You have to hand it to the Taliban (or, if you are Joe Biden, the ‘Tally-bahn’): they are both a persistent and an infernally clever lot.
As to their persistence, recall that George W. Bush assured us that, ‘thanks to our military, our allies, and the brave fighters of Afghanistan…the Taliban regime is coming to an end.’ That was in December 2001.
As of August 2021, they control the country and are as I write issuing ultimatums to the President of the United States: everybody out by September 11, no, make that August 31 — otherwise, there will be ‘consequences’.
Oh, and by ‘everybody out’, we don’t mean Afghans who may have worked for the US: they have to stay.
There does seem to be a communications breakdown about radical elements in Afghanistan.
A few days ago, President Ice Cream said that al-Qaeda was ‘gone’ from Afghanistan, ergo (he did not say ‘ergo’) we had no reasons to be there, getting al-Qaeda after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 having been the original rationale for going into that godforsaken country in the first place.
There is quite a lot of that Yes-No, Did-Didn’t, whiplashing these days. Jen Psaki, the President’s press secretary, told us that no Americans were ‘stranded’ in Afghanistan, adding for good moralistic measure that it was ‘irresponsible’ to suggest such a thing.
Many observers close to the situation have a different assessment of what will happen; said one, ‘it is unavoidable that Americans, Green Card holders and those who worked with us will be left behind’. Hard cheese on those folks, but, as always, the Babylon Bee distributes solace, explaining that ‘Americans Trapped By Taliban With No Rescue Plan Happy To Hear They Are Not Stranded’.
Well, that’s what we used to call black humor in a satirical paper. For the people actually on the ground, there is not a lot of humor. According to NBC,
‘Staffers reported being jostled, hit, spat on and cursed at by Taliban fighters at checkpoints near the airport, it said, adding that criminals were taking advantage of the chaos while the US military tried to maintain order “in an extremely physical situation”. Some staff members reported that they were almost separated from their children, while others collapsed in a crush of people and had to be taken to hospitals with injuries, the cable said. Others said they had collapsed on the road because of heat exhaustion, it said. “It would be better to die under the Taliban’s bullet” than face the crowds again, a staff member was quoted as saying in the cable.’
Everyone is feeling the strain. Our secretary of state, Anthony ‘Winkin and Blinkin’, for example, could not remember who the departed president of Afghanistan was, confusing former president Hamid Karzai with President Ashraf ‘Skedaddle’ Ghani. Here’s how to tell the difference, President Ghani, who is now swanning around the United Arab Emirates, is the one who left with $169 million of your tax dollars stuffed into bags, though to be fair no one has counted the lucre Karzai may have appropriated in his 14 years in office.
No, like the poor according to the Gospel, it looks like we’ll have the Taliban (and maybe al-Qaeda and Isis) always with us. It’s a good thing, then, isn’t it (is it?) that the organization seems to be burnishing its image. Joe Biden likes ice cream. It turns out that the Taliban does too, and we have the pictures to prove it. (I wonder what the Pashto word for ‘troll’ is?).
We have also just learned that Sharia loving group wants to take a bigger role on the international stage, helping, for instance, to tackle the burning issue of climate change. And you’ll be pleased to hear that the fancy-head-gear chaps can multitask, battling climate change even as they execute wayward citizens and hustle women back into burqas. Of course, it’s not only fancy head gear that the Taliban has to conjure these days. Thanks to the generosity — never call it scandalous incompetence — of the US government, we have bequeathed the Taliban hundreds of millions of dollars worth of grade-A military hardware, making them ‘the most armed militant group today’ (actually, the most armed in history). A partial inventory of our largess, not to say stupidity, includes 23 A-29 combat aircraft. ($22.25 million a pop), three C-130 transport planes ($14 million each), and 33 H-60 Blackhawk helicopters ($6 million each). Then there are the 170 armored Humvees ($41.5 million), thousand upon thousands of rockets and grenades and nearly a million rounds of .50 caliber ammunition.
Why doesn’t Joe Biden just tell them to give all that stuff back, or else? Because Joe Biden is not former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. I wish he were, and I wish he’d say what Jocko says here.
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