Monday 16 August 2021

Nation-building: Blame The Germans

No apologies for returning to Afghanistan on a day like this.  Over the weekend I was chatting to a diplomat who offered the following suggestion.

After 9/11 the US was all for a crash-bang-wallop intervention in Afghanistan to nail OSB, nothing more.  This is indeed how it started: US + UK special forces, linking up with the Northern Warlords.  The shellshock induced in the whole world by 9/11 (Putin was giving a lot of help, and Pakistan could be leaned upon heavily) meant that a lightning campaign was eminently plausible.

Enter the Germans, with the enticing prospect that it could become a NATO mission ... but their price was the Liberal Meddler Overseas Agenda: schools for girls etc etc  Despite his own Defense establishment's opposition, somehow Bush Jnr swallowed this - and thus it became Policy.

So there's a thought.

There are plenty of liberals / progressives (and Paul Mason) wringing their hands over the thwarting of this agenda as I write, even as they despise the USA and (most of) its works.  Well, maybe in 2001 they all swallowed the End of History yarn, and thought America could impose anything on anyone.



' “Saving women” was the reason so many of us backed the invasion'
Polly Toynbee, of course.

[1] it would probably have included Trans Rights today

[2] perhaps dreaming to go one better than his father's epic Coalition during Gulf War One (see this lengthy thread)


Don Cox said...

That sounds quite plausible. But all wars are Tar Babies.

As for Paul Mason, Afghanistan hasn't "fallen", it has recovered its independence.

Don Cox

DJK said...

Nato didn't arrive until 2003, although maybe Nato planning started in 2001.

Timbo614 said...

From the moment Trump announced the pull out it was blatantly obvious that the Taliban would move back in. The speed of the government/army defeat is the only surprise. Apparently the army didn't even fight, allegedly because there is a great deal of support within it for the Taliban.

DC: It's a revolution rather than a regaining of independence and revolutions are always extremely violent. I wouldn't trust the Taliban's no reprisals promise further than I could throw one of them.

Elby the Beserk said...


End of history indeed. But what many commentators fail to note is that whilst Fukuyama was strong on "liberal democracy" and its probable triumph, like De Tocqueville two centuries before him, he was also aware that "liberal democracy" held within it the seeds of its own downfall. As we are witnessing.

And on Biden. If you think Trump was an oaf, baby, baby, you ain't seen nothing yet. What happens when someone cuts his strings? He clearly has senile dementia, his vP is help us all more stupid than him. So who is pulling the strings?

jim said...

Did said diplomat relate how the 'bash OBL' punitive mission would go. I can reveal the conversation. After say 4 weeks turning over stones, getting bombed and shot at and the silent treatment. Absolutely nada, go home with tail between legs. Guaranteed to be an embarrassing failure and bad news back home.

So how about 'regime change'. Sounds good but with the whiff of bovine excrement. What would you have to do to change a deeply corrupt society where nothing works without grease - and that is just London and Washington - let alone Kabul.

So you pitch up in Kabul knowing nothing, the contacts are 'unreliable', you don't know the language. You are supposed to be the honourable representatives of democracy when the only practical treatment is the Admiral Byng treatment. Which is a good and effective treatment (we could do with some) but which wears thin very quickly. When you have taken out 20% of the effective and useful population you might start rebuilding - but from a very different basis. Not only has your victim changed but so have you.

The guaranteed abject failure might have been wiser if less amusing.

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E-K said...

I agreed with the initial revenge strikes but regime change ? Culture change ?

The advantage the Taliban has is that it thrives on chaos and the natural (dis) order of the Universe is... chaos (entropy.)

It's a lot more difficult to create structure than it is to create mayhem.

The Taliban have God on their side if you look at it that way.

Let's focus on something closer to home - our own regime change.

Where is the BBC on Biden ?

Nothing whatsoever on his dementia. Imagine John Sopel's rants had Trump presided over this shocking debacle.

Appalling bias and all because the BBC are part of the Woke revolution and Biden is Woke.

And now we are obliged to take in refugees in their hundreds of thousands and so the decline of the West accelerates.

The future of the UK is ultra religionism - wokeists will be thrown off multi-story car parks.

My guess is that "They, Them" will become the most ultra Islamic fundamentalists there are. Because "They, Them" is all about trip wires, bullying and traps and jihadism will suit activists down to the ground.

E-K said...

Expect to see a lot more ginger beards. And that's just the women.

Anomalous Cowshed said...

One of the things that's slightly peculiar about the coverage of the whole collapse story, is quotes along the lines of;

"This did unfold more quickly than we anticipated." (


Expected, then.

Nick Drew said...

You are the E-K that proclaimed on these very pages that you knew you'd make a good Muslim! - and I claim my £5

Nick Drew said...

(all religions are about trips and traps, shiboleths, catechisms etc)

dearieme said...

My dear Byre, only you and I give a hoot about the difference between "anticipated" and "expected".

It's a pity: the old joke about the difference between expecting marriage and anticipating marriage is as dead as the dodo.

P.S. Even the punitive expedition was aimed at the wrong parties, wasn't it? It was Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that should have had their collars felt.

Anonymous said...

Collar? I think it was Osama's jockstrap they were after.

AndrewZ said...

"So who is pulling the strings?"

Perhaps nobody is in overall control. Perhaps there's just a mess of competing political factions and lobbyists all trying to grab the strings for long enough to advance their own agendas, while the permanent bureaucracy takes advantage of the lack of effective oversight to do whatever it wants. If so, the Biden administration is going to be total chaos from start to end.

Sobers said...

'Saving women was the reason so many of us backed the invasion' - Polly Toynbee

Weird that she never makes the connection between why there are so many women in Afghanistan that need saving (From what do they need saving Polly?)and what that means for the West allowing so many people of exactly the same viewpoint to live among us....................

Anomalous Cowshed said...

dearieme - I don't know how the US would have a go at Pakistan and the ISI without creating the conditions for India to stick the boot in good and proper. Same goes for those elements within Saudi, really.

The punitive expedition began with the Northern Alliance, who had working tanks at least, backed up by the USAF, some forward observers and I think elements of the 10th Mountain Division.

Which ground to a halt, eventually. And only began after some random nerk turned up at the UN in New York to negotiate handing over OBL in return, as it turns out, for two grand US and a Rolex.

And, it was only 10 years or so after Daddy's administration put a dirty great coalition together for Gulf War v1.0.

Punitive expeditions are so terribly de trop, these days.

iOpener said...

Perhaps you all should read Mr. Derbyshire and his correct ideas on the value of gunboat diplomacy.

Let the inhabitants of Bongo Bongo do what they want until they interfere with what is properly ours, then kill enough of them and destroy enough of their property, plus 20% for lagniappe, that they are unlikely to do it again.

If they do it again anyway, up the death and destruction by 40%, and if they do it again, kill them all.

Worked for the Romans.

Anonymous said...

Apropos the "collapse" of the Afghan army.

Seems they were only there for the moola (rather than the mullah) and now have made of to Dubai with the readies. The rest of the (fiat) money is held in New York where the TB can't get hold of it.