QQ) The Reader Named Zaki

tommyb

Registrant
(a chapter)

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(Friday, 6AUG2021)


"We're in a story old as time," she says, which threw me, emptying the trash can, the tones of her skin.

“… the Greeks," Professor Donald Kagan, Yale, is saying in my left ear, "Are at the most significant starting point of Western Civilization, which is the culture that most powerfully shapes not only the West, but most of the world today. It seems to me to be evident that whatever it’s other characteristics, the West has created institutions of government and law that provide unprecedented freedom for its people. It has also invented a body of natural scientific knowledge and technological achievement that together, make possible a level of health and material prosperity undreamed of in earlier times, and unknown outside the West and those places that have been influenced by the West. I think the Nobel Prize laureate, V.S. Naipaul, a man born in Trinidad, of Indian parents, was right, when he spoke of the modern world as our universal civilization shaped chiefly by the West ...”

She reminds of the Airforce, in their uniforms, when they would say "Sir," as they passed by, even in the midst of talking to each other, as 'worked at the general store. Somehow people knew what was really going on. People 'don't know. 'What's wrong with protecting the harmed kids, instead of taking advantage ...

"... Most people around the world who know of them," he continues. "Want to benefit from the achievements of Western science and technology. Many of them also want to participate in its political freedom. The civilization of the West, however, was not the result of some inevitable process through which other cultures will automatically pass. It emerged from a unique history in which chance and accident often played a vital part. The institutions and the ideas therefore, that provide for freedom and improvement in the material conditions of life, cannot take root and flourish without an understanding of how they came about and what challenges they have had to surmount. Non-Western peoples who wish to share in the things that characterize modernity will need to study the ideas and history of Western civilization to achieve what they want. And Westerners, I would argue, who wish to preserve these things must do the same."

"While you studying like some scholar," she says, charmingly, with a smile, as she continues her work concerning the printer. "Worrying about some Dead Sea crater."

“No Tudor king was ever likely to forget,” says Professor Wrightson, Yale, “That in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, the Stanleys, William Stanley, Lord Derby, and his brother Thomas Stanley, brought their forces and then sat on the hill waiting to see which way the battle between the claimant, Henry Tudor, and King Richard the third would go. When it was decided that it looked like Tudor was gaining the upper hand, they joined in on his side leading ultimately to the death of Richard the third in a desperate last charge to try to break through. That’s what had happened on the day that Henry came to the throne. He was unlikely to forget that in his dealings with his nobility.”

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(Friday, 13AUG2021)


"Taliban Prepare to March on Kabul as U.S. Hastens Pullout," headlines The Wall Street Journal. Three thousand troops are deploying, including of Fort Bragg as the Crusades continue, and 'pray for our troops.

'Doesn't take much imagination to see what they see, one would think.

“At the beginning of the sixteenth century," professor Wrightson, Yale, lectures in my ear. "The church was of course the greatest corporate institution in the kingdom. It was the English branch of a great international institution, which gave Western Europe its identity, collectively as Catholic Christendom. The church in England – of course, there wasn’t a Church of England yet – the church in England was organized into two provinces with archbishops at Canterbury and York, and then there were twenty-one diocese, each of them headed by a bishop, and beneath that archdeaconries and deaneries and so on down to somewhat more than nine-thousand parishes at most local level each with its parish church. And in addition scattered around the landscape but particularly concentrated in parts of the north and the west were the great monasteries and nunneries, some seven-hundred and fifty of them in all. The clergy who staffed this institution were a distinct estate of the realm as you already know. Attempts have been made to estimate their numbers. It’s been estimated about sixty thousand in all, which would mean that the clergy comprised about four percent of the entire national population or, since most of them were men, something like eight percent of the entire male population; a very large presence …"

'Shouldn't take much imagination for them. 'Apparently the illiterate have a lot.

“… They were supported by a variety of fees and dues paid to them and, in particular tithes," professor Wrightson continues. "By which people gave a tenth of their income or produce for the maintenance of the church … A collection of more than nine thousand small Christian communities periodically united in their parish churches in worship, in the practice of their religion … The central doctrines can be covered briefly. They were as follows: Christ’s sacrifice on the cross had made salvation available to sinful humankind through grace; divine favor. Access to grace, the means of salvation, was made available through the church and through its sacraments. Membership of the church was gained through the sacrament of baptism, usually in infancy of course, and it was demonstrated by continued participation in the sacraments, especially the mass when elements of bread and wine were consecrated and transformed into the body and blood of Christ through the miracle of transubstantiation. The Christian life involved obedience to the Ten Commandments, avoidance of the seven deadly sins, participation in the sacraments, the doing of good works and prayer. Given that all mankind was sinful, believers were enjoined to repent of their sins, to confess them, to perform penance for them and in return they were granted absolution by the priest. The church as a whole was conceived of as a community of saints, and so it was possible to pray for the souls of others, in addition to which the saints already in heaven were believed to intercede with God on behalf of living believers, so petitionary prayers could be addressed to saints. And finally the expiation of sins committed in life could continue after death when souls lingered in purgatory until they were purged of sin and made fit for heaven. The living could ease the passage of the dead through purgatory by their prayers. Only those who failed to achieve salvation by their rejection of the means of grace would probably ultimately suffer eternal torment in hell. Okay. Those are the basic beliefs. In its transmission of these central beliefs and in its practices of worship the pre-reformation church fostered what’s been described as a ritually and visually rich religion. In a mostly illiterate society …”

'Ain't no God proving His existence ... as He pleases ... in the language of Islam.

"I think you have to step back a step," says Michael Gerson, Washington Post. "This is a case where offensive combat operations for the United States ended in two-thousand-fourteen. This was a residual force that was left to do two things. Support the Afghan ar-military and to fight Al-Qaeda ... They were doing that quite well--"

--Afghanistan had an assassination problem. Seemingly anyone who worked with the United States, learned to read, even becoming Afghan journalists, many of whom were women, ended up dead. The Intelligence Community could've out-intel-ed the Taliban, maybe, and such was the failure. The American people saw how many women were being assassinated regularly for doing the right things. They saw the women's lack of protection. They saw the lack of progress of curbing of such assassinations of ordinary women whom educated themselves on their own. Such optics causes populist-maybe presidents, also known as a hack, maybe, who does and says whatever he has to, to stay in office, to worry about reelection. If the mafias in The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola -- representing American history -- can play the assassination game for so long in a somewhat foreign land, then certainly ...

"… Such views as that of the historian Richard Rex," professor Wrightson, Yale, continues, "Who argues that ‘it’s possible that the ideal of a Christian community united in belief and worship,' an ideal which was to be pursued so zealously by Protestants and Catholics alike, ‘was never so closely approximated’ to as in the late medieval--”

"--The were--risk of casualties quite low," Michael Gerson, Washington Post, continues. "There was a cost to that, but the cost that we are incurring now is far greater than the cost of maintaining three thousand troops in a circumstance like this. We have troops all over the world. Um. So this was
a completely unnecessary choice on the part of the president. NATO wanted us to be there. The Afghans wanted us to be there. No one was demanding us to leave. So I think it was a mistake on that level."


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Tuesday, 17AUG2021)


"It's the perspective," he says, with passion, while 'am studying comedy with him, within workplace dynamics. "You drop an old soldier into any time period and they all see the same thing."

"Some story old as time," 'say to him. "'Can barely see, while the laity call it common sense."

Don't know if he knows 'am some classically autistic with a three year boyhood and eighteen year adolescence who got his soul to keep, instead, one day, June 1st 2004, somehow. Don't know if he knows what's really going on in the world. Don't know if he knows the ball was dropped by American Presidents because women need things a certain way, or they'll have an aneurism. Don't know how to bring all the different conservative perspectives to the table, instead of whatever current hegemony. 'Not to mention the liberals. 'Won't pull a Mr. Pastor Rogers, that haunting pragmatism, of writing off everyone over the age of seven in all the English language. 'Won't leave them behind, somehow. What he did was ... necessary ... demanded, maybe, even gut-wrenching to be sure. We're standing at the western end of Western civilization; we're already liberal to the lost and worldly. 'Won't just write them off, either. Maybe that's purgatory's job, maybe purgatory doesn't want to waste its time or don't have time to waste its time. Maybe that's why old people call it 'straight to hell.' Sometimes it's no wonder the Muslims don't like us much, actions speaking louder than words and such.

Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, former U.S. National Security advisor:

"I think it's just wrong on a couple of counts ... First of all, we were there to preserve our and protect our own interests, our security interests. We know for a fact, right, we know from historical experience that terrorist organizations, when they control territory and populations and resources, that they become orders of magnitude more dangerous, right? We saw that with the mass murder attacks of Nine Eleven. We saw it again when Vice President Biden thanked President Obama for ending the war in Iraq. Well, hey, wars don't end when one party disengages. And, of course, in Iraq, we saw al-Qaida in Iraq morph into ISIS, the most destructive terrorist organization in history. And then, of course, we had to go back. What I found also that I -- was fundamentally, I think, wrong about the president's approach here is that he thinks that a lost war in Afghanistan isn't going to have consequences. We're already seeing the horrible humanitarian consequences, but there will be severe political consequences, in connection with our credibility with our allies and partners and other countries who will wonder how reliable we are. But, of course, it will have big security implications in connection with jihadist terrorists who will declare victory over the world's only superpower ... And, of course, they didn't defeat us. We defeated ourselves ... which is what's so sad about it ... The way that we have made ourselves safe really since Nine Eleven is by partnering with partners across the world who actually bear the brunt of the fight against jihadist terrorists. You know, the president disparaged Afghan soldiers today. But we should remember that tens of thousands of them gave their lives to protect the freedoms that they have enjoyed since two-thousand-and-one, but also to protect us, really, from modern-day barbarians. I mean, Afghanistan is in many ways on a modern-day frontier between barbarism and civilization. Just right across the border ... there are over twenty U.S. designated jihadist terrorist organizations. And a victory for the Taliban, a reestablishment of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan, is a victory for al-Qaida and those other groups. And so how can it be that--"

"History is important," he continues, us with our comedy, on a Covid ward, worrying about icecaps while God seems to have quite control of the weather. 'Me barely able to move from the athletic position, sometimes, seems like ... body memories exist and I'm sorry but don't worry about me.

"That I know," he says, smiling, the male nurse. "Regardless. I was listening to John Bolton on NPR..."


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Back in the day)


"There are two kinds of drug dealers," House is saying, in that soft-spoken, smiling, wry, knows-he's-liked-way, with maybe a little sternness, like how Willahford can be when he switches gears. House seems to absolutely know he knows what he's talking about.

"One," he continues. "Whether a doctor or not, is trying to create an addict so as to supplement his or her income. The other, tends to be this smart, young hotshot who needs to be in the drug scene for awhile for whatever reason and is good at it, but he won't stay once he doesn't like them anymore because real addicts steal and treat each other bad and can be incapable of friendship. He's genuinely making friends and likes knowing so much sometimes he sounds like an awesome pharmacist. Some drugs have a stigma associated with them so you have to be careful."

He pauses.

Kid was that good drug dealer in Wilton after deployment. 'House filled that role immediately after deployment.

"No needles," he continues. "Opioids get so deep in your physiology that they're very difficult to get clean of, because of how sick the detox will make you. Some people like to do a line of coke before they go play hockey. It's very addictive and just as expensive. Weed isn't good for people who might have ADHD or depression, or haven't shaken off the dork in them, because while it seems to work at first, it exasperates, and two years later they're diagnosed bipolar or they've become ... Well. No one wants a stoner boyfriend."

"Meth is worthless. Tussin, actually, the Dextramathorphan in it, has a stigma," he says. "Psychedelics are good for people with PTSD from whatever. For people without PTSD, tussin would seem an ... odd choice. But the psychedelic part of tussin lifts the PTSD, instead, and the person suddenly gets to be themselves in the moment, present, and talking, and free of it. Some people who realize they come from severe childhood experiences, including, especially if sexual stuff is involved, figure out that if they take four ounces two hours before work, then walk to work, they do better, they show up all the way, the PTSD isn't in the way. Then maybe a month in they're only doing that every other day, then maybe once a week, and no one notices. It can give you the sweats. Never trust your knowledge of your physiology. No driving a vehicle. Don't assume that whenever you take four ounces or eight ounces, or eight pills or sixteen pills of purple Coricidin, it takes this certain amount of time to kick in. Usually three hours, but don't count on it. When it first hits remember to keep your mouth shut, do something by yourself, manual labor. Do. Not. Socialize. But maybe an hour in when it smooths out, you're golden and getting more and more used to what you're like without the PTSD in the way. Regular people have known this about tussin since the beginning of the existence of tussin. That's why it's called the child abuse drug."

"The stigma," he says. "Comes from the reality that while you're bringing yourself back and learning how to be more the you, not-with-PTSD-in-the-way, you're also forgiving your tribe, your people, the human race, and a lot of people think everything's fine and don't like that someone has to handle things this way for awhile within their community. The Catholic Priest Scandal was an open secret in Boston for a very, very long time. Mothers knew. Grandmothers knew. Copland knew. Journalists knew. And they don't like to be reminded," he said ... back in the day, ... or at least ... 'wish he had.


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Tuesday, 24AUG2021)


(The Wall Street Journal)


(by Joe Parkinson, Ava Sasani and Drew Hinshaw)


Hundreds of Afghans swarmed the runway of Hamid Karzai International Airport attempting to climb onto a taxiing 140-ton U.S. Air Force transport plane. Two Apache helicopters buzzed low to disperse them.

Powering through the scrum in a green tunic, 17-year-old Zaki Anwari made his way to the front and clambered onto the plane’s landing gear. As it accelerated past 120 miles an hour, he held tight ... Mr. Anwari, a high-school senior and attacking midfielder for the national youth soccer team, phoned his brother to tell him that if he didn’t flee Afghanistan he would never play again ... Millions of people saw footage of what happened next: a defining image from America’s chaotic exit from a 20-year war that had an unsettling resonance with the 9/11 attacks that ignited it. As the C-17 Globemaster III arched skyward over Kabul, Mr. Anwari fell. Inside the cockpit, the crew had made a snap decision to take off to escape the surrounding crowd. Mr. Anwari, nicknamed “Shield” for his ability to keep the ball, couldn’t hold on.

“They are falling over there,” a bystander said in one video shot from the runway, as a crowd ran toward the silhouettes falling to the ground. “Oh, my God,” he said.

At least two other young men died that day, according to aid agencies. Another fell from the plane around the same time as Mr. Anwari and a third was crushed by the retracting landing gear. Several other young men gripping onto the C-17 would have shared their fate if they hadn’t leapt seconds before the wheels left the runway. All were members of a generation of Afghans who haven’t known rule by the Taliban and were terrified enough to grab hold of an accelerating military jet if it meant a ticket out.

“It was not just the fall of Kabul. It was the fall of a whole new generation who believed and worked for progressive Afghanistan,” Shafiqa Khpalwak, a Kabul-based poet, wrote on Twitter. “Trusted the world. And hoped for a brighter future.”

... Soccer, disdained by the Taliban, has become a symbol of Afghanistan’s reintegration into the world. Schoolchildren—boys and girls—in cities like Kabul, Kunduz and Kandahar declared loyalties to clubs oceans away like Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea. Mr. Anwari earned a spot on the national team, playing midfield in the same stadium where the black-turbaned Taliban had once performed public executions: beheading, stoning and shooting victims, and hanging the amputated limbs of thieves from the goal posts. As the Taliban returned, Mr. Anwari joined a new rush of elite athletes seeking to flee. At roadblocks manned by Taliban fighters, footballers trying to leave have been beaten in crowds. Others have reported menacing visits by Taliban members.

The son of a retired businessman, he attended the elite French high school, on a secluded campus near the presidential palace. He captained the school team and by 2015 was playing for local clubs, wearing the number 10 jersey favored by some of the game’s most gifted players: Diego Maradona, Pele and his idol, Lionel Messi. Modeling himself on the diminutive Mr. Messi, he studied YouTube videos and practiced late to replicate the Argentine’s dribbling and eye for the killer pass.

He posted photos on Facebook wearing his Afghan jersey and looking confident and resolute. On another post, clad in a business suit, he wrote: “You’re the painter of your live [sic]. Don’t give the paint brush to anyone else!”

... “I’m at the airport,” Zaki said hurriedly [to his brother]

“You don’t have a visa or a ticket. Come home,” Zakir snapped back [at the other end of the phone].

“I’m already close to the plane,” Zaki said. “This is a chance to trust in God.”

... Mr. Anwari had pushed himself to the head of the small group of men athletic enough to haul themselves onto the landing gear under the right wing, as the plane began to accelerate. Around him, men were trying to grab onto different parts of the plane. One was even clutching onto the support structures holding the front wheel.

Mr. Anwari gripped the plane’s exterior, staring straight ahead, in videos captured by bystanders. His muscles tightened and his expression steeled, in total concentration. Around him, other men holding on to the plane began to wave excitedly at the cheering crowd, while others stared forward, visibly afraid.

As the C-17 gained speed, most of the group began to abandon the effort, running off across the runway. Others sprinting alongside whooped or punched the air as the engine roar intensified and the aircraft accelerated.

“Hey where are we going?” one man still clinging to the plane shouted. “The wind will hit us,” warned another, as some abandoned their perches to save themselves.

Mr. Anwari held fast.

A couple of hours later, his brother, Zakir, got the call. “Do you know Zaki Anwari?”


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Thursday, 25AUG2021)


(Wall Street Journal)


(by Anthony Gill)


How could a ragtag group of religious fundamentalists be so effective in capturing a territory that has resisted rule by some of the most formidable world powers, including the British, the Soviets and the Americans? An answer can be found in a quirky academic subfield known as the political economy of religion. It was developed in the late 1980s by sociologists Rodney Stark and Roger Finke and economist Laurence Iannaccone. Political scientists including Carolyn Warner and me added the political side of the equation in the early 1990s ... Mr. Iannaccone argued that behavioral codes like a prohibition on alcohol and stigmatizing behavior like wearing distinctive clothing enhanced cooperation. Religious organizations are “club goods,” wherein members share many collective benefits such as welfare provision and fellowship. Those benefits depend on active contribution. If everyone participates willingly, the organization is vibrant. If many members are free riders—receiving the benefits without pulling their weight—the quality of the good dissipates and the organization becomes anemic ...

To limit free riding, strict religious groups require members to prove their loyalty via costly and visible behavior that deters the lazy, such as going on two-year missions or memorizing holy texts. Such “sacrificial signaling” can be seen in other groups, such as fraternities and street gangs with strange hazing rituals. Stigmatizing behavior also limits the outside opportunities of group members and binds them more closely to the organization. Members find it difficult to betray the group because they have few alternative social options.

The Taliban are an excellent example of Mr. Berman’s thesis. Their fundamentalist version of Sunni Islam imposes strict requirements on all members. It is easy for them to identify and choose leaders who are the most cooperative and know that they can be trusted not to defect. As a result, they have become a disciplined organization wherein leaders and lower-level militants are unlikely to defect from the group’s mission of creating an Islamic state.

That explained their rise to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Following the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989, Afghanistan collapsed into a disorganized mess of rival clans vying for political and economic power. A disunited governing system couldn’t effectively collect taxes. The nation’s infrastructure, including the ability to guarantee basic market interactions, fell into disrepair.

The Taliban was the only unifying entity that could guarantee safe trade routes, collect taxes without excessively plundering the population, and provide essential public goods to key cities. They did this initially by securing control of the Kandahar-Herat Highway, an important trade route between Pakistan and Iran. Previously, competing tribal organizations dominated sections of this highway, stopped all transit, and excessively taxed truckers. With many different clans extracting money every few miles, it became too expensive to transport goods along this road, and commerce ground to a halt.

The Taliban eventually stationed militants at key locations on the highway and taxed merchants only once while protecting truckers from other bandits. Since devout Taliban members proved their loyalty via adherence to strict religious codes, they were unlikely to plunder the trucking caravans further, allowing commercial transport to resume.

Successfully securing this road, the Taliban collected tolerable taxes, which they used for infrastructure projects throughout the country. The Taliban became reasonably popular. Afghans might not have liked their repressive religious policies, but at least the roads were open and the electricity came back.

The Taliban also proved to be reasonably fair arbitrators of civil justice, as imams adjudicated contract disputes between merchants. If people trust that property rights can be fairly enforced, they are more likely to make long-term investments that promote economic growth. Even after being overthrown in 2001, the Taliban continued to serve as a shadow judiciary in some locales where the secular regime proved ineffectual.

All this was possible because the Taliban are a strict religious movement in which leaders and members prove their loyalty by adhering to strict behavioral requirements. The secular government lacked this advantage. Little wonder that when the Taliban rolled into a town, the local population usually put up little resistance. For many Afghans, the strict and predictable implementation of Shariah is preferable to the arbitrary and kleptocratic rule that Afghans have endured for two decades.

A classically liberal government with broad-based civil liberties would be far better. I offer only an explanation for why the Taliban have been able to overrun the country in short order: They represent a disciplined and tolerably trustworthy alternative to a corrupt regime that needed U.S. troops to guarantee its power.

Despite the seeming irrelevance of religion in the secular West, policy makers and military strategists would do well to understand its power elsewhere in the world.


Mr. Gill is a professor of political science at the University of Washington and author of “The Political Origins of Religious Liberty” (Cambridge University Press).


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Thursday, 26AUG2021)


(The Washington Post)


(by Gerry Shih, Niha Masih, and Dan Lamothe)


As the Taliban encircled Kabul on Aug. 15, Fada Mohammad told his family about what he’d seen on Facebook: Canada and the United States were airlifting anyone who wanted to leave out of the Kabul airport. But if Fada wanted to go himself, recalled his father, Payanda Mohammad, he didn’t mention it. The young dentist never reached either country. The next day, he didn’t make it beyond a rooftop four miles from Kabul airport, where his body was found after he plunged from a U.S. military plane as it took off — one of the most tragic and indelible images in the final chapter of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. ... Yet another smartphone clip showed the aftermath: at least four motionless bodies on the airport tarmac, randomly spaced along the length of the runway. A promising teenage soccer was among those who died. So was Fada ... Wali Salek, who has lived 20 years in Kabul’s Panjsad Family neighborhood, wonders how misfortune could strike from the sky, sending two bodies, including Fada’s, crashing onto his cracked roof like “an explosion” going off. In the city’s outskirts, Fada’s father wonders why his eldest son went to the airport that morning without telling him. He asks why the pilot lacked “humanity” and decided to take off even as people hung on.

“If somebody is clinging onto the plane, does the pilot have the right to fly? Is this lawful?” Payanda said Tuesday. “It was like killing a mosquito that you do not even consider human.”


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Friday, 27AUG2021)


(The Wall Street Journal)


(By The Editorial Board)


Why are American troops in such a difficult-to-defend position? The evacuation is taking place at an urban airport with a civilian wing, and perimeter security is being provided, unbelievably, by the Taliban. Only about 40 miles away is Bagram airfield, the military base that the U.S. vacated in the dead of night in July, without even warning America’s Afghan allies.

... That mission of withdrawal was Mr. Biden’s bad call, and his generals sought to make it work. Gen. Milley told Congress in June: “Bagram is not necessary, tactically or operationally, for what we’re going to try to do here with Afghanistan—consolidate on Kabul in support of their government.” Obviously the Afghans didn’t get the support they needed.

The way U.S. forces quietly slipped out of Bagram was also demoralizing for the Afghan army and probably contributed to its collapse. The Associated Press spoke to soldiers wandering the base the next day. “They lost all the goodwill of 20 years,” one said, “by leaving the way they did, in the night, without telling the Afghan soldiers who were outside patrolling the area.” The word must have spread: If the U.S. is abandoning its prized air base, then it really was bugging out altogether.

After the collapse of the Afghan government, Mr. Biden could have sent in enough U.S. troops to retake Bagram and provide for a safer evacuation. He declined that option in favor of getting to the exits as fast as possible, hoping to avoid a confrontation with the Taliban that could result in American casualties. On Thursday he got casualties anyway.

The wreck of Mr. Biden’s Afghan withdrawal is damaging enough. But he compounds the harm to his credibility, and America’s, when he refuses to acknowledge mistakes and spins defeat as a victory for realism. Mr. Biden should take responsibility for his own bad decisions, instead of trying to hide behind the military brass.


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Friday, 27AUG2021)


"Do people have to die for you to take things seriously?" Youngin' says, us with little time but to cross paths, pause, and keep going. 'Rarely run into him nowadays. But for here, at the lockers, or outside, crossing paths. He always seems all over it.

'Am surprised by the question. Don't know what he knows. 'Only know Willahford can't find the body in God's Country. Only know that random never-saw-it-coming fact saved ... everything. If God would do Covid to this people over a failed federal coercive torture campaign and a failed waterboarding, what will He do concerning that ...

Once, when 'was complaining through comedy, Youngin said: "You know. If we could find the coordinates of the Middle Aged Carolinia White Man Clone Factory," -- here he pauses, for affect, before his eyes go wide. "We. Could. Burn it. Down."

"How could I take any of them remotely seriously," 'say to him, turning toward him suddenly. "How could that ever have been remotely possible. How could that ever have happened. How could there ever have been a chance for that ever to have happened. For the last, let's say, ten years. The last f_cking decade. Even the slightest bit remotely seriously, at all. To slow down that much, to as if, to pretend, playact, socialize-within-a-group, of-wannabe-rich-white-kids-who-come-in-all-skin-colors ... Would've been inconceivable. It would've never crossed my mind. Nor did it ever. Jeeeesus ..."

"Well," he says, before quick, turning away. "Now thirteen are dead."


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tommyb

Registrant
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(Wednesday, 1SEP2021)


(The New York Times Magazine)


(by Janet Reitman)


'I Helped Destroy People'


Terry Albury, an idealistic F.B.I. agent, grew so disillusioned by the war on terror that he was willing to leak classified documents — and go to prison for doing it.

... Albury would replay certain moments: that the agents, frequently standoffish, seemed unusually friendly; that at 8 in the morning, the fourth floor, where Albury worked, was entirely empty, and that even though a few people began to trickle in by around 8:15, there were far fewer than were usually at the office at that hour. About 15 minutes after he sat down at his desk, the Minneapolis field office’s in-house counsel, an agent he’d seen maybe twice in his life and never off the management floor, appeared in the squad bay, walked past his desk and, Albury thought, appeared to give him a sideways glance. That, he decided later, was the tell.

... The men rode the elevator to the first floor in silence. The interview room was down the hall. Fighting his growing sense of dread, Albury was halfway down the corridor when three F.B.I. SWAT team members appeared in front of him. “Hands on the wall!” The agents patted Albury down, removing his Glock 23 service pistol from its holster and confiscating his spare magazines, handcuffs, badge and credentials. Then they led him into a small room. I guess this is it, he thought. Game time.

... More than seven months later, on April 17, 2018, Terry Albury appeared in a federal court in Minneapolis, where he pleaded guilty to charges of leaking classified information to the press. The allegations — that Albury downloaded, printed and photographed internal F.B.I. documents on his office computer, sending some of them electronically to a journalist and saving others on external devices found in his home — resulted from a 17-month-long internal investigation by the F.B.I., prompted by two Freedom of Information Act requests by a news organization (unnamed in the charging document) in March 2016. Nine months after these FOIA requests were made, a trove of internal F.B.I. documents shedding new light on the vast and largely unrestricted power of the post-9/11 F.B.I. was posted on the investigative-journalism site The Intercept. The cache included hundreds of pages of unredacted policy manuals, including the F.B.I.’s byzantine rule book, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, exposing the hidden loopholes that allowed agents to violate the bureau’s own rules against racial and religious profiling and domestic spying as they pursued the domestic war on terror. The Justice Department, under the Trump administration’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, charged Albury with two counts of “knowingly and willfully” retaining and transmitting “national defense information” to a journalist. In October 2018, he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Albury is the first F.B.I. special agent since Robert Hanssen to be convicted under the Espionage Act, the 1917 statute that has traditionally been used to punish spies: Hanssen was arrested in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for selling secrets to the Russians. Increasingly, however, the Espionage Act has been used by the Justice Department as a cudgel against people who have leaked sensitive or classified information to the press. The Obama administration prosecuted more government officials for leaking secrets to the press than all previous administrations combined, bringing Espionage Act charges against eight people in eight years and referring 316 cases for investigation. Among those charged were Chelsea Manning, who was tried and convicted in a military court-martial in 2013 for sending hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden, whose 2013 leak of classified N.S.A. documents to The Guardian and The Washington Post alerted the public to the scope of the N.S.A.’s mass-surveillance activities.

The Trump administration referred 334 cases for investigation and brought Espionage Act charges against at least five people in four years. The first was Reality Winner, a 25-year-old N.S.A. contractor who was arrested in June 2017 and accused of leaking a classified intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election to The Intercept. The second national-security leak case of the Trump era was against Terry Albury, though unlike Winner’s case, his received little fanfare. Instead, his lawyers quietly hammered out a plea deal with the Justice Department, avoiding the unwanted media attention that would come with a formal criminal complaint.

In recommending that Albury receive a 52-month sentence, government prosecutors cast him as a compulsive leaker, recklessly endangering national security by “stealing” the government secrets he was sworn, as an F.B.I. agent, to protect. But Albury says he felt a moral imperative to make his disclosures, motivated by his belief that the bureau had been so fundamentally transformed by Sept. 11 that its own agents were compelled to commit civil and human rights violations. “As a public servant, my oath is to serve the interest of society, not the F.B.I.,” he says. “My logic was centered on the fact that the public I served had a right to know what the F.B.I. was doing in their name.”

“These documents confirmed what American communities — primarily Muslims and communities of color — and rights groups had long known or thought to be true,” says Hina Shamsi, director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “For years we’ve been hearing from people who were surveilled or investigated or watchlisted with no apparent basis for the F.B.I. to suspect wrongdoing, but based primarily on their race or religion or political organizing and beliefs. And here’s someone who was trying to do the right things from inside government, and ended up either participating or being a witness or adjacent to a range of abuses that defined, and continue to define, the post-9/11 era. What are you supposed to do as a person of conscience when you see what your country is doing?”

“... I was very idealistic when I joined the F.B.I.,” Albury says. “I really wanted to make the world a better place, and I stayed as long as I did because I continued to believe that I could help make things better, as naïve as that sounds. But the war on terror is like this game, right? We’ve built this entire apparatus and convinced the world that there is a terrorist in every mosque, and that every newly arrived Muslim immigrant is secretly anti-American, and because we have promoted that false notion, we have to validate it. So we catch some kid who doesn’t know his ear from his [expletive] for building a bomb fed to them by the F.B.I., or we take people from foreign countries where they have secret police and recruit them as informants and capitalize on their fear to ensure there is compliance. It’s a very dangerous and toxic environment, and we have not come to terms with the fact that maybe we really screwed up here,” he says. “Maybe what we’re doing is wrong.”

... The U.S. response to terrorism would eventually take on the contours of a major domestic surveillance operation. It was a radical shift from the F.B.I.’s historical investigative blueprint, and the impact was immediate. “What Mueller did, with the support of President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft, was leverage the fear of another Al Qaeda attack to transform the bureau from a law-enforcement agency into a domestic intelligence agency,” says Michael German, a former F.B.I. agent and author of “Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide,” a 2019 critical analysis of the post-9/11 F.B.I. This new mandate exposed a vast number of people who were not suspected of breaking the law to some of the same intrusive techniques the bureau had long used against people it suspected were criminals. “All of this was done without a clear public discussion of what this development might mean for American freedom and democracy or whether it would actually result in greater security,” he says. “As it turned out, spying on innocent people doesn’t help catch guilty people, so it was a flawed approach.”


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tommyb

Registrant
__________


(Wednesday, 1SEP2021)


Army General Mark Milley, twentieth chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

"... you asked me where my pain and anger comes from? I have all those same emotions and I’m sure the secretary does and anyone who serve. And I commanded troops and I wasn’t born a four-star general. I have walked the patrols and been blown up and shot at and RPG and everything else. My pain and anger comes from the same as the grieving families. The same as those soldiers that are on the ground. Last night, I visited the wounded up in Walter Reed. This is tough stuff. War is hard, it’s vicious, it’s brutal, it’s unforgiving. And yes, we all have pain and anger. And when we see what has unfolded over the last 20 years and over the last 20 days, that creates pain and anger and mine comes from 242 of my soldiers killed in action over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. So yeah, I have that, but I’m a professional soldier. I’m going to contain my pain and anger and continue to execute my mission."


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tommyb

Registrant
__________


(Thursday, 2SEP2021)


(The Washington Post)


(by Jeremy Barr)


Andrea Mitchell looked pleased to welcome her guest on MSNBC last Thursday: H.R. McMaster, there to discuss the attack on American forces and evacuees at the Kabul airport. The retired lieutenant general and former commander of a task force in Afghanistan, “has detailed knowledge of all of this, going back years,” Mitchell told her viewers.

“This is actually what happens when you surrender to a terrorist organization like the Taliban,” McMaster told her, lambasting the U.S. withdrawal from the country that was set in motion during Donald Trump’s administration — which he served in as national security adviser.
One of Mitchell’s colleagues was less impressed by the booking. On Twitter, MSNBC prime time host Lawrence O’Donnell called McMaster " a feverish TV endless war advocate."

A convoy of military experts have been invited onto cable TV shows to critique the calamitous end of the Afghanistan War, notwithstanding the central roles many of them played in the 20-year conflict, which was supposed to result in a democratic Afghan government that could withstand Taliban attacks. That has not sat well with some viewers — and even fellow TV hosts, like O’Donnell — who argue that some of these former leaders are eliding their own role in the failure of that mission and are unfairly criticizing the Biden administration for abiding by a withdrawal that was negotiated under Trump. Critics also argue that these viewpoints have taken airtime away from humanitarians, longtime opponents of the war and advocates who could speak to the human toll of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

Lucas Kunce, a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan and is running as a Democrat for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri, went viral this week for appearances on MSNBC calling out television pundits who he claims want the United States to stay in Afghanistan in perpetuity. The networks are booking “a parade of officials who basically were spending the last 20 years selling the American people on this idea that the 20 years, the $2.3 trillion [spent] and the 2,500 lives lost were worth it,” he told The Washington Post. “The only so-called ‘experts’ are people who were a part of that effort.”
David Shuster, a former MSNBC anchor and reporter who led Fox News’s coverage of the launch of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan in 2001, made a similar point. “Cable channels tend to have short memories,” he said. “They don’t remember some of the mistakes these people made along the way, and their audience certainly doesn’t remember. So, better to put on a recognizable face than someone who might not be associated with a bad policy or a mistake.”

There are plenty of faces for the networks to choose from.

McMaster appeared seven times on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News between Aug. 16 and Aug. 26, according to a new tally from the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters for America. The same report found that retired general Barry McCaffrey, who in 2010 publicly opposed a proposed timeline for troop withdrawal without disclosing a conflict of interest, made 13 appearances on MSNBC during that same time stretch. Retired Gen. David Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011, appeared six times across the big three cable news networks.

Douglas Lute, the former Afghan War czar who told government interviewers in 2015 that “we didn’t know what we were doing” in Afghanistan, appeared on cable news five times over 10 days last month, according to the report. He told CNN he was “stunned” by the country’s collapse. Former president Barack Obama’s defense secretary Leon Panetta made four appearances in that time — including a CNN spot last week in which he predicted the U.S. military will need to return to Afghanistan to deal with terrorists.

Obama’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, has been a regular critic of the “catastrophic” withdrawal on Sunday public affairs programs such as ABC’s “This Week” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Crocker painted a somewhat rosy picture of the war in 2012, when he said during an appearance at the Brookings Institution that Afghanistan had made “extraordinary” progress and that a U.S. troop surge in the country “has done very well indeed.”

And Jack Keane, a longtime advocate for troops in Afghanistan who said in 2012 that the U.S. had “begun the turn of momentum” in the eastern part of Afghanistan, reportedly made 16 appearances on Fox News across 10 days — without disclosing his work for a military vehicle manufacturer, according to the Daily Beast.

Perhaps most enraging to critics have been appearances on MSNBC and CNN by John Bolton, a longtime advocate for U.S. military intervention who served in the George W. Bush and Trump administrations, and who opposed Trump’s 2020 peace deal with the Taliban. On CNN last week, Bolton told host Anderson Cooper that “the execution of this withdrawal has been bungled.” In a tweet, MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan responded that “Bolton should only be on TV if he is being held to account for the lies he told or the deaths he caused.”

Richard Hanania, president of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, said there is value in hosting former officials who have firsthand experience with the challenges and intricacies of maintaining a presence in a foreign country. But he said interviewers need to hold these guests accountable.

“There’s a perspective you need to a hear, but it needs to be put in the proper context,” he said. “These people, in almost every case, have a paper trail. If you’re not digging into their record and being a little adversarial, you don’t get much from the perspective.”


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tommyb

Registrant
__________


(Thursday, 2SEP2021)


(The Washington Post)


(By Aaron Blake)


The numbers coming out in the aftermath of the final evacuations this week, though, indicate most allies have been left behind after the full U.S. withdrawal. The State Department confirmed for the first time Wednesday that a majority of those who aided the U.S. war effort have not been evacuated. An official said he was “haunted” by this fact.

Regardless of how much blame lay at the Biden administration’s feet for poor withdrawal planning — it has said evacuating more people sooner was difficult because of the panic it would create — there’s the matter of the message this has sent to would-be allies in the future: that the United States might not ultimately protect them. And that’s a message that has now been affirmed for the second time in less than two years, in ways that suggest a troubling precedent for U.S. foreign policy.

In late 2019, it was the United States’ Kurdish allies who had stood shoulder to shoulder with American forces and suddenly found themselves left behind. President Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement of a full withdrawal from northern Syria led to a nearly unprecedented and broad domestic rebuke, even from congressional Republicans who had stood by Trump through thick and thin. Many accused him of effectively leaving the Kurds to be slaughtered by Turkey — along with paving the way for a resurgence of the Islamic State.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Trump had cut a deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allowing him to wipe the Kurds out.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) called the move "delusional." ” “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration,” Graham tweeted. “This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS.”

Nikki Haley, the Trump administration’s former U.N. ambassador, offered one of her biggest criticisms of Trump’s foreign policy since departing the administration.

“We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back,” she tweeted. “The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake.”


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tommyb

Registrant
__________


(playing blues)


Maybe it was the one thing they had in common,

American women, Afghan,

Christian, Muslim,

That one problem,

Protecting boys,

Protecting women makes for good PR.

(The girls can't be protected until the boys are)


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