in their country. The Taliban have not taken any steps to allay those fears.

Imran Khan has always been a defender of the Taliban. On September 4, Director General of ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) Hameed Faiz visited Kabul. British TV channel Channel 4’s international editor Lindsey Hilsum saw Faiz in a hotel lobby and asked him if he’ll be seeing senior members of the Taliban and his answer was “no, no. I’m not clear.” To another question about what he hopes is going to happen in Afghanistan, one person present there said “we are working for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” but Faiz just said patronizingly: “don’t worry, everything would be okay.” They were laughing and treated Hilsum unprofessionally and as if she had asked a funny question.

Within three days, everything was okay. The Taliban had formed a government, though, what was not okay was that women and minorities were not part of the cabinet.

Khan’s Information Advisor Raoof Hasan in a BBC interview vehemently denied that Pakistan was supporting the Taliban. His defense about Faiz’s Afghanistan visit was that he was invited by the Taliban. One wonders why out of 200 or so countries in the world, the Taliban chose Pakistan exclusively, and from Pakistan no one else was invited but the chief of ISI, a notorious spy agency like Mossad, RAW, and CIA?


There were hopes that two decades of social changes globally would have transformed the Taliban to some extent. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen created that hope when he called BBC’s Yalda Hakim. Here’s what he said:

“There should not be any confusion, we are sure the people of Afghanistan in the city of Kabul, that their properties and their lives are safe.”

“There will be be no revenge on anyone. We are the servants of the people and of this country.

“Our leadership has instructed our forces to remain at the gate of Kabul, not to enter the city.

“We are awaiting a peaceful transfer of power.”

But then he also made it clear, in an indirect way, what kind of justice system would prevail under Taliban rule — i.e., cutting off of feet and hands, executing people in public, stoning to death, etc. could not be ruled out:

“I can’t say right now, that’s up to the judges in the courts and the laws.”

“The judges will be appointed according to the law of the future government.”

“Of course, we want Islamic government.”

In twenty long and devastated years, the Taliban have picked up the language used by lawyers, politicians, and corporate CEO’s of the Western world such as peaceful transfer of power,” “that’s up to the judges,” “the laws,” we are the servants of the people,” “I haven’t heard about it” (which can be accident, death, embezzlement, fraud, etc.), “we’re investigating and if anyone found guilty, we’ll take appropriate action” and such reassuring words. It is very doubtful that Taliban will refrain from their previous harsh practices.

Shaheen also said girls/women would be allowed to study and work. They won’t have to wear burkas though they’ll have to cover their heads with headgear. The reality seems to point towards a dubious verdict on that.

The forming of the government was delayed due to internecine power struggle. On September 9, 2021, Taliban announced 33 members “acting” government. BBC’s Sana Shafi:

All men. All mullahs. All middle-aged.”

BBC Correspondent Barbara Platt Usher points out that not only there are no women in the cabinet but even the women’s affairs ministry has been eliminated.

According to an AFP report, in certain areas the Taliban are reintroducing the old regressive edicts such as prohibition on women going out — unless accompanied by a male relative, men not allowed to shave their beard, etc.

Also, the Taliban have not yet reached the stage of civilization where they can acknowledge the existence of women: 50% of the population. Not a single woman is included in their newly formed cabinet.

The Taliban will have to change, in order to deal with China, Russia, Iran, and other countries in the region because to survive, they will need economic and infrastructure help from them.

How much the Taliban will change is the critical question.

B. R. Gowani can be reached at

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