Afghanistan Charlie Foxtrot

“Sunk cost fallacy” is certainly relevant to the larger situation of Afghanistan.

Some things I heard today include:

  • Civilians were recommended to leave the country a month or more ago, but a lot assumed a withdraw would be delayed. This included contractors who were told to stay by their bosses.
  • Troops had been reduced to 2,500 to adhere to a treaty with the Taliban. Going above that would be considered to be breaking the agreement, and lowers the US’ international relationship. Admittedly the other side wasn’t exactly honoring the agreement…
  • Afghanistan has a pretty known history for bleeding other nations dry.

I certainly don’t think anyone is flawless here and would argue that there’s layers upon layers of mistakes that transcend political parties or ideologies.

Ain’t no rules in fight club.

Looks as if the stage is set for civil war. One side, people fighting for their freedom, the other side, the Taliban.

:Iran, Pakistan, rival warlords in the north, splinter factions of Al Qaeda, and ISIS have all entered the chat.:


Closing Bagram first seems to be the biggest own goal. That and US troops being forced to watch other countries sortie out to get their people while they are confined to the airport.

That and maybe not telling our allies what we were doing before it happened. Ignoring allies for 36 hours during a crisis is not going to win us any favors. Not to mention making one kind of vague speech about it and your VP not saying a word as she leaves the country.

I saw this on twitter;

Within the first 100 days Biden reversed every Trump decision he didn’t like and possibly some he agreed with, but on withdrawing from a messy horrible mess, he decided to hold to the old plan? Except he didn’t even do that, it appears that he cancelled the parts of it that dealt with getting assets out.

But in any case, we did better than Sweden, their embassy just didn’t show up to work one day, leaving all their local workers wondering what was going on when they showed up and it was all locked up.

I think the people talking about “re-taking” Bagram are largely delusional. Unless you can provide a 60km security corridor from Kabul to Bagram, you are just letting the talibs murder people on the road instead of in the streets of Kabul. Too many people are thinking with their hurt pride instead of keeping the objectives in mind.

The withdrawal was long overdue. The way they did/are doing it is a nightmare. I’m not unsympathetic to the challenges and the unknowns. I suspect there is more information on the pace of the Taliban takeover that will someday come out that was a factor in the decision-making; everybody (Taliban emphatically included) was working toward that 9/11 timeline, and not pulling out when we did might have resulted in pulling out under fire instead. It still could if we take too long. The collapse was coming one way or another; the real sin was taking taking counsel of hopes instead of fears when it came time to plan the timetable.


Hitler also learnt that the hard way, fighting a war on more than one front just is not possible.

Unless you can enable god mode and have lots of unlimited soldiers, weapons and ammo available instantly.

Saw something that made the US not going out to rescue people make more sense.

The Taliban are letting other nations get their people, any US operation would be Blackhawk Down Pt. 2 Electric Boogaloo.

About Bagram, how about we announce a bombing campaign and drop a MOAB on it to deny it’s use? Seems we left a bit behind there.

MOAB = lots of collateral damage and political fallout

I know this. It is wishful thinking. Or maybe vengeful.

However, the presser the other day made me think it was the 80’s and I was watching yet another Communist leader be propped up well into his failing health. The press is giving Biden a huge pass here at these events.

Stating that there are no Americans stranded in Afghanistan is a nonsensical statement. Also to tout the airlift as some great achievement is like asking for praise in putting out the house fire you started.

What press I have seen is very skeptical, actually. As they should be, since a lot of the administration statements are distinctly at odds with what everyone on the ground is saying–Taliban included.

The airlift is a great achievement, considering how it started, and the people involved should be commended. The failures that prompted it are a separate question that I hope gets investigated thoroughly, but I don’t have much hope for that because too many different parties would have to own a piece of it, going back 20 years.

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I know this is a bit of a thread resurrection, but I read something today that I’m a bit sceptical of.

Apparently, all the equipment left behind actually belonged to the Afghan government, not the US. The rationale behind that is that the US donated a lot of fairly old equipment to the Afghan government as aid - and that’s the stuff that has been left behind.

The reason I’m sceptical of this is because you would expect “liberals” to be using that as a counter to all the “conservatives” that are claiming that this is one more example of how Biden screwed up the evacuation.
Does anyone have any more accurate information on that?
I’ve had a quick look, but I’m at work right now and couldn’t do an in-depth analysis.

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I don’t have links, but from what I’ve heard:

  • The number quoted is over a large period of time. Well over a decade. Equipment bought early in the project may have been junked by this point.
  • The value may include some ‘services’ aspects. Training and such! Enough of us work in IT to know how big a deal that can be for purchasing anything complex.
  • Finally, yes: the ‘abandoned’ equipment had been mostly handed over to the ANA as their stuff. The goal was to build a functional military force and that didn’t quite happen, but an attempt was made.

Why isn’t this talked about? I think everyone is too tired to think through it right.

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COVID and COVID-related issues = perfect smokescreen to keep attention diverted

A lot of it was, but there was also a large chunk that wasn’t, especially the more modern stuff.

I believe the graphic showing everything left behind includes Afghan Army equipment. But, one could make a case that our military leaders knew they would fold like a wet blanket, so it could still be seen as a donation.

I am more concerned by the 100-5,000 green card holders left behind that still aren’t showing up anywhere and the 90k “We don’t know anything about them” people we did evac.

As with a lot of things, I think the ground truth was known–that the gov’t would fold–but we couldn’t act on that because it did not match the required narrative from civilian leadership and we dared not risk creation of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We donated the vast majority of the equipment to the government there, just as we left most of the stuff we’d brought to the Iraqi government (which promptly left it for ISIS). I hadn’t realized that was controversial or confusing; it’s just part of the massive waste of the whole enterprise.


Likely have a winner. If we had even attempted to start recovery actions early it would have “Sent the wrong message”.

The phone call Biden had with the Afghan President I think proved narrative was king, as it usually is.

Narrative was the only thing keeping us there for the last 18ish years. We just needed things to go well enough for long enough that we could claim victory and pull out. It never happened. The previous administration was enamored of making a deal with the same people (literally the same people, not just the same org) that we toppled from power 20 years ago, and secured an agreement that was essentially unqualified surrender with a wink and a nudge.

We easily could have gone back on the plan (citing the many violations of conditions agreed upon), but it would have meant pumping more forces back into theater and renewal of open hostilities. We have no stomach for that. Afghanistan to the extent that it was quiet and relatively non-murdery for US forces was because they just had to wait us out; that would have changed rapidly if we had gone back on the plan. We knew it, they knew it, and it’s why they barely pretended to adhere to the agreement.

The pullout was terrible and the administration is spinning it as best they can, which is what administrations do.


That’s the best explanation I’ve read. Makes complete sense to me, @sig. :sunglasses:

For that reason, it should be very sus. And I’m far from an expert, but it fits with the facts as I know them.

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