Biden says he does not regret Afghanistan withdrawal as Taliban take over more towns

Seanchaidh

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you've implied that the presence of an allied Afghan gov (that they installed) indicates that the government was wholly independent (check...)
The Parcham faction was part of the Saur revolution- indeed, the Saur revolution was a reaction to Mohammad Daoud Khan's purging of the Parcham faction from the PDPA- as well as the movement that overthrew the Afghan monarchy in 1973. Karmal participated in both governments that proceeded from those revolutions. Karmal did a really awful job of being a "Soviet puppet", as he didn't listen to them when they told him not to seek revenge against the Khalq faction. It appears more that he was simply one of the most powerful people left standing after the Soviets deposed Amin (and Amin killed so many others). You can infer a good degree of independence from the fact that Karmal acted independently.

There was a great deal of continuity between the governments before and after the assassination of Amin. There was not a great deal of continuity between the Taliban and the American puppet government (unless you count Taliban soldiers showing up to receive paychecks from the new regime, then disappearing).

you've even appealed to providing stability, which was the refrain of the US interventionists for years (mega check). It's not "roughly the same words", it's a bloody rerun.
It's a rationale that makes sense when you're intervening to help a government that was the result of a popular revolution fight a foreign-armed, foreign-funded insurgency with the participation of many foreign volunteers. Yes. Same words, completely different context and meaning.

If these justifications were faulty before, they're faulty now. They don't magically hold more water depending on who's doing it.
Or the completely different surrounding situation, relevantly different facts, etc.

You've made it even more clear that you're just pointing at similar words that make sense as a strong argument in one context and not another.

In both cases, I'm squarely pointing the finger at military leadership (and the government) for failing or refusing to hold any kind of standard of behaviour. Exactly as you do with the grotesque US war crimes perpetrated elsewhere. When war crimes are this endemic, this common, the problem cannot be fobbed off on individual soldiers; there's something sick and permissive in policy & culture.
The Red Army was also horrible to Germany, but that doesn't make Soviet participation in WW2 a matter of "imperialism".

You're not. You'll rightly bring up horrifying excesses perpetrated by US personnel overseas, and then throw up these excuses about how the gov and leadership can't be blamed when it's the USSR.
Invading the Taliban is quite different from providing military aid to the Afghan government, yes, even if the Soviets ended up eliminating a particular head of government in reaction to him assassinating much of the rest of the government including his predecessor and others who had negotiated the agreement with the Soviet Union to send troops. Misconduct by the US military isn't what makes it an imperialist institution anymore than the Taliban is imperialist for destroying some very large and ancient Buddha statues.
 

Silvanus

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((For fuck sake, the forum isn't letting me post this reply as one post, either... have to cut it up, sorry)).

This all happened because this is how invasions work. You get invited to a place by some people to help with something and one of them murders many of the others and if you don't just let him do that, then you're an invading imperialist.
See, I didn't realise that all you needed to avoid something being an invasion/foreign occupation was an invite. And once you have that invite, you can break the terms of the invite, murder the guy who invited you, do whatever you want outside the remit of that invite, stay for as long as you want & install your own compliant government!

I refer you back to the home-invader situation. I invite an acquaintance into my home to help me fix something; he guts me and steals my TV; I can't complain, because he didn't break in to do it! I just didn't appreciate that was how it worked.
 

Silvanus

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They broke their agreement with the government of Afghanistan to send troops to Afghanistan to help against the insurgency by sending troops to Afghanistan to help against the insurgency.
No, they broke the agreement by murdering the person who made it, installing a compliant puppet, and occupying the country for a decade. None of which was covered in the agreement you keep pointing to.

Do you believe a request from a foreign government for assistance gives a country carte blanche to do literally whatever the fuck they want in a country? Mass abduction, massacre, looting, installing their own gov?

Also, they eliminated a murderous autocrat who came to power after the treaty was negotiated and (while still calling for troops based on that treaty) murdered the principal Afghan architect of that treaty. This is imperialist somehow; wanting to protect a popular revolution from both foreign-armed insurgency and the ascension of a murdering autocrat is just like setting up and maintaining a global system of exploitation of the global south on behalf of monopoly capital.
....And replaced him with a puppet/ military occupation, who were equally (or more) murderous and autocratic.

And I really could have sworn that we'd established after 2 decades of US imperialist occupation that a foreign government acting repressive was not a justification for overthrow/ military occupation. :unsure:

If you want to insist that the situations are entirely incomparable, then... well, maybe stop using the exact same justifications as the US neoliberals did in the 2000s. It would make it a more compelling case. If you echo their justifications, I'm likely to see the "cases for intervention" as equally bunk.

Not only did it "turn into" a quagmire, that was the United States plan all along. The United States wasn't thinking "what do we do if the Soviet Union intervenes?" it was thinking "How can we induce Soviet intervention?" But sure, just continue to ignore the crucial difference that the invasion of Afghanistan was immensely good for the ruling economic elite of the United States and the opposite was the case for the government of the Soviet Union with respect to their intervention in Afghanistan.
"The US wanted us to intervene, therefore the intervention was good".

Yeah, the invasion didn't turn out well for the Soviets. How in hell is that a defence? Vietnam didn't turn out well for the US, either; I assume you're going to apply the same standard and conclude that that intervention must have been well-intentioned as well, then.
 

Silvanus

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You said that the Soviet intervention was more imperialist than the actions taken by the United States which intentionally caused it.
Invasion, military occupation, & installing compliant puppet governments tend to be "peak" imperialism, in terms of how we generally use the term. And the USSR was actually quite capable of making its own decisions without being led into the wilderness by the big bad Americans; I do credit them with adult decision-making capacity.

But this isn't a defence of the American intervention. The US involvement was grotesque & unforgiveable. The issue is you appear to automatically equate criticism of the USSR with defence of the USA. I've not once defended US intervention in Afghanistan; the only one offering apologia for military occupation here is your own self.
 

Silvanus

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It's not fine (or as far as I can tell officially sanctioned apart from by the individual commanders and regiments who perpetrated it). It's just not "imperialism"-- unless you want to torture the definition of that even further. The looting of Lindisfarne wasn't imperialism. Wait, you might actually think that it was.
I mean, you've already tortured the definition to the point where arming a foreign insurgency (very very bad) is more "imperialist" than a full decade of military occupation.

The issue with mass looting is that you're intentionally characterising it as basically "a few bad apples". The same drivel we hear from US military apologists explaining away their own soldiers' involvement in war crimes; the same drivel we hear whenever a policeman murders someone.

When issues are enormously widespread, it points to an institutional tolerance, a rot at the top. A matter of policy and culture. Not a few bad apples. And if that rot is resulting in looting a foreign country for the enrichment of an occupying power, then yes, it speaks to imperialist attitudes.
 
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Seanchaidh

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I mean, you've already tortured the definition to the point where arming a foreign insurgency (very very bad) is more "imperialist" than a full decade of military occupation.
If the soldiers of the Red Army had been Afghan and under the direct control of the Afghan government, the material results would not have been appreciably different and yet you would have trouble calling it "a full decade of military occupation". This suggests that your reasoning is thin.

Though perhaps a better way to illustrate that thinness is to consider what the Soviet Union was gaining out of their occupation-by-request. Was the Red Army looking for relevance? Was Russian military industry desperate to stoke demand for its products? Did Soviet leadership profit from the opium trade?

No. Their reasoning seems to have been that there was a popular movement in Afghanistan that was worth protecting from American and Pakistani interference despite the missteps of its leadership. Do you think that Brezhnev wanted to go to Afghanistan so that the Red Army had a supply of people to rape? Or to take souvenirs from the national museum? Was that the Politburo's aim?

This is precisely what it wasn't in the case of the Soviets in Afghanistan:

looting a foreign country for the enrichment of an occupying power
 
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Silvanus

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If the soldiers of the Red Army had been Afghan and under the direct control of the Afghan government, the material results would not have been appreciably different and yet you would have trouble calling it "a full decade of military occupation". This suggests that your reasoning is thin.
Uhrm, yes, it's difficult to count as a foreign military occupation if it's... their own military. That's right! It would've still been widespread military abuse & looting of the populace for the enrichment of that military, though. We'd be calling it a dictatorial Junta instead of a military occupation by a foreign power.

Similarly, if a country's own government is acting despotically towards its own people, it's not "imperialism". But it's still shite. The fact that "material results" can be similar whether a population is oppressed by a foreign power or a local one is hardly a relevant argument.

Though perhaps a better way to illustrate that thinness is to consider what the Soviet Union was gaining out of their occupation-by-request. Was the Red Army looking for relevance? Was Russian military industry desperate to stoke demand for its products? Did Soviet leadership profit from the opium trade?

No. Their reasoning seems to have been that there was a popular movement in Afghanistan that was worth protecting from American and Pakistani interference despite the missteps of its leadership. Do you think that Brezhnev wanted to go to Afghanistan so that the Red Army had a supply of people to rape? Or to take souvenirs from the national museum? Was that the Politburo's aim?
No, the politburo was not motivated by enriching a military-industrial complex. It was motivated by expanding its sphere of influence globally, and creating sympathetic satellite states, often through the installation of compliant governments or puppets.

This is precisely what it wasn't in the case of the Soviets in Afghanistan:
Looting wasn't a motivating factor for the government in Moscow, that's true. But it went on nonetheless, tolerated by the military leadership for their own enrichment, at the cost of the local population they were supposedly protecting.

Similarly, the US government did not order the invasion of Vietnam primarily to loot its people. But the US military looted nonetheless, and the US military brass tolerated it for their own enrichment.

This entire line of argument seems to boil down to: they weren't enriching a military industrial complex like the US was/is, and the occupation turned out very badly for them, and for that reason we can assume that their intentions were good and it cannot be imperialist. That conclusion simply doesn't follow.
 

Seanchaidh

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This entire line of argument seems to boil down to: they weren't enriching a military industrial complex like the US was/is, and the occupation turned out very badly for them, and for that reason we can assume that their intentions were good and it cannot be imperialist. That conclusion simply doesn't follow.
It isn't just that the occupation turned out badly for them, as if by accident, it's that most everyone involved didn't think it was in their interest even before it began. The United States gave the Soviet Union a legitimate and moral reason to intervene precisely so that it would. The United States did this despite explicitly acknowledging in their diplomatic cables that the government of Afghanistan that they were going to undermine "deserved the support" of anyone who cared for the Afghan people, and that destabilizing it would likely be bad for Afghanistan. So far as I can tell, they were correct and much blood is on their hands.

No, the politburo was not motivated by enriching a military-industrial complex. It was motivated by expanding its sphere of influence globally, and creating sympathetic satellite states, often through the installation of compliant governments or puppets.
This is just an ugly and cynical way of saying that they wanted more communist states in the world rather than less, which is more liberatory than it is imperial. Oh no, they wanted communism to win during the cold war. They even took measures to that end instead of simply giving up any struggle against capitalist domination. :eek:

Uhrm, yes, it's difficult to count as a foreign military occupation if it's... their own military. That's right! It would've still been widespread military abuse & looting of the populace for the enrichment of that military, though. We'd be calling it a dictatorial Junta instead of a military occupation by a foreign power.

Similarly, if a country's own government is acting despotically towards its own people, it's not "imperialism". But it's still shite. The fact that "material results" can be similar whether a population is oppressed by a foreign power or a local one is hardly a relevant argument.
What we're not seeing is a clear connection between the Soviet leadership's material interest in the matter and the atrocities committed by the Red Army and the Karmal government. "Imperialism" without any apparent economic feature, which is unlike any other example of imperialism or empire that I can think of. If you want to describe the Soviet intervention as brutal or indiscriminate, that's fine, but it still falls short of 'imperial'.
 

Silvanus

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It isn't just that the occupation turned out badly for them, as if by accident, it's that most everyone involved didn't think it was in their interest even before it began. The United States gave the Soviet Union a legitimate and moral reason to intervene precisely so that it would. The United States did this despite explicitly acknowledging in their diplomatic cables that the government of Afghanistan that they were going to undermine "deserved the support" of anyone who cared for the Afghan people, and that destabilizing it would likely be bad for Afghanistan. So far as I can tell, they were correct and much blood is on their hands.
Yes, much blood is on their hands. I fail to see how the US's efforts to induce Soviet occupation also exonerates the occupiers themselves. They still chose to do it. They were adults, you know, with decision-making faculties.

This is just an ugly and cynical way of saying that they wanted more communist states in the world rather than less, which is more liberatory than it is imperial. Oh no, they wanted communism to win during the cold war. They even took measures to that end instead of simply giving up any struggle against capitalist domination. :eek:
Firstly, more states in the Soviet sphere of influence & with Soviet-compliant governments is not the same thing as more communist states. One only needs to see how they treated non-aligned socialist & communist states to see that.

Secondly, I'm glad that you've at least abandoned any pretense of respecting self-determination, and are now open in arguing that its fine to make a foreign country and its people subservient to a superpower's global foreign policy. If you happen to like that foreign policy.

What we're not seeing is a clear connection between the Soviet leadership's material interest in the matter and the atrocities committed by the Red Army and the Karmal government. "Imperialism" without any apparent economic feature, which is unlike any other example of imperialism or empire that I can think of. If you want to describe the Soviet intervention as brutal or indiscriminate, that's fine, but it still falls short of 'imperial'.
Empires throughout history have held imperial holdings that do not particularly benefit them economically, in the interest of global power-struggles.

If you regard immediate economic gratification to be requisite for something to be "imperialist", then that's just an arbitrarily narrow restriction which hasn't held true since the inception of Empire.
 
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Seanchaidh

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Yes, much blood is on their hands. I fail to see how the US's efforts to induce Soviet occupation also exonerates the occupiers themselves. They still chose to do it. They were adults, you know, with decision-making faculties.
Once more, the United States gave the Soviet Union a legitimate and moral reason to intervene precisely so that it would. Which is to say that it would have been arguably quite wrong not to do so. It is hardly "imperialistic" (nor indeed childish) to help squash a bunch of angry warlords who object to a popular revolution that challenges their land ownership.

Firstly, more states in the Soviet sphere of influence & with Soviet-compliant governments is not the same thing as more communist states. One only needs to see how they treated non-aligned socialist & communist states to see that.

Secondly, I'm glad that you've at least abandoned any pretense of respecting self-determination, and are now open in arguing that its fine to make a foreign country and its people subservient to a superpower's global foreign policy. If you happen to like that foreign policy.
What the fuck are talking about? The Saur revolution was indigenous to Afghanistan; the triumph of the PDPA a result of popular support. The spread of communism is precisely about self-determination.

Empires throughout history have held imperial holdings that do not particularly benefit them economically, in the interest of global power-struggles.
Such as?

If you regard immediate economic gratification to be requisite for something to be "imperialist", then that's just an arbitrarily narrow restriction which hasn't held true since the inception of Empire.
It's not clear that there was any strategic benefit to "holding" Afghanistan either.
 

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If the soldiers of the Red Army had been Afghan and under the direct control of the Afghan government, the material results would not have been appreciably different and yet you would have trouble calling it "a full decade of military occupation". This suggests that your reasoning is thin.
If the foreign army doing the occupation hadn't been foreign then it wouldn't have been a foreign occupation.

Wow, shocking logic.
 
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Seanchaidh

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If the foreign army doing the occupation hadn't been foreign then it wouldn't have been a foreign occupation.

Wow, shocking logic.
They were there at the request of that government acting on its behalf. Shocking logic indeed.
 

Silvanus

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Once more, the United States gave the Soviet Union a legitimate and moral reason to intervene precisely so that it would. Which is to say that it would have been arguably quite wrong not to do so. It is hardly "imperialistic" (nor indeed childish) to help squash a bunch of angry warlords who object to a popular revolution that challenges their land ownership.
I know you consider it a legitimate and moral reason. I do not; I don't believe that if one power is arming insurgents, it gives another power the right to invade/occupy/install their own government. Repeating it with underlining and italics doesn't somehow mean that point is now settled.


What the fuck are talking about? The Saur revolution was indigenous to Afghanistan; the triumph of the PDPA a result of popular support. The spread of communism is precisely about self-determination.
Uh-huh, but you're not defending the Saur revolution, and I'm not criticising the Saur revolution. I'm criticising, and you're defending, the invasion of a foreign power and that foreign power overthrowing the government, installing its own from a compliant faction, and then occupying the country for 10 years.


One example is the British holding Calais, which was hugely costly to them, but I suppose you might discount that as it was a holding of the Kingdom. Another would be the Ottomans holding Algiers and a very long and narrow swathe of northern Africa, which was financially costly but held for strategic reasons. The British Mandate is another example, being both massively costly for the British and simultaneously ruinous for the people who lived there.

The fact of the matter is there were several reasons for colonial holdings to be taken. One is economic, enriching the Empire. Another is strategic: aiming to serve broad foreign policy aims, usually against rival Imperial powers (the USSR in Afghanistan fits here). The third reason (which doesn't apply here) was the misguided, racist belief that the colonialists had the ability & duty to better govern foreign people.

They were there at the request of that government acting on its behalf. Shocking logic indeed.
It's shocking that you still consider it "acting on their behalf", when their actions were so massively outside the remit of that request.

Invite acquaintance into my home to help fix a boiler -> he kills me & steals my TV -> I invited him in, so I can't complain.
 
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Seanchaidh

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It's shocking that you still consider it "acting on their behalf", when their actions were so massively outside the remit of that request.

Invite acquaintance into my home to help fix a boiler -> he kills me & steals my TV -> I invited him in, so I can't complain.
You certainly can't complain about him attempting to fix the boiler, which is what you're doing.
 

Silvanus

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You certainly can't complain about him attempting to fix the boiler, which is what you're doing.
So all the Soviets did was assist on combatting the insurgency? That's all, is it-- nothing outside the remit of the agreement they made? You're not this monumentally naïve.
 
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Revnak

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Jesus Christ how do you keep this up there has got to be a more worthwhile argument to have than defending the honor of the late Soviet Union. More value in defending Marx from accusations he was racist for saying the N word.
 

Seanchaidh

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So all the Soviets did was assist on combatting the insurgency? That's all, is it-- nothing outside the remit of the agreement they made? You're not this monumentally naïve.
This is an incredibly silly line of argument from you as long as you insist on criticizing "occupation" and using the term "invasion"; Afghan foreign policy in the years after the Saur revolution through multiple successive leaders was: "Soviet Union, please help us fight these CIA-armed Mujahideen". Taraki and Amin negotiated a treaty to that purpose and explicitly requested it. Amin explicitly requested it after having killed Taraki. Karmal supported it. To suggest that the Soviet Union reluctantly going there and doing as all three of those leaders wished is "imperialism" or "an invasion" is an obvious and facile piece of propaganda. The Red Army was typical of military organizations, which is to say horrific. It conducted its military operations in a foreign country more or less as you'd expect if you know things about military organizations. It treated Afghans like Afghan armies treated Afghans: terribly. Moreover, the Soviet leadership conspired to kill a murderer (at least according to most of the information I've read-- some sources disagree that the Soviet Union perpetrated the assassination) and may have chosen his successor from among the less radical Afghans in his party that Amin (I'll note, in case it isn't obvious to you: without any input from the Afghan people) exiled sometime near when he killed (again, without any input from the Afghan people) Taraki.

For all this, I'm supposed to believe that the Soviet Union intervening in Afghanistan was some depraved imperialistic act and that instead they should have simply let a popular revolution fall to CIA-armed feudal warlords and their servants and allies. Because actually doing anything to stand up to capitalist global hegemony is automatically imperialist or authoritarian depending on whether it is done in a foreign country or not.
 

Seanchaidh

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Jesus Christ how do you keep this up there has got to be a more worthwhile argument to have than defending the honor of the late Soviet Union. More value in defending Marx from accusations he was racist for saying the N word.
It is worth reexamining our understanding of history in light of the cold war, the political screening of professors and media professionals, and the unremitting propaganda directed at us since we could understand language. Even if it offends the sensibilities of some who style themselves socialists and yet want to condemn as unworthy any socialist project which enjoyed enough success to be capable of exerting power.