Afghan chaos undercuts Biden's promise of competence

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2021 Aug 18, 2:48pm   91,727 views  1,031 comments

by RWSGFY   ➕follow (4)   💰tip   ignore  

The shambolic unravelling of America's withdrawal from Afghanistan comes from a yet to be written textbook of "how to lose at everything". Warnings hadn't been heeded, intelligence was clearly totally inadequate, planning was lamentable, execution woeful.

Let's just focus in on one thing - although there are any number that are worthy of examination.
The withdrawal came during the "fighting season" - a phrase I have to say I have always found rather odd. But in Afghanistan there is a fighting season which starts in spring - and then in winter, when the country freezes over, there is a time when the Taliban go home to their tribal homelands. Did no-one think that it might have been better to have ordered the withdrawal for the dead of winter when Taliban forces weren't there, poised to fill the vacuum?

The end result might have been the same - a Taliban takeover - but it would have almost certainly led to a more orderly drawdown. Yet the Biden administration wanted an eye-catching date. They wanted the withdrawal completed by 11 September. Twenty years on from 9/11 - an artificial, self-imposed deadline.


Biden's election campaign could be boiled down to three messages to distinguish himself from Donald Trump. First, he would be more empathetic. He would be more competent. And instead of "America First", it would be replaced by the mantra "America is back".
But in his address yesterday, there wasn't a whole lot of empathy towards the thousands of Afghans who've helped Americans these past 20 years. On competence, even his biggest cheerleaders would struggle to say the withdrawal of American troops has been anything other than shambolic.
And after the bewildering events of the past few days, how exactly is America back?


But on the policy itself, Joe Biden is utterly defiant. He summoned up his inner Harry Truman and made clear in his speech that the buck stops with him. He was, however, happy to distribute blame in much the same way that a muck spreader disperses manure in all directions. The Afghan leadership weren't up to it, the Afghan armed forces had no fight in them; Donald Trump had negotiated a bad deal.


A fascinating nugget from a briefing that's just been given by Joe Biden's National Security Adviser. Since the fall of Kabul, Jake Sullivan revealed, Biden hadn't spoken to another world leader. Wasn't that just a bit surprising, given that there were a lot of other nations - including Britain - who'd committed vast resources to Afghanistan?


When the G7 gathered in Cornwall and the Nato nations met in Brussels the sense of relief was palpable among the prime ministers and presidents that a more outward looking American president was in charge. But given what has unfolded - how America has been humiliated, how Joe Biden embarked on a policy he was cautioned against by these leaders - there is now a good deal more wariness.
And who will feel they have gained most from America's departure - apart from the Taliban, of course? Why, three countries near Afghanistan - Russia, Iran and China. I'm not sure that is what Joe Biden had in mind when he said after his inauguration that "America is back".


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902   Patrick   2023 Aug 5, 2:07pm  


Biden has officially passed 365 days of vacation since taking office 2.5 years ago. People have thoughts.

903   Patrick   2023 Aug 7, 1:47pm  


🚀 The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday headlined, “Russia and China Sent Large Naval Patrol Near Alaska.”

In what is being called a “historic first,” last week Russian and Chinese naval vessels patrolled international waters together just off the coast of Alaska. They were shadowed by four U.S. destroyers and Poseidon aircraft until they left the area.

On Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry explained that Russian and Chinese vessels had carried out drills involving communications training, helicopter landings and takeoffs from the decks of each other’s ships, and a joint anti-submarine exercise in the southwestern part of the Bering Sea where a mock target was detected and destroyed.

According to the Journal, Russian and Chinese exercises have increased significantly over the last year, but last week’s operation was historic in that it included the largest such group to ever approach American shores.

I suppose improved Russia-China relations is another success story for which we can thank Joe Biden.
904   Patrick   2023 Aug 8, 9:24am  


Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, a Marine who survived the explosion in Kabul that killed 13 Americans, says that when Joe and Jill Biden came to his hospital room, the president reached out to shake his hand even though his arm was gone, immediately started talking about his son, and then leaned into his face and asked him "what do you want."

908   Patrick   2023 Aug 17, 11:55am  


Russians got richer last year even as the war in Ukraine raged on, while the US and Europe lost trillions of dollars, UBS reported.

Russia added $600 billion of total wealth, the Swiss bank found in its annual Global Wealth Report, published Tuesday.

The number of Russian millionaires also rose by about 56,000 to 408,000 in 2022, while the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals — people worth over $50 million — jumped by nearly 4,500.

But the US lost more wealth than any other country last year, shedding $5.9 trillion, while North America and Europe combined got $10.9 trillion poorer, UBS reported.

There were also 1 million fewer American millionaires by the end of 2022, although the US still accounted for over 50% of the world's ultra-high-net-worth individuals, the bank said.

Russia's wealth gains came despite its invasion of Ukraine in February, which has led to the West imposing sanctions on the Kremlin that led to its economy shrinking and triggered a slump for Moscow-listed stocks.

UBS acknowledges that "wealth trends in Russia are difficult to determine at this time," but did highlight it as one of a handful of countries that had gotten richer in 2022.

Rising oil prices could be one factor behind the wealth increase, with exports of the commodity a key economic engine for Russia. The cost of a barrel of benchmark Urals crude jumped by about $7 last year, data from Refinitiv indicated.

Mexico, India, and Brazil all also added significant amounts of wealth in 2022, UBS's report suggested, while the US, Japan, China, Canada, and Australia lost the most.
915   Eric Holder   2023 Aug 30, 11:10am  

Tom Cooper* on the subject of competence:

Trying to read the complaints by the US media – see instances like the NYTs, WP, FP, etc (and the number of such instances is meanwhile growing by the day) – about the way Ukrainians are conducting this war is meanwhile beyond hopeless. An exercise in tolerance of highly eloquent, professional incompetence.


Still, I cannot stop wondering…

By side that all the possible US ‘experts’ are US-centric, or do not understand the sheer scope and size of this war. To a certain degree, this is expectable alone because it’s been decades since they’ve stopped teaching comprehension of backgrounds and context in the US schooling system.

At least I’ve got no doubts the US military officers are indoctrinated to read a lots of military history books: know too many of them priding themselves with this. But, how much of that is put to some good use is an entirely different issue. If for no other reason then because their political masters have certainly never done anything similar.

Above all, the USA are a ‘superpower’, and thus raising its kids as kids of a superpower. Which means that certain things are super-self-understanding, and the kids should neither know nor think too much. Thanks a lot.

For example, ever since the Secessionist War of 1861-1865, the USA are fighting all of its wars in form of massive material battles (or ‘battles of attrition’). They’re, literally, ‘drowning’ their opponents in masses of own equipment, ammunition, and the resulting firepower. Correspondingly, not only most of the US public, but even US military officers expect everybody else to fight the same way.

Sure, the latter might be perfectly aware of necessity for finesse in fighting wars, but: their ability to actually apply these is, just like their ability to emphatise with allies – equal to zero. They’re dogmatic and checklists-tied in their way of thinking, and they haven’t fought this kind of war since 1945. Thus, except for few honourable veterans I happened to run into over the time, people there really have no trace of an idea what is it to fight this war in Ukraine of (meanwhile), 2022-2023 (and beyond)…

However, at least to me, all of this is still ‘understandable’. Something I think I can comprehend, and even explain. What’s really astonishing is a host of other facts.

Like in so many of their own wars, Americans – especially such ‘super brains’ like Biden’s national security advisor (a lawyer by profession, BTW), not to talk about countless ‘US officials providing commentary on condition of anonymity’, persistently quoted by above-mentioned media-platforms – are once again doing exactly the same mistake they already did in places like Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq. They’re trying to ‘model the outcome’ – instead of seeking for ways to win the war. Correspondingly, they’re supplying Ukraine with ‘enough to hold out’, but not with ‘enough to win’ - only then to complain that Ukrainians are not doing ‘things’ they expect them to do, and even less so the way they want them to do.

This is so because not only that National Security Advisor, but the mass of his aides too, is entirely unable of comprehending alone how little in terms of heavy equipment – foremost main battle tanks (MBTs) and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), not to talk about air defence- and electronic warfare systems – they and the rest of NATO have delivered to Ukraine. They’re so incompetent in this regards, that they cannot even explain this to their own public: the people supposed to elect them into their positions and to pay for all they are doing (see: taxpayers & voters)…. As a result, the American public is seriously convinced they’ve sent ‘thousands’ of MBTs and IFVs, and that Ukrainians are squandering all of this – while actual numbers sent are in dozens and, in the case of US- and French-made main battle tanks (MBTs): 0/zero!

A bi-product is the fact that US-Americans can’t even understand just how short is the ZSU already on medical equipment: it’s all the time critically short alone on morphine and tourniquets, not to talk about field ambulances and CASEVAC-vehicles…

….well, sure: to the ‘we-fight-wars-of-attrition-only’ Americans, this is really ‘entirely unimaginable’. Even more so if those pesky Ukrainians then do not do things the Americans expect them to do. Conclusion is unavoidable, and of the same quality like already before Pudding’s all-out invasion: ZSU ‘must be’ corrupt and incompetent…

And that’s just the proverbial start. At operational levels, the US strategists - the very same people with strong predilection for belittling the French for ignoring the option of the Wehrmacht driving its Panzers through the Ardennes of May 1940 - are seemingly unable to understand already what it means when the Russians concentrate ‘100,000 troops’ with hundreds of tanks and artillery pieces along one sector of the frontline (see western Kupyansk-Svatove-Kremina area). They do not understand that it doesn’t matter if these ‘100,000 (Russian) troops’ are poorly organised, -led, and trained: they are still a serious threat. Therefore, Ukrainians simply can’t ignore these troops, and leave a single brigade to hold the line in that sector, while ‘throwing’ everything else into an offensive.

The US strategists can’t stop complaining about Ukrainians remaining involved in the Bakhmut area. Seems, the concept of pinning down the Russians in this sector so to buy time to establish, re-train/reform an offensive force, or to prevent the Russians from re-deploying their forces somewhere else (southern Zaporizhzya) - is entirely incomprehensible to them… which, as described above, should actually be crystal clear: the ZSU offensive in the Bakhmut area of the last few months has tied two Russian VDV divisions. Since it stopped, about 7-10 days ago, the Keystone Cops in Moscow found themselves free to start re-deploying a third VDV division to southern Zaporizhzhya…

The US strategists can’t understand the ferocity/severity of the Russian firepower nor the extension of their mine-warfare. Now, sure: expecting a Yale- and Oxford-graduates specialised in philosophy and jura, who skilfully screwed up already in Libya and Syria, and have not an ounce of military experience – to comprehend such factors is ‘too much’. But, at least they should have military advisors skilled in explaining them a ‘few things about realities of a massive war’ – and yet, it’s obvious that they do not. Or if they do, they are advice-resistant beyond belief.

Have no academic degree, so can’t say, but: it does seem that alone having one is making one know everything better…

….and mind: that’s just the military aspects of this conflict. I’ll not even try to venture into the politics. This can only make one puke…

What a surprise then, the US-Americans still wonder how comes they’ve lost in Afghanistan and Iraq (all provided they’re ready to accept this fact, which the mass of them simply prefers to ignore). Nah, they’re complaining that ‘Ukraine is distracting them from the PR China’ – because they can’t understand that if the West is helping Ukraine to become successful in protecting its people and liberating its land, it’s automatically deterring Beijing from invading Taiwan.

Another incomprehensible conclusion, ‘demanding too much’ - I guess…

Bottom line: it’s really, a massive surprise Zaluzhny, Syrsky & Co do not listen to super-smart US strategists… can’t say how much…

(Don’t worry: my critique of the US behaviour shouldn’t mean ‘Europeans’ are any better. Our politicians are just too incompetent and too corrupt but to become an important factor on the international scene, while half of our generals are Russia-fans – if for no other reason then because they’re kind of ‘fed up of Americans’ and thus short-sighted enough to be ‘revanchist’, too. See: ‘this is a US-v-s-Russia war, so let the Russians show the Americans their true place…’.)

*) https://substack.com/profile/137222197-sarcastosaurus
919   Patrick   2023 Sep 7, 12:39pm  


Okay, I know our geriatric outpatient of a president didn't mean anything by it, but, to me, this is the ultimate form of disrespect. Watch Grandpa Joe randomly wander off before the closing prayer of yesterday's Medal of Honor ceremony, leaving everyone in the room, including Medal of Honor recipient Larry Taylor, in a state of utter confusion.

920   richwicks   2023 Sep 10, 3:17am  

Patrick says


Okay, I know our geriatric outpatient of a president didn't mean anything by it, but, to me, this is the ultimate form of disrespect. Watch Grandpa Joe randomly wander off before the closing prayer of yesterday's Medal of Honor ceremony, leaving everyone in the room, including Medal of Honor recipient Larry Taylor, in a state of utter confusion.

@Patrick - how are you downloading this video? "yt-dlp" is failing with twitter now. What program are you using?
926   RC2006   2023 Sep 15, 9:29am  

At least they could be more original than a cheap copy of ET.
928   Patrick   2023 Sep 15, 2:28pm  


US Census data just released:

Incomes: US incomes have fallen every year of the Biden Presidency thus far.

Median incomes: The median income last year fell to $74,580. 90th percentile fell to $216,000, and the bottom 10th was $17,100.

Poverty rate - the supplemental poverty measure - based on post-tax income and includes government-transfer payments like stimulus checks - rose to 12.4% . It was the first increase since 2010.
932   Patrick   2023 Sep 22, 10:53am  


Joe Biden’s controlled demolition is almost over. We are now entering the final, macabre phase of his “Weekend at Bernie’s” presidency. It is difficult to imagine how they can possibly continue the charade much longer, as exemplified by two of Joe’s indescribably humiliating moments this week.

— Yesterday, Fox News ran a story with a Babylon Bee-style headline, “Biden repeats same story twice almost 'word for word' within minutes, sparking concern online: 'Elder abuse’.”

“Concern online” is a pretty good one. It would be more accurate to say that social media enjoyed a memetic field day after someone noticed a Politico reporter’s press pool report from a Wednesday evening fundraiser. The report bluntly admitted that President Robert L. Peters’ brain skipped its tracks, and the ancient politician told the exact same made-up story about how he decided to run for president back in the day.

He repeated the same story, just moments apart, nearly word for word. Blip!

Politico’s Jonathan Lemire, who was traveling with the president on Wednesday, wrote in a quick update about Biden’s comments: “After briefly touting his economic record, POTUS reflected on his decision to seek the presidency. He told the story about the events of Charlottesville in 2017 as the reason for his campaign. A few minutes later, he told the story again, nearly word for word.”

I bet the audience was enthralled.

Fox’s article quoted a bunch of sarcastic tweets about the State of Joe’s rapidly-declining mental Union, and then delved into his horrible polling. One interesting nugget was the article reported that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough admitted last week that he and his wife, co-host Mika Brzezinski, often talk with democrats and other politicos — and "every discussion" about Biden included “anxiety” about his age. "When I say every discussion, I don’t mean 99% of the discussion — every discussion," Scarborough emphasized.

In other words, democrats know. They just don’t know what to do about it.

— Anyway, hard as this is to believe about someone being held out as the President of the United States of America, it got even worse. In its “US News” section, top Spanish paper Marca ran a story yesterday headlined, “Joe Biden's latest public blunder at the UN with Brazil's president Lula.” The sub-headline added, “The president had another unfortunate moment as the world was watching on.”

Haha! It was “another unfortunate moment!” No kidding. That’s gold, Jerry, gold. My only question is whether Marca’s hilarious euphemism was unintentionally farcical, or are they mocking us?

Probably mocking.

Here’s how Marca accurately described the appalling spectacle of Biden acting utterly clueless on the world’s stage:

"Biden's list of public blunders just keeps getting longer. In his latest unfortunate incident, 'Potus' stumbled into a giant Brazil flag on the stage at the UN before completely forgetting to shake hands with Brazil's president Lula.

As Biden made his way up on stage, he somehow managed to walk straight into the giant seven-foot pole standing right in front of him. The audience held its breath as the flag wobbled but were relieved to see it stand firm.

That was just the beginning."

Next, after President Lula took the podium to begin speaking, Biden, standing stiff as a board, started fiddling with his UN translator earpiece and receiver. Lula was speaking in English. First, Lula waited respectfully for Biden to finish, but as the long, silent seconds uncomfortably elongated, finally Lula, sounding a mite teched, asked "Can you hear me, President Biden? This is a historic moment for Brazil and for the US.”

Biden was standing three feet away. Lula was speaking into an amplified microphone. In English.

But Biden didn’t seem to recognize his own name. He neither looked up or seemed to notice Lula at all. He just kept fiddling with the headset. After an extended pause, with everyone in the audience and online mesmerized watching Biden turned the receiver around and around in his hands, waiting to see if the Resident would ever find the on/off switch or whatever he was searching for, Lula asked again: "President Biden, can you hear me?" Eventually, without looking up, Biden grunted and nodded before, like a dog with a chew toy, he continued to fumble around with the headset.

Lula delivered his speech, followed by comments from Labor Organization Director-General Gilbert Huongbo. When Huongbo finished, he shook hands with Biden and shook hands with Lula. Then Lula started crossing over to shake hands with Biden, who was distracted, saluting the audience for some reason. After his salute, Biden turned the other way and ambled offstage, leaving Lula hanging, looking like a fool with his hand sticking out. Lula snatched his hand back, clearly disgusted, in a motion that locals said was an obscene gesture in Brazil.

Watch for yourself. Here’s Lula, thirty-six inches away, asking Biden “can “you hear me?”:


Here’s the clip of Biden forgetting to shake hands with President Lula:


The social media fallout was wildly amusing, as you can imagine. Democrats coped by suggesting that Biden was actually playing 4-D political chess, and deliberately snubbed Lula by pretending to be an Alzheimer’s patient having a bad day.

It seems to me that politicians have better ways of slipping an unhappy message to another leader apart from looking like they are past their expiration date, which might passive-aggressively snub the other leader but is also a sort of self-inflicted injury, if you see what I mean.

What do you think? Was it Biden’s mistake, or was the mistake actually made by whoever was barking orders at Biden through that earpiece?

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