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Monday, August 16, 2021

The Afghan Army Didn't Surrender: It Rejoined Its Tribes

The media is filled with absolutely worthless analyses of why the Afghan army surrendered.

Some commentators blame the United States for not providing logistics. Others claimed that we undermined its non-existent morale. There's hand-wringing over the 300,000 Afghan soldiers who wouldn't fight. And the $90 billion that we squandered on building up the army that wouldn't fight.

These analyses are just as dumb as the ones that accompanied the collapse of the Iraqi Army in the face of ISIS.

The Afghan army, like its Iraqi counterpart, was a wholly artificial western institution. When faced with a tribal crisis, its members revert to their first duty, which is going to the defense of their tribe.

The Afghan army didn't "surrender". 

Its Pashtun members surrendered to the Taliban who are fellow Pashtuns. Hazaras fled to Iran and took our equipment with them for the benefit of Hezbollah, the Houthis, and any other Shiite terrorists. The Uzbeks fled to Uzbekistan. 

There's no Afghanistan. It's a collection of tribes whose members are loyal to their own. 

The only group invested in Afghanistan, aside from the State Department, are the Pashtuns.  

But the Taliban are a much more effective Pashtun bid for taking over the country than the pathetic shambles of a free and democratic Afghanistan. 

And for those tribes and subtribes who want to resist the Taliban, they'll do so because they oppose that particular tribe by siding with their tribe and the warlords leading the fight. They won't do so while wearing army uniforms or toting around a lot of our equipment which we thought was absolutely vital to a modern armed force, which the locals aren't culturally compatible with, but is not especially useful for raiding tactics, which the locals are quite good at.

The Afghan army didn't surrender. Much of it never existed. The parts that did exist rejoined their tribes and are waiting for the next move which will come as the Taliban overextends itself and gets too deep in bed with the Chinese. 

Our inability to understand this was the problem all along.

We insisted on building up an imaginary military for an imaginary nation. The whole farce collapsed the moment we decamped because there was no longer anything holding it together.

The people we wrongly call the Afghans reverted to who they had been all along before we demanded that they adopt the same political trappings in which we dress our political system. 

Our system works well enough for us, or at least, as Churchill put it, less badly than any other system.

But the Afghans are not Americans. They're not in it for democracy or human rights. What they want is to gain power through their tribe, their subtribe, their family, and their chosen bosses. 

That's what the war was about for 75% of them. It's what the endless war will be about going forward.

Afghanistan is in a perpetual state of tribal warfare. We never understood that and to the extent that we did, we tried to apply solutions that the locals didn't want and weren't especially interested in.

Now that we're gone, the forever war will continue without our overlay of myths and illusions.

Or at least fewer of them.

The warlords who turn to us for money and guns will talk about human rights. If we're smart, we'll ask them instead how many Taliban they've killed today.

That's how we did things after 9/11. If we had kept on doing things that way, maybe the rest of the world wouldn't be laughing at us.


  1. Deployed to Afghanistan in '06, part of an embedded training team with the ANA (I was USAF; the mission was the Army's but they were short-handed and so the USAF was tasked...so you had a USAF team trying to teach Army logistics doctrine/procedures to illiterate soldiers from all different backgrounds...less than ideal situation, even before taking into account the tribal nature of the ANA). I was the second-ranking member, I worked with the Combat Service Support battalion's S3; he had experience fighting the Russians, was pretty sharp (he was old enough to have been in the latter half of the war). The S4 was a nephew or cousin to the brigade commander and was crooked as a dog's hind leg; we tried to minimize contact with him. From my unscientific observation, there was maybe --at best-- 5% or so of the ANA troops/officers who wanted to make things better, that saw themselves as part of something bigger...the rest were either crooks/grifters or just were happy to get three square meals a day and not motivated by anything beyond that....I would guess the vast majority were in the latter category. I was totally unsurprised at the rapid collapse of the ANA.

    1. Thank you for your service and your insights.

      None of this was secret even though the media is trying to act as if it just discovered this.

  2. And somebody is going to get the opium poppy revenue.

    1. It will probably go to China, as they are the next-in-line suitor to attempt to squeeze something out of this 7th century culture. Now, at last, you can get your heroin and fentanyl in one bag, pre-mixed, saving you the time and heartache of having to mix them yourselves and possibly dying before your first fix, at which time you will die anyway.

    2. Anonymous17/8/21

      I have had that discussion with others, and conclude that the “deep state” players made a business decision to abandon opium in favor of fentanyl. It very well could have been part of the recommendation to begin “drawdown” in anticipation of “withdrawal”. Production, distribution logistics, pricing, marketing (including primarily through legitimate healthcare settings, e.g., hospitals) all favor fentanyl.

  3. Even I figured this out and the closest I've been to Afghanistan is Montana. Apparently, it takes an Ivy League education to miss this.

    1. Sherm

      Bravo! Shaking hands with you over the miles from N. Georgia! Such succinct smartassery calling out $heer dumbassery! This encapsulates much of the Ivy League...in biting B&W: https://live.staticflickr.com/3532/3191477389_a9aa674674_n.jpg

  4. Anonymous17/8/21

    HA! $b's of equipment left in Afghanistan - which will now find its way for use against Israel. If Israel withdrew its embassy from Washington, America would collapse. Time for Israel to find a real ally - Putin is the answer. He won't bother about the blood of thieving goat herders, 'palestinians', terrorists, 'Israeli' Arabs, Egyptians in Gaza, Lebanon or Jordanians in Samaria/Judea. Russian equipment is cheaper and comes without any strings attached nor do we have to listen to rubbish from the likes of Pelosi, Blinken, Ohmar, Tlaib and other assorted miscreants that occupy the Congress.

    Jonty Dee

    1. Putin won't bother about Israel either. Much of his military is Muslim and Russia's traditional base in the region is Syria.

      Enemies don't make good allies except in the very temporary sense.

  5. Spot on Daniel!
    I am glad we are getting out, and I don't give one wit about a single interpreter - or re-burka'd women. Like most Americans I think it is a shame a society could be ordered as cruelly as Sharia does it - but I don't really care. I want our troops out of that toilet - no matter what.
    I don't see Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria sending a NUKE our way anytime soon. Good riddance to them.
    I only wonder how many Jihadis are going to make it into our country via the vetting process, or our southern border.

  6. Actually I wonder what Afghanistan is, and who draw the borders of it. Same guys who created Yugoslavia after WWI? Take a look to what happened in Balkans in the last 30 years! Can't figure it out? People get what they want, politicians don't! Same for Afghanistan, South Africa or USA!

    1. The British drew the borders in the 1800's to create a buffer state between India and Russia - they didn't give a rats arse about the tribeal jssues - same as they did in Africa and the Middle east. The book "the Great Game" by Peter Hopkirk provides a good description of the politics and the process.

  7. What about the 60 billion dollar Chinese Communist offering to the Pashtuns? Much of the mineral resources are in non-Pastun regions.

    1. That will make things interesting for everyone involved.

      Foreign powers keep trying to use the Pashtuns to secure the country for their own benefit and it has a history of backfiring.

  8. Several years ago I was severely chastised on a social media site for referring to Afghanistan as a 'tribal' society. I survived the on-line beatings then. I'm sorry the whole thing went to hell in a handbasket, but it was doomed from the onset. A tribal Islamic society embracing Western values and democracy? Aw, C'mon, man...ain't gonna happen. I salute every man and woman who died there for their service.

    1. "A tribal Islamic society embracing Western values and democracy"

      Not much of a plan.

    2. Anonymous24/8/21

      I would not fool myself on that... but had I hoped they would at least have fought the Taliban. The whole time, 20 years, seem like a joke. And the death penalty for this game is no joke.
      I wonder.. anybody in power ever pays for this type of errors? Or was it not an error and they got what they wanted... and don't care anymore?

  9. The Muslim religion (Actually a political movement) is stronger than the military ties, politics and the economy in Afghanistan. Now the country will be back in the 9th Century. Don't expect any Nobel Prize Winners or Olympic Athletes for quite a while.

  10. Anonymous17/8/21

    Consider levels of societal integration from low
    to high. Tribe, Nation, Continent(EU), World(UN).
    Americans enjoyed Nation level thanks to shared
    liberty, philosophy, language. Continent and
    World failed so far, fortunately.

    Dark forces, through Critical Theory lies are
    succeeding in regressing America to tribal.
    (race, LGBT, language, money, class, etc.)
    Is this what we want?


    1. It's evolution, you can't fight it, and you can't say it.
      Africa, Mid East is still tribal, as was Anglo & euro 500 yrs ago. The former will find their way out in several hundred years, just as we revert.
      You won't beat evolution even with revolution.

  11. Anonymous17/8/21

    As an actual Cretis Indian who did real world security at an Alberta mall for years, I know the literal challenges of teaching locals how to fight. #DoOrLiterallyDie #realfenris69

  12. A mistake Europeans (I include America since our ideologic roots are western European) have been making for over a hundred years, trying to impose western political, moral, ethical, and social values and ideology on a tribal society.

  13. Excellent as always. Half the pentagon should be fired along with 7/8 of congress

  14. Anonymous19/8/21

    "Half the pentagon..." as well as the whole of the state department.



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