What we need to do post-Afghanistan, but won’t

In my last post, I mentioned the latest report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Nobody who’s been reading his reports for the past dozen or so years could ever have had any doubt about the folly of American policy in Afghanistan. But one can give the Americans credit for something: their political system not only allows, but actually employs someone who has the specific mandate to spend his time revealing all his employer’s follies.

This doesn’t mean that anybody will be held account for their mistakes , but at least the American system provides for a certain degree of transparency, without which learning lessons from past errors is impossible. Unfortunately, we’re not nearly as transparent here in Canada, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be. Overall, all the countries involved in the Afghan fiasco need to engage in some serious reflection, which in turn requires a fair degree of openness and a willingness to listen to unpleasant truths.

So, let’s think about what now needs to be done but, of course, almost certainly won’t be.

The first thing that is needed is that serious reflection I mentioned. A failure on the magnitude of the American/NATO mission in Afghanistan requires a major effort to discover what went wrong and learn appropriate lessons. This might seem to be blindingly obvious, but it needs reiterating. For too often, in the face of disaster, the response of our leaders takes the form of what one might call “let’s move on-ism.” As Tony Blair said after the Iraq war had gone horribly wrong: “I know a large part of the public want to move on. … I share that view.” Rather than reflect on the past and draw appropriate lessons, the tendency is to pretend that it was all a bad dream and that nothing happened. It’s not surprising that we keep repeating the same mistakes.

Reflection alone, however, is not enough. One has to reflect on the right things. The danger is that people will insist on learning not just the wrong lessons but the wrong type of lessons – in other words, they will seek tactical and operational lessons, but strategic ones; they’ll try to learn how to do things better, not consider whether they ought to be doing them at all.

This is a particular issue for military people, as they are by nature ‘how’ people not ‘why’ people. Give them a problem and their natural reaction is to ask ‘how do I do this?’ not ‘why am I doing this?’ or even ‘Should I be doing this in the first place?’ But it’s not just a military problem. In his book The Origins of the Third World War, American sociologist C. Wright Mills pointed a finger of blame at what he called “crackpot realism.” This, he said, was the prevailing mode of thinking of the “power elite”, who are in essence technocratic incrementalists. That’s to say that they are very good at fiddling with existing systems in an effort to improve them; but they never stop to consider the system as a whole.

As I think I’ve said before, crackpot realism is like the inverse of a Monet painting: that’s to say that whereas a Monet painting makes no sense close up but perfect sense from a distance, crackpot realism is utterly logical close up, but crazy when viewed from afar. It’s like Mutual Assured Destruction – theories of strategic nuclear war were perfectly logical, with each step following logically from the last; but when you stood back and looked at it as a whole, it was, quite literally, MAD.

So, we need to avoid crackpot realism, that is to say avoid thinking about fiddling with the system rather than tackling the system itself. When considering “lessons learned” from Afghanistan, we shouldn’t therefore be thinking in terms of how one should conduct such interventions better. We should be considering the fundamental assumptions that lie behind such interventions. Do we have the power to change the world in accordance with our desires? Does intervention makes things better or worse? Should we base our foreign policy on ideology, human rights and all the rest of it? In short, should be we even be doing this stuff? And beyond that, we need to ask questions such as whether a “liberal” international order is an objective that we should be pursuing.

Such questioning will inevitably meet fierce resistance. To face it, we need accountability, which in turn, as I said above, requires openness. Every country involved in the Afghan debacle should do a thorough investigation with the aim of answering key questions. These include: Why did the government get involved? Who gave ministers what advice? Who, in other words, suggested to them that this could work? Who were the journalists, think tankers, and pundits who backed the war in the pages of the press and on TV? Were ministers, generals, political advisors, aid workers, journalists, and others honest with the public? Or did they cover up the true situation in order to win public support for the mission?

In an article in today’s Ottawa Citizen, defence correspondent David Pugliese notes that the Canadian government was repeatedly warned, from an early date, that the mission in Afghanistan was likely to end in disaster. But our political and military leaders chose to ignore the warnings. Pugliese reports how when Liberal Senator Colin Kenny said that, “We are hurtling toward a Vietnam ending,” then Brigadier General (later Chief of the Defence Staff) Jonathan Vance rebuked him for his “uninformed” opinion. Senior officials and generals lined up to say that the Taliban “were on the verge of defeat”. Pugliese notes:

“Over the course of the war, the Canadian public, as well as citizens of other countries, were subjected to one of the most intense government propaganda campaigns since the Second World War. The message pushed the claim that Afghanistan was a success story. … Embedded journalists produced thousands of positive articles. Editorials supported the war effort. A few … raised questions about the mission. They were called traitors.”

Pugliese points our attention to an important fact. A fiasco like Afghanistan doesn’t just happen. It’s made possible by a host of facilitators who fashion public support for it. And that brings us to the final thing we need to do: question how this is possible. How is it that in supposedly democratic societies, with a “free press”, governments can manipulate the media in such a fashion?

These questions force us to consider the makeup of the media, its independence, and its diversity. And here we need to face a harsh reality. In the current climate of fear generated by talk of “disinformation,” “fake news,” and foreign “influence operations,” we are being led to believe that more must be done to clamp down on independent voices. But the problem we face is not that there are too many people out there challenging the “truth” but rather that there are far too few. Critics often scoff at RT’s motto “Question More”, seeing it as encouraging cranks to muddy the waters and create a “post-truth” world. But, we do need to “question more”, and to do it we need more diversity in our media, not less.

To summarize, the Afghan debacle requires us:

  • To reflect.
  • To reflect about strategy not tactics, about fundamentals not superficialities.
  • To expose the truth
  • To hold those responsible to account; and finally:
  • To reform our media landscape.

What’s the chance that we’ll do any of that?

What’s the chance that I’ll win the lottery?

I think you know the answers.

34 thoughts on “What we need to do post-Afghanistan, but won’t”

  1. “Critics often scoff at RT’s motto “Question More”, seeing it as encouraging cranks to muddy the waters and create a “post-truth” world. But, we do need to “question more”, and to do it we need more diversity in our media, not less.”

    ****

    Does that include RT? Related:

    https://www.eurasiareview.com/29122014-with-room-for-improvement-rt-gives-time-to-diverse-views-analysis/

    ————————-

    “To summarize, the Afghan debacle requires us:

    To reflect.
    To reflect about strategy not tactics, about fundamentals not superficialities.
    To expose the truth
    To hold those responsible to account; and finally:
    To reform our media landscape.

    What’s the chance that we’ll do any of that?

    What’s the chance that I’ll win the lottery?

    I think you know the answers.”

    ****

    For sure. Look at the same recycled folks still gettng invited on despite their extensive past wrongs.

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    1. To expose the truth

      I may be a cynic on political matters. Maybe always was. But what truth, exactly? … Whose truth?

      On the other hand, I vividly recall I experienced some type of culture shock concerning US media. Biased as outsider? No doubt. I did need a lot of time to find my way around from conspiracy outsiders to dissenters, even on mainstream media occasionally. Semi-“elite” voices simply not listened to?

      But yes, paradoxically enough:
      But one can give the Americans credit for something: their political system not only allows, but actually employs someone who has the specific mandate to spend his time revealing all his employer’s follies.

      I agree. But then, how satisfying are other inquiries once the basic two party ideological setup matters? Or may matter mainly?

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  2. “We should be considering the fundamental assumptions that lie behind such interventions. Do we have the power to change the world in accordance with our desires? Does intervention makes things better or worse? Should we base our foreign policy on ideology, human rights and all the rest of it? In short, should be we even be doing this stuff? And beyond that, we need to ask questions such as whether a “liberal” international order is an objective that we should be pursuing.”

    My-my, maestro – you are in a full panic mode, aren’t you? “Dosomething-ism” virus got you too. Also – kinda rantish.

    Psst, maestro! There are no “we” here. “You” (plural) were never in charge. And you will never be.

    [Btw, where is the “civil society” in all of that? I know the Political West likes to sponsor one in other countries – but what about your own? Where is it?!]

    For one – your whole premise is mistaken, because, as any “good Westerner” you take your whole system and the critters comprising your elite at face value. What’s with you westerners accepting the form and external expressions of this and that a face value without trying to get into the essence? Your much vaunted “trust in the society”? Then you deserved to be deceived and losing time after time.

    Overall, “the Afghan fiasco” (your words, not mine) was a tremendous success from the very beginning.

    2.1+ trillion dollars going to DoD contractors and measly $24 billion spent on economic development. That kind of success.

    You yourself insist, maestro, that regimes in either of your “fatherlands” is a “liberal” one. I.e. – it’s a bourgeois democracy with market capitalism. What’s the most important under the capitalism? Self-enrichment! What does more money mean under the capitalism? More power!

    Thus, Afghanistan was a (neo)-colonial war of plunder. Yeah, the country is piss-poor – but the taxpayers in the Blessed West are (collectively) not. Under the guise of waging a Good War ™ it was oh so easy to fleece them and making them agree to more and more expenses with no supervision.

    A lot of people high, low and in the middle benefited from. Why there should be a reflection or, Heaven forbid, a reckoning for them? No, they now would try to learn how to have a similar scheme running not for 20, but for 30, 50 years – even in perpetuity. So far, whining “but what about womenrights?!” seems to be a winning strategy stunning not too bright “society” into all agreeing herd.

    Because, ultimately, people like you (I’m talking about the whole of strata, maestro) depend on the Empire to exist, ultimately, you won’t argue against the Empire’s existing. I fully expect you to gird yourself after the initial shock, and come back with new and more inventive ways of “Plunder Back (To Metropoly) Better” ™. So that you wouldn’t have to envy those who profited from that particular war, but also get your slice.

    P.S. As for the “accessible to the non-specialist” recommendations on the Western invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, I have one. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.

    You, Westies, are the Martians. Yeah, you probably knew that already – but it’s worth’s saying out loud again and again.

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    1. Thanks Lytt, longtime no hear of Dolan/Brecher. But yes, somehow as I remember it:

      For the DC elite, Iraq was a war of choice, while Afghanistan was just a grim preliminary chore. They had to invade Afghanistan quickly after the WTC attacks, because it was all over the news that Al Qaeda had its HQ there and the voters were angry. Public support for invading Afghanistan was higher than for invading Iraq

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  3. This is a really good article, Professor. You obviously put a lot of thought into it, and I enjoyed reading it. I particularly liked the reverse-Monet example, that’s quite perceptive!
    At my job, we work on so-called “quality improvement”, using some Japanese techniques. I’m just a nerdy programmer, so I’m more like the “how do I” person than the “why do we…” person, but some of the philosophy has rubbed off on me along the way. My boss summarizes the 2 main bullet points which can summarize most of the philosophy: (1) Do the right thing, and (2) Do the thing right. It takes an Aristotle to figure out (1), once that is done, then you only need technocrats to do (2).

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    1. I liked that passage two. Obviously? But since I once upon a time stumbled across curious questions about what strategy vs tactics means, I also love your boss’s simple way of putting it. 😉

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  4. If every step logically follows from the previous, then the whole is logical too. If it isn’t, then it means that one of more of the steps were not, in fact, logical.

    There are quite a few candidates in the Afghan situation, but the biggest one, I think, is the initial decision to stay there after Taliban was initially defeated. This created the platform and incentives for the following developments. *Not* doing it is quite possible, as demonstrated by Russia in 08.08 war.

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    1. I think, is the initial decision to stay there after Taliban was initially defeated.

      They were? How do evaluate you defeated an ideology vs people surrendering for the time being?

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      1. I don’t understand your objection. Taliban surrendered in 2001. This surrender was *rejected* by US. Several times at that.

        1) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/oct/14/afghanistan.terrorism5

        2) https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/07/news/rumsfeld-rejects-planto-allow-mullah-omar-to-live-in-dignity-taliban.html

        They could agree, take it, pack their things and go home. They didn’t, and 20 years later didn’t even have enough time to pack their things.

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      2. I don’t understand your objection.
        You can’t. Actually, I had something on the back of my mind here, that stunned me. It was an article by a British (French/British at least concerning studies?) scholar that tried to assess, meaning understand , how Isis could possibly allure those many European recruits. To my utter puzzlement, he found support in Edmund Burke’s treatment of the sublime. In his case, Isis sublime atrocity. …

        Otherwise yes, initially the Taliban asked for US evidence that Osama bin Laden was in fact responsible for 9/11 when faced with the US extradition desire … At least that’s how I recall it.

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    2. This created the platform and incentives for the following developments. *Not* doing it is quite possible, as demonstrated by Russia in 08.08 war.

      Would you care to explain? There was something undigested in the back of my mind, which left me stuttering.

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  5. George W. Bush “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”

    Can we blame the Chretien government for sending our troops to Afghanistan? After all, if countries like Island, Slovakia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Finland sent their troops? 48 countries made the decision to be with the Americans when they called. Few of those that wanted to stay in US good books dared not to. Those who did not, were either too poor to join, or were strong enough to withstand the US pressure.

    78% of Canadian trade is with the USA. How could we dare not join? Any of our 3 major parties would make the same decision.
    In fact, seldom is there daylight between their foreign policy platforms. And our media? Just watch in this coming September election: how many questions will even remotely deal with foreign policy.

    After 9/11 somebody, anybody, had to get hit. It would have been impossible to remain in power if they did not react. Do we remember what happened to Jimmy Carter presidency? Afghanistan was an easy target. Too easy. So they had to hit Iraq.
    So with the joiners it was economy. So much for the tangibles.

    But there are other forces at play too. These are the do gooders. These are the crusaders. These are the liberal ideologues. These are the R2P people. These are the people that want to remake all those societies they do not like. Be like us and we will like you. These are the people that created Yugoslavia in 1920’s to be destroyed in 1990’s. These are the people that brought you Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine. Currently working on Belarus.

    Afghanistan is a hard nut to crack. They resist the western values.
    The liberal ideologues do not understand or accept that societies change organically. The change can not be forced or rushed. There will be change, in time. Left leaning liberalism is the way the world will move. In time.

    So after the Afghanistan fiasco, they will pull their horns in for a decade or two and then next generation will forget and not listening to their elders they will start another crusade. That is how the “West” operates for the last 1000 years. It is in our DNA.

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    1. “But there are other forces at play too. These are the do gooders. These are the crusaders. These are the liberal ideologues. These are the R2P people.”

      Meh. I don’t think there are any real “R2P people”. Too cringey. It’s just a component of war-propaganda directed at the educated segment, the outer party members.

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  6. Nice comment, ruined by the very last sentence:

    “That is how the “West” operates for the last 1000 years. It is in our DNA.”

    There were no “West” 1000 years ago.

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    1. I think he’s referring to the West starting somewhere around the Great Schism. The West adopted a pessimistic, judgemental, moralistic heresy, then in reaction to its own heresy became anthropocentric and slowly abandoned God altogether. But the moralizing remains. There’s a continuum from the “civilizing” campaigns of the Holy Roman Empire to that of today’s West in Afghanistan…

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  7. Another reason (self-admitted by the big-brains serving the Hegemony) why there won’t be neither reckoning nor “lessons learned”, is, for the lack of better term, a religious one.

    Just as, say, 13th c. Pope could not proclaim “My dear fellow Christians – Jesus was not a messiah. Oh, and btw – them Jews were 146% right”, so the liberal clergy. In my previous comment the WN article says that:

    Thomas Friedman, high priest of elite stupidity, had a famous epiphany: No two countries with McDonald’s franchises had ever gone to war. Or, he suggested, ever could go to war. Bomb Kabul with prefab golden arches and watch peace’n’prosperity break out.

    The trouble was — well, first of all, “the free market” doesn’t exist and never has. Quoting from the WaPo’s Afghanistan Papers:

    “In developing countries, ‘the idea that there are perfectly functioning markets without subsidies is pure fiction, fantasy,’ Rubin, a New York University professor and leading academic on Afghanistan, told government interviewers. ‘Every late-developing country happened by government picking winners.’“

    There were trained people ready to transform Afghanistan. But they were socialists — commies, in the US view.

    “There was a solid pool of educated, enthusiastic, honest Afghans with bureaucratic experience. But they wanted to recreate the socialist society of Afghanistan’s ‘Golden Era’ of the mid-20th century.

    “…several U.S. officials told government interviewers it quickly became apparent that people who would make up the Afghan ruling class were too set in their ways to change.”

    “’These people went to the communist school,” said Finn, the former ambassador. A common Afghan fear, he recalled, was ‘if you allow capitalism, these private companies would come in and make profit.‘”

    But, hey – it’s easy to dismiss the WN as a “fringe” publication, even if its merely citing back documents and officials and whatnot. Then how about oligarch (Jeff Bezos) owned The Washington post doing the same? Quote:

    “Notes: We had all good intentions, reasonable level of ignorance, but we had plenty of hubris. Dogmatic adherence to free market principles led to our inability to adapt a nuanced, balanced approach to what Afghanistan needed. We upended everything: political, psychological, etc. People [Afghans] were in favor of a socialist or communist approach because that’s how they remembered things the last time the system worked. There were debates in the cabinet about price controls. But the Afghans would say “yes” to everything in order to keep things moving.”

    Heeeeeere you go! All for the desire to “own the commies”. What, to gain a semblance of peace, prosperity and functionality but to lose your liberal soul? Never!

    P.S. As a retort to Mr. Freidman – both Russia and Georgia had McDonalds in 2008. Continue the list on your own.

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  8. Was reading in the Russian press yesterday — it didn’t take very long, the economic sanctions have already begun. The U.S. put a “stop-check” on IMF $$ that had already been allocated in the next tranche to Afghanistan government. And announced they will sanction the Taliban. This is exactly the kind of vindictive sore losers Americans are. Although, to be sure, most of that $$$ pouring into Afghanistan was not helping ordinary people anyhow, except maybe creating a few jobs for people working for the occupiers.

    In any case, people are speculating that China will start filling the gap. Not with corrupt gangster cash or hand-outs, but actual investments to build infrastructure, etc. So, Afghanistan may be better off in the long run in the Chinese-Russian orbit. It will take a lot of careful negotiating, though. Victorious Taliban would have to put aside some of their ideology and agree not to, e.g., egg on Uighurs simply because fellow Muslims. Do these black-turbaned medievalists possess that kind of pragmatic maturity? I don’t know.

    Americans will also — this is an easy prediction and already happening after just 2 days of defeat — start sneakily trying to undermine by arming oppositionists, ethnic militias, and so forth. If they can’t win a Pax Americana, then Plan B is to foment permanent instability in the region. It’s easier to be a spoiler than a winner.

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    1. “Victorious Taliban would have to put aside some of their ideology and agree not to, e.g., egg on Uighurs simply because fellow Muslims. Do these black-turbaned medievalists possess that kind of pragmatic maturity? I don’t know.”

      Yeah, about that… Talibs are not “fellow muslims” to anyone. In fact, they are kafirs by the Islamic standards. Here’s why:

      A) As you, yalensis, already learned, they are deobandi. Who are deobandi? It’s an Islamic movement that originated in India (hence the nickname of the Taliban used by its enemies – “Punjabi(s)”) that called for the “purification” of Islam. What differentiates it radically from, say, salafism (which claims to aspire for the same goal) is the religious ancestry of deobandi – which is maturidiyya. Maturiditess are murtads (“apostates”) for all proper Muslims, because their teaching rejects many attributes of Allah (SWT) and beliefs common to all Sunnis. On this basis, many/most Islamic theologians refuse to classify the Maturidites as ahlu-Sunna-wal-jamaa (that’s a proper name for the “Sunnis”). The Salyafs (including the IS) had directly called the Maturidites Kafirs.

      Also, in the recent bout of congratulations from fellow Islamic insurgents from around the globe, the Taliban have received “congrats” from… Hamas. Meanwhile the IS (what remains of it) responded by branding the Talibs “an apostate militia”.

      B) Taliban is nationalist. As per the hadith as quoted by Imam Ahmad (5/136), by al-Bukhari in “al-Adabul-Mufrad” (2/427), by al-Nasai in “al-Sunan al-kubra” (8864) and many others:

      “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If you hear how someone is proud of their origin, as it was in Jahiliyyah, then tell him to grab his father’s penis. And don’t say it figuratively!”

      C) The Talibs are Mušrikūn (“idolators”). There are known cases when representatives of the group “consecrated” grenades on the graves of their “shahids”. And this while worshiping someone other than Allah, in particular, graves, instantly kicks you out of Islam.

      D) Taliban does not rule according to Sharia. Although the Taliban claim to do that, for the majority of them – the Pashtuns – the Pashtun code of honor (Pashtunwali) plays a much more important role. “And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.” (Surah 5 (Al-Ma’idah), ayat 47). I.e. – kafir.

      E) In addition to theological issues, there are also purely practical ones: the Taliban entered an open war against the Khorasan wilayat of the Islamic State, and did so with the support of the Afghan government and its American masters. The occupational administration of Afghanistan most charitably could be regarded as taghuts (Muslim rulers, who are tyrants rebelling against the will of Allah (SWT). The Quran firmly and clearly says about an alliance with kafirs: “And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people” (Surah 5 (Al-Ma’idah), ayat 51).

      F) Finally. By and large, the Islamists do not give a crap about Uyghurs. Neither do the Muslim countries btw. Remember the outcry over Rohingya just a couple of years ago? That’s how the real Muslim solidarity looks like. Protests over Uyghurs? [Crickets]. Naaaah!

      The idea that China’s gonna sweat bullets over Taliban “linking up” with their own “problem people” is a nice neocon fantasy. Who are, judging by the proliferation of this very “thought” in the Western propaganda outlets, are currently at the BARGAINING stage.

      And you just dutifully repeated (propagated) it, yalensis. Bra-vo.

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      1. Китай пообещал поддержать роль талибов (движение «Талибан» запрещено в России и многих других странах) «в процессе восстановления стабильности в Афганистане». В обмен китайские дипломаты потребовали от представителей радикального движения, которые 28 июля посетили город Тяньцзинь в КНР, прекратить все виды сотрудничества с уйгурской сепаратистской организацией Исламское движение Восточного Туркестана (ИДВТ).

        TRANSLATION: China promised to support the role of the Taliban (a movement “Taliban” banned in Russia and many other countries) in the process of restoring stability in Afghanistan. In return, the Chinese diplomats demanded from the representatiaves of the radical movement who, on the 28 of July, visited the city of Tianjin in China [yalensis: a big center of Uighurs], to cease all forms of collaboration with the Uighur separatist organization, the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan.

        https://fergana.media/articles/122563/

        It’s a real issue, Lyt. Chinese dealing with it and part of negotiating packet with Taliban. I’m just reporting what I read in the press. All you got is insinuations and Aesopian hints at other peoples bad intentions if they mention issues or just honestly speculate about something.
        I mention Taliban/Uighur issue, so obviously I’m up to something nefarious in your eyes. Yup, I’m a neo-con now, because I wondered about Taliban/Uighur relationship.

        But that’s the way you roll… With dark hints, Aesopian language, and always out to “expose” other peoples evil intentions. And apparently you are now an expert on Islamic sects. Who would have guessed?

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      2. P.S. – Just curious, Lyt, did you convert to Islam?
        Sounds like you really know your Quran.
        And here I thought you were solid Russian Orthodox all the way, maybe even Old Believer!
        🙂

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      3. “P.S. – Just curious, Lyt, did you convert to Islam?
        Sounds like you really know your Quran.
        And here I thought you were solid Russian Orthodox all the way, maybe even Old Believer!

        […]
        […]
        […]

        Let me be extremely clear with you: A`ūdhu billāhi min ash-shaitāni r-rajīmi!

        – Niqud ad-Dim ibn Salah al-Lytteni

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      4. “I mention Taliban/Uighur issue, so obviously I’m up to something nefarious in your eyes. Yup, I’m a neo-con now, because I wondered about Taliban/Uighur relationship.”

        Here, yalensis, a friend for you:

        Accuse he/zhe/them of anything as much as you want.

        Not me.

        Unless, of course, you can point out, honestly, without – how you say it? – “insinuations and Aesopian hints at other peoples bad intentions” where I claimed that *you* are a neo-con.

        If I ever engage in “innuendos” and such its purely by choice, for I’m perfectly capable to trash-talk people in their faces. If I choose, instead, a bout of elfing, it’s because I find the process interesting, elucidating and a nice training in operating under potential harsh “sensitive” censorship, should the need arise for me to do so.

        Wanna straight talk? Alrighty – you are ignorant. Simply ignorant. Consuming articles one after another without digesting them via rigorous analysis and verifications would deal you no good. In order to achieve that you gotta have an appropriate “digestive flora” made up of the previously acquired knowledge – which you thoroughly lack in many, many spheres of human activities. Afghanistan and its environs are just another examples.

        You are already accusing me of the following:

        “And apparently you are now an expert on Islamic sects. Who would have guessed?”

        Astagfir allāh! Me? Nope. I merely received an education, which includes as its integral part a good chunk of history of the Arabian Caliphate (and what happened since), for whose people religion is an integral part. Reading encyclopedias also helps. Oh, and there is also this brand new thing – “Inter-Net”. Maybe you heard something about it. Amazing thing! They say one can find pretty much any kind of information using it. Like I did, providing you and others with the quotes and links not from some arcane and/or occult volume of forbidden knowledge but from a site bearing a name Wiki-Pedia (and Quran on-line).

        I know that Americans a particularly proud of their own ignorance of the world at large, despise “dorks” and view anyone more knowledgeable than them in these spheres as suspicious – or a filthy foreigner up to no good. For you, yalensis, I’m indeed a foreigner.

        Now let’s address the core of your accusation against me: that you mean a real deal, while I have only “insinuations and Aesopian hints at other peoples bad intentions”.

        I think we have already dealt with the second part. If you want me repeated it for clarity, here you go – no, do not ascribe to malignancy what could easily be ascribed to ignorance (at least in this particular case).

        As for the first – I can’t help but notice that you failed to address one particular phenomenon, to which I drew your (and others attention). I.e., that contra the artificial outrage expressed by shy and conscientious Western intelligents (right on cue after “The Orange Man” ™ decided to duke it out with China) over the fate of Uyghurs, there is a lacks of it both among the muslim-majority countries and islamist/jihadi militant groups. I offered to compare and contrast it to the pan-muslim reactions ot the treatment of Rohingya (there were protests even in Russia). I chose not to resort to the “low-hanging fruit” of the Palestinian situation, because – obviously.

        Seeing, how you even didn’t try to touch upon this subject, we can safely assume, that you are conceding a point, being – by and large Muslims all over the world don’t buy the artificial outrage over Uyghurs and can’t be bothered to take action.

        As for the quote that you provided, it proves one and only thing – that the Chinese are *officially* worried (“expressing concerns”) that the Taliban *might* beef up and incite Uyghurs (and other Xinjiang AR Muslims) to some violent action. For this concerns to have some real foundation, one has to accept the theory of “Taliban as Muslim internationalists” ™, dreaming to “export” their jihad elsewhere.

        The evidence on the ground about that is, notably, lacking.

        [Speaking about the source you cite, yalensis – surely, you are aware about FerganaMedia’s (“independent journalism”) history, the high praise it receives from the US government funded VOA… or that RosKomNadzor blocked them?]

        Like

      5. Let’s talk reality now, shall we? Meaning –history. I know, I know – the boooo-ring part.

        For a plethora of links to the official Chinese sources and analysis I recommend getting you familiarized with the articles by Yun Sun. To avoid “comment approval lag” here, I won’t over-link and just assume that you did this, yalensis, while I provide relevant quotes and excerpts below.

        From “China’s strategic assessment of Afghanistan” (April 8, 2020)

        “From the Chinese perspective, 9/11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan fostered the radicalization of Muslims in the region and directly contributed to the unrest in China’s northwest Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.”

        “What China fears — and anticipates — is that the delicate power equilibrium in Afghanistan may be shattered by the U.S. troop withdrawal. In that event, the Taliban may reject direct peace talks with the Afghan government. In the worst-case scenario, a civil war between the Taliban and what remains of the central government would ensue.”

        “Hedging between Kabul and Taliban

        China’s primary concern with Afghanistan lies in its security situation and in instability and radicalization spilling over into China. Addressing this challenge requires China to work with both Kabul and the Taliban. As a result, Beijing has consistently supported political inclusiveness and the reconciliation between the two sides. Despite China’s prior support of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, its views of the Taliban gradually evolved to differentiate among factions that are anti-United States and factions that promote Islamic radicalization. Furthermore, a transactional relationship began to emerge given China’s need for the Taliban to deny Uighur militants safe havens and the Taliban’s need for China to play some advocacy role on its behalf. Starting in 2014, Taliban delegations began to publicly and regularly visit China, culminating in secret talks that China facilitated between Kabul and the Taliban in Urumqi.

        […]
        In anticipation of the Taliban’s strengthened legitimacy, role, and influence in Afghanistan, China will most likely enhance its relations with the organization in the future. China moved over the hurdle of its own non-interference principle in the Afghan case a long time ago, both in the name of mediation and in the effort to protect its interests on the ground. While China continues to support Ghani and his government, Chinese analysts’ favorable views of the Taliban have been on the rise. Pang Guang, a senior Chinese expert on the Middle East and counter-terrorism, called the group “supported by the poor people who make up more than half of the country’s population” while, in contrast, saying that the Kabul government “supported by the Americans.” In such analysts’ view, the peace deal between the United States and the Taliban has strengthened the legitimacy of the Taliban, giving the organization the influence to develop relations with foreign governments — especially Pakistan and China. Although China does not and cannot support a caliphate in Afghanistan as it could pose a direct challenge to China’s control of its Muslim population, it does observe that the Taliban’s political ideology has shown signs of moderation.”

        “On the question of “local reassurances,” China has received some tacit reassurance from the Taliban about the security and protection of its future projects in Afghanistan such as the extension of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor via a railway to Kandahar. Details, however, remain elusive.”

        From “How China views the US withdrawal from Afghanistan” (May 13, 2021)

        “What is possibly more critical and alarming for China is that once the U.S. formally ends its war in Afghanistan, it could once again use the country for tactical purposes in the region — and China remains fully convinced, no matter how erroneously, that it was the United States that trained, financed, and armed Osama bin Laden and his supporters during the Soviet occupation to counter Moscow’s expanding influence. While China may never be so bold as to invade Afghanistan, such American capabilities have serious implications for China’s homeland security in Xinjiang and beyond. Within the framework of U.S.-China great-power competition, the prospect of Afghanistan becoming a battlefield for not only political influence but also security competition has grown significantly.”

        “[C]ompared to a year ago, China has grown increasingly resigned to the prospect of instability in Afghanistan after the withdrawal. China has been actively and vigorously laying the groundwork for what appears to be an inevitable fallout.”

        “China’s geo-economic interests in Afghanistan are consistent with Pakistan’s aspiration to turn itself into a regional trade hub. And Chinese support of that reflects Beijing’s continued conviction that Pakistan has an essential role to play in the stabilization of Afghanistan upon the withdrawal of troops by the United States. China is perfectly aware of how Pakistan exaggerates its control of the situation and plays competing sides of the conflict to advance its own interests. However, from China’s perspective, Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan — even if exaggerated — is a political reality that cannot be ignored. Moreover, Chinese and Pakistani objectives in Afghanistan are aligned, if not identical. And that is particularly true in terms of countering India’s influence.”

        Finally, after establishing the historical context, we are arriving to the present day with “A reluctant embrace: China’s new relationship with the Taliban” (August 10, 2021).

        “On July 28, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a high-profile official meeting with a delegation of nine Afghan Taliban representatives, including the group’s co-founder and deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. This was not the first visit by Taliban members to China, but the meeting was unprecedented in its publicity, the seniority of the Chinese attendees, and the political messages conveyed. Most notably, Wang used the meeting to publicly recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political force in Afghanistan, a step that has major significance for the country’s future development.”

        “In 2015, China hosted secret talks between representatives of the Taliban and Afghan government in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In July 2016, a Taliban delegation — led by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, then the group’s senior representative in Qatar — visited Beijing. During the trip, the Taliban representatives reportedly sought China’s understanding and support for their positions in Afghan domestic politics.

        “The third aspect of Wang’s message focused on the demand that the Taliban “sever all ties with all terrorist organizations, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement,” a Muslim separatist group founded by militant Uighurs. Although many have questioned the existence of the organization, and the Trump administration removed it from the U.S. Terrorist Exclusion List last November, the presence of Uighur militants in Afghanistan and their political aspirations are real. This issue has been a priority for Chinese officials in their dealings with all political forces in Afghanistan. In fact, without the Taliban’s public promise in July not to harbor any group hostile to China, it is questionable whether Chinese officials would have issued such a high-profile recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political force at all.

        “Chinese officials have felt a growing need to curry favor with the Taliban as the security situation in Afghanistan and the surrounding region has deteriorated. On June 19, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a rare warning calling for all Chinese nationals and entities in Afghanistan to “evacuate as soon as possible” in anticipation of intensified fighting in the country. Two days after the Wang-Taliban meeting, the Foreign Ministry issued the same warning once again. In neighboring Pakistan, three high-profile attacks against Chinese nationals have been launched in the last four months: the April 22 bombing of a hotel in Quetta where the Chinese ambassador was staying, a bus explosion in Kohistan that killed nine Chinese engineers in mid-July, and the shooting in Karachi of a car carrying Chinese engineers on the same day the Taliban delegation met with Wang. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Quetta attack and analysts also suspected that it is culpable in the other attacks. Some Chinese experts have warned that the security vacuum created by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to an intensification of violence against Chinese nationals in the region. Hence, Chinese officials will likely see a need to rely on the Afghan Taliban not to target China, as well as to help influence or rein in those who might.”

        Tl;dr. China is afraid of the radical islamist internationalists. Meaning – in reality, it’s afraid of Al Qaeda and the IS-K types in their backyard, sponsored by the US and/or their clients. They know from history, that in the past Taliban tolerated/collaborated with such organizations (hence 9/11). Now they are issuing “Last Chinese Warning” to them not to do so.

        Left unquoted but contained in the article mentioned above is Chinese opposition to “go full in” aka invade Afghanistan aka make the neo-con dream come true. Meanwhile, Chinese analysts and officialdom moved to the conclusion, that Taliban, on itself, is not a “jihad export” movement. At the same time, they are genuinely afraid for the safety of the Chinese nationals inside both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Barring the military option, this leaves China only with arranging “krysha” for them from those who can provide it – i.e. Taliban.

        The article you cite, yalensis, fails to mention all of that background – or the response of the official Taliban.

        Now, coming back to what you initially said:

        “Victorious Taliban would have to put aside some of their ideology and agree not to, e.g., egg on Uighurs simply because fellow Muslims.”

        Nowhere did you, yalensis, cared to prove that “egging on Uyghurs” was ever “in the cards” within “Taliban ideology”. Because you did not care to provide a comprehensive rundown of said ideology in the first place. I did. To which you responded in half-mocking incredulous tone (“Wow, you are muslim now?”) that makes you an honor as an American.

        …And the blogpost theme was the need to learn from the mistakes – and why it does not happen. Huh. Seems fitting.

        P.S. I had a very sensible chuckle at your utilization of “stock progressive wisdom” ™ phrase of “these black-turbaned medievalists” (C). SURELY, you made it fully cognizant of the history of the late-medieval/early-modern historical period development of the centralized states in Europe and elsewhere. Like, for real.

        Like

      6. [Test, test]

        [Comment persently stuck in “approval limbo”]:

        “I mention Taliban/Uighur issue, so obviously I’m up to something nefarious in your eyes. Yup, I’m a neo-con now, because I wondered about Taliban/Uighur relationship.”

        Here, yalensis, a friend for you:

        Accuse he/zhe/them of anything as much as you want.

        Not me.

        Unless, of course, you can point out, honestly, without – how you say it? – “insinuations and Aesopian hints at other peoples bad intentions” where I claimed that *you* are a neo-con.

        If I ever engage in “innuendos” and such its purely by choice, for I’m perfectly capable to trash-talk people in their faces. If I choose, instead, a bout of elfing, it’s because I find the process interesting, elucidating and a nice training in operating under potential harsh “sensitive” censorship, should the need arise for me to do so.

        Wanna straight talk? Alrighty – you are ignorant. Simply ignorant. Consuming articles one after another without digesting them via rigorous analysis and verifications would deal you no good. In order to achieve that you gotta have an appropriate “digestive flora” made up of the previously acquired knowledge – which you thoroughly lack in many, many spheres of human activities. Afghanistan and its environs are just another examples.

        You are already accusing me of the following:

        “And apparently you are now an expert on Islamic sects. Who would have guessed?”

        Astagfir allāh! Me? Nope. I merely received an education, which includes as its integral part a good chunk of history of the Arabian Caliphate (and what happened since), for whose people religion is an integral part. Reading encyclopedias also helps. Oh, and there is also this brand new thing – “Inter-Net”. Maybe you heard something about it. Amazing thing! They say one can find pretty much any kind of information using it. Like I did, providing you and others with the quotes and links not from some arcane and/or occult volume of forbidden knowledge but from a site bearing a name Wiki-Pedia (and Quran on-line).

        I know that Americans a particularly proud of their own ignorance of the world at large, despise “dorks” and view anyone more knowledgeable than them in these spheres as suspicious – or a filthy foreigner up to no good. For you, yalensis, I’m indeed a foreigner.

        Now let’s address the core of your accusation against me: that you mean a real deal, while I have only “insinuations and Aesopian hints at other peoples bad intentions”.

        I think we have already dealt with the second part. If you want me repeated it for clarity, here you go – no, do not ascribe to malignancy what could easily be ascribed to ignorance (at least in this particular case).

        As for the first – I can’t help but notice that you failed to address one particular phenomenon, to which I drew your (and others attention). I.e., that contra the artificial outrage expressed by shy and conscientious Western intelligents (right on cue after “The Orange Man” ™ decided to duke it out with China) over the fate of Uyghurs, there is a lacks of it both among the muslim-majority countries and islamist/jihadi militant groups. I offered to compare and contrast it to the pan-muslim reactions ot the treatment of Rohingya (there were protests even in Russia). I chose not to resort to the “low-hanging fruit” of the Palestinian situation, because – obviously.

        Seeing, how you even didn’t try to touch upon this subject, we can safely assume, that you are conceding a point, being – by and large Muslims all over the world don’t buy the artificial outrage over Uyghurs and can’t be bothered to take action.

        As for the quote that you provided, it proves one and only thing – that the Chinese are *officially* worried (“expressing concerns”) that the Taliban *might* beef up and incite Uyghurs (and other Xinjiang AR Muslims) to some violent action. For this concerns to have some real foundation, one has to accept the theory of “Taliban as Muslim internationalists” ™, dreaming to “export” their jihad elsewhere.

        The evidence on the ground about that is, notably, lacking.

        [Speaking about the source you cite, yalensis – surely, you are aware about FerganaMedia’s (“independent journalism”) history, the high praise it receives from the US government funded VOA… or that RosKomNadzor blocked them?]

        [It has 2 outgoing links. Is it enough for spam filter to raise an alarm?]

        Like

    2. The U.S. put a “stop-check” on IMF $$ that had already been allocated in the next tranche to Afghanistan government. And announced they will sanction the Taliban.

      Yavlensis,
      the IMF no doubt managed to improve their image Public Relations over the years, decades?, Maybe even their expertise? I wish I had the background to be able to deal with matters thoroughly.

      But the last time I was confronted with evidential bits and pieces … I wasn’t convinced … Relying no doubt arbitrarily on the views of a banker, with longtime international experience (including close encountered with the Chicago Boys) … somewhere in the post 2008 world. … But yes, there were also headlines creating a multitude of followers.

      ***********

      Anyway, if I may? And notice I am not a fan of the Taliban, but neither was I a fan of the US led war against them. Maybe they are better off without IMF loans? Who knows?

      Like

  9. “Nowhere did you, yalensis, cared to prove that “egging on Uyghurs” was ever “in the cards” within “Taliban ideology”. Because you did not care to provide a comprehensive rundown of said ideology in the first place. I did. To which you responded in half-mocking incredulous tone (“Wow, you are muslim now?”) that makes you an honor as an American.”

    See, Lyt, up until that paragraph you were actually making sense, being informative, and just addressing the issue and the history of the Chinese-Taliban relations. But then, at the end, you just can’t help yourself and resort to mockery and bad-faithism. Your usual dfishonest ad hominems, like calling me an “American”. In your previous comment you ad hominemed me as a “neocon”. Which is why I mocked you back, calling you a “Muslim”, to give you a taste of your own medicine.

    You are not an honest broker, Lyttenburgh. You clearly see your role, not as spreading information or enlightenment, but as mocking and ridiculing other people in the blogosphere. You simply don’t know how to have an honest discussion, even with people who effing agree with you on certain issues. Like that woman commenter you threatened, I forget her name, who was clearly a Russian patriot and Putin supporter; and yet you strove to “unmask” and even threaten her.

    I have seen the way you twist other peoples words around into almost the opposite of what they are actually saying. Or, imparting to them ideologies they do not actually ascribe to. Like calling me a “neocon” because I was worried about the Chinese-Taliban relationship; worried that the Taliban ideology might interfere with their pragmatic need for Chinese investment. Can everyone see how Lyt twisted my words around to tag me as a neocon? Which is actually the opposite of what I am. Necons are huge supporters of American imperialism and wars. I am a socialist who desires to see the defeat of American forces and the end of the American Empire.

    See, Lyt is a FALSIFIER to the core. His colossal ego allows him to see himself as a mighty warrior chock full of of witty quips. Unfortunately, his mastery of English grammar is not quite up to the task of being an “influencer” in the Anglophone arena.

    What is Lyttenburgh? Maybe it is time to play his game of “unmasking” him via insinuation and dishonest brokering. This Lyttenburgh claims to be a socialist (a firm believer in Stalin’s righteousness and infallibility), but also unconditionally supports Putin, who is a capitalist who despises both Lenin and Stalin. Lyt now appears to be very supportive of the Taliban, despite the fact that the Taliban* is considered a terrorist organization by the Russian government. One can legitimately wonder (hint, hint, dark insitnuation, BRA-VO!) if Lyt has converted to Islam. Did he reject Jesus for Mohammed?

    See, two can play this game of mockery and “unmasking”. You need a taste of your own medicine, Lyt. It might even do you some good. Just like every street needs a punch in the nose every now and then.

    Like

    1. “But then, at the end, you just can’t help yourself and resort to mockery and bad-faithism”

      Not true. This site’s engine “chew up” in its comment-approval filter another of my comments, that should have been posted between the two you are seeing. Once/If it gets through, you’d see, yalensis, that I’ve utilized mockery from the very beginning.

      “Your usual dfishonest ad hominems, like calling me an “American””

      How is calling you an “American” counts as “ad hominem”? Besides – ain’t you one?

      “In your previous comment you ad hominemed me as a “neocon”.”

      For the record – are you accusing me of calling *you* a neo-con? If so – prove it with a quote.

      “You are not an honest broker, Lyttenburgh.”

      There is no such thing as an “honest broker”. But I’m not a “broker” in the first place. I’m not doing it for some “gain”.

      “Like that woman commenter you threatened, I forget her name, who was clearly a Russian patriot and Putin supporter”

      Lola “the Bortich-era Ogonyok reader”? Lola the Liberal? That alone disqualifies her from being a patriot. As for her claims to be a Putin supper – one, can’t recall her ever claiming that, two – so what?

      “You clearly see your role, not as spreading information or enlightenment, but as mocking and ridiculing other people in the blogosphere.”

      This is no Broadway, yalensis. I play no “role”.

      “I have seen the way you twist other peoples words around into almost the opposite of what they are actually saying.”

      Still waiting for you provide us all with a quote where I call *you* a neo-con.

      “I am a socialist who desires to see the defeat of American forces and the end of the American Empire.”

      […]
      […]
      […]

      😉

      “His colossal ego allows him to see himself as a mighty warrior chock full of of witty quips.”

      Never seen myself as a “warrior” in my entire life. Never being one.

      “. Unfortunately, his mastery of English grammar is not quite up to the task of being an “influencer” in the Anglophone arena.”

      True. Never claimed to be an “influencer” though.

      “Maybe it is time to play his game of “unmasking” him via insinuation and dishonest brokering.”

      Already did that, yalensis. In this short rant you insinuated – without providing any kind of proof – 9 or 10 things about me. How do you call it? To “twist other peoples words around into almost the opposite of what they are actually saying” (C)

      The difference between is, yalenesis, is that I can answer for my words and claims. Can you? Then provide us all with the sentence written by me that got your panties in the knot re: “neo-con”. Provide it in full quotation so as to avoid “twisting other peoples words” and all that.

      After that, I’d like to see me proven “FALSIFIER to the core” (c). What of the things I’ve written in this comment section, providing links, quotations etc is “false to the core”? I’d appreciate you pointing it out yalensis. As you understand, calling me FALSIFIER to the core” (c) is a very serious accusation. One does not go that far banking on pure chutzpah.

      “also unconditionally supports Putin”

      “Unconditionally”? Me? Quotes, please.

      “Lyt now appears to be very supportive of the Taliban”

      Where I’ve been “supportive of the Taliban”? Quotes, please.

      “…if Lyt has converted to Islam. Did he reject Jesus for Mohammed?”

      […]

      It’s a real tragedy, yalensis, that the full sum of your theological knowledge seemed to be (‘Highly Likely’ ™) derived from the American pop-culture instead of the bodies of official knowledge.

      “It might even do you some good”

      That’s where you are right, yalensis. For which I thank you. But you are not doing any good yourself. On the contrary – you harm yourself by making such a public “performance”.

      Still, I expect you to defend most thoroughly a plethora of claims that you made against me.

      Like

    2. Yavlensis, I am not sure, If I really want to dig through your recent (ideological?) clash. Enlightenment? Wouldn’t that start with reducing, tempering down emotions? And resultant arguments? Refuse to be drawn into some type of communicational tit for that?

      Although it might no doubt be interesting to that a closer look. 😉

      But this feels, can’t help, sorry, curious:
      I am a socialist who desires to see the defeat of American forces and the end of the American Empire.

      Socialist means what exactly to you on your home ground, presently? No doubt, I do have an earlier comment by you in mind in this context. Which, yes, may have sounded vaguely socialist. 😉

      Otherwise, I agree, I too would appreciate Lytt to turn down her tendency for ‘argumentum ad hominem’. Not least concerning our host here.

      And yes, would be highly pleased by Lola (was that his/her name turning up again in this comment section. 😉

      Like

      1. moon, I don’t blame you at all for not wanting to get into the weeds of various blog polemics! 🙂

        Just to answer your question, what I mean by socialist? Well, just the traditional definition, I would like to see the capitalist system replaced by one in which a working-class dominated government provides for the well-being of the population: free health care, free education, a basic living wage, that sort of thing. Classic Marxism 101.

        Problem: Capitalists won’t simply turn over their wealth, instead they are busing constructing a neo-feudal system, especially in the U.S.

        Like

  10. Taliban Schmaliban – Afghanistan

    Here is another perspective
    • The Daily Nationalist: Hope for Afghanistan – Sven Longshanks with Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson

    https://www.radioalbion.com/2021/08/the-daily-nationalist-hope-for.html

    This could mean the demise of the heroin trade – and also perverted Sabbatean liberalism, institutionalised child abuse, Netflix movies (oh I am repeating myself) and usury.

    But what we should be asking is what the ‘****’ Israel the US is doing there in the first place …
    • Zbigniew Brzezinski to the Mujahideen: “Your cause is right and God is on your side!”

    How ironic and prescient:
    Brzezinski: “This land is yours – you will go back to it one day … “

    • On the Morning of 9/11 – The Truth In 5 Minutes – James Corbett

    • Donald Trump: “You May Find The Saudis Were Behind The 9/11 Attacks”

    Like

  11. Yalensis, I gave you double the time necessary to provide any pertinent proof of the accusations you’ve levied to me. You did nothing of the sort. Your reponse to userperson now known as “moon”, indicates that you had both time and opportunity to response, but chose not to.

    It is with great sadness, that I must conclude, that you are either:

    a) A liar

    or

    b) A hysterical person, given to emotional, irrational outbursts, that put you to shame afterwards.

    Like

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