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Post The US Had to Invade Afghanistan Because of 9/11 (from Gary Moore)
Created by John Eipper on 09/03/21 3:05 AM

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The US Had to Invade Afghanistan Because of 9/11 (from Gary Moore) (John Eipper, USA, 09/03/21 3:05 am)

Gary Moore writes:

How in the world can John E say that "the biggest foreign policy mistake of the millennium was invading Afghanistan"? (See JE's response to Francisco Wong-Díaz, September 2nd.)

The US had to invade Afghanistan because of 9/11. The mistake was in not facing up to an early way to get out, compounded by the real mistake, invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, and arguably could have kept the focus and resources away from articulating a realistic Afghanistan approach.

Chicken-Little catastrophism as a substitute for real historical memory?

JE comments:  You've sent us an important reminder, Gary.  All but the most zealous doves in the US were in favor of going in to Afghanistan after 9/11.  I too was guilty of a certain hubris.  Even though Afghanistan got its "Graveyard of Empires" epithet the honest way, didn't we all think the Americans and NATO could accomplish what others never could?

But did the US have to invade Afghanistan?  Politically, yes, but strategically?  Were there other options--for example, a carrot-stick ultimatum to the Taliban to hand over those responsible?

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  • The 2001 US Ultimatum to Iraq: Was There an Alternative? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/04/21 3:26 AM)
    This is in response to Gary Moore/John Eipper and the latter's comment of September 3rd. I would argue the opposite of John's claim: the Empire had no political reason to invade Afghanistan. However, it had strategic reasons to dominate Afghanistan because of that nation's position in Central Asia.

    There was no political reason, as the real culprits or better the instigators of 9/11, are still up for debate.

    Anyway, a no-carrot but big-stick ultimatum was presented by the Empire on 21 September 2001. It is worth reviewing:

    "By aiding and abetting murder the Taliban regime is committing murder. America makes the following demands:

    "Deliver to US Authorities all the leaders of Al Qaeda (terrorist organization) that hide in your land.

    "Release all foreign nationals including American citizens you have unjustly imprisoned.

    "Protect all journalists, diplomats, and aid workers in your country.

    "Close immediately and permanently every terrorist camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to the appropriate authorities.

    "Give the US full access to terrorist training camps so we make sure they are no longer operating.

    "These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion."

    Such an ultimatum sounds much stronger than that of Austria-Hungary on 28 June 1914 to Serbia. The Western powers praised Serbia for rejecting it and at the end of the war it placed full responsibility for the Great War on Germany (sic), but that is another story.

    The Afghan government in September 2001 expressed its condolences for the American deaths, and on receiving the ultimatum, it confirmed that it would cooperate/comply if the accusations were proven true.

    About Iraq, the Empire pushed it to make war against Iran (understandable after the Embassy siege) in 1980-88.  In 1991 Iraq had essentially recovered a piece of its sphere of influence separated by British colonialism 1899.  And finally poor General Collin Powell in 2003 made a fool of himself out of loyalty to his Commander. The stupidest action was by Commander Paul Bremer in dissolving the Iraqi Army, so all its personnel without jobs and money but well armed, could join the various insurgencies.

    The action against other countries was equally foolish.

    Imagine an alternative present for the region, with the former secular socialist regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Iran (going back to Mossadegh). How many deaths could have been avoided? How many wasted dollars could have been used for peaceful enterprises in such lands and the US? For sure the regimes mentioned above were much better than the chaos at present.

    JE comments:  I don't follow the concept of an Iraqi "sphere of influence," especially because the nation itself was cobbled together by the victors after WWI.  But what about the 2001 US ultimatum to Afghanistan?  The "full access" part is something no sovereign nation can accept.  Was there an alternative that would have allowed the Taliban to save face?  In 2001 there was not, although twenty years later we have no choice but to attempt it.

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